09 September, 2014

An Oryx Holiday - Part 3 - Damaraland Camp

Here is post #3...again, by my parents :)
To see the previous posts, go to: Part 1 and Part 2

We arrived at Damaraland Camp last night just after sunset. We were racing there to beat the sunset because there are no lights in the middle of the desert. It was dusk when we entered the Damaraland entrance but the entrance said 13 more kilometers to the camp. The roads are classified by condition...B,C, and D. There are no A roads. B are the  two lane paved roads on which you can travel up to 120 kmh. C roads are either paved or gravel and you can go from 80-100 kmh. D roads are teeth rattling, spine jarring, genital jarring (at this point John has had 2 glasses of champagne, while we are writing this blog post) (refer back to Diane's condition at arriving at Kunene Lodge.) where, with luck you might go 30kmh. So these roads that we were "racing" on were D roads. Johanna wants to tell you at this point Diane had taken over driving a couple of hours earlier because John.................blah, blah, blah (imagine - sometimes a wife needs to take over the driving!). Anyway, once we arrived, there were two staff members who greeted us...Alexia and Hilka. It was impressive...they knew our names and had us directly to our rooms instead of registering first. They recognized that we were tired. This was typical of how the entire staff treated us during our entire stay. They took our bags. On the way there, another staff member gave us each a sherry. Our two rooms were next to each other and basically the same...two twin beds enclosed by a mosquito net, a bathroom with 2 sinks, shower, and toilet. Stepping up from the bed was a desk and closet. The "cabin" was really made of thick canvas. If you wanted to "close" the windows, you would pull up a piece of canvas and hold it too the window by Velcro.

We ate dinner and at each meal thereafter we had a staff member eat with us. During our stay every staff member personally introduced themselves to us and often made conversation with us.

In the morning, Alberth brought us hot water to make coffee at 5:40 am. By 6:10 we were in his "jeep" on the way to breakfast. Breakfast was on top of a mountain with 9 people plus staff...fruit, bread, cheese, and eggs and bacon cooked on an open fire.




After this we started on our trek to find elephants. We were so Iucky to drive up very close to an elephant herd and observe the main male, females with their young, and teenagers who never stopped playing the whole time we were there. On our trip through the Torra conservancy, (3522 square kilometers with 1200 people living there) we also saw oryx, kudu, springbok, many birds, 2 kinds of rock...dolomite and basalt, and 3 types of plants were pointed out to us. 

an Oryx

Desert-adapted Elephant



2 teenagers playing around

We were close!!!

We stopped at a village that was founded during apartheid in South Africa called DeReit. A woman gave us the story of how the town was founded. The children hung around us and got a chance to either have their picture taken or use Johanna's phone to take pictures.






We came back to the camp for lunch and then went to another village. The income from the Damaraland Camp helps to compensate the farmers for loss of livestock due to predators. We were guided around by a teenage boy, named ..... On their farm they have  over 500 goats, sheep  and ... donkeys. They sell these goats to people who need goat milk or breeding females or males. Sometimes they slaughter the animals but not often. The family has about 5 dogs who are there to protect the animals by barking when a predator animal comes on the property. These dogs are very skinny...ribs showing....and very dirty. They are not pets. Their food is fruit and meat...not sure where the meat comes from. They have chickens which are kept in a "hen house" about 6 feet by 10 feet and are sometimes let out to scratch. They eat the eggs.

They built a garden, quite big, enclosed with a 10 foot high fence. They also electrified it using solar energy. This was supposed to keep the elephants out. But elephants have thick skin and they could care less about some puny solar electric fence. They just ran over it and destroyed the garden including the family's banana, guava, orange, and lime trees. One day when he and his grandfather have time they will replant this garden, along with getting a larger solar collector so it will generate more electricity.

The family also makes money by supplying the lodge we were staying with water. The women here do the lodge's laundry. The income from the Damaraland Camp helps to compensate the farmers for loss of livestock due to predators.

For dinner that night we had to walk away from the lodge in the dark. When we got to our destination there were fires to light the area and a buffet for all the guests. The staff sang us the African Union Anthem and the Namibian National Anthem and a welcome song. Just after dessert was served they came out singing an anniversary song holding a cake which they had baked for our anniversary. When we got back to our room there was a bucket of ice with champagne and many lit candles. It was a lovely way to end the stay at our favorite B&B so far.



6 comments:

  1. I loved this point of view with all 3 of you chiming in...and I think the description of "teeth rattling, spine jarring, genital jarring " was a perfect visualization. :) ~~Alex

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    1. haha! Thanks Alex! They do have fun writing these....

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  2. Incredible to even just read about these experiences. I can't imagine actually living them. What a boat load of mind-boggling memories you all will have! - Jill

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    1. Hi Jill! Thanks for reading...
      And yes, between living here, and having this really great vacation with my parents, I feel like a very, very lucky girl! And by the way, you should come visit, or at least, at some point, visit Namibia and South Africa :) Hope you are well!

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  3. Replies
    1. You must come over and visit Southern Africa! You would LOVE it!! Put it on your list.... :)

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