Waking up on the last morning in Etosha was both peaceful and sad at the same time. Coming all the way to Africa and being the animal lover that I am, I was in my glory being in the national park, witnessing so much beautiful wildlife in their natural habitat. It was really sad knowing that in a few hours we’d be back on the road with only memories and photographs of the beautiful safari we had done.
Before breakfast I snuck of to the watering hole, camera in tow, and as I approached the benches – I noticed that there was a lone giraffe making it’s way to the water. I had been dying to get a photograph of a giraffe drinking – because I find it to be such an absolutely spectacular sight. The way that they bend down in the most graceful way and calmly sip the water is such a sight to see. I found the perfect spot and started snapping away. Only to realize that there was a massive herd of zebra making their way to the watering hole – and when I say massive, I mean zebras as far as the eye could see. They just kept coming out of the bush and making their way over to the water hole. Easily sixty or seventy zebra started splashing their way into the water and then finding the perfect spot to line up (because that is seemingly what they do!) and sipped away. The inner photographer in me was jumping up and down for joy, not believing the beautiful scene I was witnessing! My camera went off like I was shooting for National Geographic – and I captured a few amazing shots – if I do say so myself.
My Nomad Adventure Tours group hit the road once breakfast was finished and tents were stowed away on Harrison, our home/truck. As we exited Etosha, we all crossed our fingers for the last chance at a leopard or lion sighting – alas, no big cats were out and about that morning – at least not along our route. After exiting the park, we drove south; our evening’s final destination would be Windhoek – Namibia’s capital city and the departure point for 5 of our Nomad Adventure Tours family members. Simon and Paulina, the adorable young German couple; Heidi and Raymond, the newly engaged South Africans; and Diletta, our Italian principessa (that’s Italian for princess, for those of you who haven’t seen Life is Beautiful) would all be leaving the tour once we hit the big city.
But before we could say any goodbyes – we still had the entire day ahead of us – including our lunch stop in Okahandja. We pulled over to the side of the road at a Shell petrol station and Shingie and Sandile told us that we had roughly half an hour to explore the markets before we would be settling in for lunch.
Now for those of you who don’t know me – I’m really not big on local markets. Not because I don’t want the souvenirs or that I don’t want to support the locals – but because I really suck at bartering and HATE being pressured into buying something.
These locals were pulling out all the stops too!
“Pretty lady, please, look at my daughter- I need to feed her!” said one woman with her sleeping toddler strapped to her back.
“Lady, you are so beautiful, please pick something – I will give you a good price. Help me out,” said another.
“Miss, how much money do you have – I’ll give you something nice.”
I just cannot tolerate the pressure. I’ve said it a million times before, I would actually be more inclined to purchase something if they would just leave me in peace to look at what they have for sale. Heck I’d probably pay MORE and haggle LESS. Alas, this is something that they just didn’t seem to understand. I did buy a few items that I would be sending home with Sue as souvenirs for my parents – but my goodness- I just did NOT have any fun in the process.
Once I got fed up of being pestered by the market’s shopkeepers I returned to Harrison, very frustrated, and just looking to help out with lunch preparations. We settled in and had our usual lunch consisting of sandwiches and salad, spent a little more time than usual hanging out and chatting before heading back on the truck as we would be dropping off our five departing Nomads at their respective hotels and hostels.
We made the final leg of the journey- only a short hour or so drive from Okahandja to the main central business district of Windhoek. Gone were the days of gravel roads and the vast emptiness as far as the eye could see – now Harrison was being driven between high-rise hotels and multi-level shopping centers! Sadly we said our goodbye and Simon, Paulina, Diletta, Heidi and Raymond all went their separate ways – that being said – we knew that we would be seeing them all that evening at our dinner at Windhoek’s famous game restaurant Joe’s Beerhouse.
Once dropping off our departing Nomads, we made our way to our hotel – the Hotel Pension Uhland, just a few kilometers from the city center. Sue and I were given the honeymoon suite – or so it seemed. We had a large king sized bed with mosquito netting around it and a massive bathroom with equally massive shower (with incredible water pressure, may I add) – all things we were NOT expecting to get on a camping tour. Nomad Adventure Tours definitely knows how to treat their customers – especially when putting them up in accommodations in various city-stopovers. As like when we arrived at the hotel in Swakopmund, the first order of business was sorting out laundry – something that we knew we were very limited on time to do since it was already mid afternoon and we would be leaving bright and early the following morning. Second order of business was taking full advantage of the free WIFI that the hotel offered- sending out emails, updating Facebook statuses and just generally connecting with the outside world – even if it was just for a few moments.
Dinner that night, as previously mentioned, was to be at Joe’s Beerhouse – a restaurant renowned for serving up all different types of game meat – everything from zebra to oryx to crocodile and everything in between. Okay – not EVERYTHING. The tour group rocked up at about 7pm. Koi ponds welcomed us as we entered the restaurant, and a large outdoor patio in the center of the restaurant seemed to be where all the commotion was. We were seated at a long table in the back corner of one of the many large rooms of Joe’s Beerhouse, settled in and decided upon our various meals for the night, and being the adventurous eater that I like to be- I went with the kudu. It was beyond delicious. I also tasted a bit of the oryx and zebra and both were surprisingly really tasty as well – definitely did not disappoint.
We pretty much closed the restaurant that evening – the waitstaff nearly had to kick us out to get us to leave. And by the time Sandile had pulled over out front of the Hotel Pension Uhland – everyone was starting to get misty eyed as we knew this was the last time we would see our five departing friends. Hugs were shared and photos were taken. Us Nomads continuing on our journey through Botswana and into Zimbabwe watched as Harrison pulled away with our friends aboard- sad to see them go, but excited for yet more adventures that were sure to come as we were to conquer the Okavango Delta, go on safari once more in Chobe National Park and explore Victoria Falls in the seven days to come.
**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours did provide me with a discounted tour, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
*Special thanks also goes out to my fellow Nomad adventurers, Paulina and Heidi for being kind enough to share a couple pictures from that day*
**If you would like more information about Nomad Adventure Tours and their products – contact me!**