We made it to Ai-Ais in Namibia! So happy. We arrived yesterday evening and checked into this MASSIVE house. We both have our own bed rooms, there’s a massive terrace and Alex, the manager, was so kind to bring us a braai so that we could do our own braai yesterday evening and didn’t need to eat in the restaurant. We bought wood in the little shop (not much available so make sure you bring all you need) at the resort and had some delicious Spare Ribs. In Namibia it’s 1 hour earlier than in South Africa so we won back some time that we lost in the morning, how fabulous!!
In Ai-Ais there are natural hot springs of 65 ° C so today we’re planning on just relaxing, do some spa treatments and lie in the hot baths.
August 10, Augrabies Falls, Northern Cape
The relaxation day at Ai-Ais was very nice. We started off with a full body massage. Alex, the hotel manager, turned out to be an excellent massage therapist as well. Haha! The facial was also quite nice although it lacked a bit of finesse and care. It was HOT that day, it was 35 ° C outside so most of the afternoon we spend inside the house. I did quite some reading but also had a nice afternoon power nap. In the evening we had dinner at the restaurant and to be honest we were not really impressed. The buffet was so so but they still charged ZAR 165 which was over priced. I must say, in general, anything run by Namibian Wildlife Resorts is not up to standard. Their pricing is quite steep but service and quality lack. When you travel to Namibia it’s best to stay in privately run places and the ones that always exceed your expectation are the ones that are run by Germans. That was my experience when I did a trip through Namibia with clients. German precision and efficiency obviously got to Namibia when it was still a German colony and it’s really appreciated after a long day of driving in dust and heat.
We left Namibia again the next morning and had a long way to drive via Keetmanshoop and Koës to Mata Mata where we entered the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park again. The road trip was long and we were driving on gravel road all the time. We hardly came across any cars and that really is the charm of Namibia. Some people hate it and can’t deal with the silence, I love it!
I was driving for a couple of hours already, had to concentrate really on the road and hold the steering wheel with both hands. I was getting a bit tired though but still it happened very unexpected. I lost control of the car. Somehow we slipped, I was probably going a bit too fast, we went from left to right and ended up off the road. I remember thinking: There we go, we’re going to roll now. But luckily I had already lost most of the speed and the car came to a standstill without any damage nor anyone hurt. Poeh! Jeez, what a relief! My whole body was shaking and I couldn’t say a word for a few minutes. I guess it was time to swop drivers…
In Mata Mata we had a horrible night of no sleep (braai and wine was really nice though…). There was a lot of wind and all windows and doors in the cottage were going with the wind. We hardly slept so instead of 6am we got up at 7am and then left for Nossop. The plan was to arrive early in Nossop, have some lunch and then head out again in the afternoon for a drive. Between Mata Mata and Nossop we saw 1 lion king on top of the sand dune, quite spectacular! Another nice sighting was 10 Jackals. Upon arrival in Nossop we were exhausted, I guess the desert was just getting a bit too much so we had a good afternoon rest before we went out again at 15h30. The afternoon sun is just beautiful. The colors are spectacular. We had nice sightings of Honeybadgers. It was the first time for me to see them. They often are seen together with Black-back Jackals and Goshawks. In the evening we were too tired to braai so off to bed without a meal.
The original plan for today was to get out of the park and then drive towards Namaqualand and see if the wild flowers are out. But we had to change our plans because it was already 1pm by the time we left the park. We had to do a detour so we drove about 6 hours in the park. We had a spectacular sighting of a Leopard. WoW! It was super awesome. It was walking on the road just in front of us. It must have been a juvenile one because it wasn’t very big and I first though it was a Jackal but then yes, it REALLY was a Leopard. We could hardly believe it. And we were the only car there. WoW!! Luckily I managed to take one good picture before it took off again. We could follow it for about 5 minutes and then it disappeared again. It was worth all the hours and all the km we had to drive. A bit further down the road, we saw a whole bunch of Gemsbok cross the road and when we looked to the right, we saw a Lion approach. WoW! Another nice sighting today. We hoped the Lion would go for a kill but I guess we disturbed it and she just left over the dunes. The last km in the park we didn’t see any cats anymore just a whole lot of Springbok, Gemsbok, Ostrich, some Jackal and birds.
In the meantime we had decided that the next stop was going to be Augrabies Falls. I had never been and was really keen to see this. So we left Twee Rivieren at 1pm, drove through to Upingtion where we arrived at 3pm, did some shopping and carried on to Augrabies. I loved the area of Augrabies! It was all so green and we came across some lovely villages like Keimoes, really cute, with little coffee shops and wine cellars. This area is well known for its table grapes as well as Sultana grapes. There are many small B&Bs and guesthouses where you can stay comfortably. We’re staying at Augrabies National Park in one of the SANpark chalets. Very well appointed cottages, right next to the falls. We love our Wildcard!! The Wildcard gives you access to all the South African National Parks. You pay about ZAR 250 per year and gives you access to all the parks for free and you get a discount when you book accommodation. It’s fantastic!! And for me, who travels so much, it’s ideal. This year so far I’ve used it in: Kruger National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife (the Biggameparks in Swaziland also allow Wildcard members for free), Hluhluwe-Imfolozi in KZN, Tsitsikamma National Park, Table Mountain National Park, Kgalagadi National Park and now Augrabies.
We just finished our last braai for this trip so now it’s off to bed. Tomorrow we will try to get to Namaqualand National Park and hopefully get to see some wild flowers.