Somewhat astoundingly for everyone involved, things went relatively to plan on Day 4. We woke up at dawn and drove to Aub canyon over rocky dirt roads where we had a lovely breakfast overlooking a small canyon (more of a gorge or ravine but since they call it a canyon we’ll go with that). There was one interesting bit of driving on the way there that required some 4wd-low but we managed just fine without popping any tires or sliding off of any hillsides.
All in a morning’s drive
Aub canyon. I’ll let you decide for yourself whether it fully live up to its canyon name or not.
As per our plan we dashed up to Sesfontein on a relatively good gravel road. When waving hello we noticed, to our surprise, a small diesel station which had fuel so we decided to fill up. If we go all the way up to the north we don’t want diesel to be the limiting factor. And, with all the 4-low we are using, we are going through the precious fluid a bit more quickly than we originally expected.
We had to watch out for these guys on the road. There were no signs to warn us!
Full of fuel we headed off north of town. We decided to skip the traditional turn-off into the Hoanib river 6km out of town in order to use the Ganamub river and drive south down that back into the Hoanib. (I assume at this point you’ve all got Google maps out to follow our path…)
Just after the turn-off into the Ganamub I am super hungry and have to use the loo. We pull under the first big shady tree we find and as I open the door Cheryl blurts out: “There’s a lion!”
I didn’t get out of the car.
Right next to us was a lioness lying under the tree. Looking a bit closer though and she was a very sickly looking lion with little time left. We took our photos but became more and more uneasy looking at the animal. She really looked to be on her last legs. We also noticed a collar around her neck with a large white box on it. After debating what it could be we settled on it being a GPS tracking device for scientific study. Still, our hearts went out to the dying lion who looked so skinny and whose eyes were nowhere near as sharp as those we had seen in Etosha. Despite how sorry we felt for her, we decided not to get out of the car to share our lunch (or become lunch ourselves) and continued on to find the next shade (or the next, next shade, whichever was furthest from known lion locations.)
A quick lunch (this time with ample searching around the car before getting out) and a bit of a drive later and we found ourselves camping once again in the wild in the Hoanib river valley. I took a moment to do some exercises after a few long days in the car and we even attempted to wash ourselves with a little soap rather than just baby wipes. We felt refreshed and almost like respectable human beings.
We had a great spot to camp just above the river bed, off to the side, where we could see anything that happened to walk past without getting in its way. It’s a good thing we did too. As we were sitting around the camp fire have a deep discussion about the merits of removing Pluto from the planet list vs. the sentimental value of thinking that there is a cartoon dog orbiting the sun (we were discussing something like that at least) we heard a few twigs breaking in the river bed off to our right. At first we couldn’t tell what it was. It looked like a ghost in the dim moonlight, slowly and silently making its way down the river. As it approached it was clearly an elephant. Slow, silent and massive. It had most likely come from a waterhole slightly further upstream (or at least what should have been upstream if there had been water in the riverbed.)
We aren’t in a national park here, we are in an unprotected area but game still roams wild. It is true wilderness and animals aren’t used to seeing humans here. Because of this we’ve heard that elephants are much more testy here then we got used to in Mana Pools or Etosha.
We got in the car. (Of course I forgot the keys outside of the car though and the tent was open so we weren’t going anywhere too quickly…)
Despite all of the warnings the elephant just sauntered past without merely a glance of recognition in our direction. No “Yo. What’s Up?” No customary bro-to-bro head nod. No trunk up. Nothing. He just walked past. It was eerie though. He was a ghost. And then he was gone.
Now back to Pluto…
Sometimes you just need to work out after the long days in the car. Gets the energy out after sitting for so long.
After a workout I needed a beer.
Having a bit of fun with the shadows.