Being a tour guide for my parents was a completely new thing. It brought me a whole bunch of experiences and challenges too. At the start i did a selfie with my crappy cellphone at train station for remembering reason and posted it on Instagram. I repeated it at airport. Somehow i liked it and went on picturing my parents in this selfie style throughout our trip in Namibia. It became a collection of selfies of our journey.
What’s the fascination of the Himba people? Is it their ancient and traditional lifestyle? Is it the bronze color of your skin? Or is it because they walk almost naked but freely and proud trough life? I hear people joking about the nakedness of Himbas, giggeling about bare breasts. I sense how people are unnaturally ashamed about the shameless nature of the Himba tribe. So were my parents rather shy in beginning of our visit in this Himba village. The locals acted completely natural, looked self confident in my camera and went on with their daily work. Of course, i went with my parents to a village open for tourists. The people are used on curious visitors, showed us how the live and what is important in their life and culture. Their proud and serious look turned into a big smile when i showed them the photos on display or tried to imitate their language. Kids played on the ground, made fun of me when i try to catch them with my Nikon and just stick some sweets in my mouth. Meat hung in front of houses, which are circled around an inner fence for the cattle. In centre is always a holy fire too. Everyone takes care it burns eternal, but the chief of the village takes highest responsibility of it. A big income are the little handicraft market, displayed on the ground. I couldn’t resist to take a souvenir myself, but the nicest remembering are the feeling how strange but natural in same time it felt to be amongst those peaceful people.
We’ve been lucky in Etosha Nationalpark spotting lots of wildlife such as rhinos, giraffes, elephants and even lions. To see cheetahs are rarer and to observe and photograph leopards needs much more time, patience and luck. I remembered a guest farm who offered wildlife watching with a guarantee. Not really my thing but just right to give my parents the opportunity to observe those proud animals from close-by.
The driver entered a gate, called some names and get off the car. He elicits the animals with big lumps of raw meat. Two cheetahs appeared, well known their food arrived. For the sake of the tourists pleasure he plays with the animals, teased them with the meat and give them some strokes.
That’s different with the leopard within the fence. Those animals stays really wild and are not to trust, the driver explains. With big precaution he puts the meat on several places, also on big branches of a tree. A pair of eyes already watched him. A tense silence amongst the tourists in the open safari car, when they spotted the back of the leopard in the high grass. Some whispers started when that proud animal lifted its head. Then the cameras began to click, the photo session started.
San people used to be hunters and gatherers. The movie „the gods must be crazy“ gave a strong impression about their life in the Kalahari bush. However, i got aware of the ‚Ombili Project‘ nearby, which was founded to help the San people, who suffer from losing they’re natural habits. On the way to this ‚cultural village‘ i explained my parents what i know about the life of this tribe. Contrary to my expectations and explanations after arrival we’ve seen neither their nomadic huts, nor hunters with poisoned arrows. Instead we got introduced in the huge garden behind solid brick buildings and explained about their success with cattle. The Ombili project turns out to be rather an agriculture school in purpose to give the upcoming generations of San people a new future. Nevertheless there is still a corner in the village to satisfy the visitors with their images of old traditional huts, fire making with a stick and a group who sings wonderful old, traditional songs.
A nationalpark is not a zoo. The opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat comes not with a guarantee. Only time and luck (and some knowledge about habits of animals) let you observe most of these fascinating creatures. Because we planned two days in the park only, i kept the expectations low. But it wasn’t necessary. Already at the first waterhole many animals gathered for drinking. Later we’ve seen not only a lion in distance but twice a pack of lions laying around lazy or watching us just next to the road in the bush. My parents were amazed. Next to giraffes, different kind of antelopes, birds, jackals, warthogs, elephant bulls and huge herds of zebras, we spot twice the very rare black rhinos. To see them so close amazed now me. After the overpriced and rather disappointing group tour in Serengeti/Ngorogoro Parks few weeks earlier, Etosha Park was a short but incredible experience again.
I talked about the desert elephants and how rare they’re to see, as i noticed a car parking next to the gravel road. And yes, the couple in that car spotted two elephant bulls roaming in nearby bush. Along the road we’ve been lucky with more attractions as a black cobra, once alive since there are many dead snakes on the road, more of the unique welwitschia plants or huge termite hills.
A guide explained the origin of the wood and how it came many thousands years ago down to Nambia, covered by mud and clay and turned slowly to minerals and stone. The colors, the structure of the bark and even the year rings look still like the wood, but if you touch it you feel cold, hard stone.
I agree, the rock formations looks strange, but to see the „organ pipes“ needs good will and some fantasy. However, impressive are those vertical piles anyway. That black hill nearby called „burnt mountain“. Some minerals let it appears much darker as the surroundings rocks.
Highlight of the day was undoubtedly the rock engravings of Twyfelfontein. Over a big area are amazing witnesses of ancient culture engraved in rocks. The early San people probably used the rocks as a school board to teach the youngsters about nature and hunting, or some guys were just bored without TV and became artist accidentally …who knows for certain the truth. My parents, however, found the heat and the stony paths more challenging. Lucky there wasn’t much other people around who wanted the rare shade too. The newly bought hats, which my parents wore proudly, helped too. Myself was proud they made it trough all the rocky obstacles to follow me to the different sites and my explanations.
Not much to see on the coastal road, my stepdad moans. So i was challenged to show the beauty along the road. A sandstorm shaked us up on the long drive to Hentjes Bay, where we met the Atlantic Ocean. The wind freshed the waves up for big surfs, hitting the beach with roars. Following the coastline on hard earthen road, we were passing salt fields. Wooden tables with snow white or pink salt crystals were displayed for sale. Stop, i gotta fetch one, my mom asked. She picked a small nice pink colored one and we drove off into the smell of the seal colony at Cape Cross. Thousands of those animals playing in the water, lazing on the rocks and even occupying what supposed to be a picnic spot for visitors. The spectators doesn’t mind anyway, but were busy with selfies with the seals. As we did do. Just next to the mass of those mammals, two crosses for remembering the first landing of Portuguese sailor Diogo Cão at 1484 are erected. Another selfie and a brief explanation of the history were done there, although i knew the historical datas are sooner forgotten than the stench of the seals.