Saturday, September 7, 2019 | Namibia – Otjozondjupa Region, Otavi Mountains | Petra
SLEEPLESS IN NAMIBIA
SMALL MUDUMU NATIONAL PARK
September 01–03, 2019 | We left Zambia last week and are back in Namibia again. The day to go home is not far. We still have two weeks left, and we want to fully enjoy them. So we made our decision to explore the small Mudumu National Park, which is a big surprise in many ways.
SMALL BUT NICE
Mudumu National Park is located up in the North of Namibia, in the Zambezi region, where Namibia borders Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. With its 730 square kilometers, it is not a big park at all, but all the more exciting. There is no fence that could protect you against wild animals. That makes camping in the park very interesting.
Only three camping spots are available. They are one and three kilometers apart and offer neither water, electricity nor any other supply – just bush camp. Everything has to come with you on arrival and to leave with you on departure. The tracks in the park and to the individual campsites lead partly through deep sandy terrain and can only be used with 4×4 vehicles.
Of course we are fully responsible for our safety ourselves. We have to be careful and watch out not to be eaten. The danger lurks everywhere, because not only antelope, wildebeest and baboons live here. Hippos, elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas also call Mudumu National Park their home.
Even wilderness has its bureaucratic order, and so we register before entering the park at the park ranger’s office. We pay the entrance fee of 12 euros in total for two days which is astonishingly cheap, and are given the stamp of approval to camp at site number 3 directly on the banks of the Kwando. So let’s enjoy adventure!
EXCITING ANIMAL KINGDOM
Already a few kilometers off the paved transit road on a sandy track, we stop abruptly not to get caught in the middle of a herd of elephants with youngsters eating leaves and branches in the bush. My great hope to find at least a few elephants here is therefore fulfilled from the very beginning. That we will meet over three hundred pachyderms in the next two days and nights, sometimes in a distance, sometimes very close, we can not foresee at this first meeting.
Unlike other parks, we do not drive around here, but stay comfortably on our site number 3. Kwando River meanders its way through the wide landscape in front of us. This is a particularly beautiful sight in otherwise extremely dry Namibia. In addition, this at least cools the heat of the day with a temperature of 36 degrees.
The most beautiful birds are chirping everywhere, of which there are around 370 different species. In the water in front of us hippos are snorting and zebras, sable antelopes, roan antelopes, kudu and wildebeest approaching behind us to quench their thirst at the river or eat the golden yellow grass. There is a constant coming and going, and we can not get enough of watching and wondering.
Again and again elephants appear on the scene. At the riverbank, we sometimes count thirty or even fifty of these impressive giants in the distance. Also right next to us they appear, larger and smaller herds of eight, twelve or even twenty animals with cute elephant children in the middle. You can not hear them when moving their massive bodies through the bush in a parade, but suddenly here they are. Then they dip their long trunk into the cool water of the Kwando River and pour water in liter by liter. We can hear the deep rumble in their bellies, their way to communicate with each other.
They know exactly that we are there. Then they stop and check the security situation. Occasionally, a trunk stretches in our direction and absorbs our smell. They watch us very closely and attach great importance to respecting their comfort zone. An imperceptible command from the matriarch eventually ends the refreshing pleasure, and the herd quickly retreats into the bush. This is how it works several times a day.
Even at night, they are close to us. Then the rustling of the leaves and the cracking of the branches, which they devour in rough amounts, betrays them.
When the sun sets and it gets very dark very fast, we listen to the song of the cicadas and have a giggle over the loud snorts of the hippos. Millions of stars sparkle in the sky above us and a nice small campfire crackles at our feet. Yes, we admit it, even a hint of discomfort creeps in our thoughts here and there, because of the deep darkness around. Freedom, danger and adventure – bush-camping has its very own charm.
There are two reasons why we can not really sleep deeply at night. Either we listen intently to the unfamiliar, total silence of the night with the hope of at least a very small sound. Or the big troop of baboons in the tree above makes a racket that we get awake. (By the way, when a baboon coughs, it sounds like the coughing of an old man.) Fortunately it never lasts long and we still sleep softly into the cool morning.
A PARTICULAR BEAUTIFUL FAREWELL
Day and night we are as good as alone with the animals. Only two vehicles can be seen during the day at the vantage point, which is one kilometer away. Another drives purposefully past us. Otherwise there is total loneliness. We feel as if the whole park exists only for the animals and us. It’s pretty cool, is not it?
On the day of our departure, we then experience an exceptionally beautiful farewell scene. At dawn, a big elephant parade walks slowly, quietly and alertly, very close to our camp. They stop for a moment and look at us. It almost seems as if they softly say „Bye-bye!“.
And when we later leave the sand track to turn onto the park’s transit road, we see six beautiful wild dogs in front of us in the grass and on the road with their big, round ears.
They look at us curiously with their brown eyes. What a rare moment! I’ve never seen any in real before and Win so far only twice.
It is not easy for us to leave this wonderful place. We hope to come back soon.