We departed Swakopmund just after lunch towards a visible mass of clouds building up in the direction of Omaruru. We were on our way to Erind Private Game Reserve, a stunning 71,000 ha wildlife wilderness, just a few hours’ drive from both Swakopmund and Windhoek. We moved onto the D2328, excited, knowing that at any second the clouds would break. We neared the Erindi Private Game Reserve when finally with one loud bang of thunder the clouds opened with a torrential shower. The prospects of rain for the whole weekend seemed promising and it suddenly dawned on me we’d be camping in this outpour. My over joy for the rain turned to concern for setting up camp in this cloudburst. We entered the park and were soon met by a heard of Impala huddled up under the coverage of trees, looking as miserable as I felt at the realization that I decided on a camping weekend without first checking the forecast.
Roads soon washed away and we enjoyed testing the Volkswagen Amarok on 4×4 terrain. We drove through river after river and were in absolute awe when we drove through a vlei that seemed to last forever. We encountered a lone Elephant bull, who enjoyed the refreshing coolness the rain brought with it, and we stopped. The rain had become so dense that we couldn’t see within five meters in front of the vehicle, so we simply sat and enjoyed Mother Nature’s earthly nurturing.
The rain eased up and we were able to roll down our windows. The smell of wet soil and fresh air brought a new form of aliveness. We watched a heard of Springboks pronking in almost perfect alignment to Strauss’ “On the Beautiful Blue Danube”. A bright rainbow radiated on the horizon. The birds revived, shaking off the droplets from their feathers, singing in allegro. The Bush had once again come to life with an abundance of energy.
We arrived at Camp Elephant and gratefully set up camp in somewhat drier conditions. Camp Elephant offers 30 campsites and 15 self-catering chalets. Campsites are equipped with a luxury bathroom, fridge, and stove top. Chalets are equipped with crisp linen, a bathroom with solar geyser, a fully functional kitchen, and an open plan living area. These campsites are by far some of the best campsites in Namibia.
I lit a fire and sat staring into what I had always known as Bushmans Television, mesmerized by the luminous flames. Clearing my thoughts I settled my attention on the sounds of dusk approaching. A Hippopotamus wheezed in the background, soon he’d be roaring to life and leaving the waters to feed I thought. A concert of vibrating ribbets echoed from what must have been a thousand frogs, thriving. Every few minutes I heard a soft “prrrp” from the Scops Owl. With the fire out, we made our way to our semi dry tent. I fell asleep with a lion calling in the very far distant. His roar sounding louder and louder as he made his way closer. Early in the morning, an Impala sounded the alarm confirming my suspicions that the lion was now near. Tempted to get up and take a walk to the watering hole to catch a glimpse, I decided to stay in my warm, dry sleeping bag and fell asleep to Pearl Spotted Owlets rising gradually in volume and in pitch – “feu-feu-feu” ending on an explosive note of “peeooh peeooh”.
After a quick breakfast the next morning we were eager to get out into the Reserve. Armed with a permit and map we made our way across to the eastern part of the Reserve towards the Erongo Mountains hoping to encounter some of the many rare and endangered species conserved here. Home to Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions, Hyenas and even African Wild Dog, as well as several smaller species such as Caracals, Jackals, Aardvark, Ardwolf and Bat Eared Fox, the reserve has many wildlife sighting possibilities. We knew that because of the rain, there would be a lot of water in the bush and our chances where thus slim to see any of the above at any of the watering holes. We were hoping to encounter the lion we had heard calling in the night, but he escaped us.
The day however proved to be very successful. We had managed to see an abundance of wildlife and we must have been very lucky because we even managed to spot a Cheetah.
Erindi is a favourable destination to both locals and foreign visitors. Besides the rich wildlife it has to offer, the Reserve is situated on a central plateau and makes for interesting geology. Its vegetation ranges from savannah to thorny bushveld and there are over 300 species of birds to be found.
The clouds looked dark and heavy towards late afternoon and we decided to make our way back to camp. We spotted a Fish Eagle and some Marabou Storks at a large vlei and decided to stop for some photographs. The clouds proved to be a very dramatic background for the Fish Eagle. A Marabou had caught a fish and just as he was about to swallow it the Fish Eagle leapt from the tree, dove towards the Marabou and stole his fish. What happened next can only be described as an aerial tug of war. The Marabou never stood a chance. We watched as the Fish Eagle flew off, fish in talon, just as it started raining again.
Back at camp we were grateful for the hot plate that was provided. Rain meant we could not light a fire to braai. After dinner we resorted to our tent and I fell asleep listening to the rain drops falling on the tent canvas.
I awoke to Laughing Doves and Red Billed Francolins announcing first light. Unzipping the tent I stared into the distance, watching the day break and feeling the sunrise on my skin. A new day had arrived and brought with it endless of possibilities, many new adventures and more rain.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine in Namibia, rain is a welcomed change. Vegetation turns lush green and animals seem to have an extra “umf” of energy. Camping in rainfall is not everyone’s cup of tea, so be sure to check the forecast, but most Namibians have a special appreciation for rain. It’s a great excuse to kick of your shoes, walk barefoot and be one with nature again.