Relaxing in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia
We leave Lüderitz early and head into the heart of the Kalahari Desert. It's a 7-hour drive, pretty much desert all the way, and in over the 380 kilometres we only pass four vehicles. We pulled into a rest area for lunch and as I was getting out the car I hear a loud hissing noise coming from the rear "Damn, we have a puncture" I tell the others. We km's away from anything, I work out the hydraulic jack, change the wheel and we push on after lunch and stop in Mariental to get the puncture repaired We noticed one of the wheels was on its last legs so decide to get that replaced also (it was actually the tyre we had bought in Knysna ripped off by the grumpy Dave it seems).
We arrive at the Kalahari Resort just as sun is setting. We had booked a camping pitch but they have plenty of room available so we strike a deal to get upgraded to the pool rooms with dinner and breakfast included. We have not seen much game on the menu on our travels but tonight the choice is either oryx steak or springbok potjie.
The beauty of travelling with our kids and educating them on the road is that learning can happen at any time and is a lot more 'hands on.' Tonight, for example, we took them on a star safari. They got to see the Milky Way, clearly, through a telescope (Meade 200), as well as Jupiter with its two bands and four moons. They also got to see the rings of Saturn, Mars, a star cluster called Omega Centauri, the jewel box and the moon.
The kids really have taken an interest in the stars on this trip and our star safari guide is blown away by the number of constellations the kids can name. Maddalena is extremely excited by seeing the rings of Jupiter - it's something she has been asking to see for some time on this trip.
The guide is so taken aback by their enthusiasm for the night sky that he invites them back for lunch tomorrow to look at the sun. There is a huge solar flare coming out of the sun at the moment, he says, and the kids nod their heads enthusiastically.
Our plan is to spend four days here resting and catching up on school work. It is near impossible to do school work when on the road. You need somewhere to sit with the kids to make sure they understand what they are learning.
We had an activity book every day to fit in with the school work and on the second day was cheetah feeding, we left close to sunset and entered the cheetah area, 3000 Hectares for the to roam around, the open sided vehicle pulled up right next to 2 cheetahs waiting to be fed, Edwina was in her element being so close to take photos. Once the meat had been handed out we were invited to get out of the vehicle. We got extremely close and enjoyed watching these magnificent creatures close up eating their dinner. The kids were not allowed out on the truck, not that they would have gone, they were pretty terrified by the idea. We then headed to a dune in the Kalahari for drinks and snacks, we spotted a cape cobra up in a tree on top of a large bird's nest, looks like the snake was also looking for dinner.
The next day we went on a bushman walk with the San People to learn more about their traditions and way of life.
The San are a nomadic people, but sadly most of the land they wandered across has been taken away from them. There are only a few nomadic tribes living the traditional life these days, this was a demonstration village setup by the tribe who used to wander these parts.
Our guide introduced us to a bushman and translated his 'clicking' language into English. He took us a little way into the scrub and showed the children how to trap an ostrich by creating a wire trap that would behead it, what to do if they were stung by a scorpion and how to stop constipation in the bush. When we got to the village we were welcomed by an elder who showed them a small bow and went on to explain its significance.
It was a love bow, apparently, and when the bushman needed a wife he would walk to the next village and 'shoot' any eligible woman who took his fancy on the bottom. The bow is small and the arrows are not sharp enough to pierce the skin, so it is largely ceremonial. The woman would then either leave the arrow on the ground or place it on her heart to show she had accepted the offer, not much time to decide on whom you may spend the rest of your life with.
Luca is too young to be looking for a wife, but he was quite taken by the tiny bow and arrow. The quiver is made of Oryx horn and Springbok skin, and decorated with discs made from Ostrich bone and egg shell. He then spends the rest of the day shooting his arrows. Let's just hope he doesn't get back to the UK and start shooting arrows at a girl's bottom!
Our final day in the Kalahari is very relaxing - just school work and pool time. This short break has been just what we needed to get the kids to do regular lessons. They have been fired up by what they learned from the star safari guide and the bushmen and tackle the lessons with enthusiasm and no complaints.
Our final day in the Kalahari is very relaxing - just school work and pool time. Edwina takes the kids on a horseback safari, the kids loved it riding up in the sand dunes and then just on dusk riding back under the stars. Arabella is admit she wants a horse when back in the UK, Nervous at first, Maddalena also rides a horse solo, Luca gets on and just wants the horse go faster. I couldn't do the horseback safari so I ended up heading for an afternoon nature drive and cheetah feeding again.
It's been a good four days relaxing, getting on top of the blog and photos and getting the kids to do regular lessons, something that they have been really willing to do. We met another likeminded family with 2 boys similar in age to our kids, they enjoyed an afternoon of swimming and playing whilst Edwina and I enjoyed talking travel adventures, they had travelled for 22 months overland before kids and now store a vehicle in South Africa and whilst the kids are on 2 weeks school holidays have travelled to Namibia.
Early the next morning we head to the big dunes of Namibia.