An Ongoing Journey through Africa & The Middle East [PIC HEA


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Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 29, 2013 - 06:58pm PT! What an incredible adventure and what an amazing job of photo documentation. Keep the reports coming!
Timid TopRope

Social climber
'used to be Paradise, CA
Jun 30, 2013 - 01:28pm PT
This is better than National Geographic. Great photos. Looking forward to more. Thanks for sharing with us. The bird you were asking about is a species of stork but I don't know many birds outside of the USA.

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 2, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
I am currently sitting outside the lodge center for our camping area and its closed, their internet is super slow and I only have 15% battery power left. So this is the biggest post I could get done with those obstacles!

When we left Livingstone we drove through Zambia on the way to the Namibian border. There was something we read that warned of more potholes then pavement in the Zambian roads and we were experiencing that! It was terrible. I was scared of going over 60km/hr at times because of the massive car swallowing holes that would appear. We finally made it to Namibia and cruised through the border. Once in Namibia there was a nice change of pace as the scenery opened up and the country seemed vast and relatively unpopulated.

The first night we stayed on the banks of the Okavango River, which was a beautiful place. I have pictures...there not up yet and frankly I'm not sure where my edits went! Oh well, I don't have many of that area so I'll find them later and upload them. Until then...

We continued on to a place that we were told we should go. The worlds largest meteorite just happened to be sitting on a farm somewhere in Namibia. We headed that direction and stumbled on the Hoba Meteorite.

That is ony big hunk of space metal! Do you see the peanut? (Joe Dirt reference)

After that quick stop we continued to our main destination, the Etosha Pan. This area had been highly recommended by everyone, including friends in Alaska who had been to Namibia. So we were excited to see it for ourselves. The first night we stayed just outside the park gate at a wonderful lodge called Onguma. Camping in these countries is really amazing. For $12 per person we got to sit in their really nice fancy lodge and use all their amenities. We definitely feel spoiled at times. This lodge also had a water hole that you could sit and watch while eating dinner.

Whenever we were at the lodge, this is where we would spend our time.

The next morning we woke at a brisk 5:40am so we could be in the gate right when it opened. After just a few hundred yards through the gate we saw our first Black Rhino of the trip. This is Africa's most endangered.

We quickly realized that much of the park has very open territory. This seemed a bit different then Kruger National Park in South Africa, where much of the park had taller bushes or trees (at least the parts we visited).
Also instead of a million Impala, we would now be seeing tons of Springbok. Which, I think look a bit more colorful anyhow.

Jackels are a constant fixture in these areas. Its the american version of a Coyote. So there will be plenty of pictures that I post of them from time to time.

And then we finally saw our first leopard. We had visited all these parks and done all of the game drives and had still never seen a leopard! Unfortunately the moment was fleeting. The leopard crossed the road in front of me and when I finally got to where it was it was walking away. Still it was great to finally see one!

Portions of the pan itself.

A Kori Bustard drinking, the largest bird in the world that can still fly.

A new animal for us to gaze upon, the Gemsbock or Oryx. This is an incredible animal that is also quite dangerous when driving around. Apparently at night, instead of the usual deer in the headlights look, they will actually put their horns down and charge your car head on....not good.

And as my last image for this post, there will be tons of pictures of these guys!

Alright thats it for my battery life!

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Jul 2, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
Outstanding collections of photos and commentary, amazing trip of a lifetime! Supertopo has compiled an impressive list of good threads, and for me this is one of the best.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 2, 2013 - 09:51pm PT
Truly fantastic, both photos and commentary. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to post this. I have read each and every caption while marveling at all the photos, and look forward to more.


Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2013 - 03:50pm PT
Thank you Jan, nutjob, Donini, and everyone else who is taking the time to read this! Here's some more.

Ok I was sitting here rueing this post a bit. Mainly because it's going to be such an undertaking! Oh well, here we go!

My last post ended in the middle of our first day in Etosha National Park. Which is going to encompass a ton of photos so I won't commentary them all!


There were lots of Giraffe at this watering hole.

The funniest thing you will find at a water hole is a giraffe drinking. They get real close and then splay their legs out and bend down to the water. Then when they are done its a big wet slurp.

Most of the terrain in Etosha is flat great visibility. If it's standing, you'll probably see it.

Sometimes if it is laying down as well.

Oh and this is a Gemsbock, they are beautiful!

When we were at Kruger National Park we would head to the watering holes where there would occasionaly be animals. The problem there is that they have a lot of water located in the rivers and so the watering holes are not always so populated. In Etosha, you can easily just drive to a watering hole and wait the day away watching what comes to drink.

Its just amazing to watch everything come and go. In a few minutes the scenery changes to a whole new set of animals.

And they don't always get along. For example, this angry little warthog.

He went after everyone.

Not everyone was fighting.

A Kudu, it seems impossible for hunters to look at this animal without making a gun with their hand and pretend shooting at it.

This gal wanted to jump in and surprised everyone.


Lots of them...

We were going on one of our normal drives, where we would leave the camp and be gone until the gate closed, when we ran into this guy. We came around the corner and he was walking directly toward us. I waited until he got pretty close then backed up until he decided to head off the road. That is really intimidating!

We went to another watering hole and found some elephants. That always makes Shasta happy. If you ever have a problem with an elephant, DONT honk your horn. It sounds like the babies to them and they will rip your car open trying to find them.

The elephant equivalent of NO PICTURES!! NO PICTURES!!

As we rushed to make it to the camp in time, if you don't get there when the gate closes it is a big fine, we found a Hyena eating a turtle! Definitely worth some pictures.

This is what the drive back to camp looked like.

Short intermission!

Social climber
Jul 6, 2013 - 04:29pm PT
Thanks Kelsey for posting these. Just spent my lunch time here scrollin' through & readin' through the entire thread. BEST THREAD ON THE FRONT PAGE RITE NOW !!!!!

And yes I know Zambia is a country :-) . Scary to read what happened to you there but understandable in a country with the difficulties it has.


Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2013 - 05:11pm PT
Thanks Tami! Zambia is a cool place for the most part, I'd love to come back and fish for tigers some more. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Ok where was I.

Our first night in Etosha we stayed at Numatoni Camp. There are three camps within the park all spelled incorrectly by me as: Numatoni, Halali, and Okakuhejo.

We woke up the next morning to try and see some lions or another leopard. Instead it was a quiet morning at the water hole with some endangered black-face impala.

It was our first experience of seeing an Eland, which is Southern Africas biggest antelope.

Etosha Pan is well known for its mirages.

Zebra are not always nice!

Here a springbok is pronking. Its what they call it when they bound along.

This amazing and small mammal is called a damara dik-dik. They have very large eyes.

While we were in Zambia we met a few people who lived in Africa. One of them was named Longinus. He lived in a small village north of Oshakati in the northern areas of Namibia. He invited us to his house and we took him up on it. It was quite the experience! Here, i believe it was one of his cousins, is grinding the marula nut into a paste which was added to some oil. It was then added to chicken and pap (which is almost like a heavy paste of grits.)

In these areas the whole family lives in one "village" which is enclosed by a wall. This is where we stayed.

Here is Longi and his grandmum. Who seemed pretty spry. When we arrived we gave her a loaf of bread as a gift and had learned the proper way to greet with respect in their language. It went like this.

Walala po meme?

It is basically like saying:

How are you?
You are good?

Only with respect.

Because she was so happy with our gift and that they had visitors, we were given a live chicken.

Shasta was told to carry it back to our side of the village.

We took it back where Shasta and Longi's mom killed it and pulled the feathers. A few hours later we were eating it with our crushed marula nut oil. Delicious!

The view from our room, also the fire and dining area of the previous night.


They use their crops for many uses.

Heres a little story I forgot about that previous day. We had tried to get into Angola. We previously hadn't planned on it but Longi said he liked to go up there and that it wouldn't be a problem, so we decided to try. We pulled into the lot and instantly got hassled by a few guys who were even making Longi uncomfortable. We walked into the customs office where the customs guy yelled at us "Watch those men! They are trying to rob you!" In the end it was a fruitless venture, as you need to apply for a visa ahead of time to get into Angola. Oh well, next time!

That morning after being in the village we stopped at a street vendor and ate Copani. Which is just beef. The red in the upper portions of this image is where they are cutting it right from the cow. Now that is fresh! And it was amazingly delicious!

We dropped Longi off at his work in Ondongwa and then headed back for Etosha National Park. Two days there was simply not enough! So here's a bunch more pictures of animals!


I believe this is a Large spotted Genet. It was hard to tell has he was hiding.

I had no idea that elephants rest their legs this way.

Sometimes spotting game in the park was a real trick!

Other times, it was impossible to miss.

You stay on your side...and I'll stay on mine.

The sunset routine is something like this : Just keep taking pictures, you are guaranteed to get something good.

We stayed that night at Onguma Lodge, as we had before. It was a great place and we were happy to return for our cheap camping. The sign had some odd advice however...

The next morning it was back to driving around. These days of driving the park are great but they have one huge drawback. For the most part you are never allowed to get out of the vehicle unless you are at a camp. That includes just stretching your legs. Here's part of the reason why...

And they do get close.

They were eating something and the Jackals were wanting in on it.

Random Zeb.


Red Hartebeest

Zebra's...reflected in a Zebra eye.

Laying down on the job.

And that is all I have uploaded for the moment! Tonight I am going to set it to upload and hopefully I have much more to post tomorrow. I have my favorite lion photos of the entire trip still to come!! Thanks for reading!

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 6, 2013 - 09:23pm PT
Thanks again for posting!

The Granite State.
Jul 6, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Keep the pictures coming! Seems as if you're having an amazing trip!
goatboy smellz

Jul 6, 2013 - 10:24pm PT
Thanks for the trip Kelsey, your photos are very inspirational & show deep respect to the wildlife and culture.
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Jul 6, 2013 - 10:41pm PT
Loving the share, thanks so much.
Those are painted storks on the previous page if I'm not mistaken.

Wonderful colors captured.


Social climber
Jul 7, 2013 - 01:56am PT
Again, wow. Just wow.

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 7, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
Jan, Brandon, goatboy, Dehli dog, and Tami - Thanks for the comments! :)

Here's another huge post.

This is going to be a big post. I apologize for those of you who have a bandwidth limit.

Remember earlier when I said we stayed on the Okavango? I finally got those pictures up. So here hey are!

This is a view from our tent.

Crocs and Hippos live in those waters.

Perfects evenings.

Now back on track...

We managed to find a place on Etosha Pan where you could drive onto the pan and actually get out of the vehicle. So we stayed a while and played around.

These are my feet. And this is what they look like since I arrived in Africa.

We jumped around a lot too. We don't get out of the car much so we took advantage.

Alas, we had to continue the drive.


More Jackals.

We were getting ready to head back to our camping area but figured we had enough time to check out one more watering hole. As I was driving down the road I spotted something sitting under a tree. It was a lion!! Finally!! We quickly slowed down and pull right up next to the lions as they were hanging out under the tree in the parking area.

There were two females and a big male.

I was very excited to finally get such close up pictures of wild lions!

As I was taking the shot above Shasta followed the females gaze and out of the trees walked 4 females and 3 cubs! We felt incredibly lucky to see 10 lions at once and we were right in the middle of them.

We looked out eachothers windows and snapped hundreds of pictures. The lions under the tree were less then 15 feet from our car while the others were on the other side at the watering hole.

Theres a lot of lion pictures...but I was so excited to take them that now I have to post them!

This little one was getting a little to close to the water.

So this one came and dragged it off.

This one was just watching. It's interesting because I really should have put my lens hood on but I liked the effect so much I just went with it. At time's its a bit much but overall, I'm happy.

The big male tried to mount a few females and then he walked around our car and gave us a good view from a different angle.

Had enough lion pictures yet? No? Oh good, me neither...

Okay I'll end this lion experience with the money shot. Color or black and white? I can't choose.

Okay, that was a ridiculous amount of lions! We drove back to our campsite, coming in a few minutes late due to a big bull elephant in the road who nearly charged a camper truck, and woke to another beautiful day. We were excited to see if the lions were still there so we went back to our water hole. I think it was spelled something like Neaumses. The lions were still there but they had moved off further away.

This bird was there too.

As were the Guineafowl. Because they are everywhere...

We continued to another watering hole, Reitfontein, and pulled up to find another 4 lions. These were further off but how lucky could we get!

To say there were a lot of animals at this watering hole would be a huge understatement. They were all a little skiddish.

So were just about to leave, figuring we've seen all the lions we will see for the rest of Africa. Then two big males come walking out of the bushes.

And now everything is acting a little more nervous.

After a while we decided to take a drive to find wild dogs. Which we wouldn' don't anyone get any hopes up because from what I have seen in pictures, they are unbearably cute. But we did find giraffe bones.

And the squirrel species called Chuck Norris Squirrels, on account of their giant nuts.

But there was someone nearby trying to take him on.

Yellow Mongoose, big carrier or rabies. How unfortunate for such a pretty weasel.

Okay, so were counting ourselves extremely lucky to have seen 16 lions in just two days. Were heading back and we decide to go to a place called Oliphant something or another (If you are really curious, I'll look it up proper). Once we arrive we see another lion. This is just getting to much!

What is he looking at? Oh, of course, its another male lion walking out of the bushes. He came right from where we were two seconds ago!

And behind him is another male. Thats 3 big males at this one watering hole!

Would you want to be attacked by this? Seriously, stay in your car.

That was a lot of lions. 19 lions in 24 hours. It was time to head back for our last nights stay in Etosha.

It was finally time to leave Etosha. I have to say I am sad to have to leave! I could spend another week in there driving around and seeing all those amazing animals. But there is a lot more country to see. So we continued our drive and stopped in a town who's name has escape me. We decided to go to a small crocodile farm and check it out.

They had lots of crocs at different sizes. Especially hungry ones.

We continued the really long drive toward Spitzkoppe but didn't quite make it before dark. We stopped at a place called Buschhotel and instantly Shasta and I fell in love with the place. We were the only ones there and it was an amazingly quiet, clean, safe, place.

If you go there, make sure you get room #3, it was the coolest room and only $50 per night for two people. We still camped, hey $16 is hard to beat, but we really wanted to do the room. But we are also pretty much out of money and coasting through Africa at this point! Just saving enough for gas and accommodation.

Dining on swinging tables.

Seeing weird trees.

A very german house and building. Reception is in there.

And then we arrive at the most awesome campsite yet and area. Oh and some rock climbing for those itching for some out of the car adventure!

It's the Spitzkoppe!

This is our campsite, there are bolted climbs on those rocks behind our tent. It took 5 seconds to get to or first climb of the trip.

This was a view to the right of our tent.

And from straight out.

This is the Spitzkoppe form the "easy" side.

Whew, that may be enough for tonigh. We'll see!

Social climber
Jul 8, 2013 - 01:29am PT
hey there say, wow! prezwoodz, don't know how i missed this, :O
but then, with slower dial up stuff this year i sure miss a lot, :(

and then, too, getting paintings and yard work, on going, have less time
to FIGHT with this ol' thankful-to-have-but-hard-on-the-ol-body, machine, :)

wonderful shares!!! did you get my email???
am sending the address in the morning... :)

happy safe trip, still, and more prayers...
god bless!!!

Social climber
Jul 8, 2013 - 02:02am PT
Excellent straddle jump. Gnarly croc.

Still followin' along.

Safe travel to you & Shasta !!!

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
Jul 8, 2013 - 03:25am PT
Right on! I've been from lanai, HI to St Petersburg, RU since you started and have loved this TR of sorts. Big Thanks for your efforts to carry us along.

Reminds me of only a week I had to visit in Kenya, and I have not been to zoo since.

Well I'm back on Lanai, camping by the beach, and just wanted to say Mahalo. Great thread.

Aloha, will

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jul 8, 2013 - 10:44am PT

wow there are some stunning scored posting up at that watering hole, a who's who of African fauna!

great jumping shots...and crazy that asteroid was able to land in that little circled viewing area. Bulls eye! ;)

thanks for sharing, keep traveling!!!

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 03:59am PT
Thanks Everyone for the posts!

Neebee - I've got your address from the email, thanks!

Tami - Glad your still following along!

Nohea - Where's the pics and TR of your journey??

Roxy - It was funny to see it in the viewing area. We expected something different too!

We’ve spent the last week attempting to get internet and its been a total failure for the most part. We got just enough to reply to some emails and that’s been it. We finally get a place that has internet and they forgot to pay their bill on time, so its been shut off and they estimate 6 hours before its on. Sometime around 2am. Which is the usual speed for anything to get done here in Africa, or as they would say “just now-now.”

Sometimes this is how things must be done in a country where you are not supposed to leave your hostel at night. I am writing this into Microsoft word, then I will transfer it later to the net and insert pictures there. Not always the easiest, but sometimes it is what works!

So, I think we were just getting to the Spitzkoppe? Well we didn’t waste any time and climbed a few routes our first day. Although I didn’t take any pictures of that climbing. It had been so long since we got on some real rock we were actually feeling pretty rusty and spent the day finding out how to move again. But where better then in the mountains to find a groove again!

Climbing in the Spitzkoppe is excellent. The rock is a very sticky granite much like Joshua Tree and there were plenty of fun sport lines on the massive boulders around the camping areas. Still, we wanted to climb something bigger. The guidebook quickly let us know that we would need two 60 meter ropes for almost any descent (we only had one) and trad gear was preferred (which we didn’t have). So it was slim pickens on the big routes. We decided on just doing a hike/scramble up a peak called Pontok 3, the nice big dome in this picture. There is an excellent looking trad line up the middle of the face.

We started our hike on a ridge and found the travel to be fairly easy.

We trudged on through some cactus and large boulder hopping that reminded us of home and Hatcher Pass in Alaska. The final portion of the hike is the best, it is easy 5th class scrambling up to the summit over slightly exposed faces with excellent views.

The mountains in Namibia seem to come from nowhere and suddenly rise to the clouds.

On top we found a rather old and nice summit register. There was even an entry from someone who carried their 8 month old to the top!

There are some really fun climbs on this section. Approaches are minimal.

At the end of the small road is a camping site. One of the many nestled amongst the rocks.

Local plant life taking over.

We decided to do some climbing on the formation that I showed in the picture above. At this time we were pretty tired after the hike. Especially since we had been sitting in the car for the last month taking pictures out the window! But it was great to be getting back into it. Shasta didn’t feel quite as confident on this one however.

It included moves like shoving yourself into a bulge head first and seeing if you could get out. Very awkward!

Then more fun moves to some bigger holes and another spot to shove yourself into.

Then a thank god jug and all is well!

Sort of…

But the approach was brutal. It took at least 5 seconds. But that was only because I parked so far away.

Many of the formations can be easily scrambled to the top for excellent nighttime viewing.

They also have some cool arches!

Shasta kissing a shadow.

And heres is a few more of the arch…because they can be quite beautiful.

I believe this is the tallest mountain in Namibia, Brandenberg Peak.

More Spitzkoppe Peak.

Some night time fun.

Pontok’s 2,3, and 4

The Rhino’s horn. Awesome! (John, are you thinking what I am thinking?)

By our final day our fingers were feeling quite tender from the very solid granite. So we decided on an incredibly easy (South African Rating 15) 3 pitch route up this lower face.

I got to the bottom and once again discovered I had left my climbing shoes at the car. It was fine though because I was wearing my New Balance Minimus shoes and they sure seem to grip the rock well!

Although to be honest some of the slabby sections seemed a bit steep for those shoes, and the 15 -20 foot runouts in a few sections made me feel a little nervous. But all went well. Shasta seemed to be enjoying it too.

A lot of not-yet-polished rock that reminded me very much of Tuoulmne Meadows.

It was a quick walk down and back to the car. One more shot of the face and the surrounding area.

As sad as we were to leave, it had to be done. There is still so much to see and our 4 days in the Spitzkoppe gave us a good light introduction. It was time to head to the coast!

Swakopmund is on the coast of Namibia and was highly recommended as a place to visit. When we got there it was mainly foggy and damp. It stayed that way the whole time we were there, but it was nice to see some water again. The first thing we did was visit a gems gallery where they housed the Worlds Largest Quartz Crystal on Display. It was pretty huge.

We only had a short time in Swakopmund so we decided on a boat and 4x4 tour that would be around 6 or 7 hours. The boat tour was interesting and included interactions where the seal would swim into the boat and then walk around. You could feed it by hand. There were a lot of them.

There were also a lot of very friendly pelicans which would land in the boat and then walk around looking for fish handouts.

They had very colorful red eyes!

Is that enough pictures of Pelicans? Probably....

But since they were posing so nicely. Here's just one more!

We also saw dolphins.

And Pelicans! Oh wait...

Get out of here pelicans...were on to dolphins now.

As you can tell by the weather it was a bit cold! Who knew we would be cold in Namibia?

We were in Walvis Bay which is apparently world famous for oysters. Here are some oyster farms.

They are very proud of their oysters and say they are less slimy and more meaty. I didn't notice to much difference but I'm not that well versed in oysters.

What is that....?

Ok guys seriously?! You had your turn pelicans...ok that is pretty cool.

Oh and there were seals. But we would see many more of those later.

And Humpback whales. A very active day for wildlife!

We then landed back on shore and hopped into a land rover with a few other people to be driven to Sandwich Bay which, we had heard, was supposed to be excellent. On the side of the road were flamingos! I had been wanting to see flamingos this entire time! So here's a bunch of pictures of them.

Greater and lesser flamingo's!

That should be enough for now! I was going to post more but just found out that I don't have any of the next photos online! Somehow I uploaded some from later but missed those. Double darn!

Hopefully I can post some more soon!

Jul 17, 2013 - 10:44am PT
Awesome photos, Kelsey!
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