Jess and I took Trish’s old Cape Town friend Val Excell and her brother Paul Gaillard to Mfolosi for a night. We finally got to stay in Mpila camp. We’ve been wanting to stay at Mpila as it is better situated for the drives in the southwest of the park along the Black Mfolosi river, but it has always been booked up for weekends. This was Thursday night, so easy to book at short notice.
Val is losing her short-term memory so is battling a bit with day-to-day stuff but her lovely sense of humour is intact and anyway our memories with her go back years and she remembers that stuff well. Her brother Paul Gaillard was involved in the establishment of safari companies like Afro Ventures (which had taken me on my first trip to Botswana in 1985) so we had lots to talk about.
Geoffrey Kay, birding optometrist, ‘ornithoptometrist’?, put together a trip to Namibia in 1986.
We landed in Windhoek, picked up a VW kombi and rigged it up with a nice big hebcooler in the back. Ice, beer, gin & tonic. Now we were ready for any emergency.
West to Daan Viljoen game park where a lion’s roar welcomed us that first night. On through the Khomas Hochland into the Namib Desert. Then on to the Atlantic Ocean at Swakopmund. On to Spitzkoppen; Usakos; Erongo Mountains; Karabib; Omaruru; Otjiwarongo; and Outjo;
Then up to Etosha: Okakuejo, Halali and Namutoni camps. In Etosha we saw a very rare night ‘bird‘; Seldom seen.
Then on to Tsumeb; the Waterberg; Okahandja; And back down to Windhoek.
Geoff Kay, Jurgen Tolksdorf, Jill Seldon, Mick Doogan, Me & Aitch; Three optometrists and three normal people.
We spotted 200 bird species that week! Also a new mammal for me: The Damara DikDik.
Jurgen Tolksdorf newbie birder spotted many birds for us with his keen eye. “What’s that?” he’d say. In Etosha one night we woke up to the b-b-b-b-bhooo of a white-faced owl near our tents. We shook everyone awake and grabbed our torches and binocs and went to look for it. Except Jurgen. He said “A WHAT?” and rolled over and went back to sleep with a snort. We searched in vain and got back to bed very late, disappointed.
After a short sleep, on our way back from breakfast we met Jurgen who had risen late after a long night’s sleep and was now on his way to eat. While we chatted he looked up in the tree above our heads and said “What’s that?”.