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THE TWIN RIVERS TRIP (Kunene and Orange)

October 2003 saw the biggest and longest trip we have undertaken. The number of people (11) meant that we had to split into two separate trips as we were unable to find accommodation for the combined group. The first trip (covered on this page) used two planes: a Cessna 210 (V5-SWV) carrying 4 people and a Cessna 182 (V5-JRW) carrying 3 people.  JRW was, we believe, built in 1961 (!) and used to be a sky-diving plane in Swakopmund under a different call-sign. This is usually a worrying sign but the plane performed very well throughout the trip.

The second trip took off a week later in one plane (a Cessna 182 called V5-JOG) carrying 4 people (Murli, Larissa, Finn and Anne) and followed a different routing. At this stage no details or photos from this trip are presented here.

The following table and map show the planned routing details - some 15 hours of flying:

 

We started in the Etosha National Park (Mokuti Lodge). The rainy season had not commenced and the drought had killed off several giraffes. The first pic below shows a thunder storm in the distance. The second pic shows that the animals had negotiated a truce in order to share water - we captured an impala, a hyena, an elephant and a lion (look under the elephant!) all in a single picture!

The terrain is remarkable - hidden Oryx and rainbow Zebra on the plains...

A lone Oryx on Etosha Pan and the Pan from the plane...

Although we had planned to do so, we could not refuel at Mokuti Lodge - they had unexpectedly run out of fuel! So, we had to re-route to Ondangwa, shown below...

Not long after that we arrived at the Kunene River Lodge on the Kunene River, the border between Namibia and Angola...

We stayed at the Kunene River Lodge for two nights. On the plus side, it has a great and isolated location, is very well run and has excellent activities. Negatives include rooms which use pre-fab materials (when natural materials are readily available) and a few dodgy stomachs from the (otherwise acceptable) kitchen.

Mark and Leila enjoy the view from the deck on the Namibian side - the other side is Angola:

On the way to our evening cruise down the Kunene, we met this gentleman from the nomadic Himba tribe. Conversing was impossible although he was able to gesture clearly for cigarettes. What we think must have been his grand-daughters tore the monetary note that was shown to them - absolutely no concept of money around here! How then to explain to them that their "pictures" are now on a thing called the "Web"...

Our sunset cruise down the Kunene...all very civilised...Daniella.....Dave....

Some of the team sitting around...Leila, Mark and Leila, Daniella...

The Kunene River Lodge is served by the "Swartbooisdrif" runway, it's a little rough and undulating with mountains/hills ahead and behind so some caution is advisable....

Heather, flying the C210, gets a head start, but waits for Sean and the C182 to catch up for an aerial photo...

Our next destination was Palmwag - here's the airstrip and a shot of V5-JRW's dash - the "full-square" yolk on the right is a sign of this plane's age (c. 1961). It has a number of other unusual features: for example, the flaps are "hand-brake" style, the keys are inserted above the mixture control (an ignition button is on the left of the dash where the keys typically go) and the master switch is where the landing lights normally are.

The road to nowhere and very sparse vegetation....

The LandCruiser next to a poisonous bush, light at dusk catches the yellow grass and Heather against a larger-than-life backdrop...

Next we headed for Swakopmund but flew past (i) strange rock striations, (ii) Brandberg (Namibia's highest peak), (iii) Spitzkoppe before landing at what appeared to be the unofficial "Home of the Cessna 210"....Swakopmund.

Swakopmund is a rather unusual town with strong German influences - the language is still widely spoken, sausage & sauerkraut is ubiquitous. Shots of the old and the new in Swakopmund - the new building is a "mineral museum" which houses remarkable crystals and gem stones...

Next we headed for Sossusvlei but headed for the coast first. The following is an amazing satellite image of the area south of Swakopmund. You can clearly see where the desert starts once you cross the Kuiseb River flying south......(note these are not "real" colours but "enhanced")...

We routed coast-wise to check out our old favourite, Langewand - where the Namib Desert meets the Atlantic Ocean....you can see thin strips of vegetation wedged at the boundary - very strange.

We stayed at the Sossusvlei Lodge...

...and headed out to see the world's tallest (and most-photographed?) dunes...

 Mark and his camera were inseparable...

While other vehicles turned back, we endured something of sandstorm (pic 1) because we really wanted to make our way (pic 2) to Deadpan (pic 3)....

Not exactly "sitting on the dock of the bay"....

Deadpan: picture....a thousand words....and all that.....absolutely love the drama in the shot of Leila, the dead trees and her red scarf in the wind...

Dave on the ridge of a dune...

A very dry twig and a helluva sunset after the dust storm.....

The next day we checked out the Sesriem Canyon which is a short drive from the lodge...(i) walking in the canyon; (ii) looking up from the bottom of the canyon; and (iii) dried-out canyon mud....

The last stop on this trip was Norechab! Adi was a BIG fan of camping....! Unlike most of us, Mark's grin suggests setting up camp is fun....

Of course we went up Grappa Hill for sundowners but somehow we'd managed to forget the grappa...

We found several holes of this type (the shoe is there for scale) near our camp site and remain unsure exactly what they are....aardvark? If you know, PLEASE send us an e-mail. Dave, riding one of the TW200s, tried to avoid them holes...

Last stop before we headed home was Murli's pub (although the proprietor was not on our set of airplanes so we had to serve warm beer ourselves)...on the left you can see Dave viewed from the top of Murli's pub and on the right you can see Mark (at the bottom) and the layered effect created by the flowing water all those years ago. This was the first time we'd been there when there was practically no water at all for the animals to drink. Worrying.

THE END.