Tomorrow we head for Epupa Falls about three hours away further downstream. There is a riverside track but it takes seven hours to drive, so I think we will take the easy route inland. Peter (the lodge owner) says the government has decided to grade the track to Epupa, which he discovered only when he was chatting to a group of surveyors staying at the lodge. He is clearly dismayed at the prospect as it brings this place closer to the rest of the world and makes it more easily accessible, which is not really the point. He said it would also limit the appeal to off-road vehicle owners who like to drive the whole trail and stop at the lodge en-route. After Epupa we head south, deep into Kaokoland and the most inhospitable and isolated section of this trip. I filled our large plastic barrel with drinking water and checked all the tyre pressures. I’ve scratched my head over how to fill that second fuel tank but can’t see a way to access the fuel vent so we will fill up the main tank in Opuwo which should do us as we head into the empty northwest. I also swept out the layers of dust from the back of the Hilux; white talcum from the roads of Etosha and red from the area around Kunene.
The first thing we did this morning though was walk along the river for an hour or so, looking for invisible crocodiles. They are there, but they are very difficult to see and we didn’t. I did see a big monitor lizard on the bank which decided it would prefer to get into the water.
I collected another palm nut from a small grove and, with much use of my Swiss army knife, I broke through the shell to find the desert ivory inside. It looks like a smooth little onion and I am pondering whether to try to carve it into something else. A shallot perhaps.
Then came a fish eagle watching a heron in the water below.
Apparently they wait until the heron catches something and then go and nick it off them. Hardly the image one has of a mighty “Fish Eagle”, which gives the impression of standing alert and fearless at the water’s edge waiting for its perfectly timed moment to swoop in and catch a gasping salmon half its own body weight. This one is more of a heron mugger.
The bird life though is astonishing and we saw brilliant coloured kingfishers and bee eaters and a stone coloured duck that only gave itself away by opening an eye, so comprehensive was its camouflage.