Namibia, The Prelude

What a complete maze of labyrinth it has been to try and get here!

I was really excited to be able to visit Africa - my maiden trip to the continent. So I flew to Kolkata to meet up with Vinnie; spent a night in Kolkata and flew out to Mumbai the next day for the onwards flight to Johannesburg. 

We had a most delicious meal at the ITC in Mumbai during the 5-hour transit. Some excellent dahl and raan (full leg of lamb), prepared and cooked the Afghani way. 

Excuse the blurry photo from phone, but I've never tasted better dahl!

Stomachs filled, we made our way to the airport and attempted to check in. Yes, attempted. The ground staff could not let us in because V apparently needs to have a transit visa when we arrive in Jo'burg! Both of us were just shocked and disappointed beyond words, we've looked forward to the trip very much and V had gone through great lengths to plan the trip, made arrangements etc but this came from behind and bit our asses! None of us could have seen that coming. Worse, it was a Friday night and none of the embassies / agencies will be open till Monday. 

I feel bad for V. He took a flight out to Delhi on Sunday night to sort out the visa. Then flew to Kolkata because his dad's health seemed to have worsen. I was in Mumbai for a couple of nights on my own before flying out to Kolkata. 

Digressing a little on my short stint in Mumbai:
It is one of the absolute chaotic places to live in. The city is dense and full of people; there are beggars everywhere and squatters wearing clothes the colour of dust and dirt just lying and sleeping under a highway at a divider. Some had the luxury of a tarp cover while others just had a rag to cover themselves with. 

There was once, our cab stopped at a red light. Our windows were down because this particular cab does not have a working a/c. A scrawny little girl in tattered clothes knocked on each car window, one hand outstretched, palms up, begging for money. When she came to our cab, I ignored her, simply because I do not want children to be encouraged to beg, and next thing I know she stuck her hands into the cab and started touching and tapping my arms. I freaked out and lost my cool a little there. And afterwards when our cab rolled away, I felt like the coldest bitch when I took a piece of tissue to wipe off the smudges the girl left behind.....

On to more pleasant side of Mumbai - some really awesome eateries! V brought me to what he calls an "institution" - an insider joint where only the locals and those in the inner circle know of. Jimmy Boy.

Just too yummy! Clockwise from top left roti with a type of spicy mutton and what looked like shaved cheese is actually deep fried potato crisps. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious that was; A chicken sort of curry (sorry! I must really learn what their names are next time); Pallonji's a type of local Indian soda - tasted like cough syrup though! Reminds me of Dr Pepper, ugh; and a thick, dense homemade ice-cream... yummers!

Back to our close-capitulation to get to Namibia. 

We found out on Tuesday that V's visa is ready and can be couriered to arrive earliest by Wednesday morning. We quickly check for flights. Bollocks! All flights are full and the next available ones are on Saturday! We had no choice but to book those, meaning that we lose about a week of the holiday...

The drama doesn't end there, second time around in Mumbai, we tried to check into our South African flight and V got us an upgrade to business class (yay! Cos he felt guilty I s'pose) but the card machine wasn't working properly and we were standing at the check in counter for a good hour! The staff were at least understandable and had us escorted directly towards the plane; and all was well...... cue obligatory feet propped up shot with champagne)-

16/8 Windhoek --> Outjo
We finally made it - arrived Windhoek. Hallelujah! We were picked up by the car rental company (Camping-Car Hire) and driven some 30 minutes downtown where we were given a quick briefing on the 4WD and subsequently on the rental agreement. 

Once we hit the road, we high-fived each other, hehe. There are many hours of driving to catch up with the itinerary. The roads in Namibia are very well laid out and getting around is also relatively a breeze. Flat and straight roads- a huge influence from the Germans I'll bet. 

A common sight is the hitchhikers. We feel guilty for not being able to give them a ride. I mean, we have many valuables lying around in the car - cameras, binoculars, lenses - last thing we want is to get into a deep pile of mess after ALL the trouble we've had to go through to get here!

The first of many, many steaks. This hits the spot - the gravy is out of this world. Think has a hint of cranberry sauce, but can't be sure.

A perfect salad combo - celery, sliced apples and a generous dose of chopped almonds with honey.

Total of 6 hours driving on Day 1 and another 1-2 hours the next day.... to get to the Etosha National Park. My first glimpse of African wildlife in their natural habitat!

Forgive the suaku-ness, but tons of wildlife captures!

An African sunrise. Mesmerizing!

Congregating of wildebeests.

Mirror image.

Saw 3 out of the Big 5: a pack of lionesses lazing and another lone lioness 500m away, shielded by tall grass; Mama Rhino and its young - but they were lumbering away from us, didn't get a good shot; and of course, this big beauty up here, in all of its feces-stained posterior glory.

Also had a dose of what V calls "the full African experience" - the African bush public toilets.

Located between intervals of roads, you could almost smell it coming. As you gingerly step into the toilet, the stench of past organic dumps proudly deposited in a large container underground blankets and slowly suffocates you. You gingered no more, hurriedly complete the task at hand and couldn't even be bothered to do it properly. If you're feeling extra adventurous, peek into the crevices deep below and be stool-ified.

Oh, add the experience with buzzing flies too.

Lucky for us, we managed to secure a night at a very nice lodge just 5mins drive away from the NP. African lodges are quite a luxury in the wild!

So cute! Can you spot the giraffe?

This one is about $75 a night - a really good deal considering the beautifully crafted lodgings and for such comfort, it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb amongst the park!

Next- Another looooong drive up north of Namibia to the Kunene River.

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