Climbing dogs and dive bombing snakes

We broke our trip to Otjiwarongo with another night at Oppi-Koppi camp in Kamanjab, as we really enjoyed our stay there over New Year. We had a really nice welcome from them and had made it into their overlanders folder. They take a picture of all the freeloaders that don’t pay for camping (err, that should be intrepid overland explorers…) and include whatever details you want there. Some overlanders even have their own business cards made for their trip! The Porcupines that come for leftovers every night were joined this time by a Small-spotted Genet, a rather cat-like creature. The campsite dogs pretty much ignored the Porcupines but their reaction to the Genet was completely different. They stopped what they were doing and stared up at it for about 30 seconds, then quicker than you can say “dossie dats” they all charged towards the animal which made a very hasty exit. It seems cats and dogs have the same relationship the world over.

After a one night stop we headed to a farm camp site just outside Otjiwarongo, seeing this little chap on the way, who was trying to get back to his family on the other side of the fence:

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It was Sunday so we could chill for the afternoon and be in town for 9 on the Monday. The farm nestled at the foot of a steep hillside. The campsites were under shady trees with lots of bird life. One, a beautiful starling with a white belly and the most gorgeous violet-coloured wings, was making a real commotion. As we watched it one of the staff came over and was looking in the tree. “He’s not happy about something is he?” we said. “No, it is a sign. There is a snake in the tree”. Sure enough there was, and the starling was now diving-bombing it! The only tree snake we’d heard of was the Boomslang, which literally means Tree Snake in Afrikaans. Apparently, until 1957 it was thought to be harmless to humans as it has backward-pointing fangs at the back of its mouth which it was thought impossible to bite something the size of a human with. That was until an expert snake handler from one of the zoos in South Africa got bitten in the thumb by a baby Boomslang and died within 24 hours. It is now considered to be one of the most deadly snakes in Africa! We were assured that this was not a Boomslang but a harmless tree snake, despite the fact that it bears a striking (no pun intended) resemblance to the description of a Boomslang in our wildlife guide book. Be interested to know if anyone can tell us what it is?

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A harmless tree snake?

There is a path up to the top of the hill behind the farm so we decided to climb it that afternoon, despite the fact that it was swelteringly hot. As we put our walking shoes on the farm dogs appeared at our feet in a great state of excitement. Uncanny how dogs know when a walk is in the offing. One of them was a Dachshund called Nala. We climbed about 700 metres over some really scrambly and steep terrain and this little dog with its tiny little legs came all the way with us. The others had given up a long before (or maybe just been more interested in chasing Dassies). She was amazing.

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Nala, the Namibian Mountain Dog

The next day we headed into town. We had phoned the textile company ahead from Kunene to find out if they did canvas alterations and they said they did and booked us in. So we arrived at the shop only to be told they don’t do alterations… Fortunately we found the lady we’d spoken to, who it turned out had taken on that side of the business from them, and went round the block to her shop. We put the awning and sides up in the back yard and told her and the young man who was going to do the work what we wanted and they helped work out the best way to do it. They expected to have it done by the end of the day so, in the meantime, we sorted out a new tyre to replace the damaged one from Van Zyls, bought some fixings for a bit of DIY on the car and even managed to squeeze in a hair cut each.

The canvas workers were true to their word and had the alterations done by 4pm. It was a really good job and the whole day’s work cost us about £70! An absolute bargain. The awning sides have been shortened so that they fit properly and the door is now higher so even us hobbits don’t have to stoop as we go in. Smile. We have velcro to attach the roof to the sides and stop it all flapping and letting water in. Hopefully it is all now weather-proof as we’re heading into the wetter part of our journey. And in that spirit, next stop Waterberg.

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