“Are you flying to Africa?” You are crazy! ”Alone told us. “Is it very dangerous there?” Too hot? There are pirates (snakes, scorpions, tsetse flies
)? " - asked others. “Have you ever gotten the malaria vaccine?” - others were interested. We stayed calm, although, of course, in our hearts we were very worried. Still, this is not Paris or even tropical islands. And although for our trip we chose Namibia, and not, say, Angola, it is still Africa. Far, unfamiliar, wild. Our excitement disappeared immediately after we boarded the Air Namibia. (You can get to the capital of Namibia from Moscow via Frankfurt, there is a direct flight from there.) Seeing on board a crowd of grandparents with backpacks, I realized that all our fears were completely in vain. Namibia is one of the safest countries, the former German colony, which has long become a popular destination for tourists from Europe and America. And now we are in the capital of Namibia - the city of Windhoek. We are met by a tanned pilot of a snow-white, almost toy fokker (a six-seat plane, which travel agencies often use here instead of a bus), we fly to the first camp - Little Kulala Wilderness Safaries.
Wilderness Safaries is an eco-tourism company with many camps in Africa. Camping is an alternative to hotels, small "camp sites", consisting of several houses located far from civilization. And camps, like hotels, come in different classes. All Wilderness Safaries camps have a very high level of service, they are located in the most interesting protected areas. I must say that Namibia, with its vast territory, is a sparsely populated country. For almost a million square kilometers, there are only about two million inhabitants. Most of the land due to lack of water is unsuitable for life. When you fly over Africa, you see how its entire landscape is as if striated with lines similar to traces of earthworms in the sand after rain. This is a dried riverbed. When you look at huge bare Martian spaces with no signs of life, you feel ashamed for every drop of water aimlessly spilled ... I flew over Africa, looked at its mysterious shape, imagining how green, full of life it once was, when our plane went on landing, the chassis buried in a dusty narrow path in the middle of the boundless African steppe. The African steppe at first glance is not much different from any other. The dried grass, stony soil, boundless open spaces. But this is only at first glance. Africa does not begin to reveal itself to you immediately, gradually captivating you with its refined, refined beauty.
First stop is the Little Kulala Luxury Camp. 14 houses built far from roads and villages in a wild African valley. The villas themselves are very comfortable, with all amenities and air conditioning, huge floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the horizon. We threw things, rested a bit and went to our first safari. Traveling in Africa is, in fact, a safari - car rides in the wild, accompanied by a ranger. Rangers, who usually grow up in the wild steppes, know everything about these parts. They will tell you about all the local inhabitants, show the best views and landscapes. Safaris take place twice a day - in the early morning and evening. Afternoon heat in Africa, the beast hiding in the shade, so the best time for a safari and stunningly beautiful photos - morning and evening hours.
African sunrises and sunsets are a real miracle, incredible, breathtaking views that leave a deep mark in your heart. For their sake alone, it’s worth going to distant lands. The colors of Africa are strikingly beautiful and diverse. As the sun illuminates the valley, they change every moment. The same look shimmers with so many shades of color that every minute gives you a new sense of landscape. We always woke up at four in the morning to leave early and not to miss the main thing. The main thing in Africa is nature. The incredible diversity of life in all its manifestations. We got into an open jeep, put on windproof raincoats (always quite cool in the morning) and drove out to meet a new day and new experiences. A cool, fresh morning, the foggy dusk of the savannah, hares and jackals, cars jumping out from under the wheels, sleeping antelopes - this is how it began every day. And the smells ... The smells of Africa can not be compared with anything. Remember how the hero of Jack Nicholson from the movie "The Wolf" begins to capture the new scents that are saturated with life around? So I - every time, sticking my nose out of the car, I lost my head from the spicy, tart, lively smells of the waking African steppe. If you imagine that life energy has its own aroma, it is the aroma of Africa. Inhaling it, you are filled with unknown strength, you begin to feel the rhythm of this life, the beating of its heart. After a couple of days without communication (we didn’t even have the Internet at the reception in campsites), without information, you seem to wake up from a dream and see a stunningly beautiful world around you, in which there is so much harmony, wisdom and peace.
And late at night, a starry sky fell upon us. It covered us with its shimmering dome, like a cap of a stargazer. The camp staff prepared a surprise for their guests - we had a barbecue - dinner in the desert. I don’t remember what was on the table. All this evening I saw only stars - big and small, near and far, woven into the patterns of the constellations and proudly flickering alone. Milky Way, Orion Belt, Southern Cross. Now every time I look at the sky, I know what they are, the stars that we do not see. It is said that the starry sky of Africa, and exactly the place in Namibia where we stayed, is the best natural observatory in the world. In Little Kulala villas you can even sleep in the open air, staff can make you a bed on the roof. In the morning we went to see the famous dunes of Namibia. Brown-red, as if velvet, mountains formed by wind and sand, stretching for many kilometers. From a height they resemble elegant sand drawings left by some unknown painter. The combination of red mountains with a blue sky is ideal for a great photo. You can climb the dunes. They are quite tall and difficult to walk - legs get stuck in the hot sand. We also saw the “dead valley” - the dried-up bottom of the lake, in the clay of which the trees were walled up forever, who threw up their dry “hands” to the sky with a prayer for rain. As a reminder that we take care of this precious life.
Oriks are happy to pose in front of the camera
The ranger has a special flair for animals. He knows where to find them.
In order to feel important, you do not need titles and titles. During the trip to Namibia, we learned a lot of interesting things from the life of animals. And they never ceased to wonder how wisely and rationally everything is arranged. How life adapts to any conditions. It makes its way, struggles, clings to its existence, forming a single system, connected by invisible threads. Of course, all life takes place around water. But there are species that are perfectly adapted to life in the desert. Plants, the many-meter roots of which reach deep underground rivers (their small but very juicy leaves are literally filled with water), is the only source of moisture for many animals. There are few plants, but at the same time they never eat them to the end, so as not to kill, leave some of the leaves for further regeneration. Everything is debugged, clearly, no one violates the rules of the hostel. And neither laws, nor constitutions are needed for this, just the feeling that you are just a small screw of a large system that is created for general happiness, and not just for you ...
Next stop is Damaraland. We got there for two hours, flying over the old diamond mines and the famous Skeleton Coast with its colony of fur seals and helpless little hyenas waiting for them. The coastal ocean line is practically undeveloped. There are only a few "resort" areas with a beach. Basically this is the place where the ocean wave meets the desert. I imagined how some traveler from the shipwrecked ship sees the long-awaited shore, swims to it with all his might, not knowing that there are hundreds of kilometers of lifeless desert in front of him ... Damaraland is a small campsite located in the highlands of Namibia, similar to a cozy family camp . The houses, or rather tarpaulins, are built on high stilts - there are many snakes and scorpions in the mountains. “Don’t put on your sneakers right away, suddenly someone has settled there,” the camp owner jokes. Few guests, everyone gathers at a common large table for dinner. Tourists from all over the world. A bonfire smolders, and we chat about everything. About their families and work, about football and politics. In the evening, hotel staff sings songs. Africans are incredibly musical by nature. You can listen and watch them endlessly. Their voices, hoarse and deep, reach the farthest strings of the soul. It seems that they are singing not in vocal cords, but in some kind of inner voice, in which everything is mixed - passion and longing, delight and sadness. Their expressive black faces with burning eyes and white-toothed smiles illuminate the flames of the fire. I close my eyes in delight and fall off somewhere far away - during my childhood, where there are still no disappointments and injustices. Goosebumps run through the back from a dry African breeze. I don’t want this evening to end, but we should get up at four in the morning tomorrow. In the morning the ranger wakes us up. He carefully brought a thermos to the camp with hot coffee and sandwiches. The path ahead is far - we are going to look for elephants. Damaraland is the place where a large colony of mountainous African elephants lives. In the rainy season, they leave the plains and go to the mountains, otherwise their huge legs get stuck in clay, it is hard for them to walk. The elephant is Africa's most dangerous animal. Because he’s not afraid of anyone. In a word, it grows impudent and greyhounds from impunity (however, this is also characteristic of people). We ride in search of a herd of elephants far into the mountains. We stop along the way. The ranger "reads" the tracks and periodically puts his finger in the elephant shit - warm, which means they are somewhere nearby. We descend to the mouth of a mountain river and here, just a few meters from us, we see a huge gray backside. Elephant peacefully chews leaves of trees. “This is a young male, so he was driven away from the herd,” the ranger explains in a whisper. - When the elephant calf is 17 years old, his mother kicks him out of the family so that he does not molest her and his sisters. Otherwise, they may give birth to sick offspring. And only somewhere in 25 years, a wiser male creates his own family. ” We held our breath. In general, during a safari it is strictly forbidden to leave the jeep. While you are inside, the animal perceives you as part of a large machine. It is worth going out, and you instantly fall into his field of vision as a small two-legged creature, risking him not to like it. Accidents with animals - although rare, but sometimes they do happen. And almost always the fault of man. The animal is pretty predictable. The ranger knows all his habits and can accurately determine whether it is worth waiting for trouble at the moment. "Our" elephant was sane. For a long time we first watched him, and then the rest of the herd, in which there were mothers with babies. We came back tired and very pleased that we were lucky. After all, no one gives any guarantees that you will meet the animal - this is wildlife, and this, in fact, is the whole buzz. In its own way, a safari is like hunting. There is a real hunt in Namibia, but the number of animals is strictly monitored, poachers are severely punished. You can hunt only for some species. And even if the animal is dangerous, for example, it killed a person, first there will be a real court, on the decision of which its future fate depends. And only then can a hunting license be issued for an animal officially sentenced to death.
After the safari, we were always met as relatives
The last point on the route is Etosha National Park, Camp Ongava. African oasis, paradise on Earth. There is a lot of water, which means life. Here you do not need to travel around the savannah for a long time in search of its inhabitants. They are everywhere. After sunset, you cannot move around the camp alone, only accompanied by a ranger. This is clear. The whole park is teeming with animals, many of which are really dangerous. When you sit in a jeep with an open top, and two meters from you plays a lioness with cubs, it becomes uneasy. And no persuasion of the ranger that these lions are clearly in a good mood, which means they are full and safe, does not work. Lions stare point blank. Just like my cat looks before jumping to my lap.
In Etosha collected almost all types of African inhabitants who live here almost like in the wild. We saw how lionesses hunted wildebeests, how a huge flock of vultures tore apart the remains of a zebra. Although it is a park, everything is completely real. We even saw how lions made love. It turns out that they do this for seven days without a break for lunch and hunting. Every half hour. Seven days of love, after which the lion leaves, and the lioness hatches, and then feeds the offspring. In Etosha, countless herds of antelopes. With the most bizarre form of horns of different sizes, colors and characters. Shy kids dikdi, graceful springboks and fans to pose in front of the camera saberogenic oryxes. Hundreds of zebras flock past us, funny, almost dog-like barking at jeeps passing by. Here is a noisy flock of mongooses running across the road - they loudly chicken, overtake each other, periodically stand on their hind legs, looking at us. In the distance, giraffes gently bowed their long necks to each other. In the bushes resting mother cheetah with kids. There are several artificial reservoirs in the park, where a huge crowd of animals of various stripes gathers at the watering hole. We observe how elephants drink - with each sip, an elephant drinks up to 150 liters of water.
Morning before departure. I stand on the balcony of the camp, located high on the mountain, from there a bewitching view of the savannah opens. It shimmers with all colors, illuminated by the first rays of the sun. A nosed toucan sits on our balcony, looking at us with his round plastic eyes. My head begins to spin from all the impressions I have experienced this week. It feels like fresh clean water was poured into me, like a vessel.
Africa, you are forever in my heart! I don’t know if there is anything more beautiful in the world than you.