The Erongo Mountains
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The towering Erongo Mountains stand north of Karibib and Usako. The highest peak of this volcanic massif reaches 2,320m above sea level and dominates the flat plains west of Omaruru. The Namib Desert lies to the west with mixed savanna woodland to the east resulting in a wide array of plant, reptile, mammal and bird species here, some of which are endemic to Namibia.
Wildlife in the area includes leopard, cheetah, mountain zebra, various antelope species and baboons. Almost 200 varieties of bird species have been recorded here and even during the dry season there`s plenty of avian activity to interest even the casual birdwatcher. The only Rhino guests are likely to see, however, are the wooden carvings dotted around the camp.
Erongo Wilderness Lodge
The Erongo Mountain Lodge is a perfect place to chill, either before or, in our case, after a visit to Etosha National Park. With excellent tarred roads only a short drive away and very little traffic until you near the capital, this makes a great choice for your last couple of nights in Namibia, especially if your return flight is in the afternoon. Windhoek Airport can be reached comfortably in around 4 hours. The reception area, partially screened by the boulders, is pictured above.
One of the Lodge`s safari trucks which are used to shuttle visitors up from the bottom car park if they don`t have a 4x4. If you have though, it`s a short but spectacularly steep route and a great way to appreciate the Lodge`s situation. The tents have recently been upgraded with the main improvements being an increase in size and the introduction of French doors, rather than zip entrances, which lead onto a private wooden deck.
There are just 10 tented chalets, each built on stilts, and erected under thatched roofs for shade. The en-suite bathrooms are roofed but open-air and have been built around existing rocks and tree trunks.
On arrival, we were warned to watch out for snakes as they`re numerous here, including several poisonous types, so it was always exciting when you needed to `go`, especially at night - the dry-stone wall surrounding the WC and shower was just at the right height for an unwanted slithery visitor to peer over your shoulder!
Despite the warning on arrival though, we didn`t see any snakes during our 3 day visit - just lizards including the strikingly coloured Rock Agamas. The male, which has a vivid orange head is pictured below left with a lemon-headed female on the right.
More information and images of the Erongo Wilderness complex can be found on the Lodge`s own website: www.erongowilderness-namibia.com.
Rock Hyrax (above), often referred to as Dassies, are common here as as Dassie Rat`s (above right).
The Lodge offers hikes in the surrounding area and 4x4 game drives, or trips to view the area`s remarkable rock paintings, the most notable being the 'White Elephant' frieze in Phillip's Cave on the southern edge of the main peak. There are several short walking trails starting from reception but longer hikes to the surrounding summits are possible accompanied by one of the Lodge`s guides.
This guy with binoculars is watching a guide and a couple of energetic guests climbing along the ridge before breakfast. Longer hikes such as this leave while it`s still dark and can take up to 4 hours. Nightjars and bats become active as the sun disappears and I got my first-ever view of a Small-spotted Genet. These normally shy animals have a slender, cat-like body with a long striped tail sporting anything from eight to thirteen rings along its length. Kudu down for a night-time drink. A Sociable Weaver is pictured above.
Leopards occasionally visit the Lodge`s waterhole during the hours of darkness but you`d need a fair amount of luck to see one here. Metallic big cats, however, like the one above are strategically positioned among the rocks leading to the restaurant, no doubt to scare unwary guests heading up to dine for the first time.
Raised wooden walkways and natural stone steps connect the tented chalets to the main area containing the pool, restaurant and the Mokoro Bar, so named because an actual Mokoro canoe forms the bar counter. The staff here were all friendly and the food and standard of accommodation excellent. Each morning, someone is tasked with filling the feeders and putting out seed next to the restaurant terrace at breakfast time. The grub doesn`t last long though with a constant procession of colourful birds swooping in.
Nightjars and bats become active as the sun disappears and I got my first-ever view of a Small-spotted Genet as it came to drink at the lodge`s waterhole. These normally shy animals have a slender, cat-like body with a long striped tail sporting anything from eight to thirteen rings along its length. Kudu are pictured on the right.
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