A different Anzac Day
Apr 25, 2012
|Up early and we have an ad hoc dawn service beside the river – looking across the river to Namibia. Bob reads the service, Angela a prayer and David says a few words and the Ode. Very different from our dawn service of last year in France.
At 8am we are fitted up with life jackets and are loaded onto the back of a truck – a quick drive up the river. Our guide is a young South African (white) working while on holidays from uni. He is studying to be a high school maths teacher – I have not doubt his classes will be full of fourteen year old girls with a sudden burning ambition to be mathematicians – and it is unlikely their mothers will miss the teacher parent meeting.
We board our inflatable canoes for a 7.5 km trip down the river (2 ½ hours). Just beautiful, a little mist above the river as we start. There are wonderful purple ranges along the way. Many different birds including some Storks that our guide had never seen there before. Others were Fish Eagle, Crane, Ibis, Swallow and Geese.
There is the occasional Namibian fisherman casting a single line. We assume because they are Namibian because they are on that side of the river.
We run a few rapids – great fun. Have a couple of breaks – we like the last set of rapids as they propel us along for quite a while and we do not have to paddle. Our guide playfully tips John (the groom) into the river and doesn’t realise he as a pair of Oakleys on – straight to the bottom. John graciously doesn’t tell him about the loss.
Finally back at our campsite – down with the tents, an early lunch and then we are on the truck.
Only takes about an hour to cross the border. We do have difficulties with the truck. When Dulima goes to clear with customs on the Namibian side they discover that the paperwork on the previous trip was not completed correctly and the truck can not enter now because it has never left – Anna returns to the truck to get more money and it is still another half an hour before he gets the go ahead.
Whilst on the subject of time – southern Africa has a cute phrase “plus minus’ or ‘+-‘.
When we ask how far to a town it is ‘700kms plus minus’, it will take us ‘9 hours plus minus’, and our tour will cost R134 plus minus’.
With our delay at customs we arrive at Canon Roadhouse Camp near the Fish River Gorge quite late. We book into the campsite. Drop Sofie off with all her kitchen stuff and head off to the gorge to get a look before dark.
This gorge is second only to the Grand Canyon and is a spectacular sight. Unfortunately what little daylight left is muted by thunderclouds so the photos may not do the site justice. We are dropped off at one point and walk around the rim back to the visitor centre. Lightning in the background and a few sprinkles of rain. Anna does warn us not to stray too close to the edge – in her clipped African voice “We will not bring out your body, we just throw flowers to you”.
We finally return to camp to set up our tents in the dark – good thing we are quite practiced now. Sofie serves up a beef casserole, rice and salad. it is not long before we are snug in our sleeping bags listening to the thunder rolling and crackling and reverberating around us.