Earlier this year I went to Namibia. And I had such a good time! Obviously, like almost every first time going anywhere , there were some things that I wish I had known.
One of the things I wish I had known is that Namibian ants really go after Catalan nuts (and I’m not talking about me). I had a few nuts in my backpack (emergency food supply for London underground signal problems!). I left my backpack in one of the lodges and 2 days later I found thousands of ants in the backpack, they made a hole in the nuts’ plastic bag and started eating them. As a side note: this method could perhaps be used to grind nuts… they did a very good grinding it and was like dust, it was getting everywhere. We moved the backpack outside, threw the nuts away, cleaned it as well as we could and 2 days later there were no ants there. Phew!
Parking under a tree
Another thing that I wish I had known is that, well, parking under a tree with a social weaver nest (type of bird, amazing creature!) might not be the best idea. And no, it’s not a poo issue. Long story short: I parked there for a break and left the door open for a bit while taking photos of the very interesting birds, preparing the food for lunch. After lunch I sat down in the driver’s seat, closed the door, left the camera on the rear seats, got the keys to start on the car and when I looked at my feet I saw a snake next to them! And I was wearing shorts! It almost killed me! (of a heart attack!). For a split second I wondered if I should remain calm and open the door quietly to get out, or if I should jump over the gear stick to the passenger seat and go out that way (the passenger door was still open). Before I could make a decision I was flying over and going out in the wild way, not the civilized way. I still don’t know how but the snake didn’t bite me. We were outside, in the natural park, with the snake in the car but after a few minutes the snake went out by itself.
By the way, a social beaver came and started making an “alarm call” (I guess that they were saying “hey, watch out my friends, there is danger!”). But the other social beavers were curious: they actually came next to the alarm call bird to look at the danger. I wanted to tell them “no no… this is not working well, you have to go away!” but actually this was handy for us: it made the snake to go out of the car!
Another thing is the packing… and I think that I’m one of the very few people making this mistake. I was very afraid of mosquito bites so I didn’t pack any shorts and actually in lodges shorts were the best thing (I used my pyjama shorts that look like standard shorts). Not for walking in other places because of the snakes for example.
Termite mounds: do not stand nearby
There are some huge termite mounds, which can be more than 2 meters. Like good Namibia explorers stopped nearby and walked there to take a few photos (they look amazing!). But… it is not a good idea to get too close! Or, at least, not if the termite mound is not a live one! (and we don’t know how to know if the termite mount is alive or dead).
In one of our last lodges we read some information and they said that it’s dangerous to stand next to a termite mound… because if the mound has been abandoned then the ground nearby is unstable and it can collapse… and snakes usually live there.