Situated, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere, we decided that this is our destination for my birthday. And so we invite the cousins with their Ford 4×4 and we pack our Pajero 4×4 and off we go for the day…
“Where is it?” asks Max as we load the ice.
“We’re not 100% sure either, but the GPS seems to know and I have a few vague directions from my father.” Says very clever me.
The first 90km from Otjiwarongo is fairly straightforward on the main B1 to Windhoek. Then we have to turn off onto a lesser known gravel road. First problem. The GPS says turn right and my vague directions and memory from childhood travels says turn left. Now the Omatako Mountains are definitely on the right hand side, but the dam is nowhere to be found on the GPS map and so we decide to go left. The birding along the gravel road is fantastic. We see (unidentified) eagle after eagle and even two secretary birds. I’m ecstatic and so is Rufous and Penguin on the back seat. We drive for a while before we get nervous. How long do we have to go?
At the first farm where we see people, I force Henrico to stop and ask for directions. (What is it with men and asking for directions?!) “Ah, we don’t know sir.” How can they not know where the dam is?! Unless of course the dam is nowhere close… We continue the drive and at a big 4way crossing (with another unknown gravel road), I remember that we have a map. A real map. Phew, we are on the right way and so we continue for a little while before we see the makeshift entrance to the dam.
The water levels are lower than expected and we are all alone. The dogs jump and run for joy while we unpack our vehicles and set up camp for the day. Elmarize and I soon realize that we have a slight problem which the men think are hilarious. Penguin seems to be just the right size for the hordes of eagles to be interested. And worst of all, she doesn’t seem to notice these swooping birds – she just enjoys the scenery and the smells. Oh boy.
While building a fire for a cup of coffee and the pot a bit later on, we have no choice but to be on guard. Penguin definitely is a target and a rather easy one at that. And so we settle under our gazebos with our drinks and books and talk about possible future trips. Max had the insight to bring along his quad bike and decides to test the depth of the damn. Fortunately for him, his bike seemed more equipped that his much more expensive 4×4 would proof later on. The dogs enjoy the quad biking just as much as we do and so the day goes far too quick.
After lunch we decide that it is time for a bit of scouting. My aquarium at home can do with a few “new” pieces of driftwood and so the men gets in front to do the macho driving and Elmarize and I get on the back of the Ford pick-up to collect driftwood as we drive. Not very far from the camp, I get concerned about the mud and how close Max pushes the Ford to the edge of the water where the mud is all but solid. As we get off to pick-up a few more pieces of driftwood, the pick-up gets stuck and doesn’t want to move. It spins and throws mud and manages to sink right unto its axle. The boys get out – not too concerned. Until they see the hole they have dug for themselves. With no rocks in sight, we have no choice but to walk back to the Pajero, drive until we find some rocks and take them back to the Ford. When Elmarize and I return to the Ford with our collection of rocks, our dearest husbands fit right into the scenery with their mud caked legs. But the Ford doesn’t move. Henrico suggests the unthinkable… let’s use the Pajero to tow out the Ford.
After a few pulls and groans, the Pajero finds its “feet” and pulls the Ford to safer ground. The dogs think this is all fun while Henrico and I cannot help but to laugh. We clearly remember Max saying just before lunch: “The Ford and its owner will never get stuck again.” We laugh and we tease and poor Max can do nothing but nod.
We drive back to camp where the boys attempt to get clean and we start to break up camp.
A great day out, in the middle of nowhere with family. For once, I really did enjoy my birthday even if it was only to say to Max: “I bet you never thought a Pajero will tow you out!”
After thoughts: Omatako Dam is not a tourist destination and there are no facilities. You have to take everything you need. We did however encounter two German tourists out at the dam. We have just set up camp and packed the fire, when the very identifiable rental vehicle stopped next to our camp. What exactly they were looking for, I do not know. Birds? Yes, there were loads of birds. Close to a 300 Yellow-billed Kites and even more Abdim’s Storks. I even saw some pelicans. But our visitors did not stay long enough to be birders. Maybe they got lost – I don’t know. They soon left and we had the whole dam (or the little part of it filled with water) to ourselves. No other people, cars or disturbances. The best way to appreciate nature.