This story was originally published by our friends at FreundeVonFreunden.
Read it from a different angle here.
We touched down at Windhoek Airport after a long and excited flight from Berlin. Outside, the heat cracked like a whip and a hot breeze danced by and knocked off our hats. Waiting on the tarmac, in a tropical haze, was the black car that would serve as our ride. We were about to begin a journey that would cover six days and 1500 kilometers, from the capital city to the shimmering Atlantic coast.
The road out of town wound its way through craggy tufts of green and brown, while mountains rose on the horizon before us. Giraffes ambled by, chewing inquisitively, and we saw an unabashed ostrich shaking its rump. Our ranch was a cluster of thatched-roofed huts that stood on a lawn of manicured green. We slept that night under a hail of stars but were woken at times by unplaceable cries. Odd animal eyes blinked in the dark.
We woke up early to the twitter of birds. They were circling the bungalow, busy at work, building these tangled, cocoon-like nests — some of them several meters in length. We packed up the car and drove along what seemed like a highway from mars. On either side were swirls of sand, glowing red from the iron-rich soil.
The trees in this world were spindly and short, all of them reaching out, dying for a drink. Over their heads, we could see miles and miles of endless wasteland.
We ate in an island of lino and glass in a sea of savannah, with wild animals roaming outside. Diners scraped back their chairs and rushed to the window as an elephant waddled past, trying to cool off. We met with a guide and drove through the park, where antelopes sprung from grasses like flying-fish. We saw termite mounds as thick as tree-trunks, and wildebeests with twisted, fluted horns. The guide cried, “Stop!” and the car ground to a halt — lying ahead, with a grin of white teeth, was an enormous lion, ready to roar.
“Get up,” the ranger said, “I’ve just received a call — rhinos on the move.” We jumped out of bed and laced up our boots. It was 6am and surprisingly cold. Wrapped in blankets, we bundled into the car and raced to where the rhinos had last been spotted. There they were. Two grey rhinos out for a stroll. Graceful giants with scraping bellies. Their noses were scarred and blunted, as their horns had been removed to ward off poachers.