Well, it sounds absolutely idyllic. It is on my Africa bucket list, so carry on going. Talk as long as you like.
STEVE: So there was also another experience which I did which I will talk about first. I’ve read every single Wilbur Smith there is. Also on the Skeleton Coast, Damaraland area, I had the privilege of going on a trip with a guy called Caesar Zandberg. Now, he runs Kunene Tours and Safaris and, if you want to talk about off the beaten track, there has to be a track. He runs 4x4 safaris, self-contained safaris, into the Damaraland. His history is that his dad was a prospector. So he went in as a kid and he literally treats the Damaraland in the same way as someone from London would know the streets of London. If you get lost there, you die – put it that way. There’s very little water. It’s very barren, very stark and I ended up sitting with a friend of mine on the roof of his Land Rover driving through the Damaraland area. We managed to track down desert black rhino. We ended up walking up to it – a very exciting experience. Again, there’s no foliage, there’s no trees so, if that thing comes for you, you basically try to dig a hole in the ground to get out of its way.
When I say Caesar was like a Wilbur Smith character, he was like a Wilbur Smith character. There’s no other way to describe him. He’s got long hair, he’s a big guy. He’s even got a right-hand man who is an Angolan guy who left Angola and walked through the Kunene, Damaraland, Namib Desert – wherever – to get to Windhoek. He walked on his own to come and find work! To survive that is incredible.
We had this experience – and I know it’s quite topical now – but there’s been some programmes on the desert lions and we were driving along – and you know I fancy myself a bit of a guide and I know the bush – and all of a sudden we stopped. I went, “What’s wrong?” He goes, “Well, there’s some Hartman’s Zebra up on that hill but they’re not looking at us. We’re a big Land Rover driving through this barren landscape and they’re not looking at us.” I thought, “Well, okay. Maybe they’re busy. I don’t know.” He said, “There must be something down in that oasis.” True’s Bob, we drive down there. Now, I’m on the roof of the Land Rover and, as we hit this rock which punctures our tyre, it was like someone had thrown a lion bomb because lions just exploded out of everywhere and there were cubs running up hills, there were males charging us, there were females growling. It just exploded – just lions everywhere.
Now, just picture this. You’re basically in a desert. There’s nothing around apart from this small little patch of water and there are some reeds and there were Hartman’s Zebras and a few springbok and whatever and these huge, healthy lions explode from there. You could have been walking down there and gone, “Let me go and get something to drink” and the next thing lion bomb happens. So it’s so unexpected. And, as I say, finding a complete Wilbur Smith character and complete knowledge of the Damaraland on a scale that you can’t even understand.