Namibia part 3

Recorded on March 6th, 2015

Naukluft park, a semi-arid newly proclaimed National park was very diverse, but ended up as a day trip, instead of the 4 days planned, due to a failed drive shaft. Zebra, Oryx, Ostrich and Springbok were regularly seen, but much more timid than in other parks. I expect this is due to the fact that in my 500km, round trip, I only saw 6 other vehicles, all on the main road to Windhoek, and none on the park roads. Walvis bay is home to the flamingo’s. An amazing sight, to see the lagoon and surrounding area, heaving with these elegant birds.

A lovely drive past the active salt mines, that supply South Africa with 80 per cent of its salt..and they aint shy, of consuming it ! Midweek, turned out to be the ideal time to visit the natural seal colony at Pelican point. Thousands of seals, either basking on the shores, or frolicking in the waves, on a totally deserted beach. Bar the elderly nudists , who were racing into the sea as I approached in my 50km drive, I did not see another soul.

Its quite incredulous that the local tribe of Topnaars, choose to live in this desolate area, where rainfall seems as likely as electricity in South Africa.

The second week saw me take a four day desert drive, mainly over the Namib dunes, a massive ‘Thank You to Simon’, who’s hospitality has been beyond belief.

The Namib desert tour, is definitely the highlight of my stay in Namibia, and possibly of the entire trip to date. Expertly guided by Simon Wearne, renowned for the ‘Faces of the Namib’, proved to be absolutely daunting on day one, as it was my first time dune driving.

‘Give it, give it’, shouts the ever calm Simon, over the radioas I approach in a rusty, rattling, 15 year old 300TdI. Stopping metres from the summit, (not intentionally) is the most demoralising feeling, as this means you have to reverse 300 metres back down the recently created track, and start all over again,

The ensuing days are much easier, as the ‘fear’ is conquered. Sleeping under the stars, was awesome, bar a few loud snorers in the tents. Herman !

‘Poke your nose over the edge, and have a look, and wait’, says Simon, as we start traversing near vertical slip faces. Well, all you can see, is your bonnet, and the next dune, no descending vehicle in sight. ‘Bloody hell’, he’s having a laugh, you mutter to yourself. ‘Low range 1st, no braking, wheels straight’ comes over the radio. Proceeding as cautiously as possible, the descent starts. A soft rumble of the dune, ends up in a roar, which only gets the adrenalin going to max, as you descend. Engine screaming, heart rate racing, the slip face is conquered. What a fantastic sensation !

A massive thank you to Simon and his team, for a marvellous trip, always very aware of the impact upon the environment, from sweet wrappers to, illegal-shell-collecting. A highly recommended tour, by a very professional, and conservation aware company.

Thank you also to Ben, Herman and Christa, fellow professional guides, who were fantastic to follow. I’m not sure they’d say the same about me though.

Off to Luderitz, via Sossusvlei, but unfortunately no lodgings, camping or otherwise, allow dogs, so off back to the coast. A blow out on a gravel road, at 100 kmph, is quite interesting. Almost broke my wrist, trying to slow down, and stop the Landy rolling. Eventually ended up in scrub, beside the road, with a few panels dented, along with my ego. 4 hours of digging and jacking, with the help of a very kind Namibian gentleman, (who was on his way to a weekend break with his young family), resulted in the Landy being back on the road at around midnight. Miles from anywhere, as I’d taken back-roads, means Luderitz would be the goal for daybreak. To add insult to injury, the headlight switch burn-out, as I was constantly having to use high beam.

Drove into Luderitz at 9am, having had 2 hours sleep in 26 hours. Great 2 day break, which included a fantastic visit to Kolmanskop, a ‘Diamond ghost town’..see photos… then it was a quick stop at the mighty Fish River Canyon, before crossing the border into South Africa.

The north and west obviously were personal favourites, as tourists are few and far between, unlike the south. Amazing country, and the world’s most hospitable people.

Almost half-way, what a trip !

Namibian quirks

Recorded on January 29th, 2015

The Namibian diet

1 loaf brown bread, preferably sliced (cos its healthy)

500g meat per person

500g borewors per person

Minimum of 4 windhoek lagers….apparently very good for rehydration

Seven days on this diet has seen my waistline and appetite grow immediately. Such a transition from the rice and beans of central and west Africa, As the locals say…..heerlik

The bodyguard

Whilst camping at the Brandberg mountains, a most terrifying dog (50-60kg) befriended us.Initially Laica was petrified of him, but after day 3 , she adored him.

Sharing beans and corned beef chilli stew with the two of them was probably my biggest mistake of the trip. Our bodyguard, lay at the entrance to the tent all night every night, but on this particular night, they both snored resoundingly, whilst allowing the beans to depart the other end. The noise and smell, was horrendous.

A sad departure from the riverbed, with our friend running beside the car whimpering, and Laica looking totally distraught. We never did find out who the owner was, nor his name, but he was fantastic, not allowing anything within 100 metres of us. Quite a terrifying sight when he chased anything, then would skip joyfully behind Laica, like a lovestruck teenager.

Namibia……part 1

Recorded on January 29th, 2015

Namibia part 1.

After a nice, sandy/gravel road drive to Ruacana Falls ( its now a hydro-electric plant, so the falls no longer flood), I made my way down to Etosha National Park..

Etosha is one of the planet’s special places. Its topography is incredible. Game viewing becomes secondary, and I defy anyone, who spends proper time in Etosha, to not leave part of their heart behind.

Too many (nearly all Park officials and GP plates) race through the park, missing its hidden assets. Fools, who should really go elsewhere, as they do not realise how fragile the system is.

Fantastic staff at the newly opened Galton gate, looked after Laica (as no pets are allowed in Namibian parks), whilst I drove the fantastic western section. Teeming with animals, as it was nowhwere near as wet as the east. Dankie to Boesman, who kindly looked after Laica , for two days, at his lodge, whilst I did the central and eastern section days later.

An incredible experience.

Damaraland then came a calling, and we hit the road again. A mountainous region, which straddles the centre of Namibia, towards the coast.

Beautiful rock formations, petrified trees ( called a petrified forest, but since the trees were washed down from Zambia 200 centuries ago, a ‘forest’ seems to be a bit misnomer)

Long hot drives, on perfect gravel roads, which included a 4 hour ‘stuck in the mud’ with the Kaplan’s from Germany, where both of their rescue vehicles, me included, got bogged in horrible glue-like sinking mud.

Down the Skeleton Coast National Park (The entire coast is national park, one of the few in the world, if not only), which is eerily stunning, desolate, remote, but so enthralling.

Cape cross seal colony, to see the thousands of seals, either frolicking in the waves, or grabbing 40 winks on the beach. The stench is putrid, almost acidic.

Great salt roads, lead all the way to Henties Bay ( A fishing village…..but not somewhere I’d choose to live), and then onto Swakopmund, a treasure of a town. It has grown a lot, but still takes an hour to circumnavigate the Germanic old town. Gorgeous, in a word.