Published: July 21st 2009July 9th 2009
NAMIBIA! Namibia was wonderful. VERY different from Malawi.
Even though our plane was delayed in Cape Town, it was no problem to get to our hotel in Windhoek. There are plenty of taxis, and a shuttle, eager to take you to Windhoek. HOWEVER, it would be good to ask someone who works at the airport what the real price for taxis are before negotiating with the taxi’s…
We stayed at the Cardboard Box Backpackers in Windhoek on Saturday the fourth of July. However, we poorly planned when to come to Namibia as far as tours go… NOTE to the Traveler, make sure you know when the tours leave before you book your trip. I think that organized tours leave something like Saturdays and Mondays (don't quote me on that). Basically we got to Namibia right in the middle and were not going to be in the country long enough for the regular tour to fit. If you are only going to be in the country for a few days your options for travel are limited to renting a car and organizing a tour for the most part. Hitching is a problem in this country, and we didn’t try public
...about the only stop near the orange dunes
transport because of our limited time. Cardboard Box helped us to get a tour, but we were slapped with an extra fee of 1,000 Namibia Dollars because it wasn’t a typical tour day!
Now, Namibia is BIG. Because we arranged our own tour it was just us in the car, 1 tour guide and 1 driver. Sunday we left for Sossusvlei. It took nearly the entire day to get to the camp ground in Sossusvlei. We stopped twice on the way, once in the middle of nowhere where we had a picnic, and once at a little rest area called Solitaire (they have a gas station and great bakery). For much of the way I felt like I was out west somewhere in like New Mexico.
We arrived at the camp grounds, and the guide took us to an orange sand dune where we could climb and watch the sunset while they set up camp. It was beautiful. They then picked us up and we had a nice campfire dinner of chicken, greens and rice (no big difference from Malawi food). We also roasted marshmallows over the fire, and Cathy dug into one of her 3 bottles of
wine that she drug with her from South Africa. It was a nice full moon too, but the thorns made walking barefoot in the sand torturous.
The next morning we got up before sunrise and left camp by 5:30am. We drove to Dune 45 (it is a famous dune, but from asking around people think it is famous “because it is the big one that is 45 kilometers from Sossusvlei”). If you have never tried to walk up a giant sand dune it is one of the hardest things to do because you are continually sinking back in the sand. I personally didn’t think I would make it because I had done very few things active over the last few weeks.
In the end we did, however, and it was well worth it. All of a sudden the sun came up and everything turned ORANGE. It was beautiful because the sunrise made great shadows on the dunes (they were not nearly as impressive at mid-day).
We lingered on the dune for some time, and when we finally did come down our breakfast was ready. From there we drove a little further to Sesriem. It was nice there,
but we didn’t climb any dunes…we were duned-out. We did see a dried up lake that apparently fills during rainy season. On the way back to the campgrounds we also stopped at Sesriem Canyon and walked around.
We returned to camp, at a small lunch, packed everything and hit the road again. We headed straight to Swakopmund. We stopped at Solitaire again to refill, and we passed the Tropic of Capricorn…and that is about it. Lot’s of beautiful landscape. Sometimes we would see animals. Rarely we passed any cars. Even more rarely we passed houses or buildings. Coming from the densely populated country of Malawi this was very strange, but I believe that much of the reason was because we were passing through Reserves in the Namib Desert.
Late in the evening we arrived in Swakopmund. Our guides led us to the Dunes Lodge, which was very affordable and clean. We stayed in a quad with 2 bunk beds and 2 BATHROOMS! They even had a nice indoor pool (but it was way too cold for it). The guides got us hot dogs, REAL HOT DOGS, and drinks and left us to pick us up early in the
morning. We had a nice, quiet evening, and met a guy from Angola who was doing tours through Botswana.
The next morning we woke and had an amazing breakfast. Dunes Lodge provides omelets for breakfast, along with coffee. Not bad for R110. Unfortunately we had made our reservation for the shuttle back to Windhoek to pick us up the following day at the Desert Sky Lodge (20 Rand more expensive, shared bathroom and NO breakfast). So our guides picked us up, dropped our luggage at our new hotel, and took us to an extreme sports building that offered quad-biking, camel rides, sand boarding, and more…
We had originally booked sandboarding in the morning and camel riding in the afternoon. Unfortunately the wind was so strong we could not go sand boarding…it was delayed for the afternoon. We were skeptical that we would be able to go so we did quad-biking in the morning just in case (they give you these helmets with windshields so the wind was no problem). It was AWESOME. Quad-biking (4-wheeling) is already fun, but doing it in the sand dunes was surreal.
We met up with Judy for lunch. She had finally found
out that the reason her card wasn’t working was because it was expired! Then we went back to the dunes with our fingers crossed that it wasn’t too windy to sand board…we got lucky. Now, I have been wakeboarding and snowboarding. I am not soo good at either, but sand boarding is a lot of work. There are no ski lifts in the Namib Desert, so every time you go down a dune you have to climb back up to go again. Some people were doing sand boarding, and some others were sledding. We played until sunset and the extreme sports guides dropped us back at our lodge.
Judy was there. She had had a great day just shopping and wandering around Swakopmund. It is right on the Atlantic Ocean so it is very beautiful to see the desert meet the ocean. And there are plenty of seals (and therefore probably sharks but it was too cold to swim so I don’t know) to see from the beach.
We finished our trip to Namibia with a decently priced, large portioned meal at the Ocean Basket (the Tug Boat needs a reservation). I had plenty of kingclip, prawns and
chips. Nice. We were so exhausted from our time in the dunes we turned in relatively early. The following day we left early in the morning via a shuttle (book these ahead of time with your hotel because ours was full, we left some woman on the side of the road with her luggage) back to Windhoek and later home to Malawi.
There are more photos below