Published: October 20th 2006October 16th 2006
Took a 2hr flight from Joburg to Windhoek, Namibia after spending (1) night at the Southern Sun Hotel at the Joburg Int'l Airport. Upon arriving at the airport we were greeted by a very young and friendly Namibian who for the next hour had us in stitches and at times got serious when explaining the apartheid and segregation - what a great first impression of a country. Namibia is a land of wonder, wide open spaces and of many contrasts. The country has one of the lowest population densities in the world, 1.8 million people, with a land mass the size of the UK and Germany combined. In addition, Namibia is the youngest African nation obtaining independence in 1990.
We stayed (1) night in Windhoek at the Rivendell Guesthouse (nice mgmt, great bunch of guests and an easy 20 minute walk to downtown). Windhoek is a very much a German city, with German street names and colonial facades. In addition, the city is extremely clean but poverty and crime are nonetheless very prevelant, which means when the sun goes down taxis are the only means of transportation. There are townships, especially the suburb of Katutura, "the place, where we do
not want to stay" that was erected as a typical township for the black population by the then South African government in 1959. This seperation/segregation still exists today, only slowly changing, as nowadays the income of the people determines where they live. The one thing we never could get used to is the fact that all the houses are hidden behind brick walls, gates and on top of that, electric fences -wow nothing like voluntarily living like a prisoner in your own home. Unfortunately, the beauty of all the purple, pink, red and other colorful flowering trees is not enough to hide the electrical fences and signs "This is a High Crime Rate Area". Having said all that, during the day there is no fear or threat of walking into or around town. We did our very best to say hi and how are you to each and every person we walked by on our way into the city. It was great, we got a lot of blank faces...which were then followed up with big smiles. A little goes a long way and we certaintly did our part to show that we respect ALL, no matter color or race.
After a good nights sleep we caught a shuttle to the Namib Nauklft Lodge (a 3 1/2 hr drive), located in the Namib Desert. We spent (2) nights at the lodge - nice mgmt, okay food, and a beautiful setting. Having arrived in time for dinner we gulped down a South African wine and hit the sack as the next morning we were required to be up at 4:30am for our trip to Nauklft Park to see Sossusvlei. It took 2hrs to drive to Naukluft Park, during which time we saw so many contrasts of landscapes and wildlife along the way. Naukluft Park is located in the Namib Desert, one of the oldest and driest places on earth. The Park is most famous for the Naukluft Mts, Kuiseb Canyon and of course Sossusvlei - amongst the highest dunes in the world, with some measured as high as 325m - just awesome. Known as a photographer's dream, the towering sand dunes change color and moods as the light of the sun changes throughout the day. The dunes are an awesome sight, and pictures do not do the area justice. Seeing these dunes in person is quite a sight and climbing them
allows you to view the entire landscape of sand for miles and miles.
After 4x4 into Sossusvlei we stopped to climb "Big Mamma" a 180m high dune. It was early in the morning so the sand had not warmed up yet, which was a good thing as we decided to climb them in our barefeet - we did bring runners, but did not want to be weighted down with shoe-fulls of sand! Having climbed the dune I decided to venture onwards and upwards along a ridge to experience the feeling of "Virgin Sand" - not quite the same as breaking virgin fluffy powder on a cool crisp morning, I must admit!
After climbing back down we had breakfast in the shade and headed a 1km into the desert to see the Dead Pan. This is amazing, in the middle of the desert there is a lagoon-shape of white clay pan with trees that appear lifeless. Believe it or not these trees are alive. The heat coupled with the dry clay pan gives the impression of water at the far end - not so, just a mirage! By this time the sand had warmed up and it was about
45 degrees - ouch, good thing we weren't barefoot. But just as worse we were wearing flip flopgs which meant the sand kept getting stuff between the arches of our feet and our flip flops - end result, very painful & sensitive arches! We survived and the burning sensation was gone by the time we got back to the lodge. Overall the Sossusvlei lived up to its expectation. Our last night was spent at Marble Mountain, a mountain of Marble on the lodge's property, watching the sunset.........
Namibia has so much to offer and we did not even scratch the surface. It is a wonderful country with so much to easy and is easily accesible. The common language is english and self-drive is hassle free. Unfortunately we did not allocate enough time to see the country properly - just another place we will have to come back to.
A big thanks to all the locals whom shared their own experiences of apartheid and dicussed such difficult issues as HIV/AIDS with us - it has made us more knowledgable about your country and continually reminds us of how lucky we are to have lived in a racist free environment
Back to South Africa to visit Cape town and the Western part of the Cape -- Penguins be on the look out!
There are more photos below