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Published: September 17th 2009
Hello all I hope you are well
What a week we have just had!! 750 miles of unpaved roads ranging from deep gravel to filling loosening ruts and bumps that seem to shake you apart
I am not going to blog all the individual places so this one will cover Northern Namibia up to Etosha
The landrover was well worth waiting for, after picking it up we headed inland to Spitzkoppe Mountain on the way we started to experience what we both had in minds as the ‘real’ Africa. First night camping went well. We wild camped at the base of some rock formations overlooking the main peak. We paid the local community who own the land a small fee and was told to pick out a place to camp
Next day was spent travelling to Brandberg wilderness area, via the skeleton coast, 250 miles of unpaved gravel roads. The terrain started of like Spitzkoppe, and then turned into desert, mile upon mile of nothing, eventually we hit the coast which was pleasant change. First stop on the coast was the Cape Cross, which has a seal colony, there must have been at least 100,000 seals,
the sight as well as the stench and sound was breathtaking, literally!
We then travelled up the skeleton coast for mile upon mile of empty desert littered with the remains of old ships, a certain death sentence to anyone who’s ship ran a ground here. After seeing only 2 cars all afternoon we turned inland on a 4x4 track of landrover punishing terrain of rocks and bumps and we headed onto Brandberg. The terrain gradually got greener and more mountainous. The drive around Brandberg nature reserve was beautiful. First wildlife spots were a big herd of springbok, and Ostrich, the Ostrich had a baby which was very sweet. Stayed at a camp which was ‘home of the desert elephant’, we saw lots of elephant poo around the campsite but no elephants unfortunately.
Next day we headed to Palmwag a nature conservation area in the heart of Damaraland. Slight mishap with navigation along the way, we went off road for about 15km, saw the main road on the way back did not think there were many cars oops! Advantages were though first of all we did not get stuck and there were no punctures, but we also went
through a small African village and cattle farm. The village consisted of corrugated and wooden huts, all with satellite dishes! Lots of children on the road waving as passed, all bare foot, very excited to see us, (maybe that should have been a sign that we were not on the right track)
The journey to Palmwag was rough going and took 6 hours; we stopped at the organ pipes on the way which are tall angular columns of dolomite. That was not the main attraction though the attraction was the drive, passing horse and carts, donkeys blocking the road, whilst driving through an amazing landscape, unfortunately the pictures do not do it justice but Louise and I agree that in all our travels we have never seen a landscape as spectacular as Damaraland
After camping at a lovely spot by a dry river bed we continued through the heart of Damaraland heading further north to the little visited region of the Kaokoveld and the home of the indigenous tribes who still live traditional lives.
The drive through Northern Damaraland was awesome if a little slow going, miles of open savannah and mountains, we saw a lot more
game as well including zebra, giraffe, Oryx, kudu and plenty of other antelope. The landscape got drier and drier as we headed into the Kaokoveld and the roads got rougher and rougher this really was the rural area of Namibia that the rest of the country seems to have forgotten about. The poverty is quite hard hitting with one boy flagging us down with an empty water bottle asking for us to fill it up. Other children just ask for food, or pens or clothes, it’s a different world and hard for you to see as you cannot give to everyone although we stocked up on pens as it’s hard to say no to the children
After a 5 hour stint in the car we hit the “town” of Sesfontein, which we pretty much drove through without realising. It’s the only town in the area and consists of a camp site, a petrol pump, a village store with little in it and a few buildings. We filled up the tanks (the second fuel tank comes in handy out here) and chatted to a local guy in the campsite about visiting the local Himba villages. He directed us out of
town to a village even further north (down another bone shaking road) to a local settlement which will allow white people to visit, and advised us that we should take some provisions for them.
We found the Villages (ten huts and a large pen for keeping the animals safe at night) at the side of a dusty road, and approached timidly, fortunately there was a guy from the local village who spoke basic English who would act at translator (for a small fee of course) There was just women and small children there as the men were out with the goats, although some larger boys turned up on donkeys strapped with water buckets (the nearest well is 5 kilometres away). The same way they have lived for thousands of years. The himba culture is renowned for its jewellery and intricate hair styles which is a central part of their culture, with each hair style and jewellery indicating different status within the tribe, such as married, single, boy, girl, or adult. The himba also cover their skin with red clay which is quite striking, they also use the clay to style their hair.
Louise bought some jewellery and they
asked us if we had any supplies as they need tea and sugar. All we had was a bag of Tetley tea (England’s finest). We opened up the load space of the landy much to the curiosity of the local children as they pointed at all our stuff. A pack of cards was greeted with glee from one boy, but the packet of lighters I bought from Halifax market (10 for a pound) was the real show stopper. Never has anything bought from those markets been so gratefully received, a quick demo of how it works (it’s surprisingly hard to show that you need to keep your thumb down when you don’t speak Himba) as they were as happy as when I got my first Xbox.
After 8 hours in the car on bumpy track we camped locally ready for the long slog back to civilisation and the next stop Etosha national park
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