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Published: October 16th 2008
23 Sep - early breakfast of tea and cereal then strike camp for first time. All packed and boarded bus ready to go by 7.20am! Long drive through South Africa to reach border with Namibia. Lunchtime stop at town called Springbok. Stop for supplies at Spar (!!). I get 1.5l of local red and white wine for 70 rand in total ie GBP4.50, everyone seems pleased with my choice, esp Errol.
We cross our first African border. As a seasoned traveller, I'm quite au fait with these now! Two stage process - all clamber out of Priscilla, fill out departure form at RSA immigration border. Drive through no-man's land, all clamber out of Priscilla again, fill out arrival form at immigration border in Namibia, back on the truck. V uneventful and takes less than an hour. Arrive at Felix Unite campground on the banks of the Oranje / Gariep river. Great campsite with kitchen area and sinks...small things like this can make your stay more enjoyable! Sinks save kneeling on the ground to wash dishes 😊 esp considering Team B, my team are on kitchen duty today. After showering (communal shower & toilet blocks from now on) and checking out
In a canyon...with a beer
Not Fish River Canyon, the other one
the bar (always the first thing we do when we arrive at each campsite!) I help Errol prep for dinner of spag bol and salad before doing the dishes. Have a few beers at the bar, good vibe with various overland groups staying here who we'll see later down the road. Also talk to two guys who are here to mine for diamonds! Slightly later night ie 11pm, Ulf still drinking 😊
24 Sep - dinnae fancy the canoe trip along the Oranje River so enjoy a long lie. Take a wander along the riverside with Helen and take some photos while avoiding the sci-fi looking spiders....horrible things with small bodies but huge round legs, yeuch. In the afternoon we drive to Fish River Canyon - it's extremely impressive, second biggest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the US, and measures 160km in length, up to 27km in width and a depth of 550m. It's Ulf's 28th birthday so we have bubbles and chocolate cake, woohoo, while awaiting the sunset!!!! Bit too cloudy for the sunset we eagerly anticipated but great pinks and lilacs in the sky when we leave.
25 Sep - early start,
leaving at 7.30am for 10 hour drive. Share our breakfast with the baboons on the campsite then hit the road. Within 10 mins of driving we see springbok, ostrich and zebra by the side of the road...we're definitely in Africa! We have a coffee break at a great wee bar at a railway junction in middle of nowhere - it's full of stuffed animals, some gripping beer bottles, some baboon bums...bit like the Drovers Inn along the West Highland Way, lol. Arrive late afternoon at campsite then head to Seriem Canyon, not as impressive as the previous night but we can walk down inside it. Sit and watch the sunset before an amazing blanket of stars appear and the Milky Way. We have a tasty beef stroganoff for dinner, watched eagerly by jackals.
26 Sep - even earlier start....up at 5.30am, urgh, to Drive to Dune 45 to watch the sunrise...sunsets and sunrises are another common theme for the trip 😊 We get the timings wrong and miss the best part of the sunset, however we powerwalk up the sand...NOT easy...to the top of the dune. It's worth the physical exertion...even if it does seem like Sauchiehall Street on
Tropic of Capricorn
Didn't see Ewan or Charlie tho
a Saturday afternoon. Ding Dong has our first cooked breakfast of the trip waiting for us - bacon & scrambled egg sarnie, rooibos tea and muesli with yoghurt. V yum, with that appreciative feeling of food you always get after walking.
The San Bushmen are one of the many types of indigenous people in the area. Straight after breakfast we meet Frans for a 3 hr walk through the Soussuvlei dunes. Fantastic sandy landscape while looking for tracks of insects and animals, and we see beetles and lizards. By 11am it's getting v hot and I am smothered in F50+, still managing to get some colour though...or maybe it's just ground in dirt 😉 Back to campsite for lunch and much needed shower before driving to campsite at Solitaire. Another great campsite which has it's own 'international' airport / landing strip. Few beers and ciders with the boys and write up Dear Diary.
27 Sep - drive over the Tropic of Capricorn today. Stop for photos noticing that Ewan & Charlie must have been here as there's a Long Way Down sticker on the back of the sign!!! Arrive in Swakopmund, the adrenalin capital of Southern Africa. There's
Boys will be boys
Namibia's 'sport' of rock piling
lots of activities to chose from such as quad biking in the sand dunes, sand boarding, skydiving, horseriding, fishing, etc. I decide to just go for one activity though...the ultimate adrenalin rush, skydiving - eeeeeeeekkkkkk.
Wander round Swakopmund including a craft market then along the beach. The Atlantic is v choppy with a fresh wind. We stop for a beer in the Tug. This bar and restaurant is in the beached tug boat called Danie Hugo which was built in Port Glasgow! Quirky place with great sea views. Group dinner at Italian restaurant - Napolitana. Have smoked salmon & horseradish then kingklip fish and chips and lots and lots of white wine. Most of the group then head to bar. Lots of beers then, as there's no Bailey's start drinking Scottish Leader Whisky - yeuch, what was I thinking???!!! Ulf is my drinking buddy by this point which can only end in alcoholic oblivion. A few of us head to some dodgy club in the middle of nowhere called the Sidings, NOT on the tourist trail. The inevitable happens and I end up spending the rest of the night snogging Ulf 😉 Get home at 4am. So glad we're
staying in A-frame chalets rather than camping.
28 Sep - long lie. Hangover not too bad....considering!!! Psych myself up for skydive. Oh my god, turns out to be just me and fellow gapper Charlie (fund manager from LA), everyone else hungover or too chicken. Words cannot describe the whole experience...from taking off in the smallest plane I've ever seen (no seats) with great views for 25 mins over the Namib Desert before strapping myself to Mias, my skydive instructor then jumping out of the plane - 10,000 feet up and freefalling for 39 seconds - aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh. Photos attached don't really explain it, wait until you see the DVD with me SCREAMING my head off, the pressure disstorting my skin, hair raised and general look of panic 😊
I still can't believe I actually did it, doesn't seem like it was me! Esp when I remember that moment when I was stepping out of the plane...head first....face down with Mias above me so it felt like I was on my own...plunging to my death, lol. Once the parachute opened though, it was quite pleasant floating down to earth...apart from the sudden turns (made by Mias and then me when
Aaron with FHM in the dunes
What goes on tour, stays on tour!
I took control of the straps) as my stomach performs somersaults when the hangover starts to finally kick in. V difficult to look at the camera man, smile and vocalise my thoughts. End up landing and saying 'awesome' loads (spending too much time with Canadians) before hugging Mias and getting out of parachute and rather fetching red and yellow jumpsuit.
The hangover and adrenlin rush start to kick in on way back from the 'air strip' ie a hut in the middle of nowhere. However back at the flight centre bar I manage a Savannah cider and Nik Naks (severe munchies) followed by a Windhoek lager with Charlie when he gets back while we watch the video of my jump in front of the whole bar, how embarassing!!!! No one around when I get back to the chalet...while contemplating a takeaway however, Helen and Melissa come back for me. Head to restaurant for a v tasty ostrich fillet with garlic butter and mashed tatties followed by ice cream and chocolate sauce. I manage one drink with Jason before heading home. What a day 😊
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