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Published: November 10th 2009
on the road
driving through through the Namibian desert
2nd October - 14th October
Hilux All-terrain 4 x 4 - check
Full tank of petrol - check
Road map of Namibia - check
Tents, sleeping bags, pots, pans and all camping accoutrements - check
2 cool travel mates to share the laughs and costs - check
Evangelical Born Again Christian guide.….hang on a second…….
After a fruitless couple of days in Botswana trying to organize a car hire that would take us all the way to the west coast of Namibia, we found a local option in the form or a 4x4 hire with all equipment - the only catch is that we had to also take a driver - the owners son who would then drive the car back to Maun. Our first impression shook our confidence a little - his dad pointed him out and after a moment we realised that he actually was pointing to that scruffy but kind of cute young lad with a cocktail in one hand, a pool cue in the other and a buxom blonde wedged under his arm pit.
When we told him what we wanted to do and that
New shirts for the H bombers
These were are patrons for the night
we were a bit unsure of the time scale and that there was a possibility we would only go as far as Wyndhoek, he said “yeeeeeahhhh, surrrrre, like that’s totally cool”. He then squinted to focus and told us to be ready for 8 on the dot the next morning. We were up and packed early the next morning, severely doubting that our party friend would be ready but sure enough, there he was - ready and bright-eyed (although I think the bright eyes could be attributed to the two smashed cans of redbull on the floor).
The first section of the trip was a bit hairy. We had to reach the border before it shut at 6pm and we had a big drive to do along roads filled with wandering animals. It had just rained and because it’s so dry there, the ground just sucks up the water so the only available drinking water for the grazers was to be found in the puddles in the middle and sides of the road. Siobhan and I spent the 5 hour drive white-knuckled and pointing and shouting out when we saw animals. It was during this first drive
that our young driver first explained to us about what happened in the big flood and about when man walked with dinosaurs ….six thousand years ago. And of course that none of us would get into heaven unless we were saved. Siobhan and Joel who are practicing Buddhists took it all in their stride, I remained silent and Matt decided to play devils advocate and question everything. It was a long 5 hours!
We managed to get over the border just before they closed and a very jolly Namibian lady welcomed us in and told us to hurry up so that she could go home and have her dinner. We reached our destination of Ngepi Eco-Camp, very close to the border although we took a very off-road route to get there. Our camping spot was right beside the river where we could hear the hippos all through the night as well as a local party in the distance with African drumming. Mind you we didn’t take long to get to sleep as we were all fairly tipsy from the multitude of Shots that a couple of local guys bought us. They were property developers celebrating finishing a
local project. When they heard that Joel and Siobhan were on their honeymoon, they fetched them two really cool shirts and decided to buy all 4 of us drinks pretty much all night. We decided that dropping the H Bomb could be pretty advantageous to all of us during this trip. We had great fun exploring the facilities - check out the pictures, some of the best toilets I’ve come across so far!
We spent the next couple of days travelling down towards the capital of Wyndhoek and stayed in some really nice camping places along the way. Did I mention that Siobhan is an amazing chef? I doubt anyone has ever eaten so well on a camping trip. Watch this space, you’ll be seeing her on TV in the near future. When we reached Wyndhoek, we decided it was time to go it alone. We managed to hire a truck with two tents on the roof and all the equipment we needed for a very good price. The next day we set off for Etosha game park. It’s quite a pricey place to camp but gosh it’s worth it. They have man made watering holes and
viewing areas beside them where you can sit and sip your sun-downer as a parade of animals come down for their evening drinks. It’s much more staged than any of the parks we had been to in Kenya or Tanzania but it was good fun to be able to sit and watch the animals.
From Etosha, we headed west to Twyfelfontein stopping off at the Petrified Forest to see trees that had been turned to rock hundreds of thousands of years ago (but we thought the earth was only 6 thousand years old?!). We camped at another great place and spent the following day exploring the local area. First off was the world heritage listed rock-paintings site - apparently an old map system for watering holes and hunting guidelines. After that, we saw the Organ Pipe rocks and Burned Mountains. We then drove through the very eerie Damara land - desert and salt planes. It was at this stage that we started having problems with the wheels. We managed to get three flat tyres within the space of an hour and a half. Actually one was a slow puncture that we had noticed that morning and didn’t
quad biking in the Swakupmund dunes
seemed to be ok if we kept pumping it with air. There were two spares so we just prayed that we wouldn’t need another!
We arrived into the small seaside town of Swakupmund on the evening of the 9th October. We parked up the van at a lovely local hostel called Desert Sky and went out for a meal in the local Italian. We bumped into a lovely Irish couple that we had met in Ngepi and ended up having a night out in the local nightclub.
Swakupmund is one of the weirdest town we’d ever been too. It’s slap bang in the middle of the Namibian desert and is lush and green with huge wide boulevards and lots of huge dogs and practically no-one there! It’s a German colonial town and you really could be in Germany except for beyond the shops and houses you can see huge Sand dunes on one side and crashing waves on the other. But although it’s a bit weird, we really enjoyed our few days there. It’s very relaxing and the food is brilliant and cheap (mmm steaks) and the coffee was good so I was happy
:o) Matt and I decided to stay and try to hook up with a tour going south towards Sousevli and Siobhan and Joel drove the truck back to Wyndhoek as they had to fly back to the US. Before they left though, we went quad-biking in the dunes and also did a wonderful cruise where we got to cuddle seals and whizz along the water with dolphins and pelicans.
In the end, we didn’t manage to find a ride south so after a few days, we decided to head for Capetown by bus. We were a bit sad not to be able to visit the southern sites of Namibia but we’ll definitely be back some time, it’s a wonderful country with so much to do.
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