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Published: March 21st 2015
The River Bank Party
In the town of Rundu, on the border with Angola
Click to watch my film if you would prefer to watch than read
I wasn’t expecting much when I crossed the border into Namibia my impressions of the place were built around the Namib Desert, the only thing I knew about the country so I imagined it being desolate and dry. We (me and my mate Rich) entered from Botswana at the end of 2014 during a 3 month tour of Southern Africa. After driving through the thin strip of land known as the Caprivi Strip we chose to spend a night in Rundu so we could go to a New Years Eve party on a beach of the River Cubango. It was a great night and a great experience dancing with the locals while looking across the river (and therefore border) into Angola. We got to see some warm up acts and a guy called Gazza, one of the most commercially successful and best selling recording artists in Namibia, according to Wikipedia. Right at the end of the night I was unexpectedly grabbed and pulled on stage to dance with Gazza himself, I think his staff wanted his fans to see him
The River Bank Party
Our campsite on New Years Eve
hanging with some European looking white guys.
To bring in the New Year we drove to Etosha National park to look for lions, stopping en-route at a crater lake with a Japanese sounding name, Otjikoto. Namibia’s flagship National park was simply awesome, a park with the ‘Big Five’, a huge salt flat and loads of watering holes so you can just sit and watch animals interacting with each other. We ended up camping right in the centre of the park 500m from a watering hole, which successfully enticed a host of elephants, rhinos and giraffe, to name just a few. It wasn’t until the day after that we found a couple of lionesses thanks to the help of the visitor’s sightings book. We sat and watched them for an hour, mostly just sat under a tree to hide them from the sun but they did walk a few hundred metres to go drink some water and to eye up the herds of hooved animals that were grazing nearby – you can see our attempts to better David Attenborough in the film
We followed our safari with 4 days in the Skeleton Coast area, a really arid part of the globe with some spectacular scenery and some fascinating sites to
The River Bank Party
There was lots of drumming and dancing
visit. In one day we visited the Organ Pipes - some funny shaped rocks, Burnt Mountain - a blacked out hillside, Twyfelfontein – an area with some rock carvings and the Petrified Forest – some 219 million year old fossilised trees. We had to drive between 600 – 700 kms on dirt track roads so progress was slow. We stopped a night in Sesfontein, a town in the middle of nowhere where we went to a bar to ask the locals about the clicking noise they make when they talk – again click to see for yourself
. The next day we continued heading north as far as we could go without leaving the country, covering ourselves and the car in dirt from the road before we arrived at Epupa Falls, a stunning waterfall right on the Angola-Namibia border.
My Corn Flakes moment was one of the coolest I have ever had because I shared them with members of the Himba village we had just spent the night in. The Himba are a tribe of around 50,000 who live a totally traditional life sleeping in wooden huts and using livestock as currency. Our experience with them was special for me as we got right off
the beaten track, ignoring where the majority of tourists go close to Opuwo. Our guide Owen (from Epupa Falls) was very knowledgeable and showed us around the village, taught us about their animist beliefs and different practices they have for making themselves look pretty, the red ochre skin butter being the most well-known. We were made to feel very welcome, they didn’t try and sell us any souvenirs, they were genuinely interested in us shown by all the questions they asked us and the joy (and relief) in their faces when we gave them food said so much.
Next up along the road we visited a couple of Other-worldly attractions. First we went to Hoba farm near Grootfontein to see the world’s largest Meteroite estimated to weigh around 60 tons then we stopped at the Otjihaenamaparero farm (Real Name) to see a couple of dinosaur tracks left by different species. We drove passed the Waterberg plateau but annoyingly hit a rock and injured the car so didn’t have time to climb up to the top. Instead we continued on to a living museum set up by a group of San People where they basically give demonstrations on how they
A pretty spot that sounds Japenese
hunt animals, make fire, make jewellery and they even danced for us. It was a shame to see that the San People no-longer live in a traditional way and now rely on the monetary system, although no fault of their own I might add. They have been consistently attacked by the Namibian government and had their rites taken away, for example it is now illegal for them to hunt on their own land.
From the San museum we drove to Swakopmund stopping briefly at Cape Cross to look at a colony of more than 100,000 seals. We spent a couple of nights in a hostel as Swakopmund is a touristy town and we decided to take advantage after weeks of sleeping in the car or the tent, although with Rich in a dorm I choose to camp in the hostel grounds to save money. We jumped on a tour as a way of having a day off from “Hardcore” travelling. We went on a boat trip in the morning for a more up close and personal interaction with animals, then in the afternoon we went to Sandwich Harbour which involved driving 30-40km over dunes into the Namib Sand Sea.
From Swakopmund we drove around the edge of the Sand Sea to an area called Soussevlei, a gorgeous desert with red sand dunes and salty mud flats creating a very surreal location. In fact there were many surreal places we visited on this trip through Namibia including the abandoned diamond mining town of Kolmanskopp, which was next along the road. The town was last inhabited at the end of the 50’s as diamonds were found in other areas so it has been left to be engulfed by the desert 10km outside Luderitz. I enjoyed the tour of the museum as you got to see how the rich European families basically came in and stole diamonds from Africa buying the miners loyalty with the latest technology, which in those days meant a daily supply of bread, ice and electricity as part of the salary.
Luderitz didn’t have all that much to offer travellers but it was interesting to see all the German style buildings built at the start of the 20th
century during its short-lived colonisation by Germany. I was unaware of any colonising done by the Germans but in the 1880’s parts of Africa and the Pacific were
Etosha National Park
Some beautiful animals, don't know what there are called
taken under German rule only to be taken by the Allies as part of the Versailles treaty after the 1st
On the road out of Luderitz we stopped to photograph a community of wild horses that have adapted to living in desert conditions but we soon continued on to another couple of surreal places in the Quivertree forest and Giants Playground. The trees in the forest look alien to this planet due to the shape of the tree and the leaves but they make for a great photo, the Giants playground is an area where there are stacks of rocks that look like huge lego building blocks, hence the name.
Our last stop before crossing the border back into South Africa was at Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon, only slightly smaller. The Fish River Canyon was the perfect spot to just stare at the beautiful scenery with its layered canyons as well as finishing off my box of flakes and videoing a conclusion to the film.
I fully recommend a trip to Namibia, it has a lot of variety to offer both tourists and travellers alike.
For more on my Corn Flake Travels please visit my website
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