Whilst staying at a hostel in Windhoek – the capital of Namibia – I managed to hire a Bakkie with long range fuel tanks, roof tent, camping gear and spare wheels for GDP 30 per day (normally GDP 60 per day just for a basic bakkie so I was well pleased with that!) and toddled off for a trip around Namibia: 1st stop was Swakopmund which I got to via a part tarmac, part gravel road across country and through the Namib Naukluft park.
The scenery changed from barren or sparsely covered hills and valleys through to the desert terrain of the lower country – with sightings of Impala and Gemsbok (Oryx) as the journey ended. Swakopmund is a nice place but so German it’s unbelievable! – Even down to the deli menus being in German! I stayed at a beachfront campsite overnight and had sundowner drinks at the bar actually on the beach.
Next morning I paid for a permit to allow me into the Desert roads, stocked upon fuel, food and most importantly water then headed out. First stop was the Welwitschia mirabilis plant sites – a plant which apparently lives for up to 200 years! Then into the Moonscape (an area of deeply rutted and ravined rocks and sand which does look remarkably moonlike.
Then headed out past the Quiver trees and Gemsbok for a night under Bloedkoppie (blood mountain) after a brief rain shower (yes, it happened to rain in the desert!) I headed off to Walvis Bay & Dune 7 – one of the highest dunes in the area, and then continued on to a campsite at Mile 109. I took a risk here and decided to try and reach a crater whose GPS coordinates you can find in a guide book – however its all off road over very sharp rock fragments – basically a rock desert…and after 25km into the desert I punctured a tyre.
I replaced it easily enough but at that point realised that if I DID get stuck, I had no means of communication and no-one knew I was there to look for me! …so I turned around and went back.
Next day I travelled up the Skeleton Coast, into the National Park, where I found a couple of guys whose car had broken down. We tried to fix it but failed, so I towed them through the Park to a junction where they limped back to their home. I ventured on to Palmwag for the night, then to Warmquelle though I struggled on the flooded roads (start of the rainy season here) crossing a raging river with a truck stuck in it en-route and to Opuwo.
The scenery is gorgeous if harsh bit there are plenty of wild animals wandering around the roadside too: brown Hyena, giraffe, zebra, Wildebeeste, Springbok and Gemsbok. I stayed at a lovely lodge there (Opuwo country hotel) then as the roads were washed away I changed plans and drove to the Angolan border to see the Raucana Falls (pitiful due to water management for the hydro-electric power station then slipped and slided my way to the Kunene River Lodge for the night.
Next day was the Epupa Falls (nice) and then back to Opuwo (getting extra fuel en-route from a traditionally dressed Herero woman in a township along the way) then down to Etosha, where the guy on the gate walked around the bakkie (pick-up truck) and asked what had happened to my car!! (it was in a bit of a state by then)
Again, not much to see in Etosha (too much rain just lately) then off to the worlds biggest meteorite which is about 3m square and then to Tsumkwe to have a day with a San bushman -which was REALLY nice (I’d been looking forward to seeing the San people for months) you know, even in the 21st Century, they still hunt food with a bow and arrow (poison tipped) and eat what they find in the bush (literally).
Next was down to the Erongo Mountains to see some dinosaur footprints and more bushman paintings and engravings (staying in the beautiful AiAiba painted rock lodge) then off to town to borrow a nice ladies computer to burn some photos onto DVD’s. Next it was off to Philips Cave to see MORE bushman paintings and the Bulls Party rock formations. That night I stayed at Spitzkoppe mountain rest camp – RIGHT underneath the mountain which was VERY chilling and atmospheric.
Up early and a trip to Sesriem Canyon (in the rain) ready for a trip to Sosussvlei and Deadvlei in the morn. 5am start and out of the camp as the gate opened at 5:30. an hours drive later and I was in Sosussvlei to watch the sun rise over the dunes (after climbing the wrong <really STEEP> side of a dune only to realise the error of my ways as I got to the top!) then after sitting there for an hour or so, I moved over to Deadvlei to see the calcified trees in the valley (FABULOUS PLACE).
Straight after that I drove down to Ludicrous (I mean Luderitz) and had a Luderitz salad and cappuccino at Ritzis cafe, then stayed for 2 nights at Shark Island campsite…with the craziest security man in the world (completely drunk and walking around with a sawn-off Russian shotgun).
I didn’t do much here, but need to rest after all the driving (I did go to Kolmanskop ‘ghost town tho) Next was down to Rosh Pinah to get into the Fish River Canyon…except the road had been washed away so I had to drive the 250km BACK along the road and then drive another 300km to go ALL the way around and into the park from the other side!
I was so knackered when I got there that I stayed at the Canyon Mountain Camp (lodge) overnight (which was nice) then did the Canyon proper the next day Its a fabulous place and the 2nd biggest canyon in the world (to the grand Canyon, naturally).
I stayed at the Canyon Road House the next night and then off to the Quiver Tree Forest and giants Playground the next day, staying at ‘Gotchas’ that night. Next day was the end of my 20 day tour of Namibia…but I think I did pretty well: saw most of the sights and travelled for almost 6000km!
Written By: Chuggy Charles – UK