Namibia

January 13, 2008 - Windhoek, Namibia

Our flight from Germany to Namibia was long but uneventful. We really enjoyed the food, drinks, and pleasant German crew of the LTU flight. We flew into Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Back in the Southern Hemisphere. Our Canadian friends Dave and Namita's flight arrived only an hour after ours so we waited. It was great seeing them again. We met Dave and Namita during our Cambodia/Vietnam tour. We did some on the spot planning and found a hotel for the night. The hotel helped us make accommodations and rental car arrangements for the next three days. Windhoek provided no culture shock. Same stores, same prices as in the States and everyone speaks English. But its people and the service were really great. And we were able to get the rest of the supplies we needed.

The next day, the four of us headed South in our rental car for a 3-night visit to the dunes in the Namib Naukluft Park. We past cows, baboons, spring buck, and other antelope on the way. We arrived at the Solitaire Country Lodge and Terry and I were pleasantly surprised. The place was much nicer than we expected. They had a large Christmas tree up and even had tiny Christmas trees on our dinner table. They even had a pool, so we all went for a swim. There were a swarm of dragonflies flying around the pool and diving down to take a drink. I suppose it was the only water for tens of miles. And I enjoyed and local beer with dinner.

We left the lodge at 5am the next morning and entered the park. We arrived at "Dune 45", named because it is 45 kilometers from the park's entrance, around 7am. Since we left before breakfast was served at the hotel, the hotel packed us a box breakfast the night before. Sandwich, fruit, yogurt, granola bar, apple, and more. It looked good so I was psyched about eating once we arrived at Dune 45. Terry ate in the car on the way and gave me her beef jerky. I was a little weary about eating it but took a couple bites anyway. Not even 5 minutes latter I wasn't feeling well. I was feeling queasy and lost my appetite. We arrived at Dune 45 and the car was immediately surrounded by yellow jackets (bees). In the process of getting ready we let about eight of
them into the car.

The hike up Dune 45 was awesome. We actually hiked the ridge line to the top of the dune. The heat was incredibly brutal. The hike up in the soft red sand was difficult. We had the entire dune to ourselves since everyone else left. And four hours later as we passed Dune 45 on the way home all of the tracks you see in photos were gone and the dune was returned to its pristine condition.

We continued into the park to the end of the non-4-wheel drive road. We took a 4-wheel-drive shuttle the remaining 5 km into the park to the Dead Vlei parking area. From there it was only a 2.2 km round-trip hike to Dead Vlei but it was around 10am and getting hotter. I was feeling a bit dehydrated even after drinking about 3 liters of water in 2 hours. My stomach wasn't any better. Finally about 1/2 way there my body rejected the jerky and the rest of my stomach's contents and I felt 100% better. I started drinking water again and we continue to Dead Vlei which was beautiful. But the desert was so harsh we didn't stay long. Terry and I, tired and week, slowly made the journey back. We hopped into our bee infested shuttle where I got stung on the back. All in all it was a great trip despite a few mishaps.

The ride home was long but when we got back we were rewarded with a shower and a swim in the pool. Then I joined Terry and slept until dinner time. Terry had Kudu steak. I tried one piece but was still babying my stomach and so just slowly sipped a coke.

The next day we drove to Swakomund for some adventure. Swakomund is on the coast -- Dune meets ocean. When we arrived Dave and I went quad biking in the dunes. There was a nice cool breeze blowing. It was Dave and I with our guide which was great. I talked Terry into going sandboarding with me the next day. Sandboarding is just like snowboarding minus snow, plus sand. Oh, one other difference -- No lifts. So when you get to the bottom you have to hike up the dune in your boots under the desert sun. That alone limits the activity to a couple hours. We actually had the perfect overcast morning and I got in 4 runs, one on each dune.

[Terry: Africa offers no cultural shock so far. All the public bathrooms are clean and toilet paper is provided. I am looking forward to camping and roughing it since the last 4 days did not provide any of that. Except for the climbing the dunes; that really kicked my butt.]

We had two more casualties. The arrow keys on our laptop are dead. I only hope the laptop survives another 30 days until we get back. It appears that we also trashed another compact camera. I brought it sandboarding and the guide offered to take a video for me. I told him how to turn on the camera once he was at the bottom and told him that if even a single grain of sand got into the lens area on the front that the camera, that the camera would not work ever again. Five seconds later he carefully laid the camera down on the sand on its back. He forgot about it and when he jumped up on his board he kicked a pile of sand on top of the lens. Then he tried to wipe it off and manage to blow the sand into the lens more. I can get it to open and close now but there is a terrible crunching sounds when we zoom the lens and I have no confidence in the camera now.

We arrived back in Windhoek at our "joining hotel" for our first tour. We will be camping 9 nights and moving through Botswana on safari. It is pouring rain here now and we here it rains often in Botswana so this next 10 days may be interesting. In any event, it is unlikely you will hear from us again until we are finished with the tour and back in a hotel with Internet access.


Pictures

Our rental car
Our room in Solitaire
First African beer of the trip
Dune 45
 
 

4 Comments

mom:
January 14, 2008
glad I found your site. sorry you were ill. how come you are the only one who gets bitten and sick? not that I want Terry to get bitten and sick but why is it always you. Looks dry and hot so far. I suggest you eat and do what Terry does. That might work :)
mom:
January 14, 2008
There is a webcam called nationalgeographic.com/ngm/wildcamafrica
I can see the Mashatu Game Reserve in Bostwana and the watering hole. Maybe I will see you there :)
The Shawns:
January 14, 2008
Hey Guys - Sounds like you're having an incredible time. Tell Dave and Namita we said hello. Cheers!
Shawn1/Shawn2
John & Michele:
January 15, 2008
Hey guys! Great to see you out on another adventure - we're jealous. We'll have to compare notes on sandboarding: Namibia vs. Chile... It's going to be great fun to follow along again, and we're already looking forward to the movie.

(btw, I (John) am pleased to report that I got a great job in San Diego - you'll have to visit)

Adventure well!

J & M
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