On the truck we would spend something like 10 days in Namibia, but first we had to cross the border, which can be a bit of a hassle with 20 something odd people. And the heat was absolutely stifling. It was probably 110 and no wind, so when you were outside waiting for everyone else to go through immigration it was pretty miserable. But we made it through with no problems and continued onward through Namibia’s dusty two lane highways. There wasn’t really much to see along the road except for a zebra or ostrich here and there, and for me it was my first time seeing either a zebra or ostrich in the wild, so I thought it was pretty cool! For sunset we stopped at the Fish River Canyon overlook, which was really nice, even though we had to stop and watch out for some scorpions underfoot!
That night we set up camp in the dark and got out first taste of the Namibian night sky. We had to wait until the generator and all the electricity at the camp went out at 11 to really get the full effect, but it was magnificent. Sipping wine and watching the stars, pretty awesome. Out of all things we did in Namibia I think the brightness of those stars will remain with me the most
The next day it was an early start (as usual) and basically another full day of driving. After we set up camp we got a guided tour through some of the desert and the bushman who was our guide told us all the ways his people would survive nomadically in the desert, which was kind of cool. That night we got a little lesson on the constellations and learned how to find south using the Southern Cross, which I promptly forgot. There was also a watering hole near the camp, so I assuming you sit quietly still in the darkness you can watch the oryx’s and the zebras skiddishly approaching the water. For the zebras I think it took half an hour of creeping a little closer, going backwards, and then creeping up again until they finally made it. Interesting, but also frustrating to watch!
That morning we were up at 4 am to go hike the sand dudes. Well just one sand dune in particular: the cleverly named Dune 45. Obviously a much better dune than dune 44 and 46! It wasn’t a difficult hike, maybe 25 minutes to the top, just in time for sunrise, which was spectacular. The dark shadows in contrast the sunlit sides of dunes makes for very nice photos. From the top of our dune we were led to a big sand crater, which didn’t look too difficult to run around the rim, so me and a German guy had a race all the way around, starting in opposite directions, first one to get back to original spot wins! As you might have guessed we had underestimated exactly how difficult this would be, and less than half way through we were both exhausted. But we dragged ourselves all the way around and finished the circuit. Technically I lost, but I don’t think anyone was actually racing at that point. But it was good exercise! Something you don’t get enough of on the truck.
After that we had breakfast and boarded some jeeps that took us through a desert track and towards another set of dunes. 20 minutes by walking later we reached an area with white, flat, cracked earth, a former lake bed I think, surrounded by dunes. Scattered throughout were gnarled dead trees that looked very cool and erie at the same time. I would have loved to have been there at night with the stars overhead. But needless to say it was a great place to take photos!
So after an action packed morning it was back on the truck to the adventure capital of Namibia, Swakopmund, which interestingly enough is a little German enclave in the middle of the country. Well Namibia was a German colony after all. They took us to this big tour office where they showed us some super lame videos of people skydiving, sandboarding, and ATVing, all at super inflated prices. I guess our group wasn’t exactly the adventure activity crowd, so only a handful of people signed up for the sandboarding. Some of us decided to rent 4x4 trucks and check out the area around Swakopmund. Apparently there was a seal colony with over 100,000 seal maybe an hour or two up the coastal road, which we wanted to check out.
It was easy enough to rent two trucks and we headed off the next morning. Sadly I couldn’t drive as I still don’t know how to drive manual, although I did get a lesson that day, which I probably did not pass! A couple hours of driving later we were at the seal colony. There was one wooden walkway that you’re allowed to walk on, and everywhere you look, seals everywhere! Breeding season had just been underway, so we could see baby seals flapping around everywhere looking for their mommies. And it was smelly! And noisy! The damn seals never shut up. They’re always yapping at each other. When one gets in another’s space they’re quick to bark and bite at each other. At one point there was a baby seal who had found its way onto the boardwalk, but couldn’t get out, so we tried scaring it off in the direction of the exit, but rather than seeing me and turning towards the exit it came lunging at me instead, which left me running off and shrieking like a little girl. So that was my excitement for the day.
After that we had a little picnic down the road, on what turned out to be dead seal beach, as the ones who didn’t make it found their way washed up on this part of the beach. Next we wanted to find some sort of shipwreck. After asking directions we meandered our way through some sandy bumpy roads near the coastline, finding nothing. We hopped back on the highway and then of course we found the sign for it, right off the road! Apparently the Namibian coast is famous for being easy to get shipwrecked and this stretch was nicknamed the skeleton coast. You can even see some wrecks in the sand dunes (normally by air) as they are impossible to drive to. So that was it for Swakopmund. We all went out to dinner and said a sort of goodbye to the small group of people (the older ones) that were doing the accommodated tour (as opposed to camping). They would be doing the same route, but on a different truck, and we’d still see them at campsites that also had real rooms for accommodation. Now our truck was down to 21, so a bit more space for us! Next stop, driving safari in Etosha National Park.