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NamibiaDunes




A quick video through the Namibia desert - The most popular videos are here


The way the current schedule works out we will spend 40% of our time sleeping and eating, 40% of our time driving, and 20% of our time involved with activities. Again we drive through many kilometers of dusty endless desert landscape passing nothing. I don't mind the drive because it is a landscape foreign to a native of Florida and I do not have to worry about actually driving or looking at a map. We see an average of only two road signs a day. The break for lunch was also in the middle of nowhere at the ruins of a former German prisoner of war camp. We all make the best of our vegetarian sandwiches. Four more hours of driving brings us to Duwisib Castle. This is a barren looking campground with a few prickly bushes; it is all dirt but has a certain charm and soon feels like home. Showers are taken quickly because there is no electricity or hot water. We spend another nice night around the campfire getting to be friends over large plates of pasta. We are proud of ourselves for staying awake until 9:30 PM -- looking at all that sand must make us extra tired. It is a little colder here than were we have been so Scooter and I break out our emergency blanket. The emergency blanket is a large sheet of aluminum foil that makes a lot of noise when you unfold it. We are freezing and ready to try anything. In ten minutes I can not believe how warm we are. This thing is the greatest invention since sliced bed. I am actually starting to sweat and kicking myself for not using this sooner. In the morning we folded it back up into a small packet that would fit in your back pocket. We would reuse our space age blanket on many nights to come.



It rained for a few hours last night which I am sure is good for the desert but not so good for packing up muddy tents. At 8:30 we walk over to our sightseeing activity for today. The castle was built in the 1930's in the middle of nowhere by some eccentric German military officer and his crazy American wife who paid for it! We wonder through the castle for about 30 minutes then get back on the bus for a couple more hours of: you guessed it more driving. Our next stop is Sesriem Campground and our first encounter with the highest sand dunes in the world. After setting up camp we eat our usual lunch of bread, tomato, cucumber, cheese, with an avocado bonus -- the lack of variety is amazing. This campsite is nice. We all setup our tents in a circle under a big yellow gnarly acacia tree.

At 2 PM we are scheduled to go on a 10 km walk to the sossusvlei. It is a unique desert hike through the dunes -- everywhere you look huge red dunes. The dunes are considered to be very old and have a sharp mixtures of reds from the oxidized iron in the sand. The Namibia desert is 32,000 square kilometers of sand with the world's highest dunes at 200 meters. This bizarre landscape is included in every brochure of Namibia; it is definitely unique in the world. It is a perfect day for some exercise, just a bit cloudy keeping the desert temperature down. Scooter had a good time playing photographer/hunter, stalking a gemsbok buck, a huge black and white variety with dangerous looking perfectly straight three foot horns. It was probably not a wise thing to do but it is really hard to be a stupid tourist. They have the three foot horns for a reason. We really enjoyed the walk and then a couple of drinks at sunset before driving back to camp. We rode past Dune 45, a 150 meter high dune as the sun was setting. Tomorrow morning we would be climbing Dune 45 before sunrise. Dizzy prepared a great meal tonight: boerwars on the braai (bbq), potatoes, butternut squash and curried beans. I think they figured the natives were getting restless and we all needed a good meal. I ate too much and went straight to bed, scooter and I still really like living out of our little tent and we are enjoying the camping.

Up today at 5:15 AM and on our way to sunrise at Dune 45. The road to the Dune seems to be equal parts rock, gravel, and pothole. It takes about 30 minutes to get there. Sitting on top of a sand dune, in the middle of the desert waiting for the sun to rise is one of the reasons you come to Namibia. At 5:45 AM we are joined by thirty other people from other overland groups and we all begin our climb to the top. We spend the next 20 minutes climbing up the ridge of the dune, where the sand is the hardest but still not easy to climb. The clouds in the horizon prevent us from seeing a spectacular sunrise but it is still fun to be up and active in the fresh morning air. After a breakfast of French toast we go out to the Sesriem canyon for a walk through the not-so-spectacular 30 meter deep drainage ditch with 150 million year old deposits of conglomerate. Guess what it is time to drive again. At this point we have read three or four books and I am busy checking out what everyone else is reading hoping to trade.

We are going to the big city today. Our schedule will include driving, the one-store town of Solitaire, lunch stop, Walvis Bay and then spending the night in Swakomund. Despite our stops this day was the most of "nothing" that we had yet experienced -- mile after mile of gray rocky dirt. The first stop was just for fun at a tiny little town called Solitaire, it has a church, a store and a mayor and that is it. We picked up some snacks and Sahvanna cider for the ride. The end of the day's driving brings us back to the Ocean and Walvis Bay, a 45,000 hectare lagoon supporting 50% of southern Africa's flamingo population. The houses on the ocean in Walvis Bay say, "I may live on the edge of the desert, but that doesn't mean I can't build a beautiful house to live in." This is the spot for the rich Germans and South Africans who live in the area they even have grass in the yards. Then 30 minutes later we are at our destination of Swakopmund, Namibia's biggest holiday resort. It is a friendly seaside town with a heavy German influence. Tonight we stayed at the youth hostel in town, a large castle-like structure. Some of us camped in the yard and some stayed in the dorms. Scooter and I just could not get enough of our tent and set it up in a patch of grass outside of the kitchen. Dizzy fixed dinner in the hostel kitchen, tuna casserole that did not go over too well although it is my favorite. Apparently, the Europeans are not big fans of tuna. During dinner we had speakers from the Alter-action company tell us about sand-boarding and quad biking. These are our only optional activities on the trip meaning that they were not included with the African Routes package. Both activities sound fun so we sign up for the following day along with most of the crew. It was my day for dish duty so I hurried through the chore and got ready to hit the local pub, Fagan's. Dizzy and Dylan walked us through town pointing out the major sites; laundry, bookstore, and Internet cafe. Fagan's was filled with overland truck groups and a few locals. Swakopmund is a cute town, very civilized especially for being in the middle of nowhere. We all stayed at Fagan's until 11 PM, our latest night yet. We are all getting to know each other and a little more comfortable with each other now which makes it easier to relax and have fun.

Swakopmund began in 1892 and remained German South West Africa's only viable port. The first residents were soldiers. Then civilian homes came by ship having been pre fabricated in Germany. Today it is a tourist town due to its beach front location and colonial architecture. We had a free day today that we chose to spend like this:

  • Doing laundry at the combo bar, casino, video, pool hall, launderette.
  • Eating a real breakfast at the Ocean Cafe
  • Shopping around town-not buying anything
  • Lunch at a Mediterranean cafe
  • Happy hour with Red Bull
  • Dining with the whole crew at the Frontier Restaurant serving wild game
  • Drinking and dancing



We are all ready for an activity and Sand-boarding and Quad-biking with Alter-Action (e-mail: alteraxn@iafrica.com.na) was today's main event. We drove back out to the Namibia desert, the oldest desert in the world, at 9:30 AM with about 20 people in vans. We had two options for the morning, you could either go sledding down the sand dunes on a small piece of paneling or you could go sand boarding down the dunes like a snow boarder. Some of our group chose to do sledding style sand-boarding while about eight decided on snow board style, including Scooter. Each group went their separate ways.

Starting out a little nervously, I collected my elbow pads, helmet, gloves, and board. The board is not specifically made for this activity; it is a piece of really thin wall paneling with wax on one side. We hiked up a big dune and looked over the crest our first ride "little Nellie"-- it looked huge to me and this was our practice slope. Lie down, face first, grab the top of the board, keep elbows tucked and hold on. All but one of us made it unscathed down the sand slope. Let's do it again, it was fun and has a great adrenaline rush. After the first run we did 5 more and 5 more hikes up the dunes. Every time was a thrill zooming along at 60 kph and eating part of the dune if you don't keep your mouth shut. It is as much fun watching others as it is going down yourself.

Scooter returned from the sand boarding and I could tell we had more fun. It turns out to be more work than it is worth. You use normal snow boarding equipment but the runs only last twenty seconds and you do not get much speed. If you find yourself in Namibia presented with the option of sand boarding or sand sledding, choose sand sledding you will have a blast.

We all met up for lunch and cold drinks to compare battle wounds and empty sand out of strange places. After a quick lunch we were whisked away to our next activity; the Quad-Biking adventure. I was not sure what this entailed but I quickly realized it involved motorcycles. We picked out our 4 wheelers and donned our safety gear. After three minutes of instruction and three minutes of practice we were off. Then we were off on a 40 km trek through coastal dunes. My bike was a simple automatic 125 cc that was definitely speedy enough for me. Scooter had a bigger manual 250 cc, much speedier. What fun this was -- more adrenaline rush speeding over the red dunes, up, down, across alongside the ocean. This was also another dirty sport and within minutes we were covered in white dust. Two people in the group took tumbles. Jan and Sico sustaining minor injuries and I got stuck in the sand sliding down a dune. All in all good fun. This night we had a pasta dinner prepared by Sam, special recipe and delicious then watched home movies by Karen and Scooter in our new cottage-like digs.

Today we left the security of our chalet compound and went to the grocery one last time before departing from the civilized world. We fill our cooler with cold drinks and ice. The bus has been cleaned inside and out and remains that way for at least the first hour on the road. The drive today is again long with few diversions.






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This page last changed on 04-Jun-2007 00:25:23 UTC by 76.110.18.169.




Social Weaver nest
A cool place for a tent
Camp fire for the crew
Duwisb Castle in the middle of nothing
On the road again
A wind and sand sign
Long hours of this
Setting up camp before heading to Dunes
The famous Dune 45
A view from the top
Gemsbok
Karen and Scooter taking a rest
The landscape is indescribable
Pipe organ rocks
Flamingos in the ocean
Very upscale houses
Swakamump not a bad place to hang or a day or two
A frame Hotel
I am ready to Sand Board
They don
The teacher shows us how to do it
A student takes a fall
This is easy
A great view
Look, I can do it
Time for 4-wheeling
Karen gets the dirt out of her butt
Going up hill
Photo time, boy are we dirty
Everyone follows in line