01.05.2011 - 16.05.2011 30 °C
The truck and Namibian roads. Namibia is usually a very dry country, but when we were there it rained almost every day – the most they’d had for many years. The country is being discovered by more and more travellers. The different landscapes are stunning; mountains, deserts, canyons and a wild coastline.
On our second day in the country, we visited Fish River Canyon. On our arrival, the whole place was blanketed in clouds and fog so thick nothing could be seen over the rim. Then, after lunch, it lifted and the whole canyon opened up before our eyes. Truly spectacular, it looked much like the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
We had the place entirely to ourselves, except for this guy (above, middle) who happened to be the master brewer at Windhoek brewery, our favourite Namibian beer. (I think our truck had about 50 crates of the stuff on it!)
Loo with a view!
Namibia is a huge country with a tiny population. It has the second lowest population density of any country on earth, after Mongolia. As a result, most of it is truly wild and totally unspoilt. We did a lot of bush camping in the absolute middle of nowhere, which I really enjoyed.
Some awesome lightning storms.
This was my favourite bush camp. The sunset was incredible and, later on, there were more stars in the sky than I’ve ever seen before. One of the guys, Lee, knows a thing or two about astronomy and was pointing out the various constellations. Being south of the equator, the Southern Cross was very prominent, and you can also see the Plough (Big Dipper), except it’s upside down – but with no North Star of course; that’s below the horizon.
The truck tents are very good – extremely durable and easy to put up. I decided to sleep under a mosquito net that night however, so I could see the stars.
Ostrich and springboks.
The front of the truck has a raised section with an open roof where you can kneel and stick your head out the top (known as ‘the beach,’ because of all the sand that can collect). This gives awesome views and a face full of wind.
We visited Sossusvlei, a national park containing the tallest sand dunes in the world.
Climbing one of the sand dunes. It’s pretty tough going, but brilliant fun running down.
A few of us had a race, running down an extremely steep dune as fast as we could – you can see the footprints above.
Dune 45. There was a huge lightning storm when we were up there – arcs of red and blue lightning flashing across the sky. I didn’t stay up there for long, but some of those who did said they could feel the static in the air tingling and a buzzing in their ears.
That night we had some unwelcome visitors in our camp. Jackals were prowling around after dark; their eyes reflecting the beams of our head torches. Leaving any food out at night is a bad idea. The camel spiders were horrible – they scurried along the ground so fast and had a horrible way of creeping up behind you when you weren’t looking. Not nice in the dark. Scorpions were cool though. I pulled the ladder – a big, heavy thing – down at the back of the truck to get in, and it fell and smashed me on the head. In the seconds afterwards, the only thought that was going through my mind was that, if I fainted, the camel spiders might crawl on me – not the fact that blood was streaming down my face. Scary stuff. All was well in the end though; just a sore neck and back for the next week.
A pleasant place for lunch.
We spent a few days in the town of Swakopmund, where there was the opportunity to do sand boarding, quad biking and various other activities. Wanting to save some money, I didn’t do any of these and enjoyed spending the time chilling out.
The Skeleton Coast, so called because of all of the shipwrecks which occur here.
A bottlenose dolphin skeleton.
Cape Cross seal colony – home to over 200 thousand cape fur seals. This is their breeding ground; one of the largest in the world.
At one point, the road deteriorated so much we had to get off the truck to reduce the weight and enable it to get through.
This little critter shared our bush camp in Spitzkoppe – a place of impressive rock formations.
Armoured ground cricket
A small puff adder on the path. Andy, an Aussie guy, was one step away from treading on it and would have done if he hadn’t spotted it at the last moment. That same evening, Lee, the star guy, had a similar experience with a large black spitting cobra in the bushes. Given how far away from civilisation we were in that place, if either of them had been bitten, it could have been extremely serious, possibly fatal. Pretty nerve-racking, going for a pee in the night.
Lizard near Brandberg mountain. We did a walk in a canyon here to see some rock paintings.
The paintings were very clear. The locals don’t know how old they are exactly; somewhere between 2000 and 5000 years.
Riding on the beach, the top part of the truck.
Bug racing in one of the bush camps. Mastering the art of “making one’s own entertainment with the resources on offer.” I thought my praying mantis would have the edge (by eating its opponents), but it didn’t really want to play ball. Lee’s beetle did, however, and won almost every time.
Dead puff adder.
Camp kitchen. That night we ate oryx steak, flame grilled. Possibly the best steak I’ve ever eaten. (I said that about the beef in Buenos Aires didn’t I…) It was beautiful eaten raw too; a lovely flavour and so tender.
There are 24 passengers on the truck, the tour leader (Andi, an Aussie) and driver (Grant/Hastie, a Kiwi). We have eight cook groups and everyone takes it in turns to buy food at local markets and make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the day. So, it’s one day on and seven days off. We’ve had so many excellent meals: game meat, curries, salads, pasta dishes, stir fries, homemade bread, pizzas, stews – it’s amazing what you can make over a fire. Mostly, it depends on where we are and what there is to buy locally. Haven’t had to kill and butcher any of our own meat yet… the guys who came down the west coast, before I got on, said they did this a few times. Not sure I’d be too keen to participate in that one.
We visited a private cheetah park. If cheetahs encroach onto farmers’ land, they usually shoot them, to protect their cattle. These cats are getting very rare in many parts of Africa, so the guys who own this park encourage farmers to allow them to remove the cheetahs and put them in the park, where they are protected. They also had three tame(ish) cheetahs, hand raised from birth living on their farm.
Falcon, the American.
Better than a guard dog!
On the wall of a bar. Notice the elephant’s “second trunk” on top.
Why would you not want to pour your drink from a warthog’s arse?!
Dan – man of many nicknames: cheesebeard/pubeface/garden gnome etc.
Semi-wild cheetahs in the main part of the park.
We did a game drive in our truck in Etosha National Park.
Oryx (also called Gemsbok) – tastes so good!
We camped inside the national park, near a waterhole. We sat there for ages in the evening watching a group of black rhinos (the rare ones). It was breathtaking.
The one lion we saw in the park, the following morning.
Mongooses (mongeese?) at the lodge on the way out of the park.
Listening to the footie on Lee’s shortwave radio.
The largest baobab tree in Namibia. We camped near this and, in the night, some people decided to go out for a walk. Unfortunately I didn’t, for they stumbled upon a herd of giraffes and were surrounded by them. Bush camping in the wilds; there’s nothing at all between you and the animals.
The back of the truck, from the beach. Inward facing seats make it sociable, and the open sides give fantastic views. Plastic sheets can be rolled down over the sides if it gets too dusty or too cold. The truck is so well equipped – everything you need to cook virtually anything over a fire, space for loads of food and water, axes and a chainsaw for collecting firewood, tents – a fully self-contained home away from home.