The remote North

Trip Start Jul 24, 2009
Trip End Aug 26, 2009

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Flag of Namibia  , Kunene,
Thursday, August 13, 2009

I know I have said this before but I am looking at an amazing view!

Our half of the group left camp at 8.30 and began the drive towards the Marienfluss. We had been driving for about 20 minutes when we noticed the others weren't behind us. We tried to contact them on the radio and stopped and waited for ages. We were just beginning to get worried and Dave actually turned around when they appeared in the distance – the Davies had a flat tyre – let’s hope this is not the start of bad luck!!

We drove across the desert and the sand became blacker and there were a lot more stones. We saw lots and lots of gemsbok but not a lot else. The roads weren’t too bad, although there was some corrugation at times. The areas were vast – huge desert valleys surrounded by mountains. We took the 4WD track to Orupenbe, which was marked on my map, but then we turned north into the unknown according to my map – thank goodness for the GPS!!

We drove past a marble mine – they were literally cutting marble from the cliff face and blocks of white marble were just standing around. The whole area was covered in pieces of marble, from tiny bits to big chunks and occasionally we would come across a marble outcrop, which looked pretty surreal.

After stopping for lunch (and sweating in the 37.5 degrees!) we continued our journey. The next part of the drive was, how shall I put it – eventful!!!! We found sand, stones, rocks – just about everything! At one stage we had to climb a very steep rocky hill, which we had to do one at a time. Once we had all got to the top and driven a little further, we then had to drive down the other side! This was true off road driving – very exciting!

The plan was to reach the 'Red Drum’. Now the Red Drum is not a hotel or a spa or even a shop. It is, in fact, just a painted red oil drum in what seems the middle of nowhere, but it marks the beginning on the Marienfluss. The drum, along with an orange and a blue drum, are very important landmarks and all have GPS points – probably the only oil drums in the world marked on maps!!

It is now 20.58 and we are all in bed! It is pitch black outside and there is no-one for miles – how cool is that. All I can hear is the noise of the pen on my paper!

When we eventually reached the Red Drum we found that people before us have found stones and written their names and dates on them. We had to add ours! While we were there some children came out to see us. Some were dressed in traditional clothes (or lack of them) but others were wearing more western clothes. Kath had brought some footballs, as they were asked for last year, so Ryan and Graham pumped some up. The children didn’t know what to do with them at first, but soon began throwing and kicking them. It was lovely watching them and they waved goodbye with big smiles on their faces when we left after mending Mike’s flat tyre.

We also saw some Himba riding their horses and donkeys on the way in – one of them was carrying a Manchester United bag – in three days of driving we have only seen a handful of people and one of them has a Man U bag – bizarre!!

I can’t wait to see the valley in the morning, it is incredibly beautiful, and a special feature are the ‘fairy rings’. These are patches of ground where nothing grows. There are several thoughts why these occur, but my favourite if that they are actually made by fairies!

OK, so now to sleep. I wonder what sounds we will hear during the night – we don’t even know what animals are here!
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