Friday 11th September . Awake early we hung around in our tent till after sun up and wandered out to enjoy the campfire and coffee while watching the cliffs colours change with the rising sun. Brekky was a cooked one , a bonus as usually it is weetbix /toast. I did tomato and onion gravy which we had with scambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast. We packed up and headed out of the park and drove towards the coast where the landscape became the Namib desert and the vegetation thinned and became treeless. Water is scarce towards the coast and dunes of sand were seen as we approached the main town of Swakopmund which is like this modern oasis in the desert but on the coast with the Atlantic ocean on one side and massive dune systems around the town and stretching down the coast.. This town is highly influenced by its German history and Afrikaans is the main language spoken but almost everyone also speaks English
. We are staying here for 4 nights as this is also the adventure capital of Namibia where people come to sandboard, quad bike, skydive, fish, parasail and so on. We arrived at the Swakop Lodge hostel and were happy that Wayne and I did an upgrade to a double room with bathroom rather than share a dorm. Into the shower we went to wash the accumulated bush grime off and we put all our clothes into to be washed by the lodge ( nowhere in Africa have we found laundries where we can get our clothes machine washed except if you leave it to be done by someone for a price). Bliss clean bodies and clothes. Next we had a briefing about what activities we might want to do over the next few days and we watched DVD presentation designed to inspire us to do them. It worked and we signe up for the sand boarding, quad biking and Wayne for a skydive of course.Back at the room we enjoyed watching TV and in English a movie channel!!!Needless to say we spent hours over the next few days enjoying crappy movies in bed.That night we had a group dinner at a restaurant nearby and enjoyed eating game meats on ashared platter of Zebra, Kudu, Springbok ( I know what people are thinking but these animals are not endangered and the meats were actually very tasty).
Saturday 12th September. Swakopmund has strange weather patterns being by sea and desert in that for most days of the year fog clouds the town and coast and actually the fog is what gives water to the dune plants and animals as there is extremely little rain and no waterholes or river to speak of
. As a result activities like skydiving are dependant on a clear sky so people must wait till it clears. Today we went sand boarding despite the foggy sky. A quick drive out of town and we were at a series of dunes allocated to sand boarding. Donning a helmet and carrying a piece of plywood we trudged up the dunes. Wayne upgraded to try the standup option with a proper skiboot type set up and board wheras I was doing the liedown sand boarding. We split into the 2 groups and were given our briefings. The dunes are high and the sandboards go very fast and unless you do as they tell you to you end up wiping out and/or getting a facefull of sand. I did the wipeout and ate sand on my first try and I have to say a face full of sand is not enjoyable eh? So I got it right next time down and thereafter. The hardest bit was climbing the dunes after the run down. By the time we got to the biggest dune we were clocked using a hand held speed gun and we did top speed of 73km/hr. It was intensely scary at those speeds but pure fun knowing you made it . Wayne gave the staqndup boards a run but was no good at it so he and others joined the liedown sand boarders and we did a tandem rum he and I which wiped out just at the bottom of the run. We had a camera person filming the day so we were to get a DVD of the days events. By lunchtime we were exhausted and on returning to the base of the dunes we were given a drink( beer for me) and had a great lunch of fresh salad and meat rolls. An excellent day. So it was back to the lodge and another shower to get the sand out of everywhere
. I was still getting sand grains working out of my eyes the next day!!!! Later that evening we watched the DVD in the adventure company’s office and were each given a copy. We chilled in our room that night and had take away in bed while watching a movie on telly( wow what luxury. We watched “Sex and the City “ the movie and “The Hulk”.
Sunday 13th September. We had our brekky in the room because we had an electric jug , our coffee and plunger and we had bought muesli and milk so were set for our breakfasts for 4 days here. Today we had another foggy morning but went to the airfield anyway as skydiving was booked by 4 people and we took a gamble it would happen. It didn’t so we had lunch at the drop zone while waiting then returned to town to go quad biking at 2pm. We chose manual bikes while others could have fully automatic or semi auto bikes. The manual ones took some getting used to as the throttle is a hold down button not a wrist twisting handle one. The quad bike is so different from a road bike that getting my head around the idea we were on sand and not going to fall on turns took me awhile to get off my road rider headspace and into the quad bike feel. Those that don’t ride bikes may have found it easier in the beginning as they didn’t have to work this through
. I don’t know. Anyway it was fun and getting stuck behind slower bikes on hilly dunes means getting bogged which we did a few times till I gunned it past the slower ones to get onto the top and not bogged. The dunes are amazing and areas protected and off limits as there are rare birds who nest and lay eggs on the gravely bases of the dunes. The views on the higher dunes out to sea were great and the 2 hours flew by and soon we were heading back to the quad bike centre besides the dune entries. No DVD of this though so no footage. The cloud stayed covering the town and it was cold. The ocean is barely swimmable for a lot of the year due to the icy seas but the windswept coast is amazing and further along is called the skeleton coast due to the shipwrecks and inhospitable environment and no water that even if people made it to shore they perished anyway. This is the land where only hardy bushmen tribes lived who knew how to get water from underground and from the fogs. After quad biking we went out again to the drop zone where at sunset the clouds parted briefly enough for one planeload to go up and Wayne managed a single skydive - his first in 8 months! Two women from our group also were on the plane for a tandem skydive which they loved. Back at the lodge at night we again had take way in bed, a pizza and watched more movies in our cosy bed. The weather at night is cold being on the desert so warm doonas were great here.
Monday 14th September
. Today we had nothing planned so after brekky I went down into the town and arranged to post some things home. This took time as I had to get a box from the supermarket and a marker pen and cardboard to cover the box and allow for the address label. Then it was back to the post office ( that didn’t sell the boxes etc ) and I arranged surface mail of the 1.7kg box as airmail was way too expensive for the t-shirts, fridge magnets,DVD and small items. After this it was stroll in the German like town, a coffee browse in the shops. Later we went for a lovely dinner in the next door restaurant of the lodge and had a very nive meal, a nice change from the crap we’d been eating the last few days for dinner. A repack of the backpack ready to leave tomorrow with all our clean clothes and then to bed