Just 'Dune' it!
Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
137Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
What I did
Fish river canyon
Namibia was a country so diverse then any other African country we have visited. Driving in Africa was something we had to get used to. Especially with so many strangers that we were spending twenty four hours a day with. Much of the group (except us) kept sneezing and coughing as the truck made its way through the dirt of the dark continent. Therefore it was nicknamed "the viral bus" by our Aussie friend.
Dunes or Alive
Despite the fact that we were counting the days till we would be on our own again, we did enjoy exploring the dunes in Deadvlei with the group. The day we entered Sossusvlei our driver Chris notified us we had to pay extra to use a different jeep as our GAP truck could not make it through the sand. On our way the guide showed us two owls hiding inside a tree. They were sleeping while the desert sun was nearly overhead and were almost impossible to see through their camouflage. Very cool! We didnt expect many animals to live in the hot dessert.
The walk through the desert took about fifteen minutes. The route was unmarked, however, it was impossible to miss due to the numerous visitor footprints. In the centre there was a large number of tree trunks standing for at least 900 years, according to our guide. They took all shapes and turned out to be very photogenic. Our fellow bus traveler was kind to take our pictures in various settings, some of those are on this blog. Despite the midday heat, we were excited to stretch our legs. Truck life is not very healthy and imposes inactivity additionally to junk food being eaten every night just before tent
We had an hour or so to relax before running up the so called "Dune 45". This is not the highest sand dune in the park and is little different from other ones in the vicinity. The local authorities, being aware of the footprint of the hundred of tourists coming each day, decided to confine them to one mountain only. Most people climb for sunrise which involves getting up just after 4am, breaking the camp and heading out. Why is it called Dune 45? Just because it is 45 km away from the only campground in the area. Since it is standing on its own a variety of terrain can be seen from the top ridge.
Climbing the sand dune was best done barefoot. Wearing shoes was a sure road to blisters. Some do it in socks even though there are no poisonous snakes on the dune. Going up is quite strenuous due to resistance posed by the sand. It took us about 20 minutes to climb the ridge. It was fun to sit on the top ridge till a large group of teenagers arrived. Goodbye tranquillity and solitude! Running down was even easier as we could use the steep slope. We had to hurry. The campground would close an hour after sunset and we would have to sleep among jackals and hyenas if missed that deadline.
Lone traveler(s) or Tour
Some may ask, can you explore Africa on your own, just like we did with Australia and New Zealand? Yes, you can. A few places in Cape Town sell cars to backpackers with a buy back option and crossing most borders is straightforward, despite what tour operators might tell you. There is no roadside assistance, however, most people will stop if they see a vehicle in distress. We had two mishaps on our trip, both in Namibia. The first one was getting a flat tire on the way to the Swampy Pond, the second one involved getting stuck in mud during a rainstorm in the Namib desert. We were pulled out by a passing farmer. His Landcruiser had enough power to pull "the viral bus" out of the ditch. A picture could be used as a commercial for Toyota, hardly as an endorsement for Mercedes.
So yes, it is possible to drive around southern Africa on your own. It will most certainly cost more than taking a tour. Our friends that we went with to the Cape of Good Hope did just that and had their both rear tires blowing up at the same time. With a tour your costs are capped and the company is responsible for getting you to the destination in time for your flight out of Africa.
Make like a tree and leaf!
After we visited the Petrified forest by foot. We carried over 2 litres of water since it was over 40 degrees! It felt like 100. Phew! The sight was eery. The trees were all bare and the branches were mostly crooked. With the dunes in the background the place almost looked haunted.
The landscape looked surreal yet interesting. We took advantage of the back drop and took some fun and exciting pictures!
P.S. We also included some pictures of our second Truck mishap! It was raining so our truck got stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere! Luckily after an hour we got a tow and the sun dried up the mud. We were good to go to the next destination-Fish River Canyon. (The second biggest canyon in the world).