Sand, sand, sand...

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Actually, as well as huge sand dunes there were amazing mountain ranges, a vast coastline and areas of bushland that went on as far as you could see. We'll start off by saying we loved Namibia and had a great 14 days in the country.

We arrived by coach in Windhoek from Livingstone on an 18 hour overnight journey. On the way as well as stopping for food, fuel and toilets, we had to stop for three elephants who crossed the road in front of us just before dark. The desert elephants roam around a lot of Namibia.

Our plan had always been to hire a vehicle and self-drive round the country but due to our budget constraints we decided we'd go for the smallest, cheapest car and rent camping equipment. When we got to the car hire company they had run out of the small cars but offered us a 4x4 truck including camping gear for the price of their small car hire, so we took them up on the offer! It's amazing how God provides.

We spent 10 days and about 3,000km driving around a small part of the country considering it's four times the size of GB. The toyota 4x4 truck came with a roof top tent which took about 2mins to put up - it literally folded out and we had a two-man tent to sleep in. We especially appreciated the fact it was on the roof when we saw scorpions running around. Camping was definitely the way to go because other than campsites in a lot of the areas lodges were the only other type of accommodation, and very expensive. The only backpackers were in the major towns. Most campsites had decent showers and each pitch had a braai (BBQ) pit, so we had a lot of braais! The distances between towns is vast and you have to remember to fill up with fuel and food whenever you reach somewhere with such supplies. We'd drive for literally hundreds of kilometres and not see another vehicle.

We visited:
* Sousslevei - the famous sand dunes. Dune 45, one of the highest in the world & Dead Vlei (Dead Valley)
* Walvis Bay - hundreds of Flamingos feed in the shallows along the seafront
* Swakopmund - 'little Germany', a developed town with large German-Namibian population with German architecture, cafes & shops
* Twyfelfontain - famous for rock carvings & the organ pipes - a mass of dolarite stone columns that look like the pipes of an organ
* Petrified forest - fossilised trees that have turned into stone
* Sesfontain - an old German colonial fort which has been turned into a lodge and camping site. There is only a petrol station, small shop and the fort in this small 'town'
* Gross Barman Resort & hot springs - on arrival we discovered the word resort used a lot of poetic licence.
* Windhoek - we spent time in Windhoek both before and after our road trip

Throughout this trip God really looked after us as there were several circumstances where we felt stuck and in trouble but prayed and God answered. One example is on the first day we drove to Sesriem (near Sousslevei) and were planning to visit the dunes early the next morning. For some reason the car gears stopped working, they would not engage when we tried to manouver at the campsite. There was no way at that time the car was going to work. We kept trying but it seemed the clutch was broken. We prayed that night and woke up the next morning to find it worked straight away, praise God!

Our favourite memories:

Trekking up Dune 45 at 6am just after sunrise to see the amazing colour changes that the sun cast on the sand dunes around. We had to leave our campsite at 5am to drive the 40 miles to the dunes.

Getting stuck in the sand on the 4x4 'road' (soft sand track) heading back from Dead Vlei. A German couple stopped to help us out, when others just drove past. We had to get on our hands and knees to dig out the sand from under the truck as we'd driven into a dip so the sand had covered the axles. When dealing with sand driving you have to reduce your tyre pressure so the tyres spread, something we learned from the guy who helped us. Without his help we'd still be there now!

Having a braai and a cold beer at the campsite in Solitaire, which by its name describes the place. It is a lonely place in the Namib Desert but the mountains around providing amazing views.

Staying at Palmwag Lodge campsite, an amazing setting. We had the best pitch of the site which was huge. We had our own toilet and shower which were open at the back overlooking the most incredible landscape. We could look out over hills and bush whilst having a shower/going to the loo!

The hot springs at Gross Barman (like an old fashioned swimming baths out of the 70's). The pool water came straight from the natural hot water springs underneath. In fact the whole place had a really retro feel to it and needed updating. Quite bizarre.

Spending Tom's birthday at Windhoek Country Club & Casino Hotel. We relaxed by the pool, had seafood for dinner and played black jack in the casino! As well as being really nice it was also a strange expereince. We came back from dinner to find that our room had been broken into. Long story short cctv showed that it was two members of the hotel staff who went in. They had rifled through our belongings and moved items from our bags but nothing was stolen. Thankfully we had had most of our valuables on us. We complained to the manager and he didn't charge us for the night. Again we felt God's hand in a situation that started out bad but resulted in a good ending.

We think you can tell from this that we had a really great time in Namibia!
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