Flying and boarding

Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
Trip End Jun 04, 2004

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Onto Swakopmund - the adrenalin centre of Namibia. After a bit of a hardsell from the activities company, I managed to avoid the draw of Skydiving (need a bit more courage before I get on to that!!) and chose a scenic flight over the Kuiseb canyon, Sossusvlei, and the skeleton coast, and then sandboarding (if I've boarded on the white stuff, figured I had to do some on the yellow stuff!!!)

The scenic flight was yesterday afternoon. It was absolutely fantastic, although I had forgotten that I tend to get travel sick, so I did have to make use of the sick bags... not such a highlight.... ;-)

We flew first of all along the Kuiseb river bed, where you could really see the difference between the vegetation on the river bed and the dunes - they just rise up out of nowhere. There were quite a few tribal settlements along the river (a dry river), with just a few houses at each point. We went east, inland towards the Kuiseb canyon - and saw 3 herds of zebra on the way. As we hadn't seen zebra so far, that was really cool.

After the canyon, we turned south towards the main dune area around Sesriem and Sossusvlei. It was just amazing to see how far the dunes went on for, and the shapes they create - some were almost circular! The colour of them was just amazing as well... We followed the road from Sesriem all along past Dune 45 (didn't look anywhere near so steep or so high from above!!) to Sossusvlei. We then dipped down to get a really close view of Deadvlei again, which was great having been there a couple of days previously.

After Sossusvlei, we headed back out towards the coast, passing over the top of three diamond camps, abandoned in the 30s. There was barely anything left - but it made you realise how isolated they were - miles and miles from anything, in the middle of the desert. At this point, the desert started to change shape quite a lot - from the high dunes, to a more rock like desert, with much more solid ground...

We then went right out to the coast, passing over about 6 seal colonies on the water front. We could actually see them amazingly clearly, despite being so high up. There were just hundreds of them in massive groups... We're visiting the seal colony at Cape Cross tomorrow, so more on seals then...

Further up the beach were a couple of shipwrecks, just showing through the sand. One of them, the Eduard Bohnen, was shipwrecked in 1909 on a sandbank, and is now 200m in from the coast - which shows how much the coastline has changed in 100 years, with the effect of the sands.

As we got closer back towards Swakopmund, we went over a number of lagoons with loads of bird life - lots of flamingoes, cormorants and pelicans. We had to stay high because it's a protected area, but you could see the pink of the flamingoes from such a long way away!

Eventually made it back on to firm land (which I was very very glad about!!) and headed back in to Swakopmund.

This morning was a new day - and time for sandboarding!!! Having snowboarded a little bit, I was determined to give this a go - despite the fact that it meant more trudging up sand-dunes! Had a few goes of stand up boarding (like snowboarding) first of all - which was pretty tough. The biggest problem was just because I haven't boarded for a while, it took a long time to remember what to do - and before I'd managed to do more than a couple of turns, I was back at the bottom! They definitely need a chair lift as well, the climbing up the dune each time nearly killed me!!

After a few goes of stand up, we tried lie down boarding. This is basically lying on a piece of polished wood and throwing yourself face down a steep slope. Absolutely terrifying when you stand there looking at it, but well worth it. What an amazing adrenalin buzz!!! We did two slopes, the second where you can reach speeds of up to 80kph!! On the second one, you drop off a bump in the dune at one point - you just can't see where you're going!!! Didn't mind walking back up the dune to try that again!!!

I'm off now to watch the video of the morning - should prove to be quite amusing!!
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