This account of my Namibian Road Trip is a part of my journal-style accounts of my six week camping trip though seven countries in the south of Africa. I spent lots of time journaling each day, so excuse the crazy length of the stories, but I had many hours in the truck each day to recount my adventure! Feel free to skip to the photos for a more condensed account of my road trip through Namibia, which began in Cape Town.
Day 0: Cape Town
I arrived at the Ashanti Lodge 15 minutes before our pre-departure meeting, and asked at reception where the Acacia Tours meeting was. They seemed confused and said that they are never informed of them, but are usually out front or upstairs. I checked around, confused when it neared 6 and there was no one around.
I checked my phone again… yep, Ashanti Lodge! What was going on?! Oh wait… this says Ashanti Lodge Green Point… surely there can’t be multiple…. ohhhhhhh man, I am at Ashanti Lodge Gardens. These are both different suburbs of Cape Town. GREAT.
A phone call and a 20 minute uber later, I was about that amount of time late to my meeting… at the other Ashanti Lodge. I ran up the stairs to encounter a circle of about 8 people out front talking…. ‘ahhh, here they are.‘
I apologized profusely and was sure that my less-than-perfect entrance was probably not the best first impression, but I sat quietly and got the tail end of my meeting and was able to ask the main questions I had.
I met my tour guide, Pete, and our driver, Ben, who are both super nice guys from Kenya. My group is only 8 people now, to increase to ten when we pick up two more people in Swakopmund. Five of them are younger travelers (19-20 I believe) from Denmark, who all apparently didn’t know each other before the trip but booked with the same travel agent and met on the plane. They all already seem like best friends and were talking lots with each other in Danish. The rest of us are solo travelers – me, a well-traveled engineer guy from Germany, and a super nice South Korean girl who just graduated from her university and is soon to become a government officer.
We got to see our overland safari vehicle which was to be our home for the next 19 days – This vehicle/tour ends in Livingstone, Zambia for Victoria Falls (with most of the people on it too), and I am to continue my 40 day tour on another vehicle (maybe 2) of which I will join legs of different tours. So it’s a lot of hopping on and off for different legs and different people to make up my whole 40!
The vehicle is awesome, with tons of storage space below for cooking and camping gear, very large individual lockers inside to keep our luggage and valuables, and even two tables that I will use to work on my computer. It should be a pretty epic adventure 😛
Day 1: Cape Town Townships + Open Road
We met at (the correct) Ashanti Lodge and set off for a tour of a Cape Town Township.
Read all about this experience in a separate post about Visiting a Township in Cape Town right here.
After the township tour (which was a pretty even mixture of heartwarming and heartbreak), we set off for our first drive. All the windows were down (no aircon… but a LOT of circulating breeze!). The Danish put on some music, and I set out to write and edit photos from the township. It was a beautiful drive, and after passing mountainous and rocky areas we came upon big plain of wineries and irrigation.
We spent our first night at Highlander’s winery, starting off with a ‘tasting’ of six different wines – white, red, rose, and dessert. Apparently, in South Africa, a ‘taste’ is at least half a glass, maybe more. So I think you can imagine how that one went. Six tastes turned into splitting bottles amongst my group and another group of 22 who were their last day of tour, which turned into drinking games, learning a Danish drinking song, dancing, storytelling, and eventually breaking the skinny dipping record in the campsite pool (27 people or something ridiculous like that :P)
Funny, on the first morning I was thinking about how keen I was to spend this entire trip not partying too much and really enjoying time out in nature and elevating my consciousness. On the second morning, I was wondering how in the hell I got back to my tent…. hahaha, classic.
Day 2: South African Wine Country to River + Desert
Today we left Highlander’s, all in quite a blur from the night before. It was a long road trip day and we all immediately passed out beyond all recognition, in strange sleeping positions strewn about the bus seats. We awakened to find ourselves at apparently our last real grocery store for the next few days, all wandering around confused and looking for something greasy to ease our wine hangovers. In my effort to get something important at our last grocery store, I ended up with the strangest assortment of cheesy lasagne, chips, dip, chocolate, and a few juices… I have no idea why. That morning was a struggle.
After some amazing south African scenery, we turned just before the Namibian border and made our way down probably the bumpiest road I have ever braved. I’m talking like, completely-catch-air-out-of-your-seat kind of bumpy. It was an adventure for sure, and presented us with awesome views of the Orange River (which is actually the border between South Africa and Namibia) but presented a bit of a problem to my attempted photo editing on the bus 😛
We arrived at our camp, the Growcery, and were met by some adorably scruffy looking South African boys and five beautiful and friendly dogs running around. I was totally blown away by the place, which was decorated with crystals, succulents, dreamcatchers, lanterns, wood carvings, and other trinkets. The showers were open to the sky and the facilities were amazing – they were also growing rosemary, basil, and some other herbs at the front.
We all decided to upgrade to these cute little cabin-type accommodation they have available for what would equate to less than $4. We settled in and went straight for a swim in the Orange River because it was well over 40C/100F and we were all struggling a bit. The water was perfectly refreshing in what is apparently one of the highest water levels the employees had seen in a while. It was flowing pretty fast, and I was delighted to swim out to the outskirts of the current and spend a little while swimming ‘in place’ against the current of the river.
Later on, it was time to hike up a dry river bed brimmed with incredible volcanic rock formations, and then up the mountain over the river for a true African sunset. A few of us met some of the Growcery guides/workers (they also do 1-6 day canoe tours of the river) and watched the sunset. The view was breathtaking as the sun dipped behind the mountains on the Namibian side of the river, illuminating the whole stretch of water as far as the eye could see.
A fantastic spag bol dinner was ready for us upon our return thanks to our legend of a tour guide, Pete. After dinner I found it impossible not to have a few drinks with the boys who work at the Growcery, because we got along really well. We exchanged stories and laughs, and they invited me up to tour guide with them in the future. Yet another endeavor for my bucket list!!
Day 3: Canoes, the Namibian Border, and Fish River Canyon
I woke up in my little metal hut before 7 to make my way to some amazing crepes Pete was making for breakfast. The boys had convinced me to take part in this morning’s river canoeing adventure, while we were talking the night before. The Danish group and I piled into a jeep and jetted about 17km’s up the orange river to paddle with the tide back to our camp.
The scenes were stunning – with purple mountains as a backdrop to the orange hills and green reeds that lined the river. There are some insane rock formations in this area; apparently a lot of compression has pushed huge sections of the crust up and down into a wave formation through a lot of South Africa. An amazing wavy cliff bordered the side of the river, apparently used for abseiling into the river at one point. We crossed a fun section of rapids and even stopped to jump off a little rock before arriving back at our camp.
Lunch was again ready for us before we set off to cross into Namibia. The border was slightly nerve-wracking, requiring a dog to sniff through all of our small backpacks before even leaving South Africa. We waited in line and acquired another passport stamp, and were off into the hot Namibian desert.
It was dusty and hot – seemingly hotter than the day before. All the windows of our vehicle were open and the wind was blowing a warm yet refreshing breeze through our tied-back hair (or it would have turned into dreads :P). The views made it all worth it though – the landscape was constantly changing yet always beautiful – sometimes stretching for miles into the horizon and sometimes jutting up into more mountains of orange rock.
We were on our way to the Fish River Canyon, the oldest canyon in the world and the second largest behind the Grand Canyon! I had no idea such a place was in Namibia, but I was excited to see it.
After arriving at our camp for the night – a pretty cool roadhouse lodge with a pool and campsites behind it – we set off on a 30 minute drive to a little hike along the canyon’s edge. It was totally breathtaking – I think the pictures can best describe it because I can’t find the words! The canyon is 500m deep at its deepest parts, with a little river trickling through the center amongst the jagged cliffs and flat, soft-looking tops. We pranced along the trail, taking millions of photos and just feeling fully humbled by, and almost unworthy of, mother nature’s grandiose diplay.
At the end there was a perfect view of a U-shaped turn in the river, which was at that point lit up in silver by the imminent sunset. Our driver brought us some cheese and crackers as we gaped at the canyon and sky changing colors with one of the best sunsets I have seen in my life.
Pete had a fantastic curry ready for us when we arrived, which we ate as he told us about the plan for the next few days. After a much needed shower and a failed attempt at the Roadhouse’s crappy wifi, it was time to stargaze a bit and fall asleep to the light of the moon (which has been full for the past two days actually – very full. Like, it almost looks like a sun in the sky and it lights up the clouds and the land. No need for flashlights with the Namibian moon!!)
Namibian Road Trip Day 4: The Drive to Sossus, the Oldest Desert in the World
I woke up to some Germans speaking loudly at the campsite next door, and after a few attempts to get some more beauty sleep, I decided to get up and explore. It was just before 7; the moon was still out and the sun was quickly getting lighter before the sunrise. On my way to check if the roadhouse wifi had decided to figure itself out, I noticed a trail going up the big hill across from our campsite… naturally, it summoned me. In my pajamas and flip flops I navigated the rocky path up to the top, and ascended the highest point just in time to see the sun rise behind a lone quiver tree. It was an amazing moment; I tried to make the most of it by doing some sun salutations and a bit of meditation – I’m not the best at it but I try!
After another attempt at wifi (with one successful text to my mom) it was time for breakfast and to depart. Today is just a driving day – we have over 500km to go before our next campsite. As we cleaned up, Pete assured us it would be scenic and told us to make sure not to fall asleep.
And scenic it was – very scenic. The landscape around here changes so quickly, from dry to totally green, mountainous to flat and arid. We even saw a few ostriches running by, some springboks prancing away in the distance, a few horses, some cows. The road is so bumpy (100% gravel roads!) that I must place my computer on my pillow and just hope it doesn’t get damaged! But it would be silly to waste all this time to work, write, edit photos, and listen to music.
About half way through the drive, the scenery dramatically changed from flat and bushy to rocky and mountainous. After a few mesa-type mountains, we had our eyes glued to the windows as we watched canyons and hills go by, with purple mountains in the distance, all covered in a seemingly reflective film of short green grass.
We were still avidly watching the landscape when the truck slowed down and we turned into a camp called ‘Little Sossus.” It was a dream of a landscape, with light beige sand and maroon rocks, surrounded on all sides by mountains of a purple and blue hue.
As we set up camp, Pete spotted some wildlife in the distance, surely heading toward the watering hole not too far from our camp. We avidly watched them slowly trickle in – there were over two dozen in a group of wildebeest and oryx. Ben, our driver, told us that oftentimes different species of animals will travel in packs because they can put both their skills together to become stronger. We got some amazing photos of them coming in to drink, before heading towards the campsite’s tiny pool.
When we got to the ‘pool,’ (a tiny little rectangle of water surrounded by grass – a true oasis in the desert!) a worker was putting out some hay for the animals to eat. They quickly came in to begin their feast, presenting us with a rare opportunity to observe and photograph them up close. We were honestly just staring at them wide-eyed and amazed, as this was our first real wildlife experience, and so very close by!
After a brief swim while watching the animals and their almost 3-foot long horns, we headed back to camp to help Pete with a fantastic barbecued (called a braai here!) chicken, veg, and mashed potato dinner at sunset. I have not seen a single African sunset yet that has not been simply stunning. As I was getting my things together in the truck, I heard the Danish group all very excited about something. I came out, to my surprise, to see a real life wild GIRAFFE strolling by in the distance!!! I was stunned but quickly got my camera out and tried to get some good shots in the low light. I could not believe my eyes!
Namibian Road Trip Day 5: Red Dunes & Sossusvlei
We woke up far before the sunrise to get the truck packed and ready by the stroke of 5am to continue our Namibian road trip. It was time to see the sun rise over Namibia’s famous sand dunes, which are almost as old as Fish River Canyon (millions of years!). They were formed by multi-directional winds coming off the atlantic ocean and coming from the desert, and they are ever-changing in shape and form due to these winds.
The moon was still shining bright when we finally entered the park to drive over 40km to the dune we were to climb up, dune 45. As the sun peeked over the distant mountains, we saw the shadow of the truck weaving against the red landscape. Dune 45 is apparently the most photographed dune in the world, due as I can only imagine to its perfect shape and contrast. It was hard to climb up the dry sand, but adventure called and I could hardly feel the strain in my legs because it was so jaw-droppingly beautiful.
As I said in my instagram post, seeing the dunes was just like to my eyes what’s it’s like to hear a perfect high-quality song in your ears, or to taste smooth creamy milk on your tongue. The textures and the contrast on the dunes as the sun came up were dramatic yet soft, almost like perfectly smoothed butter on toast or a cotton candy cloud floating through the sky. Simply delicious to the senses!
After we climbed down, Pete had a delicious and well-deserved brekkie of eggs, beans, and toast ready for us. After we happily gobbled it down, we drove as far as we could into the park, and jumped into smaller vehicles which shuttle people back and forth from another area of interest in the park: the ‘dead end marsh.’ This area used to be an oasis and lake millions of year ago, but today is a dried up clay deposit with ancient acacia trees still standing at the base of massive sand dunes. After a 15 minute walk through a multi-colored desert we came upon the oasis, and got to experience this amazing place up close. You could almost feel the wisdom and ancient energy of the trees!
By the time we got back from the dead end marsh, it was still hardly noon! We only had under two hours to our campsite, so we pushed on and arrived at ‘Gondwana Lodge’ to check in to our campsite which was a couple kilometers away. The campsite was pretty minimal compared to the hotel, and we joked that the bougie hotel guests wouldn’t want to associate with the dirty campers 😛
After making lunch, two friends and I decided we would make the trek to the lodge with the free afternoon we had. It was 4 or 5 kilometers, but it was SO hot and apparently there was a pool!! We followed a riverbed to some telephone poles eventually to the road, and found the lodge just under and hour later. We took a much needed dip and fond that their wifi signal was actually fairly good, so I was able to get my very first instagram posted of the entire trip!!
After getting a tiny bit lost traipsing through the vegetation on our way back, we returned just in time for a lovely (as usual) sunset, an amazing dinner of chicken breast, chunky fries, and coleslaw (thanks Pete – we were late to help cook, so the others had to help out so we helped wash up!). After some more amazing star photos before an equally beautiful moonrise, it was time to fall asleep under the stars.
Namibian Road Trip Day 6: Swakopmund & the Coast
We were up for breakfast by 630, and on the road by 7. Today we headed back into ‘civilization’ for a few days, to the popular Namibian coastal town of Swakopmund. But first, in true fashion, it was time for Namibia to blow our minds just a little bit more with its other-worldly scenery. Ben told us that we were about to drive through what they call ‘moonland,’ and we could quickly see why. After crossing the tropic of Capricorn (pretty cool!) we quickly came upon smooth, beige, rolling hills as far as the eye could see. It legitimately looked like the moon! I honestly don’t know how the scenery can possibly be so ever-changing and impressive.
We stopped to take photos a few times, and the rolling hills turned into rolling layers of rock that were equally moon-like and amazing. I’ll let the pictures do that one justice!
We came upon the Atlantic ocean about 30 minutes out of the city, but I could feel the chilly sea breeze and smell the salty air a bit farther out. It felt so good to see the familiar big blue ocean, I had missed it!! We arrived at our Lodge in Swakopmund and were greeted with a video of all the different adventures that are possible to do here – sand boarding, dolphin and seal watching boat trips, 4×4 riding on the sand dunes, skydiving over the dunes, township tours, horse riding, biking, and more!!! Sound’s like my kind of city 😉 Luckily I had already been in contact with Alter Action Sandboarding as I had my sights set on this adventure since before I even left for Africa.
Some of the group went skydiving, but I simply set out to explore and take in the town of Swakopmund. As many of you know, my absolute favorite thing to do when I get to a new town is to just walk around for hours with no specific plan in mind but to see as much of it as possible. I walked down the main road, wandered through many shops, took note of some adorable coffee shops to come back to, walked along the shore, past a nicer part of town, and found my way to a market that Pete had suggested.
This shopping experience was probably the most… intense… of anywhere I have been (apart from Hong Kong, but still different.) Any by that, I mean that everyone makes you feel SO compelled to buy something from their stall!! Each and every person whose ‘shop’ I walked by would walk up, shake my hand and introduce themselves, ask me about myself, tell me to take my time, suggest 50 of their products I might like, told me why, and told me they would give me the lowest price. PHEW! I am the type of person who likes to wander through an entire market and maybe come back for my favorite items, and this was pretty damn overwhelming to be honest. By a certain point I was just laughing and joking to each stall-owner about it, even when they told me they would make me a bracelet to specifically fit my wrist or give me 3 items for the price of 1. I ended up buying a bracelet from a guy named Luigi who was apparently born in Minnesota interestingly enough – he was the only one to have an actual real conversation with me and I had to escape to chat to him when one man walking around selling crystals wouldn’t leave me alone!!
We went to a group dinner at an Italian restaurant that evening, and it was actually a really good bonding experience for my group as we really integrated the Danish speakers and the english speakers and learned a lot about each over over a yummy meal. My new favorite Danish word is ‘hygge,’ meaning ’to have a nice time together,!’ We hopped over to the ‘cantina’ next door afterwards for a few drinks. Who could say no to beers and ciders for less than $2?!
Namibian Road Trip Day 7: Sandboarding & Namibian Sunsets
I woke up (in a real bed!!), enjoyed a nice cooked breakfast at the hostel, and got ready for sandboarding with my two room buddies Min and Francois. We were jetted off into the dunes for an epic day of adventures. It was so good I did an entire blog post on it:
After getting back and washing sand from every single surface of my entire body, I packed my bag and set out for a coffee shop I had noticed the day before (and had of course checked if they had wifi 😛 ) I walked into Village Cafe and was blown away to find at least 5 or 6 different tribally-decorated and eccentrically designed rooms all the way back to a little open courtyard. There was even a coffee table inside an old repurposed van!! I embarrassingly walked around for a few minutes trying to decide which amazing table to sit at, and finally sat down in a very well-lit room near a window, a plug, and some amazing art. I just love cute coffee shops so much!! I settled in with a latte and later a ‘red cappuccino,’ (like a roibos tea latte – so good!) and got down to a good few hours of work with some ever-elusive wifi.
I arrived back at our lodge in time to see the photo and video slideshow from our sandboarding adventure that morning (video comes as part of the tour, and you can buy photos for less than $2.50!) with my group. I snagged a photo of me going off the jump, before jetting back to the pier with Francois to watch the sunset over the ocean. West coasts are my favorite, and the sunset is honestly so often what I think about first when I know I will be going to a west coast 😛
The sunset was more than we could have hoped for. The pier was a fantastic backdrop for what turned into a lovely pink sunset, and I am so happy with some of the photos I got!! After grabbing a strange kebab, I settled into a comfy chair for the evening soaking up some last drops of wifi before we jet off into the remote desert again tomorrow.
Feeling pretty badass… see my post for more photos!
Namibian Road Tip Day 8: Mind-Blowing Spitzkoppe
After a fantastic night’s sleep in what will be my last read bed for the next 33 days, I awoke fairly sore from the previous day’s antics. It was a great feeling! After breakfast and a really difficult time posting an instagram on the lodge’s wifi, I headed to the pharmacy to get my yellow fever vaccination. Although all sources I researched said I wouldn’t need it for Zambia, my tour guide said that it would be a good idea. I took my first malaria pill as well, in preparation for entering a malarial region.
I got another red cappa and coffee at the same coffee shop (in a different room 😉 ) before I headed back for lunch and to meet two new aussie members of our group- now up to ten! We set off on a short drive – less than 2 hours – to learn about the Bushmen in Spitzkoppe. No electricity or running water tonight – should be a real desert experience!
On the way, we had a toilet stop by a little market full of people selling jewelry. Upon closer inspection I noticed that they were all different types of crystal necklaces…. seriously one of the only things that can guarantee I’ll spend my money!! I was overwhelmed looking through dozens of gorgeous crystals, and ended up buying three. I love them!
When Ben told us that this place was the most beautiful of the entire journey, I was excited but didn’t even know what was in store for us. Namibia had yet another other-worldly natural treasure waiting to take our breath away for the 8th consecutive day. While driving through the desert, a massive steep rocky mountain appeared on the horizon, looking almost like what I could imagine the Matterhorm to look like in Switzerland. The highest peak jutted up to a point, and was surrounded by more soft looking smooth rock formations. We stopped to take a few photos before heading closer to the mountain to our campsite for the night.
I can only lightly compare this place possibly to Joshua Tree, but much more stunning. The rocks are a similar smooth texture here, but a bit more red and much taller! There were bushy acacia trees all over the park, with a light film of green brush covering the ground between the carved-out paths. As we arrived I noticed a girl with a UCLA hat on – and it turns out she graduated just a year behind me!! We did an 8-clap together she would send to the school, and talked for a bit before I had to head on a bush walk with my group.
A local guide took us on a 15 minute walk closer to the highest peak, where we were to see some ancient paintings made by bushmen and learn about their clicking language. Bushmen were the indigenous population of this area – a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe. They had a language but could not speak it, so they mixed animal blood with a certain red paste they made from stone and root here to make rock paintings to communicate. Most of the paintings were of animals, and were to suggest the kinds of animals that would be hunted in the area and to warn of lions or other dangerous conditions. The paintings we saw were between 2-4000 years old; there was an eagle, a lion, and ostrich, a white zebra painted from the creamy goo of a poisonous plant, and a few other animals. Our guide also taught us about their ‘clicking’ language, which actually incorporates 4 different tongue clicks into their spoken language. Really fascinating!
I climbed up to the top of the rock near our camp when we got back, and had a little dip in a rock pool that was filled with interesting black and gold tadpoles. Later on, the whole group walked over to a natural rock arch to see the sunset over the incredible scenery. Africa has not provided us with a less than stunning sunset yet; this was another absolutely gorgeous sunset where you would honestly be content if that was the last thing you saw in life (kidding, but seriously…). We sat taking in the moment for a bit, before heading back to another amazing dinner. Pete elaborated on the history of Namibia to us while eating, and somehow had managed to make an apple crumble without any of us noticing!! After an excursion to take more photos of the brightest stars I have seen, and listening to some of the Danish play a guitar they had bought, we retired to our tents for the end of another top notch day.
Spitzkoppe is also available as a day tour from Swakopmund if you don’t have enough time!
Namibian Road Trip Day 9: Etosha + Wildlife
We woke up before the sun to get on the road by 7 to head to Etosha National Park for a few game drives. This was a long day of driving – saying goodbye to the jagged point of Spitzkoppe on the horizon and exchanging it for distant mountains, a barren desert, and then what came to be a green leafy bushland. A few toilet and grocery store stops and head-bobbing truck naps later, we entered Etosha National Park.
One of the biggest national parks in Namibia, Etosha stands in the north with a barren, generally flat desert surrounding what is occasionally a massive lake (but is now caked and dry!) It’s currently very green, with areas of taller trees and smaller shrubs. As soon as we entered the gates it was time to start looking for animals. It’s basically a massive game park where wild animals roam, like lions, elephants, rhinos, ostriches, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, oryx, springboks, wildebeest, cheetahs, and leopards!!! Our only goal was to be able to spot some of these elusive, native creatures.
After checking in and setting up camp, we piled back into the truck for a quick game drive before dinner – which basically means driving around the park looking for ‘game!’ Our first two hours were still quite eventful – we saw lots of springbok’s (almost like mini-antelope things that are beautiful with curled horns , brown backs, and white bums brimmed by a dark brown stripe. They’re adorable!! We also saw lots of wildebeest roaming with oryx like we did a few days earlier. Our tour guide had to point out that a few large grey rocks in the distance were actually in fact rhinos….. and we got our hands on some binoculars to check out the beasts a bit closer up. We drove past a family of giraffes, and saw some bushy-tailed jackals (like beautiful little foxy-looking dogs with black and white backs) trotting away through the brush. I’d say it was a pretty successful first day! But I am really feeling the pain of not having received the zoom lens I ordered a while back and got sent to the wrong address… which I am trying to have sent to Zambia so I can at least have it for the rest of my trip for these game drives!!
We climbed up a little tower at the hotel next to our campsite, overlooking all of flat, green Etosha. Africa delivered YET AGAIN a simply stunning sunset. We watched in awe the deep red ball of fire descend below a cotton candy horizon over the park, took in the moment as we do each night, and returned to camp to have dinner, help out, and spend time together.
I very strategically positioned my tent near a plug that I found, so tonight as a special treat I was able to plug my computer in and sit in my tent connected to power and edit photos. I was the happiest lil camper with my headphones and computer until I just could not stay awake any longer from another long, amazing day.
Namibian Road Trip Day 10: Game Drive in Etosha National Park
We woke up just before the sun to get out into the park for an all-day game drive. We actually heard lions from our tents before we woke up!! We set off into the park after scarfing down some breakfast and filling our coffees to the brim – we would have to keep our eyes totally peeled if we wanted to encounter all the wildlife. During out entire driving say we were not even to make it half way across the park – that’s how big it is! 76k away was a middle point where we were to have lunch after some morning cruising.
We started off with lots of springbok’s, prancing across the road and stopping to look at us wave our big cameras at them. Some wildebeest were in the distance, were there a few zebras in the bad las well?! I borrowed someone’s binoculars. Yep, zebras. I couldn’t even discern their stripes without looking through the lenses, but I saw them much clearer now.. not too far from a large grey rock.
“A rhino!!!” said Pete, to many of our confusion. Oh yes, the rock was moving a little… taking tiny steps in the tall grass. It was just a little blip on the horizon, observable by me solely through the binoculars due to my awful far-away vision and the absence of the zoom lens I should have had by now. He was definitely moving- and fast. Our moment of excitement turned into at least 30-45, as he got closer and closer to the road. Other vehicles stopped to look as well, until I was able to even get some discernible photos with my crappy little 55mm lens! We watched him until he decided to lay down, removing himself from vision all but his long, ridge-like spine.
We pressed on. My two cups of coffee hit me like a freight train and I nearly wet myself if not for Ben zooming us to the toilet stop we should have hit a while ago if not for Mr. Rhino; you can’t just pee anywhere out here unless you want the possibility of being eaten by a lion!! Quite a real reason to stay in the truck until the designated toilet, I think.
We spotted a few hyenas in the distance, one carrying the bone of an apparent fresh kill. I was glued to the binoculars, enjoying every minute. We saw a few cars parked down by a road, and quickly came to see they were watching a group of what must have been 20-40 vultures jumping, pecking, and flapping around a fairly large recent kill. Upon getting closer, we tried to discern… was it a rhino? It looked grey. An elephant? It must have been, as we were able to make out one round-shaped hoof like foot amongst all the vultures having their way with the poor thing. Ah, the food chain in action. It’s a… lovely… thing? Natural selection, right? Ah, poor elephant. It was still pretty cool to see.
We stopped at another campsite to cook a yummy lunch of bacon, grilled onion, cheese, and sandwiches. We checked out their tourist shop and took a peek at the watering hole before heading back out into the park.
By this point we could all hardly keep our eyes open after being so alert all day in the heat and bumpy truck ride. We saw a few ostriches and other interesting birds, and one last animal dose of zebras quick close to the road before we got back. We were all pretty content though, and ready for a dip in the pool, possibly some paid wifi, a nice shower, and to watch the sunset.
We watched the sunset over the watering hole near our camp this time, and, you guessed it, equally incredible. The sky glowed pink in the water; all we needed was a lion to show up to really put the cherry on top!
Namibian Road Trip Day 11: The Capital, Windhoek
We watched the sunrise from atop the same big tower to start off our long driving day. We were off before 8am to head to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. By global standards it’s actually a very small capital – only 200k+ population. But, in terms of Namibia’s population of just over 2.5 million for its extremely large size, it makes sense!!
Today was a driving day – over 500km to the capital of Namibia, Windhoek. Music in my ears and computer in front of me, I got as much work done as I could before my computer died… no power in the truck while driving, unfortunately! After a stop at a shopping center we quickly found out that it was a public holiday in Namibia, actually their independence day. Meaning… everything was closed.
We had just under and hour to explore the small capital, which was fine because we there were probably about 5 shops open in the entire town! It was a bit of a bummer but we were happy to at least see the city in the first place. Some local boys I met said that there was a big celebration, but in a differet city today. Ah, well!
Our campsite was really urban and right outside the city, and we all went to this amazing German restaurant for dinner. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet – but Namibia is VERY German. It used to be a german colony back in the day, and is now a massive destination for German tourists (like, full German tour busses all over the place) and I would say almost half the names of things are German, too. German street names, hotel names, restaurants, cafes… quite interesting really!
We tried all the local game meats – I got on oryx schnitzel, and others got kebabs full of zebra, springbok, oryx, kudu, and even crocodile… which tasted like a strange exact mixture between chicken and fish. Wee had a few drinks for the equivalent of $2 or less each, and couldn’t stop gaping at the prices!