However, I did plan for us to stretch our legs again and have a walk up Dune 45. It is called Dune 45 for the obvious reason mentioned before, it is 45km from the entrance gate. You are foolish to do this in the heat of the middle of the day but I'd timed it so that virtually everyone had been and done it who wanted to and it was just us stragglers left, but before it got too hot –
It was hard work battling against the sand. Two steps up and one back all the time -
A friendly butterfly tried to lighten my load but was a bit underpowered after all the cake and pie –
After burning calves, sand in my bits and many glugs of water, each time having to stop to do so. Not that I needed to stop obviously, I could have run up there like a young gazelle, but I had to get the water each time out of my bag, which necessitated a short pause. We got to the top -
We didn't know these two but we all arrived at the same time. Mainly because you couldn't get past each other anyway. So whenever they stopped I had to as well. Honestly I didn't want to but I couldn't be rude and push past them now could I?
Normal cars with 2wd can't get the last few kilometres to the very end as it is all quite deep sand. There is a car park you can stop at and pay for a 4wd shuttle to take you further. Aha! But I had a 4wd. And a good one as well. One thing was as we were returning, the couple we had met at the top of the dune also had a rented 4wd but were well and truly stuck. Luckily there is plenty of traffic and someone was already pulling them out. But to continue –
When we got to the end we realised where all the people were. It is like a cul de sac surrounded by pretty sand dunes – covered in tourists all trying to get the perfect shot. I didn't take any but stopped for a short while and drove back. If you are interested, look up images of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei for a better view than I could have done.
After a spot of lunch back at the petrol station cafe at Sesreim we stopped nearby at somewhere sort of well known but few seem to go there after the excitement of the sand dunes, the 4wd trip and the physical torture of climbing Dune 45. It is called Sesreim canyon and is just a km or two from the gate. Only about 600m long it is good to get out of the heat of the sun. I'll take you a walk through it -
Lovely thus far, just a fantastic lot of interesting photos. The desert reminds me quite a lot of parts of the intermountain North American west. The outback is probably not nearly so pretty the other 11 months of the year, so well timed on the visit.
As the camp is close enough to the other one that the surroundings are about the same, I just took a few shots of the camp itself. Strangely enough, the two camps were the same price but this one was just a standard better and even had air con in the room –
That late afternoon after a swim I was sitting near the bar dreaming off into the distance when middle aged man sat near me. Initially he was quite but then mentioned to me (in German) how beautiful it was. I naturally agreed and exchanged a few words. He mentioned it was his last day in Namibia and was flying off tomorrow back to "Merkel land". I said that it was a while since I'd been there, his reply was, "It's all changed now. She lets anybody in". I suddenly remembered I had an urgent appointment with the swimming pool and bade him "Gute fahrt" (good journey).
The next day we had a steady and uneventful drive back to Windhoek where we'd only had a cursory supermarket stop on the way out. We came, as usual, a bit of a back way and the distance was shorter but takes a longer time. There is a route joining a main tarmac road but we wanted to avoid that as much as possible. We had to climb from sea level, more or less, up to the giddy heights of Windhoek at around 1700m. Apart from one steep(ish) bit is was easy going -
We had an afternoon and a day in the capital, which Mrs M wanted to do, but I knew it as not the most interesting of cities at all. I normally give it a complete miss to get to the 'good stuff' elsewhere. We took a fairly comprehensive walk round to get a view of the place and see what it was like. It is unavoidable that as I do go around I look at things more as a potential resident, because you never know where in the future we might end up, than a tourist. Nevertheless, the weather was warm and sunny, not hot like in the desert, and we had our walking legs on so we meandered around looking at stuff.
The capital area was first established around 1840 due to there being permanent water and hot springs but after various local conflicts it fell into neglect. In 1890 saw a resurgence due to the Germans who based themselves there. As with Swakopmund, major changes happened 25 years later when the British took over aided by troops from South Africa. It became a sleepy city for many years, even though it was growing by people coming to try and find work, until the mid-1950's when major infrastructure works were commenced. This accelerated after independence in 1990 to such an extent that the city is struggling to expand due to geographical difficulties. Mainly being surrounded by rocky hills. That is also one of the reasons the main airport is over forty kilometres away.
Look over my shoulder as we have a walk round anyway. You'll get the idea -
You may notice in the note there is to be "The Annual Walk with Christ". I wonder if he RSVP'd when invited. I know I'd be disappointed if I turned up and he wasn't there. More foot slogging then for me in penance -
We come to the Parliament Building and a walk round the streets –
That'll do for Windhoek. There are places to see there but for me they hold little interest other than in reference to the struggles for independence. There are no dramatic castles or forts and/or particularly historical buildings but it is good to get a feel for the place for a day or so. That's about all I'd give it.
Air Namibia problem number 2 – as we were due to fly out the next day, early and had to take the car back and be all the way at the airport for 07:30 at the latest I was trying to check the flight was still running. There is no website for Windhoek airport to check departures nor for Lusaka airport to check arrivals. I couldn't still check the booking on the airline website and the office in the city was closed. So I had to ring the help line. Eventually I got through. There was information as regards the flights on other websites but only for a 16:10 departure home and not our flight. I was assured by the help desk person our flight was running but for some reason he didn't know if we would have to go to Harare first or not. Poor state of affairs but we decided to keep to our original schedule anyway and see what happens.
In the mean time and as we'd seen what we wanted to see in Windhoek, there is Dann Viljoen Nature Reserve not far out of town I thought we'd have a look at. Not for the game, as there isn't anything of note and no predators, but because there are a couple of walking tracks we could, yet again, stretch our legs on.
We were greeted by the resident ostrich by the visitors centre -
We set off for a walk in the countryside, only a few kilometres, but using all my years of knowledge of expeditions, rough terrain, survival techniques and hostile places I made sure we left with plenty of supplies, namely a packet of Werther's Originals. We did have some water though. The track started –
At the end was a small dam and a nice place for a picnic -
A slow meander back, after eating several of the sweets to keep us alive, led us around to the park restaurant and campsite –
On our way back to the city you get an idea of where the locals live -
For our last meal we treated ourselves to a posh restaurant on a hill overlooking to town -
And that was it. An early start, the car was returned problem free, the plane left on time and direct back to Lusaka without any diversions and all I can say is for now, until I go away again, this is the -
For some reason, I expected Windhoek to be smaller -- probably just because it is in Namibia, "the empty country." Clearly it is not empty of scenery.
In a former life, I had even begun researching a trip to Namibia once. I knew it wouldn't be possible for me to do alone, so I even started researching agencies. And then life took me in a different direction.
"I knew it wouldn't be possible for me to do alone...." Because?
You can drive, you have a sensible head, you are physically fit enough, you've plenty of travel experience, now you've retired you have enough money if not before, spare time, you can read a map and a guide book............ You'd be ideal to do it without having to rely on others. Ethiopian fly CDG - WDH for way less than €600 with enough time in ADD to sample injeera and wat. On the other hand, don't bother with the last bit.
Fabulous report Mark. I had no knowledge of this area so I enjoyed your historical data along with your entertaining stories.
When I saw the photo of the Fidel Castro street sign I felt better for some of my thoughts of comparisons to Cuba I was having. I try not to do that when I experience a new place but there are a few references and images that evoked some Cuba memories.
The camping cabins were quite nice, the second were very unique.
Your desert/landscape photographs are quite extraordinary.
Brilliant photography, Mark.I am a lover of deserts, red sand in dunes, each a work of art, wind scoured rocks, trees and branches twisted and bleached in the weather. These pictures seem very similar to Central Australia, I took a while before I twigged what looked different...the landscape looks younger. The rocks still have sharp edges and not much smoothness in the ridges. Where you talk of the delight of the open road and it is light coloured rubble, heavy graded, 3 blade road...it could be almost anywhere outside the cities here, made me homesick for 'the Bush' The towns are like chocolate box pictures, and your narrative entertaining...thanks.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
It's often difficult to take bad pictures in Namibia. So scenic. I've no idea of the ages of these places though one factor could be the weathering from the climate being less in Namibia, if that is so, even if they are the same age. No idea.