Exploring Namibia was the original idea for the trip, and we have travelled through Africa a little quicker than we would have liked in order to allow ourselves time to fully explore the country that we have heard so much about. So far Namibia has lived up to our high expectations, delivering some spectacular views, amazing wildlife, varied landscapes and with a good dose of adventure thrown in for good measure. One thing we learnt very quickly though was that 5 weeks here is nowhere near enough time to fully explore the country.
Our Namibian adventure began when we arrived in the sleepy town of Rundu at the western end of the Caprivi Strip. The campsite we were staying at was right on the bank of the Okavango River (before it turns into the Delta in Botswana), and whilst there we found a tired old 2 man canoe that they let us take out on the river to explore the waterways from a more up close perspective. Very quickly we realised that the other side of the river was indeed Angola, and so we struck off across the river, landed on the other side and thus illegally entered Angola. Another tick on my life's to-do list!
Damaraland in western Namibia is an easy place to fall in love with, with an amazing view around every bend. We spent a wonderful week exploring the region, walking in the hills, visiting rock art, looking for lizards and enjoying the solitude of this vast area.
The next stop was the Skeleton Coast, somewhere I had been looking forward to for a long time. It was therefore with much anticipation that we drove along the coast catching the odd glimpse of the Atlantic rollers until we finally arrived at the beach were we rushed out of the car and sucked in that sweet sea air. It was a great feeling to see the sea again and feel the cooling wind that came off it - a big relief following the heat of the inland areas. It struck us that the last time we had seen the sea was the Red Sea in Egypt, and it was then that we started to get the feeling that we had really crossed a continent.
Amy's birthday coincided nicely with our visit to the Skeleton Coast and so we decided to treat ourselves to a night in a fancy lodge at Cape Cross (nice through the sea breeze was, it would have been very cold to camp in the morning fog that rolls off the sea daily). On the way down the coast to the lodge we stopped at a few of the shipwrecks that gave this stretch of coast its foreboding name. As we approached the second wreck we saw a 4x4 already there, with two people frantically digging. It turned out two German tourists had got themselves stuck very deep in the sand having forgotten to engage 4WD until it was too late. Their rental truck did not come with any recovery gear, so after a few sharp intakes of breath and a "phew, that's pretty deep in mate" from my good self (sorry about that guys) we unpacked the spade and sand ladders and 20 minutes later they were free. It was nice to be able to help, and I'm sure that someone else will repay the favour someday.
Heading inland we set off in search of a landmark dubbed 'The Nipple' by Amy's parents 10 years ago, which is situated 20 km along the Desolation valley 4x4 track. The track winds its way up a beautiful valley with some pretty challenging terrain (which Brenda just ate up) and out onto a plateau. A 30 minute scramble up to the top revealed one of the most stunning views of the trip so far (something that has been said many times since we entered Namibia). Heading back down the track we might have over done it a bit somewhere and once back on the corrugations we heard a noise that we hadn't heard since Northern Kenya. Further investigation revealed we had sheared 3 out of 6 roof rack brackets. Used to fixing the roof rack on the side of the road (this is now the third time I've done it) I got out the webbing and 13mm spanner and got to work.10 minutes later a 4x4 approached and slowed down next to us. Ready to tell them we were fine but thanks for stopping, instead a French lady leans her head out the window and asks "which was is the coast?"! "ur, that way" Amy replied a bit baffled, before the lady thanked us and off they went, not a word of were we ok? Seems like we would need to wait a bit before the favour was returned. The story continued 80km further down the road when we found them broken down on the side of the road with a flat tire. Being good overlanders, we stopped to offer help.
Spitzkoppe is stunning and the mountains were fun to scramble on. Early mornings and late evenings provided great photography opportunities, and the night time yielded some amazing stars, the best since Uganda. It was however incredibly hot during the day and seeking shade one day we went and sat in-between a few very large boulders. Venturing in I absentmindedly thought to myself that this would be the sort of place a snake would like, however I didn't think about it again. 15 minutes later I heard an odd rustling noise next to me, and I looked down to see a massive (6 feet and as thick as your arm) snake just a few feet from me. Well, you'll never see me move so quick, I high-tailed it out of there like a cat on a hot tin roof, not venturing in to retrieve my chair or book for a good while until I was sure the snake had gone. Later investigations have revealed it to be a Western Banded Spitting Cobra, one of the most poisonous snakes found in Namibia.
From Spitzkoppe we came to Ameib Ranch, here in the Erongo Mountains, where we found ourselves rescuing our second set of German tourists. This time they had got their 2 wheel drive well and truly stuck in a dry river bed, and no amount of sand ladders would get them out. Thus, we got our first chance to use the tow ropes and promptly towed them across - backwards, as there was no tow point on the front of their car.
This morning we did an amazing walk up to a hanging valley with huge boulders and a good bit of scrambling. The heat of the day here is pretty intense, so we're still sat in the shade, desperately trying not to get too hot despite it being 5pm. If only there were still some cold beers in the fridge…
Unfortunatly our hard drive has broken (damn corrugations), so we are unable to access any of our photos from the trip. Hopefully we can get it fixed when we get home, but for now i'm afraid there are no photos to upload :-(