Never thought we would say the words- Going on a road trip to Namibia. Ok- before PC, we probably couldn’t have told you where Namibia was, much less what we might find there. But, many other volunteers have gone and told us how wonderful it was so off we went during the Easter holiday. Two PC friends joined us- Bethany and Joiwyn- they were also part of our Tuli Block adventure last September. Took way less pictures (except of Seals) as Teresa is learning that too many pictures makes blog posting hard and long with slow Internet for uploading)
We rented a car from a person who works a lot with PCVs and has a travel business. Gary is getting really good at driving on the “wrong” side. Not sure what is going to happen when we get home. We divided our time between camping and Airbnb. Camping is ok but we greatly preferred the “bed” experiences. This is our second campsite- no picture of the first. Hard to believe but there is actually a giraffe in one of these pictures. Where’s Waldo anyone?
First night was Upington, South Africa which was basically a stopping point on our way to Fish River Canyon (FRC). FRC is the largest canyon in Africa and all the guide books said it was a must do. We thought it the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon but researching canyons when we got back, it gets very confusing with no definitive answers- Let’s just say it is up there with the “most breathtaking” in the world: https://10mosttoday.com/10-most-breathtaking-canyons-in-the-world/
In any case, we were not able to hike down into it- that is only possible if you do the whole thing over at least 5 days. From our campsite we were able to walk a little bit up into it and then had to settle for going to the other end where there were various overlooks. We were most impressed with the lack of people which made it very nice. Our campground had a large swimming pool which was actually a hot spring so it was more like a giant hot tub. We got in before Gary and he asked us if it was cold and we said- it’s not bad. The look on his face was priceless when he put his foot in. Unfortunately, we were in the pool so no camera.
Our next stop was Sessriem Canyon and the Sossuslvei Sand Dunes. But getting there a semi had jack knifed and his bed was blocking the road. Going to steal from Bethany’s blog as she described how they solved the problem. There is no AAA, Highway Patrol or cell service!
“A pickup truck was backed up to the back of the flatbed with a pole running from the tow hitch to the side of the flatbed, and the flatbed was raised on a crank and some rocks. The pickup would slowly back up until the flatbed shifted enough it was pushed off the rocks and stopped. Then they would set up again and start over. The flatbed moved about 6 inches at a time and a little over an hour later, enough room was made for the (now 6) cars to pass through.”
Gary, of course, is doing what he does best.
We were behind a tour bus full of German tourists. We ran into them in every place we went after that. But we did learn from their tour guide that the nests on the poles that we saw everywhere are Social Weaver nests. Some of these were bigger complexes than condos on Miami Beach.Notice there is a second utility pole. The weavers’ nest must have made the original one unusable as we saw this a lot. How they keep them from doing it all over again on the new pole, is beyond us.
Teresa and Bethany climbed one of the dunes- part way- it was SOOOOO windy and was narrowing out so much we were (at least Teresa was) scared to go any higher.
One of the highlights was a short hike into Sessriem Canyon itself. Reminds us of slot canyons in the US West.
After two nights there, on to Swakopmund with a stop in Walvis Bay on our way. This leg had its own excitement. About 30k from Walvis Bay- middle of nowwhere- about 95 degrees Fahrenheit and no cell coverage, a warning indicator light came on. So, Gary pulled over and turned off the car. When he tried to turn it on again- nothing- absolutely nothing. We looked and didn’t see anything. So, we took stock- we had tents, food and water so knew we were not in any imminent danger. We put the hood up and flagged down the next car which came which was actually very soon. A very nice Namibian man (did not get his name) stopped and looked. He didn’t see anything at first but then noticed that one of the battery leads was not attached to the battery. The washboard dirt road (all but a couple of roads in Namibia are dirt- usually very nice packed dirt but still…). We reattached the wire, he tightened it with a wrench he had and we were back in business.
Had lunch in Walvis Bay then went to see the large flock of flamingos that hang out there. We learned flamingos don’t photograph well- they seem to wash out, all the pink/whitish dots are flamingos- trust us! (and there really was a giraffe at the campsite- yes- off in the distance but there nonetheless)
On to Swakopmund where we had a beautiful apartment with a WASHING MACHINE- the highlight of the trip. (The dryer broke the first day but that didn’t stop us-oh no- not at all- we WASHED EVERYTHING we had with us- blankets, towels, etc. And there was a dishwasher- we used dishes just so we could fill the dishwasher. Had great food in Swakopmund and found a delightful German bakery. (Namibia’s history is German and Afrikaans- South Africa as well as British in addition to the native tribes which did not fare so well in the days of colonialism).
The first day we walked around Swakopmund and did some shopping at the outdoor market. The next day we went for a 2 hour quad bike tour of the sand dunes- not one of us brought a camera or phone along so no pictures. Probably just as well because at the very end, the person in front of Teresa slowed down going up a little hill so she went to the side and at the top of the little hill, there was a drop off- no hill- she went airborne and did stop, drop and roll. Luckily helmets were required and she was no more sore than anyone else the next day or two. Oh- the quad bike was fine- thanks for asking. The guide, however, got several new grey hairs that day. But, it was fun! This is sunset from our restaurant the first night, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean where we waved to America.
The following day, Bethany, Gary and Teresa ventured about an hour north to Cape Cross Seal Reserve. While the stench made Teresa gag and she had to breathe through her mouth with a pile of kleenex over her nose- seeing 100,000 seals with probably a third of them 3-4 month old babies was amazing. Lucky for Gary he has a limited sense of smell so he was just fine.
On the way there we stopped at a shipwreck. They call it the Skeleton Coast because it is famous for ships wrecking. Most of the wrecks are inaccessible to the public. We spoke to some friends when we got back to Botswana and the consensus is they placed the wreck conveniently where tourists could access it. Very enterprising if you ask us and the birds sure love it.
On to Windhoek on one of the two paved roads. We committed genocide on corn crickets- a very large black bug that looks like a dung beetle on steroids. Thought we had a picture but it didn’t come out. We are sure they inspired some Star Wars creature. They hang out on this particular road and get killed. Guess they aren’t the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom. Windhoek is a very clean, well laid out city. Pictures are of Christ Church (famous for its mix of architectural styles with the result it looks like a gingerbread house and the National Museum with its hours not posted anywhere and the guide books were wrong so we only got a half hour to spend in it)
We visited several craft markets and had dinner at a famous tourist restaurant- Joe’s. It is famous for the game meat it serves. Two people had game, one had fish/seafood and one had neither. We’re sure you can all figure out who did not partake in either of the local delicacies.
The last night in Namibia we had dinner at the national culinary school called NICE (Namibia Institute of Culinary Excellence). It lived up to its name. The food and presentation were wonderful and it was a perfect ending to very relaxing and fun trip.
As soon as we entered Botswana we were welcomed by cows, donkeys and chickens in the road- ah- to be home. We stayed the night with a fellow PCV who lives about 60k from the Namibian border and drove home the next day. The highlight for Teresa was that the PCV was taking care of another PCV’s dog and both Kyra and Charlie (the dog) needed to get to Kang the next day- we were going through Kang and despite being packed to the gills we pretended we were a combi. Charlie sat on Teresa’s lap the whole way so she got her dog fix that will need to last for several more months.
We got lots of stamps in our passports. We highly recommend traveling with young women. They make the border crossings a lot easier and way more fun. One border agent (coming from South Africa to Namibia) asked if it was ok if he courted one of our “daughters.” Fine by us.
Only one trip to go before our big trip after we close our service. Rafting the Zambezi and visiting a rhino sanctuary- that’s end of June/July so only one travelogue to go. Now it’s back to work for the last 5 months of service- lots to do and not much time to do it.