Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Namibia - the story (1)

It is my second day in Namibia and finally I find some time and energy to write as traveling makes you tired... :) I try to keep you up to date as much as possible, but options are limited here, I already discovered. Internet is hardly to be found and when it is a slow dial-up connection, but I will do my best.
Then the journey: the flight to Windhoek was fine, but long: first a cab of 2 hours to Amsterdam, flying to London, flying to Johannesburg and finally flying to Windhoek. In Johannesburg we almost lost Redmer as we were dropped at the wrong plane. The bus that was supposed to drop us off at the plane to Windhoek made a mistake and dropped us of at the plane to Zambia. Also nice, but not really what we had in mind. Redmer had gotten on board before we all were stopped and directed back into the bus. The doors of the plane were even already closed when the mistake was discovered and had to be opened again to let some passengers including my brother off.
At the airport in Windhoek was someone waiting to take us to our cars. We thought that we would get a small 4x4 in which we would sleep in the back, but now we have a small camper with a fully equipped kitchen as well. It is always nice to get a free upgrade! Then we drove to our first lodge in Windhoek and took a shower so longed for and we all relaxed a bit. It was a beautiful guest house where most things were made of concrete and copper, but in a way that it all looked very fashionable and expensive. This morning we took our cars and filled up the gas first: around 120 liters per car!!! We drove south towards Marienburg and decided to make small detour as we had enough time. This meant that we would use the 4x4 also for the first time, as the detour was only gravel and I followed my father’s car in a dust cloud. We had lunch on the bottom of a river that had fallen dry during this season and followed the road for miles and miles, where most of the time we could see the road going straight in front of us. Now we are in a lodge on a private game park where they have springboks, zebras and other animals, but so far we haven’t seen one and it got dark already. We could do a morning game drive to see some animals, but it starts at 6 and ends around 8(.30) and we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, so we probably just hit the road even more south.
So far Namibia resembles South Africa where I was 1.5 year ago during New Year. The people, the landscape, and all kinds of different things remind me of that holiday. Not very surprising though, as Namibia gained independence only in 1990 from South Africa. We can even speak a bit of Dutch here since they speak some Afrikaans here which derived from Dutch, when we once had South Africa as a colony. But most people speak English (the official language) and German (it was a German colony as well), so we mixed the languages up a bit as well.

Day six and we are well under way and now at the west coast of Namibia at Sesriem, near the famous SossusVlei. The last days we first drove to Lüderitz where we visited the coast, but that wasn’t really very spectacular. The evenings got colder already and we were glad that we slept in a hotel. The last days we drove towards this place and arrived here yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful if not magnificent drive with red dunes on one side of the road, mountains on the other and fields of yellow grass in between. Just perfect and how you imagine Africa. As soon as the sun goes down here though it becomes very cold and last night it was 3 degree in our little camper! I was freezing and even had to get to out go to the bathroom. When I got back I put on a sweater, pants and socks and was still shivering for 15 minutes. Now it is again dark and turning colder, so we packed ourselves already and made a campfire to stay a little warmer. I will for sure wear double tonight in my sleeping bag. My parents (and especially my dad) suffered most as they are more the luxury kind of campers. They have a caravan (as half of the Netherlands), but not a normal one, but one made and tested in Sweden with temperatures below -20 and still being warm inside. It even has floor heating (like my parents’ bathroom) within, so you can guess how it is camping in a country where NO ONE has heating and where we didn’t bring our own stuff. :-) My dad is glad that the next 2 days will be a guesthouse again, but is not really looking forward to the week of camping that comes after that. J We also got 2 flat tires already, as the roads here are for 80% gravel ones. I probably got one and my brother one, but we aren’t sure as we only noticed the next morning when we got up. Fortunately, we have 2 spare ones on each car, so we are doing fine until we run 2 flats on one day… Today we visited the SossusVlei and watched and even climbed the mighty dunes where this desert or even Namibia is so famous for. It was a beautiful and impressive sight, although the photos you see in magazines and books are always “tuned” a bit to make it look even more impressive. You do have to be there at sunset or sundown though, as then you can capture and see the beautiful play of the sun with the sand and dunes and the shades that make it all so gorgeous. We didn’t get up at 5.15 to go into the park at 6 and watch the sun come up. We had breakfast at 9.30 when the rest of the campsite was already abandoned and empty. Since we have 2 days here, we just wanted to relax a bit as well and just went into the park on our own and by our own time schedule and we had a great day. Now it is dark again and cold. The campfire is burning again and I sit at it to write this. My moms sits next to me and reads a novel about an area very close to here and my father and brother just came back from doing the dishes. We have such an understanding that whoever cooks, doesn’t have to do the dishes and since my brother helped my mother the last days, I wanted an evening off as well and prepared some of the dinner too. Tomorrow we will head towards Swakopomund and will stay there for 2 nights and visit the area. After that we head even further north to the border with Angola and then head east towards the Etosha Natural Park. We have seen zebra’s, springboks, and some other animals so far, but in Etosha we will be able to see lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalos etc. My parents are mostly looking forward to that, but as I have already seen it in South Africa I am not that anxious. Although it will be nice and beautiful again for sure. We had an option to go ballooning here in the SossusVlei, which is supposedly one of the most beautiful things that you can do here or even in the whole of Namibia, but my parents and brother preferred to spend that money on something in Etosha. We will have some coffee now, so I will close down (as I need to charge my battery as well, but that will only be possible tomorrow I hope) and write again later.

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