Text by Chelsea Goldman
A wedding, due to take place in Otjiworango late December, sparked the idea of another
road trip through the sandy desert. Here, we would take in not only the beautiful country
that is Namibia, but also welcome the new year of 2017 (yes this is a way- overdue post).
After a jam-packed end to the year and a splendid Christmas spent with family- our brave
heart friend, Gerrit, who was about to spend two weeks with 3 girls in a dessert… fetched us
from the airport late on Christmas day. Terry (our car) was packed slightly fuller and heavier than we anticipated, but figuring out how to fit one more person in half way through the trip was
“laters” problem… and we figured we’d be able to eat our way to more space.
As the experienced roadtrippers we believe ourselves to be, we adorned Terry with the
most neatly packed… and probably most unpractical roof-rack sail in the history of “DIY”. Sounding a
bit like a helicopter with the plastic beating itself against the car in the wind, we were met
by intrigued faces and a few hoots of those driving past. Nevertheless, our handiwork made
its way across the border and to our destination… in pieces.
We arrived at Garas Park Restcamp (later to replace Gerrit’s name because we would always
get them mixed up). Our sail and the hassles that came with it put us back about 3 hours and as
we were unable to use our phones to communicate that we would be arriving late… we
were super relieved to see the owner still waiting up to welcome us. We were excited for
morning to come, not only because we had arrived in the dark and had NO idea of what the
place actually looked like… but we knew that were surrounded by quiver trees and stunning
rock formations similar to those in the well-known Giants playground and these would make
for some epic photos.
The next morning we were up and about packing everything that should have been inside
what once was our sail, into the car. We headed north through Windhoek to a gem spot
7kms from the airport where we were meant to be picking up a friend who was joining for
the wedding. Again, just a quick 1 night stay before heading to Otjiworango where we could
finally spend more than 10 hours out of the car.
Carlin and Dewet got married at B1 Goldmines- A beautiful venue
that housed the wedding guests for the weekend. Whilst there, we were treated to a sunset
game drive before being split up to where we would lay our heads. The girls had decided to
brave the treehouse where we would sleep in open air. The drive to this treehouse however
took a turn for the worst when our trusty Terry got stuck solidly in the mud and after all was
done… we didn’t look any cleaner either. Being as tired as we were, there was no chance we
would even have time to imagine what animals could possibly find their way up to where
we lay asleep. Just as well as the day ahead would be a long one.
The wedding was divine, a real team effort from everyone who got together to set up (and
the next day to set down) and make the day a beautiful occasion. Celebrations went on
early into the next morning with a lot of dancing and laughing and fun was had by all.
Next, the map was to take us to the wild… after a 200km detour that is (note to ourselves: always a good idea to stick to main roads if you a travelling on new ground). We spent the next 3 days travelling through the park, complemented with crème soda, eagerly seeking an animal other than impala. No really, it was hard work and long hours of looking. We quickly learnt not to rely
on the sign post saying “Rhino Drive” to see some Rhino. In fact, it became more a case of
looking for group of cars instead of animals. We were lucky enough to see quite a few lions
and one or two jackals here and there. We figured we were spoilt by having The Kruger National park back home and would have to give Etosha the benefit of the doubt.
We stayed at Halali Campsite, finding a good spot (actually the only spot that was open) to
set up on a bit of higher ground. This was a very lucky spot as we were braced with a big rain
storm which had the road leading to our spot completely ankle-deep under water. However,
we returned from a drive to find our tents dry and intact… but the load of washing done
that morning was not doing so great… in fact, that stayed wet for another 3 days. Don’t
underestimate the deserts summer rain. We took full advantage of the rain and went
swimming and frolicking around in a rain puddle for a good hour.
Here we spent New Year’s Eve… probably the last place one could picture festivities of the
New Year being spent in a game park. But with sparklers and fairy lights we made it work
and along with the rest of the campsite, danced to the “final countdown”, sang our happy
new years and headed off to bed without the constant banging of fireworks- a nice change.
From Etosha Park we made our way back to Windhoek where we would be meeting up with Margot, the 4th member of our road trip team who was only able to join from here on as she was with family before.
We misjudged our timing quite badly, did not have the weather working with us and also got stuck in traffic, making us about 2 hours late in getting to the airport. Not only this but we realized that we would not be able to make it to Sossusvlei on time as they gates would be closed.
Thus, we spent another spontaneous night at the Ondekaremba… but this
time with another massive storm that had our campsite flooded, our clothes blown in all
directions, and Lindys Ipad swimming. To make the best out of a really sucky and wet day…
we headed to the reception area for shelter and for electricity to dry our soaked hair… and
ended up spending the night laughing away with a few gin, tonics and banter. The thing about
unplanned turns of events is that they often become some of the best and most memorable
parts of trips.
Trying to get back on track, we head further down south to Sossusvlei- the land of sand and
sand and sand. We had camped here on our last trip in 2015 and had really enjoyed it
so the expectations were quite high. Alas, we arrived to find out that, without warning, we had been put into the overflow campsite… literally an electricity pole and a bare tree in the middle of all the other proper campsites. This evening was particularly windy and without the knee high wall to protect us, our tent was transformed into a flat sheet.
It was time for gin again… a good old game of Indian Warsigns and another almost bad day was made good. We were blessed with a beautiful sunset and a stunning rainbow and took the opportunity to take some photos and be silly.
Now the last time we were here was during the chilly winter which meant layers. We had
got up before the sun to set off into the dunes where we would watch the sunrise. Thinking
that desert sand would be hot, most of us had worn flip flops to hike the sandy mountain.
Biggest mistake ever. And probably the closest thing to frostbite any of us had ever had. This
time, being a little more prepared… was completely the opposite. A short sleeved T-shirt
and shorts would do… and one only wished they had flip flops when the sun showed up. But
wow, the place remained just as amazing as before- one of those places that make you
appreciate life and humble you as to how small and insignificant us humans really are.
With not so much luck up until now… things could only get better for us. However, for a
Mexican Couple on their honeymoon… things seemed to take a bad turn. We had just about reached our turn-off into Aus when we were flagged down by Carlos and Montserrat. About 20 min drive from the next petrol station their car had run dry of petrol and they were now stranded. Not only this, but we were literally the only the car to
have driven past- so it would have sucked severely for them if we just drove on past. We squashed Carlos into our car and left for Aus to go get a can of fuel, and secure our accommodations for the night. Once we had booked into our campsite we returned to refuel their car and found Montserrat waiting with beer in hand, enjoying the solitude of the Namib desert. The car thankfully started again, and Carlos and Montserrat followed us to Desert Horse Inn where they shared a campsite with us. This “rescue” resulted in a wonderful camaraderie and friendship between the 6 of us and we decided (unofficially of course) to do the rest of our trip pretty much in convoy.
Desert Horse Inn Campsite is a small (only about 10 sites) but well maintained and equipped campsite that is surrounded by rocky hills. A fond memory of our previous trip was climbing to
the top of the hill behind the campsites to take in our first Namibian sunset. Arriving and
settling in a bit late on our first night meant that this would have to wait until the next day…
The next morning was one of NOT catching the sunrise. We treated ourselves to sleep in and
enjoy not having to rush to the next destination. A little later than we should have, we left
for a day trip to another favourite spot- the hollow Ghost Town of Kolmanskop which we
could of course not enter as they were almost closing up for the day (11am). This fact rung a bell
from the previous trip and with a sigh we moved on towards Luderitz. Luderitz is a small
town of “only under 12’s allowed in the playground”and “don’t parkour all over our
buildings”. Basically we did not spend a lot of time there in fear of possibly been thrown in
jail in the extreme case. We did manage to get some fun footage… mostly of us getting into
Back at the campsite we made good use of the pool area and enjoyed a G&T to get into the summer feeling!
Later saw us washed and ready to set off up the hill for sundowners, fruity chews and canned muscles on crackers. That night the desert reminded us that it can get just as damn cold in summer as the winter. A fire was essential to our survival. Lindy treated us to roosterkoek cooked to perfection on the braai to warm us up from the inside out. It wasn’t long
before we headed for shelter into the safety and warmth of our sleeping bags to sleep away the cold.
The next morning half of the crew trekked back to Kolmanskoppe to explore while the rest
stayed bed-bound to soak in some sleep. After a warm cooked breakfast we were on our way to our final destination- Ai Ais Hot Springs resort where we were eager to see the Fish River
Canyon (second to the Grand Canyon for being the biggest in the world).
Ai Ais greeted us with the most beautiful sunset between echoey, rocky mountains. We
played around in the light before moving on to set up camp. By this time, we were pro’s at
turning a tin of tuna in to a masterchef dish which was soon up for dinner. Then, the
Canyons. A breath-taking experience backdropped by His mighty work. Here we proudly
admit that it was our first flat tyre we managed to get. Those who have travelled such dirt roads
before would know that an extra tire is of just as much importance as remembering to pack
one’s own oxygen.
En route to the canyon we stopped at the Canyon Roadhouse for a light bite to eat- an
awesome pit stop with old rusty cars to explore.
That night we made use of the Resorts Hot springs before bed. A real treat to have the
whole place to ourselves. This would be a final night with the Mexicans for a little while and
also our last night before heading back to the long road headed home. And so it ended… the
4 of us (along with half of Namibia’s sand) moved into the car as we moved back out the country, home-bound.
Below is a fun and wonderfully edited video that Chelsea made of the footage we got on my Nikon D610…
When we were to lazy to get out the camera, Gerrit filmed some video’s on his phone to capture the in between moments. This is a great edit to see the route of our trip and what we did at each spot…