“Travelling the world in slow-motion did not equate to constant thrills and adventure – often it meant rolling slowly, mile after mile, with nothing but my wandering thoughts to populate the distance.”
– Andrew Evans –
My dad, now at the threshold of 85, has every year for the past 40 years gone fishing in Hentiesbaai (Henties Bay), a small town on the coast, not far from Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.
Not much happens here. Unless you enjoy fishing. Well, even then not much happens, as there is often more talk about fishing than actual fish caught. At least that is how it appears to me as an avid ‘non-fisher’.
Living life as an expat, I am acutely aware of how little time I spend with my family, and having had a wonderful time on a trip with him and my stepmom thirteen years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to spend time with them, and then help with the long drive home.
On one condition.
We had to, instead of driving the two thousand kilometers in two or three days, take a week and do a road trip. It took some convincing, but in the end I flew to Walvis Bay from Johannesburg at the beginning of February for one of life’s special adventures.
As one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world it is no wonder that the locals are welcoming and will go out of their way to turn strangers into friends. I still have fond memories to go with the grainy images captured on film of the many side excursions I did with some interesting locals during that first visit. All the experiences, from digging desert roses to driving along the dry riverbed of the Ugab, or racing up old mine heaps on quad bikes, are experiences I am not likely to forget, as they introduced me to a sense of place that was richer and more layered because I experienced them through the eyes of locals.
It is a place where I can feel my soul expand, and where the colour palette of complimentary colours seemingly takes on an infinite number of shades. The huge distances between the dots on a map indicating human habitation are perfect opportunities to let one’s thoughts meander through both the outer and the inner landscape in ways that are difficult to access in congested spaces.
Thought to be the oldest desert in the world at 55 million years, the Namib borders the Atlantic Ocean and stretches the length of Namibia’s coastline. Covering an area of around 95,000 km² it is no wonder that it means “vast place” in the Nama language.
On any road trip through Namibia, it is the road that becomes the main character, stretching often in ribbons of gravel and sand, instead of tarmac towards the ever retreating horizon. Although mostly well-maintained, these roads can wreak havoc on tires, nerves, and relationships.
Some of the most welcoming surprises come in those tiny dots on the map, with names like Solitaire and Betta, where a cup of coffee or an ice-cold drink revive the spirit and allow for an opportunity to stretch one’s legs.
No road trip through Namibia will be complete without a visit to Sossusvlei, Deadvlei, and Sesriem Canyon. Unfortunately our timing was a bit off, as I would have loved to glide in a hot air balloon over this sea of sand, where one finds some of the highest dunes in the world.
Namib Sky Balloon Safaris is a family owned business with a wonderful story, and if, like me you dream of floating over this landscape, make sure you don’t visit between the 15th January to the 15th February, as they do not operate then due to extreme heat.
The D707, said to be the most scenic road in Namibia took us on a little detour, but as it was in excellent condition, it made for a welcome change from the horrendous roads around Sesriem. Just before reaching Aus we celebrated when joining the tarmac road that took us all the way to Lüderitz, and the ghost town of Kolmanskop.
At Rosh Pinah we followed the Orange River to Oranjemund and the border crossing into South Africa, spending a night in O’Kiep and another just outside the Augrabies Falls Park, before the final push to Bloemhof.
Instead of staying in one of the expensive lodges around Sesriem, we spent three nights at The Family Hideout in NamibRand, which turned out to be the highlight of the whole trip, and deserves a blog post of its own.
Odysseys – Meditations and Thoughts for a Life’s Journey by Freeman Patterson
Travel News Namibia is a wonderful resource when looking for information and inspiration when planning a trip.
Visited: February 2019
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