Namibia and back home

We entered Namibia at Katima Mulilo and it was noticeable how many overland vehicles there were; far more than what we had seen in any other country. Indeed the further north we were, the fewer we saw; in Ethiopia not a single one!

We camped for three nights at Namwi Lodge on the bank of a side stream of the Zambezi River.  The 40 plus degrees Celsius was almost unbearable, but for the swimming pool and silver reflector awning that Pete rigged up. Thanks to that I managed to get some computer work done while he temporarily repaired a small leak in our long range fuel tank, also discovering that the rear right air suspension was irreparably smashed.

We had intended to travel west through Koakoland but the uncomfortable heat and the prospect of swarms of infuriating tiny Mopani flies (midges) swarming around got us thinking.  The damage to the suspension and the promise of visiting the Marienfluss and Epupa Falls next year after the rains made us decide to opt  for the cooler West Coast of South Africa.

The Caprivi

Traversing the Caprivi westwards we stayed over on the Okavango River at Ngepi Camp, renowned for its humorous signs and good facilities. Their open-air ablutions afford one a view of hippos, elephant, impala and buffalo while you occupy “The Throne” or recline in the “Fish Eagle Bath”.  The Bwabwata National Park is on the opposite bank of the river and that night we heard lion roaring and snarling close-by.

The open-air ‘Fish Eagle Bath’ affords a view of the river.
The open-air ‘Fish Eagle Bath’ affords a view of the river.
A swimming pool with a difference…. Ngepi Camp has a cage in the river which is safe against crocodiles and hippos.
A swimming pool with a difference…. Ngepi Camp has a cage in the river which is safe against crocodiles and hippos.

The next morning we indulged ourselves, spending a few hours watching the variety of birds in the trees under which we camped.  Apart from Rüppell’s parrots who feasted on pods we also saw paradise flycatchers, blackcollared barbets, eastern blackheaded orioles, Mevese longtailed starlings, grey loeries and black-faced babblers.

Rüppell’s parrot feasting in one of the trees under which we camped.
Rüppell’s parrot feasting in one of the trees under which we camped.

Heading for Windhoek

Thanks to Namibia’s good roads the moving average speed for the entire 33 000km trip went up from 42.7km/h to over 43km/h. About 50km north of Grootfontein we stayed over at Roy’s Camp which offers lodging as well as camping and being situated on a game farm, we were pleasantly surprised by sable, zebra, wildebeest, and duiker passing by our camp while we had dinner. A few spring hares also arrived later to feast on our patch of green grass in the otherwise dry veld.

Driving south we enjoyed the vast openness of the countryside, accentuated by the wide verges next to the road, making use of the unique Namibian lay-by’s;  cement tables and seats either under a big shady tree or a thatch roof.

Having coffee at a lay-by on the way to Windhoek.
Having coffee at a lay-by on the way to Windhoek.

Fellow African travellers, Fanie and Ilva Rossouw, with whom we had become friends through the blog, invited us to dinner in Windhoek where we traded stories.  They had done a similar trip in 2013, so we had lots to chat about.

Passing by the Tropic of Capricorn which is south of Rehoboth.
Passing by the Tropic of Capricorn which is south of Rehoboth.

Southern Namibia

At Keetmanshoop we turned west towards Seeheim and then south towards the Fish River Canyon. We were once again surprised by Namibia’s excellent gravel roads as we turned onto the C12, taking us then past the Naute Dam which irrigates date palms and vineyards in this otherwise dry countryside.

The Klein Karas Mountains rising on our left as we headed south on the C12.
The Klein Karas Mountains rising on our left as we headed south on the C12.

As we headed south, mountains shaded with yellow, red and brown rose like gigantic cakes from the yellow grass plains and we delighted in the remote open spaces typical of Namibia.

Passing by the unique Canon Roadhouse shortly before the turn off to the Fish River Canyon, we simply had to stop for an ice-cold drink and once again enjoy the display of vintage vehicles and other memorabilia.

For us the Fish River Canyon is one of the most spectacular sights in Africa.  Apparently its formation started about 350 million years ago but the river itself now runs in a bed 1,5 million years old. A geologist’s paradise, its walls display a clear record of much of the geological history of the region. It is unfathomable that today’s canyon once used to be the huge Namaqualand Mountains which were eroded to a vast plain, then became the Nama Sea when continental drift caused an ocean trough. It took millions of years to completely fill the Nama Sea with sediment which was transformed into hard metamorphic rock by heat and pressure. It was only much later that erosion started playing its part in creating the canyon. (Info from the Visitor’s Centre at the viewpoint.)

The Hilux looks minute on the edge of the Fish River Canyon.
The Hilux looks minute on the edge of the Fish River Canyon.

Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Up early the next morning, we enjoyed the canyon views as they were lit up by the sun and upon heading towards Sendelingsdrift we were astounded by the display of colours: green shrubs contrasted with red rocky outcrops and blue mountains in the distance.

The Fish River Canyon in the early morning light.
The Fish River Canyon in the early morning light.
The southern Namibia landscape has a unique, stark beauty.
The southern Namibia landscape has a unique, stark beauty.

Although the water level of the Gariep (Orange) River was extremely low now, we enjoyed driving next to it as it is renowned for its river rafting.

Driving next to the Gariep/Orange River.
Driving next to the Gariep/Orange River.

At Sendelingsdrift we crossed the 97m wide Gariep/Orange River on the pontoon which has been in operation for 43 years.

Crossing by pantoon over the Gariep/Orange River.
Crossing by pontoon over the Gariep/Orange River.

On the South African side of the Transfrontier Park we traversed the timeless landscape of the Richtersveld with its clear blue skies.

An extraordinary display of different colours in the Richtersveld.
An extraordinary display of different colours in the Richtersveld.
A beautiful scene near Mount Grootberg in the Richtersveld Community Conservancy.
A beautiful scene near Mount Grootberg in the Richtersveld Community Conservancy.
We were fortunate to see the remnants of the annual Namaqua spring flowers in the Richtersveld.
We were fortunate to see the remnants of the annual Namaqua spring flowers in the Richtersveld.

Heading home

From the Richtersveld we headed for Kleinsee where, having been too hot in the Caprivi, we were now chilly under the veil of Atlantic fog as we camped at Die Houthoop farm. The next day we continued south through the diamond diggings towards Koiingnaas where we turned west to traverse the Namakwa National Park with its beautiful fynbos and undulating hills. The road became disused and washed out, giving our impoverished suspension its last test in low range.

IMG_1351 (Copy)
Traversing the Namakwa National Park.

We spent the last night on the banks of the Clanwilliam Dam, enjoying our final sundowner as we reminisced over our amazing adventure, grateful that all roads, tracks and footpaths eventually led home and that the Hilux never missed a beat.

On the last leg the next day it was good to see the beautiful Boland mountains and vineyards, the latter neat and manicured.

The neatly manicured vineyards near Clanwilliam.
The neatly manicured vineyards near Clanwilliam.

However, we were somehow sad to leave behind Africa’s simplicity and its ‘realness’ as we contemplated settling back into first world ways. In stark contrast with Africa to the north, we immediately noticed the glamour, glitz and over indulgence, as reflected in our cities, shopping centres and in what we eat, wear, live in and drive. Perhaps the huge class disparity in South Africa is particularly unsettling; we hadn’t seen this big a gap between the rich and the poor in our travels.

At the outset of the trip we wondered how it would change us. Amongst other things, it has certainly given us fresh perspective on the society we live in and we cannot help but wonder why we who have so much, still find reason to complain about so many things.

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “Namibia and back home”

  1. Fantastic closure of a fantastic trip.
    Thanks Karin for the opportunity to be taken along your adventures and Peter to have managed all the obstacles and set-backs linked to driving in remote areas.
    I hope Cape Town will not “spit you out” as “indigestible” after all that freedom you enjoyed in the last months.
    If it happens, take the chance to another great trek, you have the flair of communicating the subtle difference from the obvious, making it more interesting to tag along (only virtually – unfortunately).

    All the best
    Walter

    p.s. A bit late for commenting, but I was out of reach in Europe – imagine – no internet!

  2. Dear Karin, your blog has been a real pleasure to read, and your conclusions are properly thought-provoking…. We had a marvellous time travelling in Namibia this July / August and hope to learn a lot from your experiences as we plan a bigger trip over the next few years. Thank you so much!

  3. Many thanks Karin for letting us travel with you guys. Certainly brought back memories of our long ago trip with hopes and dreams of still one day getting to those places we never did get to.

  4. Hi, glad you’re back and safe in one piece. That’s an understatement as you’re safer out there than in here.
    It’s been an awesome journey, and thank you for taking us with you.
    Should you take all your blogs and pics together in one nicely bound book, it would a pleasant Sunday afternoon read, in the shade of a massive Mopani, all the while sipping a cold refreshment.
    Thank you again.

  5. Welcome back Karin and Pete , what a fantastic trip you had with many lasting memories .I am sure it will take you sometime to settle into a routine again . Thank you Karin for letting us follow it with you in your fantastic postings . Look forward to seeing you both . LOL Roger and Lorraine .

  6. Karin – what a fantastic closing remark!

    “why we who have so much, still find reason to complain about so many things”

  7. Welcome back Pete and Karen. We enjoyed travelling with you. Thanks for the great descriptions and photos. Having just returned 3 weeks ago from our ‘subset’ of your trip we can identify so well with your closing comments. We are finding it hard to settle back into ‘civilisation’. May you have better luck!
    Alan and Denise (Africa through our eyes -www.gedi.co.za)

  8. Hi Guys, we so glad you are safely back home.
    still waiting for that photo. ha ha.
    will miss your stories.
    greetings
    fanie

  9. It has been a real pleasure reading about your experiences are this journey. Thank you.

  10. Welcome back Peter & Karin!
    You have experienced something that is priceless and which will stay embedded in your memories forever.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us all…there will be a gap now,so start planning your next trip soon!
    Love to catch up with you again,
    Paul & Mary

  11. We Westerners expect a culture shock when we go into the so called ‘Third World’. Only to discover that the shock hits us as soon as we are back home. See you next year in Kaokoland?

  12. Welcome back to ‘civilisation’ ………!
    Glad you are back home safely and for the amazing journey you had.
    Best wishes.
    Pieter and Anita

  13. Glad you’re safely back with memories to last a lifetime. It’s been great following the trip.

    1. We are so pleased you are home safe and sound and having experienced the most amazing trip. We have so enjoyed reading all about it and will certainly miss not getting any more for the time being!
      As someone mentioned above, it would be wonderful for you to put all your news into a book with a map of where you have been – it would be a lovely coffee table delight!
      Looking forward to seeing you soon and hearing more about the trip.
      All the best
      Sue and Ant

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