21 March 2016

our namibian adventure.

When normal people think about where they want to go for vacation, they probably think about finding a nice spot on a beach where they can laze around and do nothing for a few weeks. But if you're reading this blog, you've probably already realized that we're not super normal. (No additional commentary needed, thank you very much!)


When we thought about where we wanted to go for our big vacation this year, we thought about scorching hot temperatures, the potential for scorpions and snakes, and sleeping in a tiny, tiny tent for two weeks. Sounds like fun, no?

We found all of these things, and so much more, during our 11-day road trip across Namibia, in southwestern Africa, racking up 2,361 miles (3,800 kilometers) and seeing a lot more of the continent in the process.

Namibia is roughly the size of Tanzania or, in American terms, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico combined. Yet their population is incredibly small. While our current home country has roughly 45 million folks, Namibia has a little over two million. Thus, with little to no people around, much of Namibia remains untouched by civilization, with stunning landscapes and a sense of real freedom.
As you can imagine, we made a lot of memories traveling 2,361 miles, too many to document in one blog post. But here are some of the highlights of what we'll remember as an amazing adventure.

Camping

There's really no other way to see Namibia - you have to camp. On Day 1, we rented a Toyota Hilux 4X4, which became our home for the next two weeks. Fully equipped with a mini-fridge, 40 liter water tank, a gas tank for cooking, and a tiny tent on top, this beast of a car offered all we needed to be fully independent. She never let us down. (Thanks to Asco Car Hire for providing such a great vehicle!) Best of all, we spent each night sitting by a fire eating s'mores and enjoying the incredible night sky.


Spitzkoppe

Known for its tranquility and rock formations, Spitzkoppe was one of the first destinations on our list. We took a guided tour of the area, which included native rock paintings, dating back 2,000 to 4,000 years ago. We camped surrounded by burnt orange rocks, absolutely no humans, and tons and tons of stars. It would be the first of many ridiculous sunsets.


Skeleton Coast National Park

The Namibian west coast, which borders the Atlantic Ocean, has taken the lives of boats and sailors alike for centuries. Often, after the boats run aground, they are left there, until the desert slowly swallows them up. It's an eerie place, empty of civilization but full of stories from the past.


Namib-Naukluft National Park 

This national park is Namibia at its finest - sand dunes for miles and miles, set up perfectly against a clear, blue sky and again, no people. Are we sensing a theme? The name of one of the areas we visited in the park is called, "Sossusvlei," or "The Marsh of No Return." When you're out in the Namib Desert, in the middle of nowhere, with mirages on the horizon, you can definitely sense that you may be at the point of no return.


Aus

The area that stretched around the small town of Aus has endless hiking trails, which is exactly what we were interested in. We logged over 12.5 miles in the hot, desert sun, taking in the panoramas of this remarkable landscape. Also, we had the chance to see wild horses, a rare sight and perhaps the only place in the world home to wild desert-dwelling horses.


Kolmanskop

This was, by far, one of my favorite days of the trip, getting up at 5:30AM to catch the sun rising over Kolmanskop, an old diamond mining town that was abandoned in the 1950s. In the early 1900s, diamonds were discovered in the area, causing a wave of German immigrants, who at that time, held Namibia as one of its colonies, to move to the area in the hope of getting rich. Within a short stretch of years, they had set up a small German town in the middle of Namibian nowhere, complete with a bowling alley and a theater. Now, we watch as the desert slowly causes it to disappear.


Fish River Canyon

The largest canyon in Africa, second only to the Grand Canyon in the United States, is situated in another national park in southern Namibia. Stretching over 100 miles long, you can spend a day driving right along its edge in your 4X4, taking in the views and stopping to eat lunch at your favorite spot. That's just what we did.


Animals

Because Namibia is so sparsely populated, animals still hold reign over much of the land. While we were there, we saw wild zebras, oryx, steenbok, springbok, hyena, jackals, ostrich, wild horses, dancing desert lizards, and seals. Turning a corner in your car and coming upon a pack of wild zebra was an unexpected thrill - and this happened again and again.


Endless Roads

By far, the best part of the trip for us was the sense of "getting away from it all." With 95% less people than Tanzania, we felt completely and utterly alone, which left us able to sit with the quiet of our own thoughts for hours and hours on end. Silence brings you back to yourself in a way that nothing else can, giving you greater clarity and focus for all that lies ahead.


Namibia, you exceeded our expectations and then some. We wouldn't be disappointed if we met again.

4 comments:

  1. So, is that the tent on top of your car? Is it to avoid crawling things that you sleep up there? Pretty standard for Namibian travelers? How did you keep steenbok and springbok straight in your mind? Did you see any people there at all?

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    1. Yes, the tent was affixed to the top of the truck. It would fold down when it was time to hit the road. Located on top out of convenience - much easier and faster to set-up than a typical tent that you assemble on the ground. But it also helps keep out critters on the ground. For example one night we had a bunch of gemsbok (oryx) enter the camp and were knocking things around. Most other travelers had a similar tent set-up. We had a guide book that outlined the various animals including pictures and physical description of each which made it easy to identify the various species. Throughout the trip we saw very few people. We would drive for a couple of hours without seeing another car, human or home. It was nature at its most raw form.

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    2. So with the tent on top of your truck, when you wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, do you just have to climb down off the truck? I would probably tumble down and land unconscious...

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    3. Both climbing and tumbling down the ladder were employed. The former proved safer and the latter quicker.

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