Archive for November, 2007

“I am tooreest!”

Friday, November 30th, 2007

After lunch Andre and I went for a complementary paddle up the river in some canoes they have available for campers. It was rather pleasant with a number of birds to be seen on the water. We paddled upstream and floated back down 🙂

When we got back to camp I noticed a familiar looking Citi Golf parked at the site next to us. So I walked over and would you believe it, it was the same guy we met in the Moon Landscape! Even weirder still, he also met Julian (the French guy we met in Windhoek) and gave him a lift to Estosha. He also passed Thomas on his bicycle while making his was to Felix Unite. It’s a small world even when travelling. We ended up having a few drinks at the bar and then took a walk down the river just before sunset. The evening we had a braai and cooked the lovely springbok steaks we had bought that morning. Perfect ending to a wonderful adventure.

The next morning (Wednesday) we headed off to Kamieskroon to visit Auntie Jasmine. Unbeknownst to us it was also her 79th birthday! We had a braai and I showed her the photos from our trip. On Thursday morning we had a walk around the farm to visit all the places we a had frequented as children during the holidays when we visited. Then it was time to pack and head home.

Getting home early was also a surprise for Salome who I missed very much during our sojourn in Namibia.

Noordoever

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

After goodbye to Thomas and the Italians we headed off to find the buchery at the Canon road lodge. It was quite a nice place and they had some springbok and gemsbok steaks which we bought (almost 2kgs of meat for N$120).

We then carried on with the scenice route past ai-ais on the way to Noordoever. We booked into Felix United which was highly recommended by a number of people. They also do river canoeing. So we might book a day trip.

So our holdiday is nearly at an end. It has been a great adventure. I have really enjoyed meeting other travelers and exchanging tips on places to stay and learning more about places they have been to.

Fish River Canyon

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

It was quite a windy night on Sunday which resulted in a cool morning so we slept in till just before 7 🙂

After saying googbye to Giel we went into town again to see if we could draw some money. Everything was offline when we arrived on Sunday (no cellphone signal, no ATM or creditcard transactions). Fortunatley things were working again.

It was a short drive to Fish River Canyon. We booked in at the Canon Roadhouse for camping. We arrived there at the same time as Thomas who was traveling on a bicycle. Taking a whole campsite was a bit costly for him so we offered to share.

After a beer and pitching the tent it was midday, so we headed off to go see the Canyon. It was quite an experience for me. You cannot grasp how vast it is from looking at photos. The views over the Canyon are amazing. We took Thomas along with us. He was planning to cycle around there the following day but decided it might be easier to catch a lift. He has been cycling for 2 years and a bit and has covered 44000km already. He is currently working his way down to Cape Town where his journey ends (for now). We thought he was crazy but there are apparently other people who do this as well!

While driving around we met 2 German girls who were on their way to Luderitz from the Canyon. So we gave them the map we had and suggested they stay at Kratzplatz 🙂

Back at camp we hit the pool. The facilities at the Roadhouse are top notch. A German couple brought their children for a swim. One of them managed to loose her costume in the pool and noone seemed to be able to find it. So in true Andre style the diving gear is hauled out and he starts snorkeling for it. After a while of following the curves of the pool I suggested he try the middel and sure enough he found it. So happy kiddies. I then also showed them were we had camped and visited.

We also met 2 Italian girls who spoke fluent German. They come from an area that used to be part of Austria. We ran into them again later that evening at the bar where they tried to teach Andre some Italian. We also picked up a nice tip about a buchery at the Canon road lodge on our way back to Noordoever from one of the other visitors.

Keetmanshoop

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

It was up before dawn for some sunrise photos in the Kalahari. After some tea and coffee at the bar we hit the road to Keetmanshoop. Johan the manager was kind enough to give us two bags of ice before we left so the fridge was doing well.

When we arrived in Keetmanshoop we stopped a the Spar for some supplies and were immediately accosted by street children insisting that they would be watching our car. We did what shopping we could (the Spar was not great) and upon leaving without paying the intimidation money we were verbally abused. Round the block to the OK (which at least had fresh rolls, cheese and decent looking meat) same story different faces. Keetmanshoop has probably been the most disappointing town in Namibia for me.

We took a quick drive around town to take a few pictures and headed off to the Mesosaurus campsite. On the way there we passed the Quiver Tree Forest and the Giants Playground. We were heartily greeted by Giel, owner and Fossil enthusiast. After sorting out the formalities we picked a campsite and pulled the beers from the fridge.

In the late afternoon Giel took us to see the Fossils that had been found on his farm. He knew quite a bit about how they had come about and what the area looked like when they were alive. We then moved on to see his Quiver Trees and Dolerite rock formations similar to that of the other two sites. He estimates he has over 5000 Quiver trees on his farm! He then played Vader Jakob on some Hollow Dolerite rocks and left us to look around and wait for sunset. You can easily skip the other attractions and see everything in one place, what a pleasure.

Kalahari

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

We had a bit of a sleep-in on Saturday and after breakfast, some repacking of the bakkie and some goodbyes we were on the road to Anib Lodge in the Kalahari. Just before the Lodge we popped in at the Hardap dam to check the view and enjoy a cold beer.

The Anib lodge was a good tip we got from the tour guides we met in Swakopmund. As one of the German tourists described it as an Oasis in the middle of the Kalahari. Friendly staff and clean well fitted campsites. We once again have our own shower and toilet and are far away from other campers. There is also refreshing pool to cool down in.

This evening we did the tourist thing and booked on one of their sundowner game cruises. We saw mostly Springbok and Gemsbok with some Rooihartebok, Blou Wildebees and Zebra’s in between. George was our guide and was orignally from SA. We had a good chat to him while looking for wildlife. We then had some drinks on one of the dunes and watched the sun go down. Minutes after the set a glorious full moon appeared on the horizon. As the area we are in is pretty flat and free from obstruction we could see the the last light of dusk fade away as the bright orange moon stared rising. Magic.

It was ribs on the coals for dinner and afterwards we met some of the German girls who were with us on the drive for drinks at bar. Their next stop was Cape Town for 4 days and then back to Germany so we gave them tips on how not to look like a tourist and avoid getting mugged (sad isn’t it?).

Windhoek Nightlife

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

While making a fire to braai some meat at The Cardboard Box we met some UK girls who had been in Namibia for 2 days. Michelle is a vegetarian so we debated about what she would be able to eat that was not meat in Namibia. Andre then suggested that he cook her a sweet potato we had brought along.

Happy hour came round at 7pm and surprise, surprise Team America arrived. They were living in Windhoek and popped in for the N$5 a beer special. I had a good chat to Erin.

After dinner we decided to go out with Michelle, Amy and a German girl who was staying at one of the other backpackers. She has been living in Dublin for 7 years so her German English had a bit odd Irish twist to it.

The plan was to go to club London. While waiting for a taxi some black guy tried to snatch Michelles’ handbag, fortunately she was holding it quite tightly so he did not get away with it. Andre then chased him away.

Taxis (typically something like a Mazda Midge or Citi Golf) in Windhoek are fun; they charge you a flat rate per person of N$13 to take you around town. We were five people so Andre manged to talk him down to N$10 each. Unfortunately our Taxi driver did not know where club London was so after a bit of driving around and asking for directions he eventually found it. Andre then manged to talk the door staff down to N$15 from the N$30 cover charge (they were having a foam party).

I could just as well have been in a club in Cape Town. Myself and the German girl had a good laugh when a rather stocky guy passed us with swimming wings.

We had arranged with the Taxi driver to pick us up at 2am again, but took his number as well. So at 2am there was no sign of him, a phonecall later and he would be there in 10min. After 20min he was still not there so Andre convinced a passing police van to give us all a lift home. It was a good laugh sitting in the back of the van getting a lift home. Andre donated them N$20 for the lift (on his insistance) and we all got home safely.

This was definatly a night to be remembered!

Windhoek

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

After an early start and a glorious sunrise in Spitzkoppe on Friday it was off to Windhoek. As we were packing up one of the locals came by in a donkey cart. Andre asked him if he could take it for a spin, he said sure. I asked if his insurance was paid up. After a giddy-up Andre was off at pace heading for the horison. He passed the camp next to us and after shouting that is was easy to get them going but he had no idea how to stop them a burst of laughter errupted. Luckily one of their guides stopped the cart and got him turned around.

We bought some Spitzkoppe T-Shirts at the entrance and some gemstones from the locals along the road back. We gave the first one we stopped at some food as well.

We stopped at a really nice restaurant and B+B in Usakos called Namib Wuste Farmstall for second breakfast. We went with the Wuste burger which was devine and at a very reasonable price.

The road to Windhoek was the greenest so far. Lots of large green trees and shrubs. There are also large amounts of termite/ant mounds scattered all along the road. Some are just over half the height of the electrical posts!

We arrived in Windhoek at about lunch time and after driving right through the centre of town we headed off to The Cardboard Box Backpackers. We got a double room at a good price. It was called the Moulin Rouge (LOL). Sadly no dancing girls 😉

They had a pool and a nice bar and after a swim we headed down into town, which was in walking distance. After 10min of walking around in Windoek it felt like I was in Joburg (and I don’t particularly like Joburg). We walked up to Christuskirche and the Equestrian monument. We also popped in the museum which was a bit of a bore. It mostly contained the political history of Namibia. The only interesting thing I found was the rock paintings. We took a quick walk through the gardens at parlement and went looking for the info centre. We tried to find out about the brewery tours (you have to taste Windoek in Windoek) but they were only open Mondays to Thursdays.

I then decided to walk up to the Botanical Gardens. As you walk up you get a nice view over parts of Windhoek. I spotted some very colourfull lizards as well. Entrance to the botanical gardens is free. I had about 30min before closing time so I picked the route up to the lookout point. While walking up I came across a tap where they had made a small reservoir which was full of millipedes having a drink. So I got my camera out to take a picture and suddenly felt a sharp bite in my foot. The knee jerk reaction sent my slipslop flying and I found my feet covered I some seriously agro ants trying to eat me.

I ran back down the path got rid of the ants and started planning a search and rescue operation for my slop. No easy task when everything is covered in ants!

With the slop recovered I completed the rest of the tour on a light jog. No time to stop for pictures. Back at reception I brought the ant problem to their attention and they were kind enough to offer me a glass of ice water. While arranging the water I filled in the guest register. Comments: “Beware the killer ants! Very nice.”

On my way out I passed some shady characters who tried to coax me into conversation, but I ignored them and carried on walking and got back in once piece. While I never felt in great amounts of danger in the city, I was never quite at ease either. You are very aware that you stand out.

Back at The Cardboard Box we met a French guy called Julian. He was busy backpacking through parts of Africa. He was having a very hard time in Namibia because there was no transport to any of the remote sites. He even struggled to get to the Etosha pans as the bus only went to a certain point and from there if you were not booked on a tour or had your own transport you were stuck. His next stop was Cape Town, so he and Andre exchanged details.

Spitzkoppe

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

We packed up early this morning and headed off to the see the Welwischias. Part of the drive there takes you through the moon landscape which is probably where the Americans filmed their first landing by Neil Armstrong :p

The permit we aquired highlighted points of interest which were mostly plant life and lookout points. There is also the remains of a army campsite dating back to 1915.

Our original plan was to go and see some of the Welwischias and skip the oldest one on the advice from some freelance tourguides we met in Swakopmund because it involved crossing a tricky bit of river. The permit listed some interesting rock formations in that direction so we decided to drive as far as the river and turn back. On the way there we spotted a Citi Golf with a CY number plate coming towards us and flagged him down. After a hearty greeting in Afrikaans we receieved the following response: “I am tooreest”. So we asked about the river “no problem”. There are however two types of cars that can cover that kind of terrain: a 4×4 or a rental. We all know what he was driving.

So we carried on driving to find that the raging river was very much a sand patch with some nice trees. So onward to the largest Welwischia in the world. It’s quite an amazing plant they estimate the largest one is 1500 years old!

Once back on the tar we made good time to Spitzkoppe. They really are amazing, the largest thing for miles. The camping was cheap too N$100 for the night. Things are very basic. The only shower is at reception and the facilities empower gravity. The sense of peace and awe here is amazing and worth one night without running water. It is run by the community which sounds like a noble venture.

The camp sites are far apart and a bit tough to find. We drove around a bit looking for one with a bit of shade and eventually settled on No. 2. The attendent suggested No. 10 as one with a lot of shade, but we could not find it. All for the best anyway as the large rock formation behind our camp turned out to be reasonably easy to climb and provided a spectacular view and sunset vantage point.

We also took a walk around in the afternoon and got some nice pictures of the mountains and vegetation. Andre found a tree that had grown up through a crack in the side of a rock.

Tomorrow we hit the road to Windhoek. The 3 days in Swakopmund were great fun and I will go visit there again.

Dune 7 and the “sand breekers”

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

This morning we went to Dune 7 for a bit of sandboarding. We met Wayne from Dune 7 Sandboarding (this is stand up sandboarding using a snowboard). While we were waiting two girls from Bloemfontein arrived and it turned out they were part of our group.

Wayne took us through the basics and sorted us out with “moon boots” and boards. We then got taken up in turn on a quadbike, which was quite a lot of fun (and a life saver), to the top of the dune. While waiting for everyone to get to the top I finished a quick crash course on how to use a Canon S5, which Madrie had recenty acquired, but not yet mastered. She was quite chuffed about the movie and burst mode functions. It has a few improvements over my S3 model and the larger screen is a bonus.

So on to the “sand breekers” 🙂 The first run is Cobra wax free. The wax is what allows you to pick up heaps of speed. So you amble on down to the bottom to find your balance and practice slowing down and speeding up.

When you get to the bottom it’s time for some “wax on” Miyagi style. The first run down on wax you can immediately feel the difference. By the 3rd run I was really getting the swing of things and let go for some speed. You can feel the rush of wind as you dip the nose down a notch and settle in for the ride with a hand trailing in the sand.

Wayne was really friendly and always checking to see that everyone had things under control. Being a small group of 4 meant not much waiting and attention when required. We were also the only people on the dune except for the occasional onlooker who thought we were mad as snakes.

The girls got the hang of it really quickly as well and we all took turns taking pictures of each other coming down. Everyone had at least one spectacular wipe-out all captured for posterity.

As the boarding came to an end the wind picked up which made things at the top of the dune unbearable so the timing was excellent.

On the way back to camp we stopped at nice German butchery we had discovered yesterday and bought a huge Gemsbok steak, bratwurst, smoked Gemsbok and landjegers. Yum!

Swakopmund

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Yesterday we walked around Swakopmund and visited a few of the sites. A quick visit to the information point set us off to get the permit required for the Welwitschia drive which we decided to do on Thursday morning on the way to our next stop, which at the moment is looking like Spitzkoppe on the road to Windhoek.

We started with the Kristall Galerie. They had the most amazing display of gemstones amongst which you will find the worlds largest quartz crystal cluster.

We did the tourist thing and visited some of the shops and craft markets. Ho-hum. It’s all same as Green Market Square and the likes. We did however have a very nice chat to the owner of Pandora’s Box. We walked down to the lighthouse to take a few pictures. Then it was up to the Snake Park where we got Piggy the Python draped over our shoulders.

I also found a shop with some German confectionery where I bought a doughnut shaped nougat thing draped in chocolate. The sugar rush was intense. I also bought a vanilla cake slice (also covered in chocolate) which had a thin layer of jam and marzipan on top. The cake was a little dry, but carrying it around all day probably did not help to ensure moistness.

After stopping at camp for lunch we went looking for a place to sandboard. We then also stopped to take pictures of the shipwreck just outside Swakopmund.

Andre went diving late afternoon and managed to catch 7 crayfish. He kept the largest one for himself and donated the rest to the UK couple camping across from us. They have been traveling through Africa for 15 months now and (like the Swiss) have a nice setup to do so from. Oh and no venture Andre ever embarks on is free from self inflicted harm. He managed to lose a part of a nail on one of his fingers while crayfishing.

I in the mean time walked the beach and the river area where I found a number of pink flamingos and other birds.

The hopes of sunset pictures from the Jetty were dashed by the sudden onset of cloud. Once they move in it starts to get cold very quickly.

Dinner was a nice spicy chicken on the coals followed by leftover nougat doughnut 🙂 We then walked down to the reef bar which is right on the beach for a quick drink. We had quite a nice chat with the bar staff and headed back to camp.