October 25, 2012 by leighnewlands
Earlier this year, myself and two other members of my family, namely my Dad and Sister, decided to go explore the unspoilt, open land that is Namibia. To enter into another country, it will take you a fantastic 700km drive along the West Coast.
While the distance may seem daunting, as long as you pick good company that either a) are interesting or b) fall asleep for most of the trip, you’re sorted! OH, and good music is always key.
So we set off. I decided though that my newly bought “friend” must also come along and experience his first trip “out of the country”.
Everyone, meet Eeyore. This is him and his journey through Namibia.
The first day we reached the border where we had to fill out numerous forms and show our passports and declare that we were not aliens or that we were not refugees. Be aware, when arriving here at “customs”, don’t cause trouble with the officials. They are very particular – one joke or silly remark, they can look at you very suspiciously and you may be denied entrance into their country. That said, we abide, filled in forms, made lighthearted jokes and quickly got in the car and drove!
Our first night, we spent at Felix Unite. Here, they specialise in Orange River rafting. While we did not do it, I can highly recommend it from back in the day when I did brave it. Felix has a number of different rooms to cater for people. We stayed in the standard cabanas which each had air conditioning and a mini coffee bar (I KNOW RIGHT!).
The beauty of this place is you step out the door and are greeted by the warm Namibian air and the Orange River below. At the lodge there is a restuarant, a bar and an awesome pool table where we spent most of our time (and money). If you’re looking for merchandise, they also have a shop and even an internet cafe. Fortunately, as we were still relativley close to the South African border, we still managed to get Vodacom signal – but only just. This proved worrying for my sister and I naturally with our BBM social life (Ha!). Eeyore did not seem to be too phased and instead, soaked up the beauty and peacefulness that surrounded us.
The second day we were off, travelling for about 3 hours to our next destination amongst an open road with barely anything in sight. Fortunately, as my sister was asleep for most of the trip, I could play DJ. Songs ranged from Queen to Mumford and Sons to Country Music which we thought was rather fitting in the “desert”.
We finally reached our next hot spot, Klein Aus Vista where we planned on staying for two nights. We were meant to be staying in the standard cabanas but fortunately for us, the more expensive suite known as the Eagle’s Nest Cabin was assigned to us for the first night because the couple that were staying there didn’t have a very enjoyable night previously because of a mouse that kept seeping through the walls – so this couple was in our standard brick wall chalet for that night.
You can see why The Eagle’s Nest Chalets are more expensive – they are the epitomy of solitude, silence and space offering magnificent sunsets. They are a 15 minute drive from reception with only 8 chalets, nestled against a mountain slope which offers unique views of the boundaryless desert.
Each of these natural rock chalets sits between massive granite boulders and contains all the necessities such as a bathroom, kitchen, fireplace and private veranda. Unfortunately for my sister, with the chalet being on the slop of the mountain, we had many baboons watching over us while braaing. My sister made it outside probably twice in order to fetch something from the car – but that was it. It was an experience, with a mouse seeping through the granite and running along the walls, it kept myself and my sister on our toes. My dad told us we were wimps – no Dad, NO.
Our second night, the original lodge back at the reception (Desert Horse Inn as it’s known) was now open for us so we returned there much to my sister’s relief. Here, one is still offered grand vistas of mountain scenery and sweeping desert plain.
The attractions around Klein Aus Vista include Luderitz (which is similar to the Waterfront here in Cape Town) with the first sight of sea since we entered the country. Another popular attraction is the Wild Horses of the Namib where they just roam the sparsely vegetated plains in small groups. They’re the type of horses you would see cowboys riding on in old Western Films.The highlight of this section though is that of Kolmanskop which is an old run down diamond mining town known as “Ghost Town”. I have created a separate post for this special town.
Fourth day, the Canon Roadhouse. This was quite a little gem. On our way to the lodge however, we visited the famous Fish River Canyon which is 20km from the lodge. This Canyon is the second largest in the world and the largest in Africa as well as the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It features a gigantic ravine, with about 160km in length, up to 27km wide and almost 550metres deep. Not only is the view breathtaking but one can partake in a hike within this Canyon. The trail begins from the car park with a steep descent and chains to to assist hikers over the first 100 meters. Thereafter, the unmarked path follows a gravel trail to the beach at the bottom.
The roadhouse has elaborate decor and has aquired a cult status in Namibia: the goold old days of the Automobile are celebrated in the theme restaurant and bar.
One memorable point here: the horses that just roam around by the poolside. See the photo above. Yet again, my sister was petrified.
Our next stop was the Namib Desert Lodge where we sepnt two nights. The lodge is spread out along the foot of the fossilised dunes of the ancient Namib. With 60 en suite rooms, a restuarant, a bar and two swimming pools, what’s not to like! The pool was very welcoming when we arrived where we lay down, got our tan on and got cocktails bought to us.
The next morning, we woke up at 5am to make our way to the famous Sossusvlei dunes which are ideal to view when the sun rises. These dunes are considered to be the highest in the world. There are various arguments with regards to this statement but regardless, Sossusvlei is one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia. The two attractions of this area is that of the high dune known as Mama Bear. When climbing up this dune, it leaves you breathless quite literally and figuratively. At the foot of Mamma Bear is the Dead Vlei. It consists of dead camelthorn trees, some of which are over 800 years old. Apparently this is a known spot for photographers worldwide to come along and capture the unique, ageless desert shot. I was unaware of this fact so just snapped away carelessly. Next time though I will be prepared with my tri-pod and sunscreen!
After as much needed nap back at the lodge, we decided to take up the dune drive on offer at the Lodge. So here we were, all together in a truck with 5 other tourists (mostly German). We got a tour of the fossilised dunes, the red dunes above the plateau and the many other wonders of the Namib Desert. We made stops at various points where the guide would explains the dune and the reason behind it.Our final stop was on top of a dune where we could view the sun setting behind the Sossusvlei Dunes in the distance. This was accompanied by various drinks and snacks that the guide bought along.
Now while I highly recommend this drive, you NEED a warm top especially for the trip home. Once the sun sets, it kinda gets chilly on the back of the truck.
Finally, the next morning, we were heading back towards South Africa. After the last 4 hours of our roadtrip through Namibia, we arrived at the Owererbos River Camp and Lodge.This camp is technically in South Africa so once we arrived, we came to the sad realisation that we were no longer in Namibia. This camp is also on the banks of the Orange River and offers Orange River trips. We stayed in tents that were already set up for us. If you go there now though and are willing to pay, they’ve recently set up 4 or 5 luxury tents with include bathrooms! We let the sun set of the River whilst we swam, played more pool, ate pizza and caught up with the locals.
It was a peaceful ending to our trip but sad that we had to leave the next morning. It’s a memory that will forever be with me and Eeyore. The peacefulness. The open land. The silence. The 40 degree weather. Pure beauty and relaxation. With it being a trip you can do in a car, I recommend you visit Namibia once in your lifetime, wherever it may be in the country as we didn’t explore even half of it!
To see the rest of the pictures from his adventure, click here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10150440346485817.356868.728085816&type=3
All accommodation are linked to a thing known as Gondwana. You apply for a card and get discounts on all accommodation that is part of the Gondwana brand.