Nam part 2

Trip Start Mar 20, 2012
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Trip End Oct 16, 2013


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Monday, June 25, 2012

Swakopmund which is right on the western coast of Africa is a favourite holiday destination amongst Namibians. The architecture is very much German influenced with its steep roves ideal for a snowy environment, but quite ironic in this desert town.  Namibia was originally a German colony called South West Africa, but in 1990 when the country gained independence from South African rule the name was changed.

Three nights were to be spent in Swakopmund and between concrete walls and in a bed instead of a tent which put a smile on my dial.  The other upside to being there was that my parents who were in the midst of school holidays were in town to catch up.  We met up with my folks as well as my aunt and hit up a local eatery for dinner.  Flavoursome platefuls of food were demolished as we exchanged stories of what we had been up to in recent months.  Saving some chit chat for the coming days we headed to our hostel for a snug nights siesta.

Morning arrived and we were excited because skydiving was on our day's itinerary.  This is something I have always dreamed of doing and at 10am this dream was set to come true.  Down the street we chowed down some tasty breakfast before discovering because of weather conditions our jump had been moved a couple of hours.  The few nerves I had would have to stay in the darkness of my stomach a bit longer.  Soon enough the time arrived and we flew along the roads on our way to be flown across the sky and then thrown from a plane.  A short way out of town we reached the dusty runway and started our brief briefing.  The weather had made a turn for the better and the sun was streaming down from the clear skies.  We watched as some jumpers that had turned up before us and now were barely visible specks, plummeted from the sky.  When the small plane touched down again it was our turn.  Inside only the pilot had a seat while the rest of us squished in awkwardly trying not to get too close and personal.  The flying machine hurtled us down the runway like a lion chasing its lunch and then off the ground we lifted.  As we climbed steeply the people turned into ants and cars looked like toys.  The view out the window was outstanding of the small town below boardered by a sea of sand that stretched on forever and a sea of water that stretches to South America.  When the pilot signals five minutes to jump the adrenaline starts to trickle through your veins.  My tandem jump partner clipped himself to my back and on went my goggles.  A small roller door was opened and then there was nothing between a 10,000 foot drop and me.  Wind swirls around the planes insides and into our faces.  Anna and Amie were out before me and I watched as they disappeared out the door in a flash.  Soon I was sitting with my feet dangling into nothingness with my heart pounding.  Immediately as I was out the door away from the safety of the plane any nerves I had vanished into thin air, which is even thinner up there.  Free falling is unlike anything else I have experienced.  You feel the force of the air hitting your face and a falling sensation, but because you are so high up it doesn’t feel like you are moving because the ground doesn’t appear to be rushing towards you.  There is time to take in what’s happening and look around at the spectacular view.  Thirty seconds of falling seem to literally fly by and as the colorful parachute opens and rapidly decelerates us, I realised just how fast we were falling.  With the watchful eye of an experienced diver on my back I steered the chute.  When I pulled a handle down we turned into a swiftly spinning downward spiral parallel to the ground which really got the adrenaline flowing.  Earth was creeping up on us and after a couple more minutes of being a bird we touched down.  Skydiving is such a rush and as soon as my feet were back on stable ground I was ready to head up to where the clouds live again.  Too bad limited funds that have been falling like I was, stood in the way.

Back at our hostel celebratory drinks started flowing.  As the evening progressed we took a barefoot move to the bar.  The night consisted of Fliss and Racheal being swarmed by all the local chatty boys, Rob having a few too many alcohol infused drinks and me showing off my out of this world dance moves.

We had an action packed day in store so we were up bright and early.  Robs alarm going off, but not waking him also contributed to the early rise.  Amie and I headed down to the coast line where the icy Atlantic has made the trip up from Antarctica to crash into the shores.  We had popped into a café on the way so now with a hot chocolate in hand we wandered out on the jetty that stretched a fair way out above the choppy water.  It was nice being out with the cool morning air flowing through our nostrils.  As we wondered the streets, memories would rush through my head of the days when I was in this same town as a youngin.  At our local café (if you can call it that after having one meal there) we filled up on breakfast with the pleasant company of my creators again.

The first activity awaiting our participation was sand boarding and between Namibia’s boarders are some of the biggest sand dunes in the world.  A short drive out of town brought us face to face with a huge pile of sand and from where we stood it looked like a daunting climb.  My board and boots where fitted and Amie grabbed here sliding equipment then onwards we marched.  Stepping in the footprints you are following is the best climbing technique and after a bunch of sinking steps on this unstable surface we reached the top.  I looked out in awe at the truckloads of sand that stretched into the distance as I waxed my board.  Off the jump I flew and down the steep face of the dune as I got the hang of carving through sand.  Sand boarding is reasonably similar to snowboarding; you just have to keep your speed up so you don’t dig in too much while carving.  At the bottom a mountain of a climb awaited me again.  After several goes at not quite nailing a 360 I discovered the sand gets into every nook and cranny known to man.  Those who had piled on the sunscreen ended up with a sand beard.  While this had been going down, Amie had been honing her skills at going face first down the dunes on a thin sheet of wood.  Now I had a chance to join in on this high velocity fun.  A guy with a speed gun stood down below ready to clock our speed.  As you set off on your race for the bottom you rapidly pick up speed as the polished wood glides over the warm sand like the soap out of your hand in the shower.  Half way down you get a weightless sensation for a second as you fly over a lip in the sand.  Each ride has the goal of beating your speed from the last.  Zooming downhill on Amie’s first run she locked in 75km/hr, narrowly beating my best speed of 74km/hr and missing out on the gold medal by 1km/hr.  We were keen to claim the top spot again, but it was time to head back down the other side of the dune for lunch and drinks that were waiting.  I skillfully directed my sand board down the sandy mountain one last time now with a beach in my pants, but a smile on my face.

After turning the bathroom into the Sahara I set off with Rob and Elizabeth for some time on top of motorised four wheeled machines.  With a quad bike between our legs and the throttle engaged we roared off into the dunes.  Driving as fast as the bikes would take us we sped up the side of a sand dune and at the point where we were about to lose all momentum a sharp turn was made and down we flew with the revs bouncing away.  Any dune that dared to cross our path would receive the same treatment.  Through the desert playground with engines screaming we took up the task of getting the bike as far sideways as we could sending waves of sand through the air.  The dunes that flowed on one after the other were incredibly majestic and at certain points you could see the blue sea making itself known in the distance.  A couple hours of this fast paced action went by before calling it an exhilarating day.

It was our last night amongst the restaurants and souvenir shops of Swakopmund so we headed out for a final dinner with my parents.  We chose Napolitana that had been kind to our taste buds on previous occasions.  Fearing it might be my last night to sample some of the fine game meat Africa offers, I picked out the game platter from a menu that was trying to convince my eyes they were bigger than my stomach.  This consisted of medallions of oryx, kudu and zebra which refused to fashion the stripy pajama look of the animal it came from.  With a side of chips the platter of meat went down a treat leaving my taste buds screaming out for more.  Amie chose the springbok burger which ended up being big enough to feed a small family and showed off with its knack for flavor.  Satisfied we had kept the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs happy we hit the road for a two minute walk back to our accommodation.

We slept the night away, waking once the early bird was full.  A last wonder of the streets was taken and then it was time to say some reluctant goodbyes to the town and my parents.  With sand dunes on one side and the cold ocean on the other we headed south for a while before swerving inland to Sessrium.  After a few hours of driving amongst the most beautiful constantly changing scenery we pulled up at Sessrium.  The town consists of not much more than a gas station, campsite and Moose Mcgregors bakery (Ewen Mcgregor’s cousin).  The bakery that is an orgasm for the nostrils sells an assortment of baked goods for the sweet tooth, including New Zealand brownie from the Edmonds cook book.  We were informed that they sell a whopping 4000kg of apple pie a month to people that pass through.  A dazzling sunset that turned the hills purple and made the sky glow a rich orange welcomed the night.

The morning ritual of disassembling our tents was executed before heading in the direction of Sossusvlei.  Not too far into our journey we stopped in at Sessrium Canyon.  The canyon is quite small as far as canyons go, but still makes you feel tiny as you walk on the round rocks along the bottom.  We snapped a few artistic shots then powered on to our next campground.  Side by side our tents were assembled once again and then we made our way to a big orange sand dune.  As we headed for the peak the odd beetle would scurry passed leaving his footprints in the hot sand.  When the top arrived, it turned out to be just a bump in the road on the way to the top.  I carried on with my leg work out with the top in my sights, but again, past this point the sand kept climbing.  After several deceptive summits I made it to the real top of this giant sand pile.  The sand looked to orange to be real against the contrasting plains and violet mountains in the distance.  Running down the dune in giant leaps was a fun way to burn energy.  Later in the day I took a wander around the outskirts of Sossusvlei.  Anything without four wheel drive would struggle to make it much further.  With the day entering the last of its day light hours it was time to climb dune 45.  This giant dune is the most photographed heap of sand in the world.  At the right time of day one face reflects the suns light leaving the other side in shadow giving you the picturesque dune look.  Following the skyward gradient of the spine we ventured to the top where we gazed at the beauty that surrounded us.  On the way back to camp a lone oryx graced the plains.

Morning came like it always does and we motored further south in our big yellow truck.  A day worth of driving brought us too another canyon, this time much more spectacular.  Fish River Canyon which is second in size only to the Grand Canyon streamed its glory into our awe struck eyes.  Now I really felt like a spec on earth.  This gouge in the earth stretches 160km through the wilderness and manages a depth of 550m and a width of 27km at some points.  We wondered along the rim taking in the beauty of one of Earth’s natural wonders that Mother Nature took thousands of years to create.

We now turned our sights to the South African border which is created by the Orange River.  The river brushed up against the side of our last campsite in Namibia.  I was sad that our time in Namibia would soon be over as this country had shared with us with some of the most superb scenery of our entire trip.
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