11 July 2009

Driving through Southern Namibia

If you look at our map you will see that we have just about returned to the same latitude as Johannesburg, so really we are back where we have started, only 12 days on a little further to the left. It's been a lot of driving so far, and it makes for a very peculiar daily rhythm. Now that we have a little more leeway as to getting to a certain border on a specific day (the next deadline is not till our entry into Tanzania, where we have a visa for September) we are planning our route so that we don't drive for too long every day and that we have off days where we stay in one place for more than one night. In our initial planning we realised that a trip like this can easily take a year or more, as there is so much to see and do, and we are constantly dropping interesting locations or activities so that we can properly enjoy what we do see with enough leisure so that we are not just rushing through.

Anyway, our driving day is structured as follows:

We get up at 6, way to early for me, but as the other two are real morning people and it helps to get the most out of the day, we are ready to go at day break (driving at night is not recommended in Africa, and we have already encountered a huge Kudu bull at dusk and a herd of springbok flowing across the road like frightened ghosts with shining eyes before sunrise one morning, all accidents waiting to happen). That usually means I grump around a lot while Merryl cheerfully makes breakfast and Stuart get a cuppa going. We pack the tents and kitchen - the car is packed the night before, so there is not too much faffing in the dark morning - and set off. After an hour or so we stop for breakfast. At the moment this still means finding a nice sheltered place to stop, as the morning temperatures are pretty un-tropical, another cup of tea and some cereal or if I am awake enough, scrambled eggs.

After that we drive. The landscape rolls out from unter us, the road ahead is usually a long straight one and the country changes as we pass. Today we went from mountainous canyon land to eroded red hills to valleys covered by yellow grass like a blond crew cut; to Barchan dunes marching across a field of gravel; to end at the seaside town of L├╝deritz on the Atlantic ocean. A drive of just over five hours.

Sometimes we stop, to top up with diesel - Namibia, being an empty country, is not blessed with regular petrol stations, so we take it when we can get it - or to shop. Like the other day, driving up from the Namibian border: We stopped at a Spar supermarket in the middle of nowhere. Well, not quite nowhere, as there was a vast vineyard nearby, not producing wine, but grapes for export, and its attendant 'informal settlement' of workers living in corrugated iron shacks and straw huts. Everyone has to eat, so the supermarket was surprisingly well stocked. There was more than just the obligatory butternut squash and few onions on the vegetable shelf, and we had a range of lollies (sweeties, for the non-kiwis) to choose from. The place didn't stretch to Parmesan cheese, and was out of milk, but we can handle that from our stocks.

Sometimes we stop for lunch, or coffee, but rarely to go for a walk or just to sit. I guess the getting-on is still too compelling, and I am looking forward to a time when we can be in the place that we find ourselves and just look around without thinking about the next new thing.

We take turns driving, and so far passing the time as a passenger has not been an issue. There is a lot going on outside the window, or there are blog entries to write, photos to download and guide books to read. By the time we get to where we are going, we may be stiff in the joints, but so far we haven't been bored. Of course, the roads have been good in South Africa and here in Namibia, so our entertainment options and comfort level may well change as we get into rougher territory.

We try to get to a camp site by 4 or 5 at the latest. It gets dark early during the African winter, by 6 it's all over as the sun drops so fast and there is little in the way of dusk. It's light, then it's dark. We pitch the tent, put up the roof tent and set up the kitchen. If there is time, we do some clearing out of the car, sorting the accumulated clutter of the day. If there is more time, we have a shower or go for a walk. Dinner is early, it's much easier to cook with some daylight left. After dinner and washing up and putting the car away it feels like midnight, although it's only 8pm. Bedtime is early, so the others can kick me out of bed at a wholly unreasonable time of 6am the next day.

No comments:

Post a Comment