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Weird wired world, calling home on the mobile from empty southern Namibia

Oh what a night. What is normally a windy campsite at Luderitz was well and truly battered last night. We had gone to bed early so that at least we weren’t soaked by the rain getting into the tent. From our bed we watched the storm getting closer and closer until at last we had to close the flap by our heads to stop the rain coming in. The whole night was a mix of periods of good deep sleep interspersed with periods where we were both wide awake while the tent got battered and blown by high winds and drenched by the rain.

Although deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen there were quite a few times when I was braced for the tent being blown off the top of the truck the wind was that strong. Ironically, even though we had both had an interrupted nights sleep we both woke feeling pretty refreshed but desperately in need of heading to the washrooms to relieve very full bladders. It was still very windy in the morning and there was a definite feeling about the campsite of “that was a pretty hairy night”. The security guards from the camp were also doing the rounds checking that everyone was OK, not something I recall them doing yesterday.

We got ourselves up and packed, stowing the tent still wet pretty quickly as rain filled clouds were still lingering overhead. Today marks the end in some ways of our time in Namibia as we start our trek back up to Windhoek. It’s a long drive and more than we will achieve in a day but we set off just wanting to see how far we would get. Both of us are glad we came to Luderitz. It’s somewhere that really has nothing to it in some ways other than Kolmanskop but in other ways that is exactly the attraction of the place and the reason why we came. German influences are present throughout the town but unlike Swakopmund it doesn’t seem to be as popular.

Leaving Luderitz behind us set off back on the B4, glad that for this final long trip we would be on tarmac all the way. Ostriches lined the route as we again drove along an endless road through more vast open spaces. The sky was still full of clouds and we were glad we had stopped the day before yesterday at the old train station. Shortly after the station we turned off left to go and see the feral desert horses, domestic animals that now live in the wild. There are various different theories about how the horses came to be here. They range from the horses being left behind by German cavalry soldiers to them being shipwrecked and many other theories in between.

The horses survive around one small pan which is now artificially fed by a borehole. They only drink every 72 hours so there is no guarantee that you will see them but we were lucky. A group of about 30 horses were gathered around the pan. I had expected to see something really different but they were actually no different to non-feral horses. Most of them were a really beautiful warm deep brown colour. One had white splashes on its flanks, almost as if someone had tipped out a can of paint over it.

We left the horses behind and headed back onto the B4. When we passed the junction with the C13 we cheered again at the joy of tarmac. We could take a shorter route to go to Windhoek by going back up the C13 but neither of us fancied that. As it is Easter Sunday we stopped a couple of hours later in the middle of absolutely nowhere to call home. Amazingly we had reception on our mobiles. It was a really strange experience to stand talking to family when we were in the middle of a vast open Namibian landscape. It made me really yearn for getting home, which we will do in just five short weeks time, but there’s still loads left to see and do before we get onto that final plane.

The B4 takes you through spectacular countryside. It’s vast and open and I know that if you’ve read all of our other Namibia pages you’ll think “I’ve heard that before” but this was something else. We would crest hills and look ahead just staggered by the size and expanse of what was stretching out ahead of us. In Argentina and Chile we had seen vast openness but they didn’t have a patch on what we’ve seen here. It really is just massive massive massive open spaces stretching away into nowhere. Stunning (but boring on the driving front!).

We kept on going, stopping briefly if we needed fuel or to relieve bladders (all that squatting practice in Asia really paying benefits for me in the open – the only concern being whether that rare car would just happen to come along at the most inopportune moment). Finally we made it to Keetmanshoop and carried on out the other side. Just north of Keetmanshoop we made a short detour to go and see a quiver tree forest, the quiver tree is an unusual specimen with an almost cactus like crown of branches and leaves. In fact it is not a tree but an aloe plant, Aloe Dichotoma. We stopped at what we though was the only quiver tree forest around, later passing another couple on the way to Windhoek.

Kokerboom (quiver tree) forest
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Impressive cheetah

The people who own/run this one are pretty canny. They have set up a campsite next to the forest so if you want to you can stay overnight. They were interesting to see but not that great. A little further up the road they had another plot of land that they have also opened up to tourists, this one called the giants playground. It was impressive scenery with lots of different stacks of rocks dotted around the landscape. I still think they were a bit cheeky getting people to pay to walk around it though.

Before heading back to Keetmanshoop we did a quick detour back to the office of the farm who owned the forest. They have a few cheetahs on their land and we wanted to check where we might have a chance of seeing them. The lady there told us it was highly unlikely we’d see them unless we waited for the feeding time at around 4:00pm. That was too late for us so we started to head out but as we turned around the car park we saw a couple in a small enclosure. Like lions we’ve seen in captivity they were either totally zonked out or just pacing up and down. Every now and again the one doing the pacing would suddenly turn tail and jump up into the nearby tree. They were beautiful and powerful creatures and, despite it messing up our photos, I was glad for the wire fence that separated us from them.

We headed down into Keetmanshoop to fill up with petrol. As it was Sunday, the town was totally quiet so we didn’t linger. As usual time wasn’t really on our side and we still wanted to head a further 220ish km further north before we stopped for the night. Our target was to make it to the Hardap Recreation Resort just north of Mariental. We made it there a little after 5:30pm knowing that the NWR parks office would shut at sundown at 6:00pm. We checked in to the campsite, got a map of the sites and were told we could pick any site that was available. The skies were darkening overhead and as we toured the campsites a few spots of rain started to come down. The campsites were pretty soulless affairs with no character at all. There were braai’s and eating tables but they were all gathered together in a central point and were not necessarily near to where you would park.

I looked at the sky time after time and finally said to Stef that if it was going to be another stormy night like last night I would prefer to see if they had a bungalow available. We made it back to the NWR office just as they were packing up for the night but in time to swap our campsite for a bungalow. I had expected something pretty basic and small for two people but our bungalow could sleep four people in beds and countless more on the floor. It was a little dated in its décor and a little shabby in places but it was a really comfy home from home. We pulled our bags and food out of the back of the truck and started to make ourselves at home.

It had been a pretty long day on the road and neither of us really felt like cooking although we still have food for a braai with us. We decided to head down to the park restaurant for a drink which in some ways was a fatal move because as soon as we were there we decided to eat there as well. We had a pretty tasty meal and were soon back in our cabin. I was feeling a degree or two under and nodded off pretty soon on a very comfy settee while Stef sat and penned wise words in his diary. He woke me up a few hours later to go to bed.