Namib Desert, Namibia ( Picture credit: Terri Turriff)
Woke up early morning after a sound sleep last night as the two really ‘heavy’ bus rides took it’s toll on me. Age must be catching up! I quickly organised myself with my luggage and was the early bird at breakfast. I had my first real glimpse of the transport that would be my home for twelve days which I nicknamed the Monster.
The route taken.
Benson preparing breakfast.
Cleaning up after breakfast.
I was introduced to the tour team which consisted of three members. They are Dumi from Zimbabwe who was the team leader, Matt the South African who hails from Cape Town and who would be the pilot of the Monster and Benson from Zimbabwe who would cook meals for all of us during the overland trip. Dumi gave me a briefing on what to expect and face on this overland trip, the do’s and dont’s and also the chores that was given to teams on this trip. The chores were to assist the cook to prepare each meal, to clean the utensils after each meal, to set up the chairs and tables before and after the meals and also to clean up the bus every morning. I introduced myself again to the other participants of the overland tour which was globally represented. We had participants from Canada, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, Belgium and Korea and of course Malaysia. All in we were twenty five of us which included the three crew members.
Morning briefing by Dumi.
Matt the Monster pilot.
Sandstorm in Namibia.
In the Monster sitting out the sandstorm.
The road to Spitzkoppe.
All of us boarded the Monster after making sure all the equipment were checked and safely stowed into the Monster. Dumi as usual gave the morning briefing of the daily activities before we left Swakopmund. The seating arrangement on the Monster changes daily for the participants as all would get a chance at the window and front seat throughout the overland tour. The plan for the day was to visit the Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve and spend the night in the town of Uis. After an hour into the days’ drive of the Namibian desert, we encountered a sand storm which lasted about an hour. We stopped for our ‘relief’ breaks as often as we needed to. During the stops, we had the opportunity to snap some pictures and also to wander around for a few minutes to stretch our legs. The landscape was similar to the Windhoek to Swakopmund journey but the only difference was the gravel road filled with loose pebbles and full of potholes. We had a few moments of the ‘Namibian Massage’ as Matt the pilot described it ,where some of us were thrown up into the air from our seats as the Monster hit a pot hole or two.
Entrance to the ‘Grosse Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve’.
Start of the hike.
Adam the local guide explaining his roots @ the foot of the Great Spitzkoppe.
Bushman Art – Lion.
Bushman Art – Zebra.
Bushman Art – Rhino.
Bushman Art – Giraffes.
Rhino’s Grass ( Euphorbia damarana)
Lunch being prepared by Benson.
We reached the Grosse Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve where the Spitzkoppe Mountains are located. Spitzkoppe which is the pointed dome in German, also referred to as the Matterhorn of Namibia is a group of bald granite mountain peaks which are approximately one hundred and twenty million years old. Some of us then took a guided hike to the Bushman Paradise where the few remaining drawings of the Bushman artworks are located. It was here that the movie Space Odyssey was filmed resulting in many landscapes in Spitzkoppe changing permanently. It was a shame to see many of these prehistoric paintings destroyed by mankind due to vandalism despite the efforts of conservative groups in maintaining the two thousand to four thousand years old artworks. Sigh! ….
The ever toxic plant Rhino’s Grass ( Euphorbia damarana) could be found in abundance in the area too. These toxic plants are only eaten by the rhinoceros and the onyx. It was believed that eleven miners died after eating food that were cooked over a fire of the plants. After the short hike, a light lunch was then prepared by the ever smiling Benson under the shade of the trees that was filled with nest of local birds. We left after lunch and made a brief pit stop for firewood as the item was on the shortlist of the trip inventory.
Dumi and Benson sorting out the firewood.
After a long day.
Benson preparing dinner.
Town of Uis on a Sunday afternoon.
Town of Uis on a Sunday afternoon.
Second helpings request.
Pool table in Uis.
We reached the town of Uis which boasted of one cash machine in town, in the middle of the desert and pitched our tents in the camping area of a lodge that also boasts a swimming pool. I had my tent pitched by Benson to show me how the tent should be set up and after this privilege I had to do it myself through out the trip. Something new to me as well to see a form of luxury, I mean the swimming pool in a middle of a desert! I planned to check out the town of Uis and also to buy some supplies but the town was quiet and the shops were closed, not knowing it was a Sunday. We had an early dinner and I joined a few of my new found friends for drinks at the bar and played pool on a pool table that has six edges which is unique and I think it’s the only kind in this world found in the middle of the Namib desert in Namibia. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) for the wonderful day and a start to my adventure in mainland Africa.