From Swapokmund, we headed further into the Namib desert which takes up 81,000 sq km and most of the southern half of the country. It was incredible to drive for hours and hours and see the different types of desert scenery pass us as well as no other vehicles on the gravel road.
We spent the night in a sandy campsite before a brutal 4.45am departure to catch sunrise from a nearby 150m high dune.
It was a really hard 40-minute slog up in bare feet on moving sand in the dark, made worse by the fact that the sunrise was a washout. Even so the view of the surrounding dunes was pretty special.
A short drive took us to one of the most photographed parts of Namibia: Sossusvlei. Here we took a speedy hair-raising 4WD ride deep into the dunes and then walked to Dead Vlei. It was still overcast, so the photos don’t really do the dried up lake justice but it still looked like a surrealist painting with the white lake bed, black dead trees and surrounding red dunes.
This is what we’re were hoping it would look like:
On the way out the sun began to shine and we were treated to majestic views of the surrounding red dunes alongside the road:
Our next stop was Fish River Canyon, Africa’s largest canyon second only to the Grand Canyon. It is an impressive 550m deep, 27km wide and 160km long. The stargazing at the campsite was also amazing as the skies are so dark. I was even lucky enough to see two shootings stars.
The last stop in Namibia was the Orange River, right on the border with South Africa. We spent a few hours around the pool overlooking the river (from where we could see South Africa just 25m away) before heading off on a half day canoeing trip.
It was a beautiful journey through the serene waters with the odd rapids thrown in. Mountains towered over the river on one side and dense green bush on the other. At half way we stopped to have celebratory beers on the South African side of the river (without getting our passports stamped!).
Just before we neared the campsite, the guide told all of us to keep left through the final rapids and then cross to the right bank to disembark just below the campsite pool. Heeding his advice we followed the canoes in front moving towards the left bank but as we approached the rapids we suddenly noticed a rock protruding above the water. We paddled to try and avoid it but we hit it and the canoe capsized!
We were both flung into the rapids and once we’d bobbed up again had to swim to the other side having lost our flip flops but luckily not injured.
A few rounds of beer pong later and the incident was all but forgotten!
Next stop: Stellenbosch in South Africa