Thursday, April 14, 2011

Namibia. Overlander's Heaven

If you want to travel to a place so rugged, beautiful, and endless, that it seems too amazing to be true. A place almost designed for overlanders with national parks full of unique wildlife, countless dirt roads that take you to stunning geological features, and plenty of unique culture to discover, than make your way to Namibia. The list of things to see and do will keep you busy for months.

If you enjoy viewing wildlife, the huge salt pan of Etosha National Park, won't let you down. From the opening gate you will pass large numbers of animals drinking at the many watering holes, gaze in awe at the size of the largest elephants in Africa, and if lucky spot a leapard stalking through the grass, with it's white tiped tail dancing in the air behind him as a guide for her young to follow.

Those who arrive with their own vehicles can camp in the park in a few locations. Listen to roar of a pride of lions at night, warning other lions to stay away. I sat in my tent in a camp ground in Etosha and listened to the lions get closer and closer, till they were so close you could hear them breath.

If wildlife viewing isn't enough adrenaline for you, you can head to Swakopmund, and experience the newest adrenaline capital of Africa. You can go four wheeling through the endless sand dunes, sandboard down the largest dunes, take the leap of faith out of a plane 10,000 feet above the beautiful skeleton coast, or go deep sea fishing along one of the last plentiful fishing grounds left in Africa.

If all the adrenaline makes you hungry, you can't miss going to Beryl's Burger joint and pick from a list of massive burgers that make McDonald's burgers look like a movie star from LA on the way to rehab. Go to the meat market and buy a 9 pound steak that would fill even an Alaskan brown bear.

If isolation is what your looking for, you can travel through the remote regions of damaraland and the skeleton coast, where you can travel for days without seeing another soul. The ruggedness will get you over any problems you might have in your life because there is nothing else out there to blame them on.

Head far east to the Kalahari Desert and experience one of the most preserved ecosystems left in the world. If you are lucky you can see the black maned lions that are the biggest lions left in the world, the elusive honey badger, pound for pound most aggressive animal in the world, the beautiful oryx with long pointed horns, or the deadly yet beautiful cobra as it slithers through your camp and into your nightmares.

There is nothing more awesome, then watching a thunderstorm move it's way across a dry desert. The lightening flashes,the rolling thunder, the huge cell growing upwards, till it hits the upper stratasphere and spreads out, then releasing, drops of rain,the lifeline to those who call the desert home. Don't be fooled by the lack of vegetation, exploring the desert you soon come across many animals, insects, and plants, who have adapted to life in a world that looks like it belongs on another planet.

If you feel like hiking, make your way to Sossusvlei and climb the largest sands dunes in the world, stand atop them and enjoy the 360 degree panorama that photographers get off on. If you have the time, climb up dune 45 with a few beers and enjoy watching the day come to and end.

The amazement of Namibia, doesn't end with the setting of the sun. When light turns to night, the stars start to pop up like holes of light shinning into the heavens. They will shine brighter than you have ever seen, so clear that even the disk of our solar system is visable to the naked eye. Crawl into your sleeping bag under the night sky, stare up and enjoy the show, as icy fragments from deep space, heat up and streek across the sky. You will see so many that you will beable to wish for everything you have ever wanted.

As the night becomes colder, don't forget to zip up your sleeping bag tight, the creepy crawlers of the night might want to cuddle up with you.

Namibia is a place so spiritual that the world's problems seem to vanish like moisture in the sunbaked soil. The oldest desert on the face of the planet, has no memory. When you leave the place, all evidence of you visiting, is erased by the blowing sand, like ocean waves to foot prints.

While in the capital of Namibia, Windhok, a few of us bought some lunch at a supermarket, got some cold beers, got a ride to a private game reserve that was closed, but were allowed in, to go on a private game drive.

As the sun moved to it's hottest time of the day, we pulled over on the side of the road, walked down to a watering hole where large herds of oryx, eland, and springbok, were drinking and enjoyed our lunch, a few cold beers, and watched as our long legged guests, came and went. It's Namibia at its best.

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