Crossing the border into Namibia was like hitting a wall of heat. The temperature steadily rose as we drove north, however standing at passport control in plus 45 heat is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Namibia is a fairly new country as it only became independent from South Africa after the apartheid in 1990. It is the second least populated country in the world per square kilometer after Mongolia, and there is no question of this when we are driving because it feels like we are literally in the middle of nowhere.
At times there are no roads. It is full on gravel and every so often there is a random sign. I have no idea how our driver Lukas knows what direction to travel in but we eventually got to our first stop called Orange River. It was a beautiful little resort in the middle of a table grape village. Basically the land in this village is owned by a Serbian. We were told that he then sublets the grape farms out to different companies to grow these grapes and those companies export them out to different countries. Locals come from all over Namibia to find work, and a village of about 16000 has now settled here. I went for a tour of the village and it was incredibly interesting to see how they live. First of all water is extremely difficult to come by. Some have to walk miles to get to the river. Others, depending on what grape company they work for will be delivered jugs of water. No matter what the circumstance, it makes you feel guilty when just down the road we had running water to brush our teeth and here the people struggle every day to find a clean source of water.
Yesterday was another day of travel. Every so often there will be bathroom stops, or lunch stops…but now there is something called a Heather Stop. I’ve been super unlucky with motion sickness and have had to stop out in the middle of small bushes, baron land and critters like snakes at 45 degree heat. I don’t know if it is the lack of paved roads that is causing me to be so sick, but it’s now a running joke if we have to make a Heather Stop.
One of the proper stops we did was at Fish River Canyon. This is Africa’s largest canyon. It’s about 27 km in width and 170 km long. It’s actually the oldest canyon in the world. We walked for about an hour on the edge of the canyon and the views were spectacular. After taking Gravol for nausea I had to be careful not to walk too close to the edge as I was basically half baked and could barely keep my eyes open!
Then there was our stop at Seeheim. In the 50’s it was a booming rail town that was a stop to the diamond mines. There was a population of about 400 but now it is a ghost town of 23. All 23 residents work at the hotel we stayed at. The husband and wife duo run the show. She is a taxidermist and there’s no shortage of stuffed animals around the place. My favorite being an impala butt lamp-the light switch was in the anus!!!! The husband made all the furniture , right down to the wooden toilet seat. This creepy castle looking hotel had something interesting around every corner, right down to a pet oryx (cross between a deer/horse with massive pointy horns). Now I wonder what the pet oryx things of his poor Aunt Sally hanging on the wall?
Today we made our way to another area in the middle of the desert called Sossusvlei. On our way we saw zebra, springbok and oryx. Soooooo cool. What is not cool is setting up tent in blazing 45 degree heat. Yes. I said tent. We are camping for two nights. Prepare yourself for stories. I am most certain I will have some good ones for you!