Today we got up extremely early yet again. This was the earliest morning yet. 5am. We had to get up so early because we were going to hike up Dune 45 about 45 kilometers away in the Namib desert. I didn’t know what to expect but about 15 minutes before we got there, I turned to Hannah who was sitting behind me and went “holy crap, we are going to climb a sand dune,this is going to be hard.” She agreed and before we knew it we had reached Dune 45. Hannah is 20, a medical student from the UK. She studies at the University of Newcastle. In England the system is different. Right from their version of high school, called college they apply to the program they want to do. So if you want medicine you apply to the medicine program which is 5 years, then two years of rotations. The total program lasts 7 years which is only one year less than america. I’m sure they have less bullshit required courses and stuff so the program can be a year quicker.
Anyway when we got there, I put my bandana on my face and my hood over my head and my sunglasses on. I thought I was ready to bear the wind and sand but boy was I wrong. We started climbing up this monstreous sand dune. i think it was approximately 400 feet tall, but when you are climbing a 400 foot sand dune, it is quite diffiicult. You would literally take one step and often times, take a step or two back. It was absolutely one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. After stopping numerous times, with Sarah and I helping Hannah get to the top of the duned, we arrived just as the sun broke over the top of the mountain. It was a glorious scene and well worth the strenuous hike up the sand dune. Hannah kept stopping because she was nervous that nothing was on either side of her to help her. Basically we walked on the pseudo flat part of the done along its back, but with the extreme winds and sand blowing it was quite difficult at times.
We sat up at the top of the moutain for a little while, snapping photos and enjoying the magnificent view atop dune 45 in the Namib desert in Namibia. Also I apologize for Namibia lovers as I have spelled the country about 5 differnet ways, and I think the way I spelled it in this entry is correct, the others times I have spelled it, it was completely wrong, I think. I’m sure cousin Leonard has taken notice of my numerous spelling and gramatical errors, just kidding.
Once we got to the top of the dune we had to get down and the only way to do so was to run down. I was able to put my camera and stuff in a bag that Frank had. Frank is a teacher from Germany. Sarah, Eva, Hannah and I said “one, two, three,” and then I took off like a bat out of hell running and jumping down the side of this huge sand dune. It was so much fun. You could run and jump so high because the sand broke your fall and absorbed the damage. I was screaming and shouting in exhiliration after I just made this hike up the side of the mountain.
When we got to the bottom we were all laughing and we took some great photos along the way, and not at the bottom including one photo which Nomad, the tour company must put on their brochure. It is a picture of six of us all jumping in the air on the side of this dune. Frank took the picture with my great camera, which appeared to have survived the sand dune and didnt not get ruined. I used shutter speed priority to make the shutter go quicker and capture this mometnt. Everyone was completely in the air when the photo was taken and only Harriet’s face was covered by her arm. Harriet is Hannah’s friend from the UK, same age as Hannah and is a medicine student as well. When I first met them on day one or so. I asked where they were from and stuff and they said they did medicine, to which I said “oh you must be smart.” They laughed and I felt that was a good way to break the ice. I mean in reality what are they supposed to say. So far the overland adventure as Jabu puts it, has been fantastic, and I am having the time of my life, camping in Africa! When we returned back to the jeeps after taking numerous photos along the way, Jabu, Mike and Narissa prepared us a proper english breakfsat, excpet with beef sausages just for me. Every meal except for one has had beef instead of pork to accommodate me and have even made separate side salads for me when meat is being served that didn’t have milk in it. I think these guys will be getting a very nice tip from me, for all the great work they have done so far. Of course at this point the overland adventure is only at its infantile stage and there is a long way to go, as of right now I am quite pleased.
After enjoying the breakfst, our day was long from being over.. From Dune 45 we drove another 15 kilometers further in to the desert. From there we were herded like cow again on the back of a truck 5 more kilometers deep in to the Namib desert where would we go on a three hour desert hike. The hike was led by a tall local man who called himself “bushman,” but that had to be a joke or something. Bushman took us all around this part of the desert to teach us about plant life, wildlife, and about the people called “bushman” who were like 4 feet tall or shorter and who lived in this desert. I tried one particular plant called a salt salad, and it was so salty that as soon as I bit down on it and the influx of salt rushed in to my mouth I spit it out just as fast. It was terrible but something that of course I had to try. We went up smaller dune and down in to this lake, well it used to be a lake which had 6-900 year old dead trees still standing. Ironically enough this dried up is the cover of the Lonely Planet Namibia and Botswana book. Also the first page when you open the book is a picture of a tree which I took myself, not knowing that either were in the book, especially not on the cover!
When we were hanging out walking around the dried up lake I decided I wanted to make a foot print in the mud after seeing one just before. I left my water at the top of the dune before I walked down in to the lake, so my being so brilliant, decided to pee and then take my foot and make a footprint using the liquid that I had just produced from my urine. When I got back I told the girls who were with me and they were abolsutely disgusted. I told them if they thought that was bad then I should tell them some of my other stories, but I didn’t.
After the desert hike was over, we drove back to the campsite where we had a few hours to chill out, and do whatever we wanted. This was the first time in our first few days we had free time to sit back, relax and reflect. I took down the tent with Rob, and then broke out my book and read. I played some music using the little battery life left in my iphone and really enjoyed the beautiful desert weather. There was a mild wind, not a cloud in the sky and comfortable temperature. Before we left, Sarah and I went to get water and essentials in case we didn’t stop on our way to the next camp site. Of course before we left the truck made a stop at the campsite shop and Sarah went to me “told you so.” She had questioned whether it would stop at the store and I brushed off the idea of the truck doing so. The walk was far and I wasn’t happy when we made the stop before leaving. Anyway we left around 3pm and had to drive 100 kilometers to the next place which was called Solitaire. This was just another stop before heading to one of the two major cities in Namibia called Swakomund. It has about 200,000 people in it which is huge considering the country only had 2 million and most of them are in the capital called WIndhoek. For hundreds of miles we see nothing but the scenery and ocassionally animals. It is mostly just desert, mountains and open land. The air is fresh, warm, and the wind has appeared to die down significantly after the first few days.
When we arrived at this campsite, Frank help me set up the tent which Rob was taking a coffee at the bar. When we got to the campsite I had some of their famous apple pie. It was good, not great and could have used some vanilla ice cream on top, but it was definitely worth trying. Then I set the tent up and chilled out. Dinner was really good and I make it an early night. I only had one homemade drink and one cider when we first arrived. I wanted to be well rested for the next few days which could include some adventure sports like quadbiking on sand dune and potentially sky diving, but I doubt it. I once went skydiving in Wanaka, New Zealand where the air was crisp, the mountains were snowy and it was awesome, and I don’t want to lose that feeling. Even though I don’t have visual proof of this sky dive, since at the time I was too cheap to get the video and I lost the picture of me sitting on the wing of the plane in Australia on the home computer of my apartment in the International House, it would be nice to have some visual proof, but I think i’ll pass and go quadbiking which should be great.
I climbed in to my tent I guess before 10 and was really knackered and wanted some sleep.