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Freezing in Africa!!??!! – The Tenacious Travelers

Freezing in Africa!!??!!

July 24, 2011.Cameron.0 Likes.0 Comments

Location: Cape Town, Namibia, Africa

July 24, 2011

Went you think of Africa your mind jumps to hot, well that’s not always the case.

So, I got to Cape Town after a hell of a lot of issues. Got to Maputo airport and of course their system was down meaning I couldn’t pay for the ticket on South African Airline, thought it was sorted after a call to the help desk and a confirmation that it was paid. But the flight heading to Johannesburg was not to be for me and apparently the ticket had been cancelled because I took too long to pay, even though I had paid earlier. But anyway, I was able to get on a LAM (Mozambique Airlines) flight to Jo’burg and got a connection to Cape Town landing at just before midnight.

Next morning, I met the overland truck group, first impressions of course can be wrong, but they seemed like a good group. We spent the next two days just driving up from Cape Town till the Namibian border. Saw a bit of cape town, Table Mountain, then up through the Cedarburg area past large ostrich farms, huge farms, tracks and tracks of flowers until we set up camp the second night on the border of the Orange river, the natural and political boundary of South Africa and Namibia. Beautiful area, big river, apparently fifth largest in Africa, went for a swim, it was refreshing to say the least and raised my voice about 2 octets.

Namibia is flat, dry, and dusty but stunning. Large rocky formations grow into rocking hills in the distance then melt back into plans. Large clouds of dust follow vehicles like a huge swirling snaking trying to catch their unsuspecting prey. The dust gets everywhere and coats everything and a fine layer; it’s quite something but just adds to the experience of crossing the barren landscape.

Fish River canyon (second largest in the world) is well, big, as you can imagine and went the sun hits the walls at sunset it lights up and the various rocky crags take on a different life. I can imagine the hike, which takes five days; through it would be stunning. Was great to visit it but our next stop topped it.

As you breathe out hard against the cold morning air as your body demands more air to keep up your struggle to reach the top of this unwieldy beast you begin to question why you are doing this. But as soon as the sun crests the horizon and the light hits your red adversary and its companions and creates a canvas of reds, yellows and oranges all around, you realise you can do it, after all its only a sand dune. We were in Sossusvlei an area of the Namib Desert characterised by its large red dunes. So, I found myself sitting on the top of Dune 45 as the sun came fully into view. Probably the most photographed dune in the world it wasn’t really the middle of nowhere at that point as we shared the dune with 100 other people but still a great site. At only 80 meters or so high it pales in comparison to some of the other dunes in the area, some over 300 meters tall, apparently the largest in the world. It was the red sand that made the whole view spectacular, and if you’re wondering, yea we did run down the face of the dune after we were done.

About 2km away is Deadvlei which was apparently an old oasis until it dried up leaving a dry flat cracked mud bed with ancient dead blacked trees spotting the area. This was stunning the back ground of red dunes against a bright blue sky with the white floor and then the black trees like boney hands reaching up really created a sight that contrasted so much.

Further north we headed, past other smaller canyons, and rock formations and across seemingly unending stretches of flat dusty planes until we reached Swakopmund in about the middle of the country on the coast. So that’s where you find me now, it this quaint spot of German influence, with German style buildings and restaurants which seem too been fighting a battle to keep the surrounding desert from encroaching any further. It’s very surreal to look down streets past German buildings to sand dunes.

Swakupmund is the adrenalin capital of Namibia with various activates from Sand boarding to Skydiving. But due to budget constraints I choose to just relax, sleep in a bit, have a picnic on the pier, play some… well a lot of pool and do a bit of dancing in the nights. Tomorrow we head further north to more adventures of the unknown, or something like that.

Now as for the weather, beautiful dry clear days full of warm sunshine, but as the last sliver of the sun has descended below the horizon the cold hits you. We are camping, and the tent adds very little to your insulation, sleeping bags and multiple layers are a must. Nights become very cold, dropping to apparently 0 degrees, and with the early starts some just as or before the sun has risen can be difficult, hard to roll up cold tents wet with dew. I was expecting cold, but I underestimated it, as did many people with some people cursing the “summer” sleeping bag they brought. But an hour or so after sunrise it gets better and then by mid day you forget the night’s perils.

The group is a pretty good one really, no real issues, ok a couple people who are not my favourite but none I would be happy to “forget” by accident at a petrol station. There are a lot of couples and the ages range from 17 to … not polite to ask. Nationalities we have quite a good sample, the standard Dutch of course, then Brits, French, United Statians, Italians, Australians, Danish, Kiwis, Israeli, and myself carrying the Canadian flag. There are four crew members (three South Africans and one Namibian); lead by Ray who is great fun, already had some great laughs with him around the camp fire.

I’m sharing my tent with a yank named Nate who is off to do a semester of study in Nairobi, nice guy, funny and down to earth, damn easy to get along with. Then there is Lizzie, an Aussie girl setting off on a year’s travel, very jealous of that, solid person, good to talk to, very determined to and outgoing so I know she is going to have a great year. Then there are two Brits, Rosie, Louise who are on summer break from Uni, easy going and helpful, they have that British sense of humour I so enjoy, Rosie sewed buttons on my trousers, so I must thank her for that. Then Naomi, another Brit, she is returning home from Fiji where she was a volunteer, a bit more serious than the others but still good fun being around and has an interesting outlook on life. They are all younger than me, most around 20 but they help to keep the time interesting and the laughs flowing.

The other two in our little group are the Danes, Janus and Malene who are about to start their last year of medical school, they are both around my age. They were supposed to work in the Victoria Falls hospital in Zimbabwe but the only doctor in the hospital who had to authorise them to start work was absent. So, they waited for two weeks to see if they could start work, but he never came so they decided to take a tour, but they are very disappointed about the situation. I really got on with these two; they are just great fun, very genuine and real, always laughing and joking. They are helping me with my Danish, none of which will come in useful, but you must try don’t you, I think I’m going to enjoy the next two weeks with them.

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