We’re currently on our way from Sesreim to Namib-Naukluft National Park and I’m in rotation as team leader again which means I get to ride in the front of the truck with Rod. It’s great to get away from the others to tell you the truth as it has been a bit of a fuss over the last few days – mainly involving Dan and alcohol again.
After Rod arrived at Hardap on the morning of the 8th and announced his presence with something that sounded like “Hi I’m Rod. I’m your truck driver. This is my truck – it’s not a bus… so don’t call me Rod the bus driver” we made our way out of Hardap and past Gibeon along the main road to Sesreim. The campsite we set up camp in is a lot different to the last one and we’ve definitely found the desert now! We hastily set up camp in a nice open area of the campsite before cooking food and having an early night ready to head off early to see the sunrise.
Unfortunately before we had a chance to get to sleep our tent and another tent managed to dislodge themselves from the sand and go rolling off into the distance but they got stuck against a perimeter fence so we set them back up again. As a result a decision was made that the next day would involve moving the tents to a sheltered area that had become available in the other section of the campsite.
The next day was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far. We got up an hour before sunrise and headed straight out into the National Park. We arrived at the base of Dune 45 as there was just starting to be light in the sky and started trekking. Dune 45 isn’t the tallest dune in the world, that one is just down the road, so while steep we managed to climb it with ease. We got to the top just before sunrise and as soon as the sun came up we were treated with some really memorable views.
We stayed there for a while to enjoy the amazing scenery that had appeared in front of us before deciding to head off. We decided to walk down the face of the dune instead of the ridge like we did on the way up. Sam was one of the first to start on his way down when somebody, I think Jim, decided to push him over to see what happened. He rolled…. a LONG way. I decided this didn’t seem like a very good idea so put my bag over my shoulders and ran all the way down. Luckily I managed to stop at the bottom but I ended up with sand in places that I didn’t even know existed! We had a breakfast that consisted of some weird chocolate-flavoured porridge looking thing before taking one of my favourite photos of the trip – the group photo of us all at the base of Dune 45.
After breakfast we headed off to Sossusvlei which is one of several oases in the area. We parked at a parking area a mile or so from the oasis and made use of the facilities (a wooden shack with a drop toilet) before starting the walk to Sossusvlei. On the way we were met by the taxi service of the area – a few dune buggies who said for a small fee they would take us there then pick us up a couple of hours later. We decided this was a sensible idea so accepted the offer. On the way they showed us the tallest sand dune in the world and I can see why everybody climbs Dune 45 as this one would definitely take a long time to climb! After arriving we explored the area, chatted, took photos and relaxed in the shade over lunch for some time before the dune buggies arrived to take us back to the truck right at the time we had arranged.
The final thing we did yesterday that was actually productive was a visit to Sesreim Canyon. It’s a fairly small canyon but a good trek. A couple of people fell over and cut themselves so Jon used his St John Ambulance training to fix them. We trekked into the canyon and took plenty of photos before getting as far as a pool which we couldn’t get across before returning back to the truck to watch the sunset.
When we returned to the campsite two of our tents were missing. It seems there was another World Challenge group at the campsite from a school in Durham. They moved a couple of tents to the other side of the campsite behind a wall so we retaliated by swapping anything we had that was broken with any nice shiny new ones that they had. It all belonged to World Challenge, and would be returned to the same place, so there was nothing wrong with doing it.
That evening was also Dan Robertson’s birthday. A few people, Dan included, decided to get drunk and cause chaos. Dan decided it would be funny to kick me in the ribs through the tent. I went chasing off after him and then returned to my tent to go to sleep but what I didn’t know is that at some point when I was away my travel log went missing – the reason I’m having to re-write this from basic notes and the reason some of the details may seem very vague.
It wasn’t all bad at Sesreim as at some point we enjoyed some time by the pool in the campsite with the Durham group and Dominic found somebody that looked like his twin. Crazy! But I said we’re now on our way to Namib Naukluft and I’m in the front with Rod. He’s been showing me some great things along the way including weird trees and rock formations which I would have missed if I was in the back with everybody else. We also got chatting and I learnt a lot more about him. He played me a song on cassette that was his best friend’s favourite song and when his friend died at a fairly young age they played it at his funeral. I can’t remember the group but the song was called “African Dream”. If anybody knows what it’s likely to be let me know – I’ll owe you big time!