After not seeing any shipwrecks at the Skeleton coast, I was determined to hit the rest of our road-trip at full speed and really embrace every moment of it. I knew the next part of the trip would take us somewhere really exciting – OK, I know I’ve said that about everywhere in Namibia but Namibia is an exciting place, alright?
We woke up to a dreary, overcast day in Swakopmund and I reluctantly succumbed to pulling on a pair of leggings and a hoodie. There was a terrible chill to the air and as I looked up, a white sky stretched on for as far as the eye could see. Hopefully the weather would pick us as the day went by.
Last night I made a couple more adjustments to our itinerary. Today’s drive was meant to be a 4 hour drive to the heart of the Namib desert. I managed to cut it down to a 3 hour drive and push back the next 2 campsites. There’s a big difference between a 3 hour drive and a 4 hour drive and after some incredibly brutal drives this trip, I was determined to cut driving time to an absolute minimum.
I’m all for road-tripping but when you’re driving for around 6 hours per day, there’s no opportunity to stop off and enjoy the landscape. Time is tight so you can’t afford to stop off every 5 minutes to take photos or fly your drone. Therefore, I’d rather have shorter, leisurely drives that don’t cover as large distances. Travel for me is not about ticking places off my list as being there but about soaking up everything I pass. When driving at 100 kilometres per hour, focused on nothing but your destination, you cannot embrace the incredible landscapes you are passing through and ultimately, don’t enjoy the journey. Ever heard the quote, ‘it’s not about the end destination but about the journey’? It’s so true.
So, due to my new plans, the desert horses of Aus, the abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop and the Kalahari desert were being erased from my itinerary. Although part of me felt sad that these were being cut out, majority of me felt relieved as I knew it was going to be a massive stretch for us. Plus, it gave us a reason to return to glorious Namibia. We will definitely be returning one day for a road-trip of southern Namibia.
Our journey from the Skeleton Coast to the Namib-Naukluft National Park began. We pulled out of our campsite onto a tarred road, criss-crossed with sand. Strong winds battered the side of our car and I bit my lip as I anticipate our roof-top tent’s cover would come loose, like it did the previous day. Today’s journey took us parallel to the coastline, down towards the fishing down of Walvis Bay. Just before the town, we veered off south-east, yellow desert sands surrounding the vehicle and stretching on forever in all directions.
At one point the majestic points of red sand dunes made an appearance. I nearly squealed with excitement as I snapped numerous photographs of these distant dunes, a tantalising preview of what was to come in the Namib desert.
Now that our driving time had been reduced, I had numerous opportunities to enjoy my favourite activity: drone flying. Plus, I sure needed to make the most of it after spending £120 on a Namibian drone license!
As our drive continued, we noticed the landscape subtly change around us. The vibrant yellow sand and vast expanse of nothingness gave way to a more rugged landscape, littered with orange rocks. Hillocks and mountains began to appear, an orange glow about them. The odd tree even showed their shy face, standing naked and bare beside the never-ending, dusty gravel road.
One of my favourite aspects of our Namibia road-trip, has been the ever-changing scenery. I love nothing more than exploring new things and that’s exactly what I was getting thrown at me the entire time. With each subtle change, I felt like I was in a new world, somewhere that just itched to be explored.
Around 2 hours into our drive, we came across an unexpected surprise. Grey mountains appeared on all sides and suddenly, as far as the eye could see, was a sea of mountains, carved by a river and its smaller channels. I didn’t know it at the time, but we had stumbled upon a a canyon known as Kuiseb Pass. A river called the Kuiseb river had crafted this incredible landscape. The river only flows for roughly 3 weeks per year and when it does, the canyon is impassible. Fortunately, we were here before the rainy season had got into full swing, so the canyon was safe to cross, although the roads were a little sketchy. There are no barriers beside the winding gravel road which clings tightly to the edges of the canyon.
I hadn’t expected to encounter this canyon so I sat in awe of this wonderful landscape, gawping and using the phrase ‘wow’ far too many a times. We couldn’t resist stopping off a couple of times at various lookout points to marvel at this crazy place that I couldn’t believe existed
No sooner had we left Kuiseb pass behind us, we found ourselves in yet another canyon. This one was considerably smaller than Kuiseb pass but was equally as impressive. It was known as Guab pass.
Our campsite for the night was growing ever nearer, and I was thrilled that the sun had made an appearance. In fact, it had poked its vibrant head as soon as we had left the Skeleton Coast.
Then, the peak of my journey displayed itself. This was something I had wanted to see for so many years and was determined to schedule into my Namibia road-trip: the Tropic of Capricorn Sign.
If you visited Namibia but didn’t take a photo with the Tropic of Capricorn Sign, did you even visit Namibia?
Shortly after achieving my life-long dream of obtaining a photograph alongside the Tropic of Capricorn sign, we spied the entrance to our campsite. I was delighted to see that unlike many of our previous campsites (excluding the incredible Madisa Desert Camp in Damaraland), this campsite was not fenced in. The entrance was a long, winding road that you couldn’t see the end of. The signs at the entrance indicated that the campsite was several kilometres into the desert, far away from the gravel road and anything else. I could barely contain my excitement. I could just tell this campsite would be an adventure in itself. Although, I didn’t quite predict just how much of an experience it would be.