Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei

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We managed to secure the last spot for our truck and tents in the park, which allowed us to camp and explore the national park for a three days. Arriving around noon there was plenty of time to do some laundry and then walk the five kilometers over to the Sesriem Canyon. From the viewpoint on top you could not really see much of it, so we walked down and through the narrow canyon.

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The next morning we started driving at four while it was still dark outside. The plan was to make it to the dunes at sunrise which unfortunately we did not. The last few kilometers we were told that we needed to buy tickets for a 4*4 drive, as our truck was not fit for driving through the sand. We arrived just after sunrise, but got to see the shadows moving on the dunes which was just as fascinating. It took a little more than an hour to hike up the Worlds biggest sand dune, called Big Daddy, and after a short moment viewing the landscape alone from the top I ran it down in less than two minutes.

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What I had been looking forward to seeing the most in Sossosvlei was the dead trees called the “Dead Vlei”. After having ran down “Big Daddy” I saw some trees standing lonely at the bottom and took some pictures, not knowing that I was actually standing in “Dead Vlei” watching those exact trees. Even though it looks quite beautiful on photos, it was not more than just a few trees to see and much less impressive than what I had expected.

Waterhole Viewing in Etosha National Park

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Having crossed over from Angola we were now in what can be called “Africa Light”, or Africa with Shoprite supermarkets in every small town. People spoke english and there were again more tourists around.

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We were planning on staying three nights in Etosha National Park, but as all of the campsites were full we only got one night in Halali and then two nights in the Eldorado Guest farm just a couple of kilometers outside of the park entrance.

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As we had already bought a 72 hour entrance pass to the park, we still went the whole three days on safari, driving our truck on the dusty roads. What I found particularly special about Etosha compared to other national parks was that everything was happening around the waterholes. We could be driving for hours without seeing much more than some ostriches, oryxes and impalas and then it was first when we stopped at the viewpoints, usually by waterholes that we got to see rhinos, lions, elephants and giraffes. But that was also the beauty of Etosha. The camps, like Okaukuejo where we stopped for lunch every day had their own waterholes where you could sit day and night and watch the animals come to drink, while you could peacefully be sitting drinking some wine yourself. People might have had other experiences than me, traveling in the dry season, but all safaris I have been on before like in Botswana, Zambia, South Africa etc it has been more of a “hit or miss” than it was in Namibia.

Etosha was one of the places I had been looking forward to visiting the most on my West Africa trip and it did not disappoint me. We saw heaps of animals in a comfortable and relaxing way and had pools, good food and plenty of time as there was no longer any deadlines for visas etc that we had to reach. I finally had a feeling that the rest of my West Africa trip was going to be a holiday.

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Paddling down Orange River

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Orange River is the longest river in South Africa, and together with classmates from Cape Town, I paddled through parts of it, having South Africa on one side, and Namibia on the other.

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The trip started with 10 hours in a bus, without air condition. It became quite warm, but luckily the sun had started to set when we got there, so together with the hot humidity it created a comfortable temperature in the desert area. Just after we had crossed the border, we were allowed out of the bus, and sat down around a campfire with the group and the crew of guides that would take us 70kilometres down the river that we would paddle the following days.

All of the five days spent at the river started early (usually around 7AM) and were mostly spent paddling, with only short stops to catch the breath and gather the group, except for our lunch breaks which luckily were a bit longer. After the breaks we went on until the sun set and we could make a camp and have dinner while telling ghost stories and sing songs around the campfire.

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The paddling trip was tough, and was by some people described as a fantastic hell. All the meals were prepared on bonfires, and all night were spent outside in the wilderness among spiders, scorpions and bigger animals. It was a trip where everyone got to show their true side, as some helped more, and encouraged others to paddle on, but it was an experience which made everyone grow closer to each other. I think that this, until now, is the best trip I have ever done in my life. Even though everyone agreed, when getting home, that they were glad the trip was over.

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