Day 57: Pretoria and Namibia (Part 2)

March 26, 2012

Part 2: Namibia! And this is a pretty long one! I considered splitting it, but given that I’ve already split up the recent events…

Ok, so before we left, we asked Google how long it would take to get from Pretoria to Fish River Canyon, and it told us 16 hours. Woo. Four day trip, 32 hours driving. This is the basic breakdown:

  • Day 1: Leave at 8am. Drive. Drive. Stop for lunch. Drive. Drive. Stop for the night in Upington..
  • Day 2: Leave at 8am. Drive. Get to Namibia, go through border. Drive. Drive. Arrive at Fish River Canyon. Take photos, look around. Drive to Canon Lodge. Stay the night.
  • Day 3: Breakfast at 8am. Go back to canyon for more sightseeing and photos. Drive to Canon Lodge, collect our things, and… Drive. Drive. Get back to South Africa. Go through border. Drive until we get to Kuruman. Stay the night.
  • Day 4: Leave at 8am. Drive. Drive. Drive. Drive. Drive all the way home. Home by 3:30pm.

Yeah. Driving. Fun. We did, obviously, do more than that though! The driving bits were mostly spend reading on my Kindle, playing Pokemon on my 3DS, or sleeping. Lots of sleeping.

Ok, so a longer version of events now, complete with pictures!

We left nice and early (8am) like I said above, but Jas and I didn’t actually wake up until 7:30. And no. We hadn’t completely packed yet – there were still things to take out of the dryer, and last minute food items to organise. So that was rushed. Then we were in the car for a few hours. And by a few, I mean five. The road wasn’t particularly interesting – basically just a few trees and some crops. Stopped in a small town? (I personally don’t think it was large enough to call a town) for some lunch – had burgers. Smothered with sauce. And it wasn’t us that put the sauce on. That was a little annoying, I prefer to be able to taste the things that aren’t sauce as well. Jasmine and Tony in particular had it bad – they both got a veggie burger, but it came with a layer of BBQ sauce, and two layers of 1000 Islands dressing. I’m not sure why.

After lunch, back in the car, and we’d only been driving for a few more hours when we hit… ROADWORKS! Not only did we have to go slow, but the whole road was limited to only one lane, meaning that all the cars going in our direction would have to wait for ages, then we’d get to go and all the cars going in the opposite direction to us would have to wait. Getting through that (maybe 10km) took us 2 hours. Awesome. Kept driving into the night, saw a lovely sunset:

Apologies for the blurriness – we were driving pretty fast and the light wasn’t great, as I’m sure you can imagine. Same about the powerlines – they ran by the road the whole way.

By this stage, Jas and I were pretty much asleep, so we were quite glad to stop for the night! We stopped in Upington, and stayed in a very lovely B&B called Le Must River Residence. In the evening, before bed, Jas, Tony and I all played somee Trivial Pursuit – a game that I am appallingly bad at. My brain doesn’t work so well at remembering facts (dates, names, places), though it did quite well for the science questions. I could answer almost all of them, and I could explain the answers as well! I think we were the only people staying there, at least, we didn’t see anyone else except the owner and the people cooking breakfast for us. Speaking of breakfast, it was really nice – juice, eggs, toast, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, cereal, yoghurt… OM NOM NOM! We were so full!

Left early again, because we were still quite a way away. Getting through the border was very nice and easy – the four of us with a car took less than an hour! More driving, just following the main road. We followed the road signs to Fish River Canyon, though got a little sidetracked because of Lonely Planet. According to the Lonely Planet guide book we were using, there are two entrances to Fish River Canyon, but what is doesn’t tell you that the south entrance at Ai-Ais is actually a resort. You can’t actually see the canyon unless you’re staying there and climb up to an unofficial viewpoint. So after driving all the way to the south entrance, we had to turn around and drive up to the north entrance. Got a little confused, so we stopped by the lodge we were staying at, and got a map and directions.

On to the canyon itself! There isn’t much to do other than look at it, to be honest, because the hikes into the canyon take 5 days, and are really tiring, and we just didn’t have the time. But it is very impressive, especially when you consider that the main thing we were looking at was the inner canyon, which is actually a mini-canyon inside Fish River Canyon.

So the main bit there is the inner canyon, and the very top part is the outer canyon. Quite impressive, I think. Also very dry. And it must have been super hot inside the canyon – outside it was over 40 degrees, and apparently it gets to 50+ in the inner canyon! Phew!
More photos:

The reason that day hikes/leisure walks into the canyon are prohibited? Apparently people keep dying down there if they go by themselves, so now you’re only allowed to go if you have a guide. Have another picture of me (I like this one):

Anyway, so the light at the canyon started to go, so we headed back to Cañon Lodge. It was really a beautiful place, and very spread out (which unfortunately meant we had to carry our bags quite a distance). Our rooms literally looked out on the desert. This is the view through our door:

And, since we were really warm – the temperature was still very high – Jas and I decided to see what the pool was like:

Quite literally backs out onto the desert! And it was so warm! Well, warm in the water. It was also windy, so any part of us that was out of the water got cold.

Actually, if you look closely in the above picture, you can see my tanline – that’s from that time I got sunburned, on what, my second day here?

After this was dinner (oryx steak with veggies and salads and potatoes and other yummy things for me, veggie skewers for Jas), with chocolate cake and icecream for dessert – someone had a birthday, and they shared the cake! Om nom nom!

Then we played Trivial Pursuit again (and yes, I lost), then off to bed!

Up the next morning, breakfast (muesli + fruit + yoghurt, with juice and toast), then back to the canyon. The light was better in the morning! Jas and I climbed out a little way:

I’ll upload some more photos later. I think that is enough for now. =P It’s almost the end of the month, so lots of uploads! Probably.

So after this, we collected our bags and drove for ages. All the way back to South Africa, and to Upington, though it was only 4pm when we arrived, so we decided to continue to Kuruman. Stayed the night there, and continued on in the morning, nothing special happened (apart from going past all the roadworks again), and we arrived back at 3:30pm! Nice and early!

So yeah, that was a tiny part of Namibia – we’re most likely going to do it again, because we want to visit the sandy bits. There are some amazing sand dunes that are red because they have a high iron oxide content, and the photos we saw of them are beautiful! So that will hopefully happen!

Hope you enjoyed! I’ll be posting about monkeys next time!

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