Days 320,321… Sesriem/River Camp
Day 320… It’s an all-day drive from Swakopmund to Sesriem, our base for exploring the incredible Namib Desert region (350 km, approx 6-7 hrs). Our pit stop on the way is a little watering hole called ‘Solitaire’ which is surrounded by cool rusted out old cars. As we break for lunch and I hop off our truck-bus, i hear a call out and lo! It’s my sandboarding buddies! I must have made a good impression as they are quite happy to see me! Nice. Now, the most famous part of the Namib Desert is its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon was formed when the Tsauchab River carved a gorge 30 metres into the gravel deposits about 15 million years ago. It’s thought that this river once flowed to the Atlantic Ocean but its course was blocked by the encroaching sand dunes. Now the river flows out to the dune fields that stretch for hundreds of miles up the coast, and dries up in a clay pan at Sossusvlei. The dunes are stunning, with magnificent red/orange tones from the brightly coloured sands. They are the highest in the world and home to a plethora of animal life, including baboons that crawl all over some of the tourist trucks. Then its camp time… after a quick dip in the pool to cool off.
Day 321… Wake before dawn (gaaah!) and the group scrambles to the top of more dunes for a dramatic sunrise view across a vast sea of sand. Me… after the sandboarding my thighs are still shattered so I grab a quick chair and watch the same sun rise over the same desert from the comfort of the ground. The colour changes are just incredible and provide a spectacular setting for our brekky. I even managed to bump into my sandboarding pals again here as they hop off the dunes, and young Canadian Emily tells me it’s really wonderful to keep bumping into me over the days. Naaw, nice. Then we travel on to a small town to camp (350 km, approx 6 hrs), arriving in the afternoon. Our camp has basic facilities with showers and flush toilets. Upgrades are possible on site in quaint, tiny shed like cabins… which for a whole $8 a night… is well worth not bothering with the bloody tent!