Well here I am on the road yet again in glorious Namibia – an intriguing, vast and utterly remote country. And I’ve gotta say, I’m loving every moment of this challenging desert road trip.
Namibia’s gravel roads have proved – yet again – to be endless and unforgiving. I’ve already had a major tyre blowout crossing the Namib Desert. Thankfully I was able to limp the car on its three good wheels into a village about 15kms away called Bethanie, where a friendly white Namibian called Phillip spotted my problem and helped me change the mangled tyre in scorching 40-degree heat – watched by an ever-growing crowd of locals enjoying the ensuing excitement in their dusty, sleepy old town. It was a timely reminder that the desert needs respect at all times. I’d gotten confident driving on the gravel – picking up speed to lessen the shudder-effect of the corrugations – and one lapse of concentration combined with a moment of ill luck cost me dear this particular day.
Back on the road, the desert’s charms have been captivating me just as they did on my first visit. Out here, it’s so quiet – apart from the sudden gusts of warm desert winds – and the remoteness is all the more striking for being out here on my own. It’s by turns exciting and terrifying to realise just how far from civilisation I am. Well worth a busted tyre any day of the week.
I could wax lyrical about the mighty Fish River Canyon, the sheer orange dunes of Sossuvlei, or the eerie, misty majesty of the Skeleton Coast, for they are indeed incredible natural wonders to behold. But in fact it’s the simple experience of crossing the desert – this raw land full of ever-changing colours and terrains – that is perhaps the most captivating of all. For sure, there are sights to see – albeit thousands of kilometres apart! – but more than anything I’m revelling in simply travelling across this remote desert wilderness, alone and unfettered. Just me and the mighty desert.
As usual, I’m hamstrung by time – the bane of all of us who must work to fund these sporadic adventures into the wilderness. After a few weeks on the road, it’s time for me to turn my wheels back towards South Africa to head back to Cape Town, and thence back to Australia. Till then, I’m going to savour these last days on the road – they’re what keep me alive when I’m office-bound once more.