NAMIBIA IS WELL, RED

A SIMILARITY TO OUR OUT­BACK, A MATCH­ING 4WD AND LONG DIS­TANCES PLUS THE AFRICAN HEAT COM­BINE FOR A MEM­O­RABLE HOL­I­DAY

Central Queensland News - - ESCAPE - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: MARC STAPELBERG

Namibia is quickly gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion on the In­sta­gram map as a place of wild and vivid land­scapes ri­valling even the most pic­turesque coun­tries such as New Zealand, Ice­land, Ar­gentina and Chile.

What makes Namibia so in­ter­est­ing is it is one of the least densely pop­u­lated coun­tries in the world and thus you can drive for 20 min­utes and not see an­other ve­hi­cle. Not to men­tion the in­fa­mous skele­ton coast where the leg­endary Skele­ton Bay surf spot is home to the long­est sand-bot­tomed left-hand wave in the world.

Add to this a bizarre fu­sion of Afrikaans, Ger­man, and African cul­ture as well as one of the most pic­turesque salt flats and im­mense red dune scapes in the world and it is no won­der it is quickly be­com­ing a hot spot des­ti­na­tion for those trav­ellers look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle out of left field.

For our jour­ney we headed south, land­ing in Wind­hoek and spend­ing an evening get­ting sup­plies and check­ing out the lo­cal scenery.

Fly­ing into Namibia the coun­try looks a lot like the Aus­tralian Out­back, un­for­giv­ing, rugged, with sparse veg­e­ta­tion, but once you are on the ground in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple and in the in­te­rior you can ap­pre­ci­ate the stark beauty and unique flavours the cul­ture has to of­fer.

The air­port is small but com­fort­able and you will be able to buy a sim card or rent a ve­hi­cle af­ter pro­ceed­ing through cus­toms, and as soon as you are out the door and on the road you will feel very much in Africa as ba­boons strangely nav­i­gate the main road to Wind­hoek.

Our aim is to head south into the desert land­scape that will take us to our ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion of Sos­susvlei in the Namib-Nauk­luft Na­tional Park of Namibia, hook around see­ing Walvis Bay and head back to Wind­hoek in time for our de­par­ture flight af­ter a week of driv­ing.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion in Wind­hoek is mod­ern and com­fort­able, al­though drought may mean a limit on the wa­ter sup­ply.

Un­ex­pect­edly Wind­hoek homes do have high walls and barbed wire fenc­ing al­though the crime stats are nowhere near its neigh­bour South Africa.

Peak hour traf­fic in the city cen­tre can be tricky to nav­i­gate with a thou­sand taxis hoot­ing and cre­at­ing any num­ber of traf­fic lanes de­pend­ing on where they are try­ing to get to.

With so much to see we make our way out of town quickly the next day in a four-wheel drive with a fridge, roof-top tent and gas cooker.

There are check­points leav­ing the main city so en­sure you have your pa­pers in or­der and are driv­ing the speed limit.

Once through you will find you climb over the es­carp­ment of rocky cliffs sur­round­ing Wind­hoek to be greeted by an in­creas­ingly arid land­scape.

Your jour­ney south feels like an in­trepid trip into the un­known.

The towns to re­fuel be­come far re­moved and the farm es­tates sur­rounded by kilo­me­tres of fences be­come more and more bar­ren.

Even­tu­ally you feel like you are driv­ing on a moon land­scape, and the sense of iso­la­tion feels re­mark­ably pu­ri­fy­ing.

The makeshift homes of cor­ru­gated iron with a rusted wind­mill and di­lap­i­dated fences leave one in awe of how any­one sur­vives in such harsh con­di­tions.

De­scend­ing into the val­ley floor over one hill we en­counter more than once a dead don­key or horse and even a ze­bra that had died at the side of the road.

Emerg­ing from the shim­mer­ing heat, an

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