Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye : 2019-01-12

Escape : 22 : 22


E Y E E S C A P E NAMIBIA IS WELL, RED A SIMILARITY TO OUR OUTBACK, A MATCHING 4WD AND LONG DISTANCES PLUS THE AFRICAN HEAT COMBINE FOR A MEMORABLE HOLIDAY WOR DS AND PHOTOS : MARC STA P E L B E RG ....................... N 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 amibia 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 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 EUROPEAN ODDITY MEETS CHEETAH Walvis Bay is a strange yet unique coastal town with a very different atmosphere to its surrounding harsh desert interior. Bizarrely as you travel towards the Namibian town from Sossusvlei you pass signs highlighting uranium mining taking place in the area. But all you can see is the flat uninhabited desert. Walvis Bay is the adventure capital of the country. Of particular interest is the quad biking. Several operators take guided tours – more fun than onerous, with your guide setting the pace. The town of Walvis Bay is a mix of industrial shipping ports and buildings, coastal frontage and holiday homes, and then desert and dunes. It is quite a contrast to see locals walking dogs on the beachfront parade after all the desert sand of the interior. It is a laid-back and low-key place with several restaurants and eateries to choose from. You can even spot flamingos and seals on specialty tours. Drive further north and you will come across Swakopmund which confounds one’s cultural radar as it is distinctly European in flavour with cobblestone footpaths, timber outdoor bars and dining venues and great sea frontage views. The colonial throwback has enormous personality and charm and you half expect to see snow falling. But a few cheetah paintings and the blistering midday sun remind you that you are still in Africa. 22 TOWNSVILLE EYE, Saturday, January 12, 2019 EYEE01Z01MA - V1 PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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