African shoestrings – Namibia Day Fifty six – Namib desert
Dan Viljoen is a good place for hiking or even just casual walking. We sauntered along the 3 kilometre Wag-n-Bietjie trail to the Stengal Dam enjoying the twittering of birds and the gentle breeze and then at the dam watching a lone wildebeest and a family of warthogs go about their business.
The park has plenty of game, none of which are at all dangerous. On the game drive we did after the walk, we spotted Mountain Zebra’s, Gemsbok, Springbok, Red Hartebeest, Kudu and two Wildebeest standing on a cliff edge with a backdrop of Windhoek in the distance.
Coming from a country such as Australia where the wildlife is on the whole small in size and nocturnal in nature, it’s mind-blowing how much wildlife you can see on this continent. Even more mind-blowing is the thought of how much more there must have been before the arrival of Europeans, who brought hunting and poaching and the destruction of the animal’s habitat. Fortunately most African governments have recognised that preservation of these magnificent beasts is important not only to the environment but also to tourism and have set aside large areas for them to roam freely and safely.
The Rooibes trail we followed the next morning was around 6 kilometres longer and was a good little hike through green hills covered in scrub brush and small acacia trees with panoramic views across to Windhoek before following a river bed. The final couple of kilometres let it down; taking us through a neglected part of the park that was overgrown and speckled with dumped used tyres. We’ve encountered several good walks in the past that have been spoilt by the last stretch. Its almost as if the track designer lost interest two thirds of the way and just ordered the trail builders to find the quickest and most convenient way back. Still it was a good walk and once again we saw plenty of wildlife.
I managed to get hold of Werner, the car hire owner ,so that we could do something about the gaslight that wouldn’t work. We met him back in Windhoek at the Maerua shopping centre, Windhoek’s and probably Namibia’s biggest. We swapped lights did a bit of food shopping and headed out to our next destination, the Naukluft Camp in the Namib Naukluft National Park.
The road to Rehobeth was 100 kilometres of flat bitumen and even in our little toy car we could get up a head of steam. What slowed us down considerably was the 130 kilometres of gravel road to Naukluft. We had, to be fair, been warned. Werner had told us to keep the windows closed to prevent dust getting in but driving in mid 30’s heat without air conditioning and no fresh air was just too much. From hereon in we knew that most of the roads we needed to use would be gravel so we had to get used it and if that meant driving with the windows down and sharing the car with grit, well too bad! So by the time we got to Naukluft we were just a little hot and dusty.
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