Postcards From Botswana 8 - Exploring Namibia


Postcards From Botswana 8 - Exploring Namibia

By: Kayla Donnawell | International Co-op Student
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SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the eighth in the series, Kayla explores Namibia and gets stuck several times in the sand dunes.

It has been a crazy few days. I went from flying down sand dunes at 72 km/hr (they actually got out the speed gun at clocked it) on a piece of particle board to quad biking through sand dunes to being stranded in the desert for two days!

I am in Namibia right now. My mom has flown over from Canada to spend the next few weeks travelling around with me. I picked her up in Windheok last Friday, a town in central Namibia and we headed out to Swakopmund (coastal town). We had a great time in Swakopmund, it was so great to be by the ocean again. After this we drove inland to spend a night camping. The original game plan was to camp for the night, wake up super early and drive to Sossuvlei, the world's biggest sand dunes, and watch the sun rise over the dunes.

We left camp at 4:30 am, and by 4:45 we were on the side of the road with a flat tire. Of course, this being the desert, it was freezing cold in the dark of night. I think I have to mention that we were not traveling on paved highways, but on the worst washboard-like gravel roads I have ever encountered. We tried to get the spare tire from under the car, until the sun rose at about 6:00 am, but we didn't have the right tools. At this point, Suzy (one of the other girls in the car) and I started walking to get some help (or a tow). After over an hour of walking, a truck from a nearby farm passed us. His truck was full of San people who he was taking out to his farm to work. The scary part was that in that back of the truck with the San people was a dead cheetah!

This man was very kind; he brought a couple of his workers and helped us change the tire, invited us back to his farm to inflate the spare, and offered us a cup of tea. It turns out the cheetah had been hit by a car, and they were taking it back to the farm to skin it.

We then set off to drive to Sossuvlei to try and find a tire for our car. When we arrived, they did not have the tire we needed. Since we were already there, we decided to go and check out the dunes anyways. We went into the part and hiked up Deadvlei, the largest natural sand dune in the world. Of course by this time it was the middle of the day, and it was hot, hot, hot! The hike up was killer, but running down the dunes on the way back was fun.

We were driving though the park and turning around at the end of the road, and got stuck in soft sand. From here it was all downhill! In an effort the get the truck out of the soft sand, the truck overheated and one of the lines from the radiator into the engine cracked. Near the end of the day, we flagged down groups that were at Sossulvei for a photographic tour and they towed us out. In the process of towing us out, both vehicles got stuck so many times, I lost count. After we made it out of the 5 km of softer sand and onto pavement, they were going to tow us all the way back into the camp site, but the 4 wheel drive was engaged, and we continued to drive the vehicle for long enough to disengage it! So we had to pull over to the side of the road and camp where we were until morning.

The next morning, we fixed the radiator hose with some duct tape (this is why you should never go anywhere without duct tape). It lasted long enough for us to drive about 20 km. After this someone towed us out of the park, and we tried to figure out a way to get out of Sossuvlei. Suzy and I started trying to hitch a ride to just about anywhere that we could get to. In the end, we ended up having to hire a flat bed truck to come and get the truck from the desert and drive us back to the nearest city.

We waited all day for the truck, but were taking in this wonderful South African family. They invited us to their campsite, fed and watered us, and were wonderful company. My mom and I are going to visit them later in our journey when we arrive it Capetown. We are all safe, and ready for more adventures

It was a crazy few days, but I have really come to appreciate the hospitality of others in a whole new way. And in the end...we got to watch the sun rise over the dunes...

Next stop...Durban, South Africa (there are no more sand dunes here, I think I have seen enough sand dunes to last me a lifetime)

Living life's adventures...

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Posted on March 07, 2011