Y’all wanna talk about a bumpy ride lets talk about the time Ariel, Waverlee and I thought it’d be fun to take a weekend trip to Namibia.
As with any trip or excursion we tried to plan, naturally we had the absolute worst luck with trying to plan this weekend vacation. But per usual, we managed to pull it off days before we left (aka we scrambled for a place to stay and had to settle for a questionable Airbnb – but more on that later).
We got a taste of the airport a few weeks before making our final departure – sniff sniff *dabs tear* – but we soon forgot about leaving and were treated to a full meal, kit kats, water bottles and pretzels on our TWO hour flight to the neighboring country of Namibia (I see you South African Airways).
We land in what looks like a literal army base in the middle of the desert at probably the smallest airport I have ever seen in my life. We were one of only three flights coming in that day. We had to rent a Toyota Corolla because all of the trucks, jeeps, and otherwise four wheel drive vehicles were taken (when I say we pulled this off last minute, I’m saying we didn’t know if we were going to have a car when we showed up to the airport).
We made our way to the ocean-side city of Swakopmund – apparently that’s German for barren waste town (it’s not, but might as well be). Fun fact: Namibia is apparently the second least populated country in the world and that was made pretty clear almost immediately upon setting foot on Namibian soil. It does accept the same currency as South Africa so at least we didn’t have to worry about that! You win some and you lose some.
We checked into a nice backpackers resort and got picked up for a “desert tour.” Now, I’m not sure what exactly we were expecting but… this tour was certainly not it. It’s also worth it to mention that our tour guide didn’t know that we spoke English. (And to top that off, the first sentence out of her mouth was “So I noticed you tried booking through a different website, why did you do that?” OOP)
Just when we thought it couldn’t get more deserted than it already was, we drove an hour away from the city to an even more deserted part of the country.
Our tour consisted of driving through rocks and sand and stopping every five minutes to talk about plants and beetles… I don’t remember signing up for a VEGETATION tour but there we were, learning about “Pencil Plants.”
The tour took nearly four hours and went until sunset. We found ourselves back at the backpackers resort and were able to shower and sleep in comfy beds (so there’s a plus side).
The next day we got picked up for a trip to the dunes for sand boarding. Have you ever hear of sand boarding? Same. But apparently it’s a thing. Snowboarding on sand – who would’ve known.
We got suited up and got a run down of how things were going to go. We were joined by a few families and a German version of Tony Hawk and Shawn White. Homeboys were feeling themselves a little too hard for how many times they nearly broke their necks wiping out down these dunes.
Because the desert sand is constantly moving and rearranging there wasn’t any type of lift to the top so our out-of-shape bodies had to walk ourselves up this mountain of sand *while carrying our snow board. If you’ve never tried walking on sand here’s my advice – don’t.
We make it to the top and find out that Waverlee and I were the “weirdos” of the group because we went down right foot first. Which also meant we had to go first. And naturally she picked me as the guinea pig to be the demonstration.
I’ve never been snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, etc. I’ve never been to a desert either for that matter. But somehow I managed to make it to the bottom in one piece!
But of course, once your done you have to trek your way back up the dune because you didn’t come all this way to do it just once right?
I also made a friend at the top while watching the sk8erbois show us their cool tricks.
There was a ramp for the experienced boarders in the group and after a while Ariel and I found some inner bravery to try it ourselves. I’m sure you can imagine how bad of an idea that was but don’t worry I have photographic proof of just how bad I broke my entire body.
Before we were done we got to try sand sledding on a mat which was much safer. I believe Ariel even had the fastest time of the day! And afterwards we were treated to a sandwich meal complete with Namibian beers so we weren’t too mad about our sandy cheeks anymore.
Next came our trip to Sossusvlei and this is when things start getting interesting. Swakopmund to Sossusvlei is a SIX hour car drive on UNPAVED roads in the middle of the desert and let me remind you, we were driving a TOYOTA. COROLLA.
We made it about halfway before the sun went down. We got to see a pretty sunset, some gorgeous mountains and a ton of wild zebras.
Did I mention our Airbnb didn’t have an address?
It took us about two hours longer than expected but we finally made it to our Airbnb at 9PM. We stayed at a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere with a nice German family. They had three kids who lived in the capital city about three hours away. They went to a boarding school and stayed in a youth hostel and the parents go to visit them every two weeks – interesting life style to say the least.
They made us dinner before we went to bed after our long day. We still had sand in every nook and cranny. (To this day, I still find sand in the jacket that I wore on this trip)
Bright and early (like 5AM early) we made our way to the Sossusvlei dunes about three hours away from the farm. Again, the roads weren’t paved but who is surprised! We also had no gas either so we were doing great.
We packed up some sandwiches for the day and made it to the “Big Daddy Dune.” We were under the impression that it was the biggest sand dune in the world – which it may as well have been for all we knew – but either way, we are gonna stick to that story because it sounds much cooler.
We began our climb not knowing what we got ourselves into. But no turning back, right? It was all fun and games at first: we stopped to take photos every so often, admired the views of the dunes, even did some handstands for shits and gigs…
Then we got ambitious and thought we should just keep going up and up – bad decisions. I can’t even remember how many times we nearly died on that sand dune. Like I knew I wasn’t in shape at the time but this was a whole new level of self-inflicted torture. In total, the dune is 325 meters tall and our bodies regretted every single meter. Towards the end we basically had to stop every five minutes.
BUT we were survivors and we made it to the top (in full marathon, crossing-the-finish-line, collapsing style). Our sandwiches brought us back to life and we debated log rolling down the entire hill so we didn’t have to climb back down.
We did, however, run down the dune. Literally ran. And trust and believe that you pick up momentum when running down 325 meters at a steep incline. We also about third degree burned our ankles off and had enough sand in our shoes to build a sand castle when we reached the bottom.
But the bottom was where the cool stuff! The Deadvlei had tons of petrified acacia trees which contrasted against the milky white clay surface. It was pretty fricken neat, not going to lie. People come from far and wide to see these dunes and I’m glad we got to experience it cause I can’t say I’d do it again! (Okay maybe in like a hot air balloon ride to the top)
All in all, the hours of driving, sunburns and physical exhaustion were worth it. We just had to survive one last night at the farm before making our way back to the airport.
We survived the trip, but the Toyota Corolla didn’t. We got back to the rent-a-car place only to look underneath our car and find the entire undercarriage was completely destroyed. Hope they didn’t notice – oopsies!
Sidenote: Y’all truly don’t know bumpy, gravel roads until you experience Namibia. If I ever won the lottery I would personally grant the Namibian government money just to pave their entire country. And that’s the truth on that.