Namibia is a cruel, wild and unforgiving place. Most of the landmass comprises inhospitable desert and semi-desert. Despite this it is home to a full complement of wild animals. The most remarkable are the desert elephants. It even has the desert hyena which is forced to scavenge along the barren coast line. For such a huge country, it only comprises a population of 2 million people. Yet despite these scenes of desolation, its vistas are stunning.
Main picture: The Orange River somnambulantly winds its way through the arid Richtersveld
Unfortunately I have not yet seen the whole of Namibia. What I have seen has whetted my appetite to discover the rest. My first experience was an involuntary three month trip to the Caprivi courtesy of the South African Defence Force in 1978. Normally the worst occupation in an Army is that of the Infantry especially in bush / terrorist warfare. Instead, what did I experience? Three months of patrolling through a natural game reserve abounding with wild animals. The most prevalent species were elephants with herds of 50 being abundant. The night air would tremble with the deep growl of lions in the distance. All very sublime.
My next trip to Namibia was totally voluntary. In 1988 there was a vacancy on the Fish River Canyon hike. It did not take a second request for me to opt in. After a stunning but strenuous hike, we spent two days in Kolmanskop & Luderitz. Subsequently I have done another two hikes along the Fish River Canyon. I was planning our final attempt at traversing the rocky waterway in 2016 but after our attempt at hiking the Giant’s Cup Trail in the Drakensberg during October of this year, I came to the belated conclusion that we were no longer capable of withstanding the rigours of this trail.
The last part of Namibia that I have seen is the Richtersveld from our canoes as we gently glided along the Orange. When I accidently made acquaintance with Dr Attie Visser at a party, I had finally located the person who could lead us on a 5 day canoe trip down the Orange River. There are plenty of organised trips down the Orange but the implication is that we would to adhere to their itinerary and restrictions neither of which was suitable for the Quo Vadis Hiking Club. An indictment of our current lack of fitness is our desire for easier hikes. This will undoubtedly impact upon our next canoe trip, possibly in 2017. Instead of organising our own food and having to even prepare it, we will use the services of one of these previously despised Canoe Expedition Organisations.
How the mighty have fallen!