North America, Europe, Africa ·
13 Days ·
26 Moments ·
8 July 2017
Camp 6 - Last Night
Last night of our Namibian adventure spent at Purros Community Camp. On the way there, we saw a few desert elephants which have adapted to desert living by having longer strides to travel greater distances.
The campsite was OK but no elephants came around at night😩
We said our farewells to the group and went to bed, woke up and packed up one last time and drove 900 km's to Windhoek. A killer, ass busting drive 12 hour drive. Saw some game during that hell drive but the most interesting was a huge cobra that was in the middle of the road flared up - very cool sighting!
Spent the night in the Hilton hotel in downtown Windhoek. A very surreal experience in itself from where we have been and come from!
In all the trip was an amazing experience to have with the family. Lily deserves a trophy and the kids medals for the rigors of this trip. We shared tons of laughs, countless conversations, learned that my kids all have a great sense of humor (from lily for sure)!
As we were crawling up a serious 4x4 track, all of a sudden Max says "what is that". Turns out it was a stone-wire sculpture (not pictured) one of more than 30 placed throughout this area of northern Namibia by a artist who calls himself the lonely man traveler. This Namibian guy places these truly amazing sculptures in places he's visited in these parts. I took pics of many with my good camera. This guy could be world famous they were so well done. The amazing thing is that they were still there and not vandalized.
7 July 2017
The group gathered around the campfire to have meals and socialize. Everyone went to bed by 10pm.
The bathroom facilities were a private chemical toilet which was pretty good and very clean.
We carried about 20 gallons of water for washing on the truck of which we had to donate 1/3 of to the camp for cooking. So we had about 14 gallons to shower with during the 6 day trip.
To take a shower you brought a bucket of 3 gallons of water to the shower tent which had an incredible 12 volt water heater hooked up to one of the guide vehicles batteries. It heated that water up fast! Take the bucket into the shower tent and using a 12 volt shower pump, also attached to a vehicle took a shower standing over the bucket so that most of the water ran back into the bucket.
From that 3 gallons, we all could shower with!
Amazing how little water one needs to get clean.
6 July 2017
Camp 5 was at a place called "marble campsite - luxury accommodations". It was located near a location marker called the red drum.
This is were we FINALLY saw other hominids! After 5 days seeing other vehicles and people was rather strange.
Since lily still had toothpaste in her hair from the previous night and was going Rasta style, first order of business was a hot shower. She ran off for her shower but came back in a few minutes - no hot water😢 solar powered hot water heaters ran out since we arrived so late.
Not deterred, we heated water on the stove and with the help of Zeke, washed her hair (see pic)
It was truly amazing!
I spoke to the guides and they agreed to set up the camp shower so she did get a real hot water shower after all.
At this point in the trip we, all of our stuff, clothing filthy, inside of truck were coated in layers of African dust and sand.
Surprisingly few vehicles broke down. On the entire 6 day trip, the group had only 4 punctures, one broken radiator hose and one car lost a fender.
The South Africans were incredibly equipped and the guides superb mechanics.
The best dune cars were the Range Rover - not a mill valley Mom car in the least. Truly a beast off road!! The VW Toureg flew up the dunes too but it's a super light vehicle. The Land Rover discovery probably got stuck the most. Almost all the cars were automatic transmissions and had electronic off road buttons which seemed to work most of time.
Left the kunene river canyon and headed inland to the Hartman Valley.
In this area we saw many and visited with the Himba people.
These very beautiful people are pastoralists that inhabit northern Namibia and southern Angola. The women smear and mixture of animal fat and ocher on their skin and red clay in their hair. The hair was super amazing and obviously they take great care in their appearance. They were not thrilled about taking pics but agreed in exchange for a couple of bucks and drinking water.
In getting to the Hartman valley, we had to get over Zebra pass, a very tough serious truck busting rock track. The Cruiser did great.
Nate lost the drone but by sheer luck recovered it since the camera was still on. He saw max walk by on the controller since we had spread out in the area we thought it had gone down in - lucky kid
5 July 2017
Day 4 & Camp 4
Drove thru a few more dunes and down into the kunene river canyon to a swim spot. The South Africans had zero hesitation about taking a bath despite presence of a good size croc up river a bit. The women stripped down the bra/underwear separate from the men just upstream and closer to the croc😳 These are hardy folk.
Camp for was close to the river but it got cold again, in fact coldest night yet with 2 pairs of socks on, down jackets everything on!
Lily took a shower but mistaken used toothpaste instead of shampoo and couldn't get it out😖she was pretty miserable at this point😩
Found a cool oryx skull and mounted it on the truck for good luck
Day 3 - Dune Driving
The day everyone was anticipating is here! We had a brief taste at the end of day 2 and it was clear our LAnd Cruiser did not have the power to scale the serious dunes, even with tires severely deflated. In fairness to the Cruiser, we were by far the heaviest vehicle.
After dinner our head guide advised me to remove the governor (against the rental rules-oops😳) but after taking it out we had a total beast vehicle!
Our Cruiser flew (almost) up the dunes like an angry bronco - bucking up and Dow and from side to side. Even the biggest dunes weren't an issue.
Dune driving is all about momentum, timing downshifts and not a heavy foot on the accelerator when you start to sink in the sand.
It took a few times getting stuck but now I'm pretty good.
Overcoming the fear of going down the back side of these dunes was harder as you would fly up the face then over the edge which was at times a 70 degree angle - frightening the first few times.
We traveled 70 km's of sand
4 July 2017
Primitive & Wild
Another thing about the skeleton coast was that the Namibian park service only allows 1000 people per year to enter this massive wild area. I did not know this but it became clear as once we entered the park we saw only 1 other person (a worker at a small diamond mine) for 5 days!!!
We saw not a single other vehicle despite driving over 1200 km's on this journey. At one stretch we drove on the beach for 80 km's. Where else in the world can you do this?
Added bonus was zero connectivity to the outside world.
So far kids and wife holding up great with smiles on faces.
Tons of cool whale bones too!
Day 2 - continued
Reached the kunene river mouth were we hung out and the vehicles got a well deserved wash.
What was interesting were all the sea turtles feeding in the delta mouth - huge ones! Must have been leatherbacks but they were strangely breaching the water. Never seen that behavior from turtles before.
At the end of a full day of dune driving - nerves shot, truck intact, bodies bruised but everyone still smiling we descended a monster dune, probably 200-300 ft into a bowl of pure gorgeous sand, our guide said "this is camp". Pristine place. Best campsite ever. Joined some of our new South African friends at their trucks for a cocktail party - no kids invited!!! By this time we definitely needed some adult conversation.
Best of all we were far enough inland to escape the wind, cold and fog. It was even warm out😁
On day 2, we started to see quite a few jackals as we drove on the beach. It struck me as strange because they appeared very well fed. Suddenly we smelled and saw thousands of cape fur seals on the beach and spotted jackals amongst them obviously munching on the seal pups.
One of the guide vehicles radioed to the rest of the group (all vehicles were equipped with radios) that they spotted a rare brown hyena. We went back to the spot, got out of the truck and checked out this very shaggy, un hyena like brown hyena feasting on a seal carcass. Quickly surrounded by jackals which finally drove it away. Really fantastic sighting- got some pics with the zoom camera
3 July 2017
After visiting the river mouth, we headed inland and got our first taste of dune driving!! So much fun but I'll leave details for future posts.
Campsite 2 was similar to camp #1 in that it was in a slight depression in the dunes but also very cold and windy. Tough conditions. Went to bed early and fully dressed in all available clothing as it was so cold.
Kids are awesome campers and Lily is coping very well!
Destination is the Angola - Namibia border which is marked by the kunene river. Long day of beach driving which included a very cool detour up a river valley where we had lunch. At one point we drove for 50 miles on the beach without seeing a soul except for one person.
We visited a crystal mine and the wreckage site of the Dunedin Star.
Nate flew the drone over the Angolan border post - see the last pic - hopefully not causing an international incident!
Made the site of the first campsite at around 5pm, just a few hundred yards inland.
We parked the vehicles and set up our camp. We divided the setup process - 2 person roof tent plus a 3 person ground tent, era world war 1, that we came to call the cuss kit that we swore we would burn on our last night.
Everybody else had super slick blow up mattresses, one click tent set up and a lot of gear I have never even seen or imagined. South Africans love to wild camp like this but are Uber comfortable doing it.
Everybody else was set up and enjoying the first cocktail of the night while we were still figuring out how to get organized.
The campsite was very windy, fine sand everywhere and super super cold. The area were everyone gathered had a wind break and campfire but it was so cold we went to bed very early. The guides prepared all the food, quite good considering the conditions. In South African tradition, we had a "braii" or barbecue.
The cool shots, Max took
2 July 2017
4 Wheel Driving
The key to successful 4x4 driving, especially on sand is correct tire pressure. As soon as we hit the beach sand driving we all deflated our tires to the correct pressure for sand.
The entire journey was done in 4 wheel drive with diff locks on!
We would further deflate when we get to the big sand dunes - but that incredible experience is for another post!
Start of an epic adventure
Met our group of 9 other vehicles, consisting of 23 other people, all of them from various parts of South Africa and all Afrikaners. All spoke very good English. No other kids on the trip:(
In addition 2 guide vehicles for the 3 local Namibian guides which had all the food for the trip and off road stuff to fix and tow in case of issues.
The vehicles, all 4x4's were all different, from a new Range Rover, VW Toureg, Hilux, Pajero, Ranger. All totally outfitted for the trip. We learned later that all were experienced off road and sand dune drivers.
First leg was 400 km's up and into the Skeleton Coast National Park which is known for its desolation and long history of ship wrecks. We saw a few ship wrecks and other old rusted relics of various man made misadventures.
Pretty easy driving so far...
30 June 2017
Spent 2 nights in Swapkomund at a 2 bedroom house I rented on Trip Advisor. I did not recognize Swapkomund at all from 20 years ago, it has grown so much.
The boys went sand boarding and sand tobogganing on the giant dunes and the tour company got great photos and video which we'll post later.
The tour company owner was a Marinite that went to MA! Small world!
Swapkomund was pretty chilly and foggy. The Atlantic Ocean is very cold here cuz the currents come up from Antarctica, which creates lots of fog.
Got our house on wheels for the next 7 days, the Toyota Land Cruiser fully stocked with 250 liters diesel, 60 liters of washing water, 4 cases of drinking water, soda &beer, firewood, 2 spare tires, jacks, cooking stuff, gas burners, food for lunches, bedding, sleeping mats, chairs and all of our!! It is packed and cramped with 5 of us. The truck is a 2016 with only 10K on it
We are ready to roll and meet the group next morning for our "Skeleton Coast - Kunene adventure
From Windhoek to Swapkomund
On the way from Windhoek to Swapkomund, about 200 miles .
Stopped a bunch of times for food and drinks but more importantly for lily to shop at this very hip necklace store were we did our best to support the local economy.
Took a detour to Spitzkoppe where their are some very cool rocks. We climbed a hill to have lunch and fly the drone.
29 June 2017
***To see all pics, tap image for full size then scroll***
Arrival in Windhoek
Long day in Windhoek, but picked up our home on wheels to get an early start tomorrow to Swapkomund.
Had a really great night starting out at the hip Skybar (first pic) followed by dinner at Joe's Beerhouse, a Windhoek institution for belated birthday celebration for Max's 16th. Had the special of the day, a skewer of zebra, oryx, kudu, crocodile and springbok
Just landed in Africa after an easy, rare empty flight. Very cold here, 3 centigrade and still dark at 6am-gonna be a long day
Love the only in Africa signage
28 June 2017
Late night drinks, scotch for dad and Mai tai for my drinking pal Max
27 June 2017
Sharing a beer with my oldest son legally! Been waiting for this moment. In Frankfurt Germany
26 June 2017
Some airlines just get it - menu in economy class!
Spent the day in Westport Connecticut checking out the gorgeous Serena & Lily flagship store. Drove to Tarrytown for a quick visit with old friends the Bileca's
Pedal to the metal to JFK for Singapore flight to Frankfurt on double decker Airbus 380 which I have never flown before. Take off weight 1,200,000 lbs max take off weight😳
25 June 2017
June 25th departure day. Flying to NY for one day before flight to Frankfurt. In frankfurt for one day & night. Max will have his first beer there as the drinking age is 14 for beer with parents. Sensible law. That night we fly to Namibia with Air Namibia arrival morning of June 29th