We parted ways with the rest of the Malan family at the Namib Desert Lodge and headed south towards Aus. Mountains and desert dunes; oryx and springbok, zebras and wildebeest. (Yes! We’ve done the ‘look there’s a zebra crossing’ line to bits – but it still makes me smile). And you could see that there were clearly game farmers out here; signs to lodges that were another 15, 25, 30kms off the already empty, isolated desert sandy road. What lives these people lead. How tough must they be? The closest supermarket is hours and hours drive away across desert. Africa (and in particular farmers and residents of the Namib desert) is definitely not for sissies!
We arrived in Aus – closed and deserted on a Saturday afternoon. However, the hotel which has been there in various forms since the early 1900s cooked excellent fare and we enjoyed a late lunch / early dinner. We went on to our campsite and set up camp – as the light was fading and the wind came up – and blew through the rocky-canyon-located campsite. Tempers were a little frayed (!) and there was a total loss of sense of humour on a number of faces ….so we all tucked up early to bed to stay warm and start the next day refreshed.
Next morning as we prepared breakfast Oscar decided to venture up the nearest slope – armed with camping chair, iPhone (for ‘selfies’), hat and walking stick and chocolate provisions. He kept going – further than either if us had imagined and cheerily called to us from the summit. Hating to miss out (& from our perspective in need of exercise) Hugo was sent off up after Oscar. We could hear jolly chatter from a far and they returned to camp with big smiles and a ‘great sense of achievement’ (Oscar).
We drove off towards Luderitz on the coast, looking for the famed wild horses on the way (..read not very wild looking horses), the old diamond mining town left to be overtaken by the ravages of wind and sand (..a fascinating tourist opportunity left lacking and stuff all information or site maps and a bit of a let down in all honesty). On to another old German colonial town which was quiet, and foggy and chilly and closed! Clear water but it looked a tad chilly and the signposted beach not very inviting (neatly located adjacent to the fish processing plant). We found some stunning houses with what we presumed had fabulous bay views…if only we could have seen them but for the sea fog!
We returned to our camp at Aus, scrambled very quickly up to ‘Oscar’s mount’, drank mojitos (not the boys – obviously!), ate snacks and watched the sun down. It wasn’t exactly the most relaxing experience as the boys seemed intent on precariously balancing their camp chairs on dodgy rocks and dropping their drink cups constantly – but hey ho, it was memorable, as was the braai later that evening: lamb chops, toasties, marshmallows and silly games.
From Aus came Fish River Canyon and a camp at Hobas …including a very large baboon which we were warned about. The boys were not phased by this – although I was never sure Hugo’s baboon impersonations were not a potential goad from a baboons point of view. Anyway, no harm done other than the unfortunate incident if the baboon stealing a packet of marshmallows.
The Fish River Canyon is the largest in Africa and was a spectacular sight. We drove and walked to various view points, which was sometimes a bit hairy if you have a child that wanders. Typically there are no handrails or signs about safety – this is Africa – survival of the fittest; if you can’t think for yourself and look after yourself, then tough luck!
The boys and I left Gerhard to take his ‘sunset shots’ from a ridiculously dangerous (I thought) vantage point. Hugo and I were too nervous to watch and so we went back to watch the sunset from a safer more family-friendly spot!