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Van life Archives - A Familia Adventure

Namibia – In My Wildest Dreams

By | Hikes, Our Travels, Parks, Uncategorized | No Comments

I write this from my camping chair, overlooking the Namtib biosphere. I have rocky mountains behind me, a savannah grassland in front of me, and red dunes peeking out in the distance. Namibia is an incredible place! But before I expound on our time here, let me give you a quick catch up on our remaining time in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

After I last wrote, we braved the corrugated roads of the park and drove north, into the heart of the Kgalagadi. The camping was luxury! We had our own bathroom where I could even leave my toothbrush for 3 days!.. our own washing up area.. and at my final count about 5 black back jackals that hung out at our camp after dark. Terrifying, but a great African experience. Very coincidentally we bumped into some old friends on holiday from Johannesburg, and we really enjoyed seeing some familiar faces. I think I’m becoming one of those annoying people who try and strike up conversation with anyone, so it was great to find people who actually wanted to speak to me. Lola and Lincoln loved hanging out with their kids and thought themselves rather brave adventurers exploring the camp for a couple of days together. They spent hours covering themselves in all available dirt, and had to be reeled in after dark as they didn’t see these jackals as much of a threat. Yikes!

We had some incredible encounters, including a herd of about 12 giraffe grazing on the side of the road, and finding a pride of lion at a watering hole. If you haven’t seen a lion up close let me lay it out for you; they are huge! They hung out around our car for a while and were almost head height at our Prado window (it is not a low car!). Staring out into the face of a lion had my survival instincts kicking in full swing. I can’t understand why that makes hands sweat and voices go squeaky, but there I was, squeak-yelling at the kids to close their windows as a lion sauntered up to Lincoln’s door, while my sweaty hands manhandled the camera in all the excitement. The lense-cap from our camera is still MIA from all the commotion!

 

After all the excitement of the park we headed out the Mata Mata gate straight into Namibia. We arrived here a week ago, and I must say, on first glimpse, I wasn’t all that impressed. It was dry and dusty, nothing grew, and to make it worse, the roads were all sand. Urgh. But then we stopped for our first night at an unpretentious farm on the side of a high-way (made of sand), and got to enjoy a night of absolute stillness under the stars. It is a very black sky that blankets Namibia at night, and a very blue one during the day. We discovered the colours here are more vivid, even though at first everything seems brown, after you’ve been here a while you see the colours all around you. The sunsets are magical. You have crimson sky to the west, and if you turn around a rainbow of colour fills the sky to the east. The dust is everywhere, but you can forgive it its intrusion because of the magnificent sunsets it incites. Taking beautiful pictures is easy because there seems to be a permanent filter on the lense. But I’m beginning to wonder if the filter is on my eyes. I was always the person swearing never to go to Namibia because it was too dry, now I can’t stop telling people how amazing it is. It’s another one of those places you can’t adequately describe to people. My language of the place does it no justice. It’s a ‘feel’ place. The emotions this environment stirs up leave you wanting to see more, explore more. It’s vast and barren and largely devoid of people, but it gets into your soul.

That is until you hit the tourist spots. Big sigh. We seem to be here during European peak season. The country boasts a population of about 2 million people, but there seem to be double that in French, Italian and German tourists. It is heaving, in as much as a country this barren can heave 😉 Thankfully, there are some off the wall stops we’ve managed to find that seem legitimately local. One spot was a roadside ‘coffee shop’ with the best apple-strudel and homemade rusks we’ve tasted. It was conveniently located at the exact spot that Lincoln had a rather severe on-set of car-sickness. We enjoyed the delicious goods while poor Lincoln walked in circles around a rather beautiful garden creation, made out of old car parts, crockery and desert succulents. We considered driving back that way just to stop in there again, but thought Lincoln wouldn’t be impressed with us, especially given his propensity for car-sickness on those rolling dune roads.

We had to do a bit of a U-turn after we headed into Namibia, and headed back down towards South Africa so we could experience the Fish River Canyon and the Ai Ais hot springs. Unfortunately the hot springs are incredibly touristy and you aren’t allowed in the natural springs at all. You are allowed to soak in the warm waters of the hotel, which are pleasant enough, in an un-natural-chlorine-filled kind of way. You can see the place was once charming but it has unfortunately become a little run down and lacks the magic you’d imagine it had. It is still a phenomenal area to visit as it allows you to explore the Fish River Canyon from the end point of the 90km hiking trail. We did some exploring in the canyon as well as going to see the view from the top. It too, is extreme. It is similar in many ways to the Grand Canyon in the States, but thankfully lacks the size of those crowds. We did some geocaching with the kids and running around the top in an almost desolate landscape, before returning to the much frequented waters of the Ai. As much as we complain about it, it was nice to have some water to soak in, and it was hard to convince the kids we needed to move on. But we had ghost towns and desert landscapes to explore, and many more dirt roads ahead of us…

 

We have just arrived in Swakopmund, and finally have enough wifi to load this post. It means we are a little behind in communications, but will have another post to get you all up to speed soon.

Happy reading and big loves!
S & M & L & L

Wuths Gone Wild – Africa 2018

By | Cape Town, Our Travels, Parks | 4 Comments

After months of radio silence, we’re back! We hope to incite a lust for adventure by supplying your inbox with a gentle stream of African road tripping images, wildlife shots and general Wuth family shenanigans. Hopefully they’ll burn a desire in your heart to head out into the wilderness and experience the beauty in this world. Maybe they’ll be enough to satisfy your desire, but either way, we hope they give you lots of enjoyment. A glimpse into our life for the next 6 months, the good… and the not so good 🙂 So before all that begins, here is a little bit of what we’ve been up to and how we got here…

We started off the year by taking our kids out of school so we could home-school them – we did this for many reasons, but partly to figure it out before we left on our adventure. What we didn’t realise at the time was that home-schooling and working would leave no time for planning the actual trip! So fast-forward 6 months to our anticipated leaving date and Shaun and I found ourselves in a perpetual state of mania trying to tick our way down our to-do list. We were impossible to pin down and even more impossible to get any concrete plans out of. After the property market in Cape Town fell through the floor, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to rent our house out, let alone sell it, and this meant we had a pretty flexible leaving date. But then a wonderful family on their own years adventure from Spain wanted to move into our house and suddenly mid July became a hard deadline! Our leaving date had moved from plan A, to plan B, all the way down to about E before we finally had lift off. It was a bit of a soft launch though and it only shot us 800 meters up the road where we stayed with friends for 2 nights – we just hadn’t managed to tick the last few things off our list. On our second take we managed to get all the way to Stellenbosch, a full 50mins drive from our home. The only reason we made it that far was because we had booked a 4×4 course so we could learn how to drive our vehicle before heading off into the wild blue yonder. Anyone would think we had no heads to screw on, and I think by the time we left we had our entire extended family in a state of paranoia about what we were about to attempt. Luckily (in this case), Shaun and I operate in completely different spheres, so put together we seem to have covered most of the bases (we think) and although we had a rather tumultuous start, we seem to have found a bit of a groove. After 10 days on the road we are all settling into it.

Learning how to 4×4 was actually a great start to our adventure and we’ve already had to apply our newfound knowledge. We’re hoping to avoid as many blow-outs as possible. Turns out there is a lot more to driving a 4×4 than just sticking it in drive and ploughing over things, who would have thought! We started our trip by spending 3 nights at Kogel Bay Campsite between Somerset West and Kleinmond. It gave us 3 days to sort out our packing. Re-pack and re-pack again, and go back into town to get a few more last minute things, and have some more gadgets fitted to our car. Shaun has really settled into this African adventure by over-engineering the socks off our gear. He has fitted solar panels, bought battery packs for our battery packs, and ‘smart’ charges that make all the charging that much more efficient. I think we should be ok for power.

While Shaun has geared us up, I have played tetris over and over again to make sure we have used our space wisely, and have the things we need close at hand while less necessary boxes get packed at the bottom. What this means is that I know where everything is and Shaun knows how to make everything work. If you take one of us out of the campsite everything grinds to a halt, but I’m sure after another few weeks on the road we will have grasped the whole picture.

The kids have been very good at getting stuck in and finding tasks that they can manage. I’ve actually been quite impressed. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a fair amount of nagging that goes on, but that is normally me trying to get them to do school work. Unfortunately Shaun and I have been trying to fit in some necessary work as well which has thrown off a couple of ‘packing up camp sessions’, so we’ve arrived in the dark at multiple stops which is never ideal. Luckily we’ve managed to keep morale high most of the time, but every now and again the wheels go rolling off and we all just have tea and go to bed

After Kogel Bay we headed inland to Tankwa Karoo for a few nights. There is lots of nothing and then some more nothing. It is desolate and barren, but in a strange way still beautiful. You can watch dust swirl down the road, catch the occasional springbok bounding past, and if you’re quiet enough, hear your blood flow more slowly through your veins. We did some work and school and chilling at viewpoints, and started to feel the stillness of Africa a little. After testing out our new suspension on some of the worst corrugated roads I’ve ever seen, we headed to Sutherland for a night to check out the Southern hemisphere’s largest telescope (S.A.L.T.) and do some star gazing in the coldest place in South Africa. It was worth all the corrugation to get there! The stars were out of this world.

Then it was off to Namaqualand to run in the daisies, and we weren’t disappointed. It was a little early in the season, but they were still spectacular. So was the landscape surrounding Namaqualand with its granite domes and interesting vegetation. Definitely a place we will come back to explore on foot. It is quite unlike anywhere else in South Africa and looks ideal for a hiking trip.

We are now on route to Augrabies to camp next to the roar of the falls. Here’s hoping our last week in South Africa is calm and enjoyable. Catch you all on the flip side.

S & M & L & L

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