Camping in Nam

Camping. The word conjures up many feelings for me. Nightime around the fire, laughing till my belly aches, a beautiful sense of isolation; of being disconnected with the world. Uninteruppted time with my best people. The possibility to change my life....

 

During our last camping trip to Namibia I realised that by sharing the experience with two novice campers that camping is unlike any other journey you will ever take. You are stuck in the wilderness with only a few tools at your disposal. My must take arsenal consists of filter coffee, a plunger, detailed maps, water, petrol, GPS with the lastest Tracks for Africa, a headlight, comfy mattress (although I am seriously reconsidering the roof top tent), gin & tonic, wine, pillows and good friends. 

 

 

 

 

Us at Epupa Falls, Kaokaveld, Namibia
Us at Epupa Falls, Kaokaveld, Namibia

Camping is not for sissies. You have to be generous, patient (not one of my virtues), happy and accommodating. You have to make your own food, fill your own tank, drive endless miles to find the extraordinary and live in the moment as you cannot sms, check your emails or stay connected on Facebook. You only have yourself and your fellow campers for entertainment. I'm lucky that the people I share the experience with are like-minded, funny and clever (we always take a few Macgyver's along to fix things) and Oli makes burnt on the edges, delicous on the inside bread. 

 

 

 

Camping in Swartbooisdrift, Kunene
Camping in Swartbooisdrift, Kunene
M cooking a Kunene omelette
M cooking a Kunene omelette
Photo by: Anna Heystek
Siphoning Diesel Photo by: Anna Heystek
M and Reeve collecting water in Purus Canyon in the Hoarsib River
M and Reeve collecting water in Purus Canyon in the Hoarsib River

Every camping trip I've ever taken; Busanga Plains in Zambia, Savuti in Botswana, and Chizarerra in Zim - the landscapes, rivers and campsites are spectacular. But, this journey took my breath away. As far as the eye can see the landscape is achingly beautiful.  

Ochre coloured Corkwood
Ochre coloured Corkwood
Photo by: Andries Heystek
Photo by: Andries Heystek
Epupa Falls
Epupa Falls
Kunene River
Kunene River
Rocky river road between Swartbooisdrift and Epupa Falls
Rocky river road between Swartbooisdrift and Epupa Falls
Van Zyl's Pass
Van Zyl's Pass

We encountered different people, foreign cultures that could easily be misunderstood, yet have survived for centuries. 

 

 

Himba lady embracing the twenty-first century
Himba lady embracing the twenty-first century
Arresting beauty
Arresting beauty

The Himba and the Herero. Initially I was compelled to take photo's yet it soon began to pall after endless calls for sweeties and money. The more remote, the more introverted the Himba became. I liked them better. They are poor materially, yet seem rich in their simplicity.

Himba Child in the middle of nowhere
Himba Child in the middle of nowhere
Herero woman selling ice cold beers in Orupembe
Herero woman selling ice cold beers in Orupembe
Animal fat and Ochre rubbed into the skin
Animal fat and Ochre rubbed into the skin

 

 

For me Himba woman are surprisingly glamorous. Their jewellery is bespoke and elaborate, copper, bone, leather and other simple yet elegant elements speak of style. 

 

 

I found rare beauty in the trees and flowers buried in the arid wilderness. Corkwood, leadwood, date palms, baobab, fig and Ana trees are prolific.  Welwitschia which looks prehistoric and fossilised grows along the sandy roads. I discovered a small evil looking black plant (I have no idea what it's called) nestled amongst the rocks. It had a single delicate small yellow bloom. Lovely!

 

Ana Tree
Ana Tree
Welwitschia
Welwitschia

 

 

You have to love the people you camp with as you spend many moments in their company. There are those rare occasions when you are just alone with your thoughts. or silently driving along gravel paths.  

 

 

Ant caught in an unguarded moment of immobility
Ant caught in an unguarded moment of immobility
Pru sitting quietly on the banks of the Kunene
Pru sitting quietly on the banks of the Kunene
Oli at peace
Oli at peace
M
M
Pete found a shady reading spot
Pete found a shady reading spot

 

Why do I love camping? As Paulo Coelho put it so aptly in The Alchemist "I'm an adventurer, looking for treasure.” I find treasure hugging a Baobab with friends, in the eye of an African Desert Elephant, amidst the spray of the Epupa Falls.