Namibia

11th of March – 4th of April 2020 &  20th February – 20th of March 2024

11. März – 4. April 2020: Border Angola – Windhuk

At the Namibian immigration, we had do fill out a form and then quickly got our entry stamps. Therefore, we entered the penultimate country on our route and it was the first country since ages, without visa restrictions for us.

Directly after the formalities, we had to get used to driving on the left. The main roads in Namibia are paved, but there is no shoulder and therefore cycling is more dangerous.

Finally, we could chat with the locals again in a language we felt comfortable. Many people in Namibia speak English, Afrikaans and one of the many local languages. Our first meal in Namibia was a sausage with corn puree and potatoes.

Since the tent was perfectly pitched behind a palm tree, we profited from the shade and slept until 9.30 AM. We completely forgot the time change and realized only after comparing the mobile phone with other devises that we “lost” one hour in comparison to Angola.

Ready to start cycling, Adrian realized that he had a flat tire. He barely fixed the hole and realized shortly after loading the bicycle that the tire had already lost a lot of air again. After a short assessment we saw that an old patch was displaced and therefore the tube was not leak-proof anymore. After a break, Adrian found another thorn in the same tire and had to proof his mechanical expertise once more.

The road led us passed the most popular and fauna-rich national park in Namibia. The Etosha national park is surrounded by a high fence and contains countless animal species. We underestimated the emptiness of the region and therefore run out of water. Luckily, three women stopped at a rest stop and we could ask them for water. Besides water the friendly local women offered us food and we told them about our journey.

After we got into a local thunderstorm, we reached the next city soaking wet. We cycled 740km in the last six days and therefore our tired bodies needed a break. Nigel, a friend of Janet, invited us to stay at a beautiful campground in Tsumeb. The state-of-the-art campsite had warm showers, a 50m pool and internet.

Before we reached the campground, we assumed there would be a shared kitchen and we bought supplies according to that. Unfortunately, there was no kitchen and only a few people stayed at the campsite, so we had problems to find someone who could borrow us a cooker. During our last evening, we met a friendly and uncomplicated Swiss couple, who already travels around the World since more than ten years. We exchanged travel stories and we enjoyed talking Swiss German for the first time in a while.

After a delicious breakfast with Walter and Regine in their practically equipped vehicle, we visited the cycling project of Nigel. Many secondhand bicycles from Europa and the U.S. are maintained here and sold afterwards. With the revenue, they organize events for the kids and teenagers. Of course, Nigel, his wife and the other project members give away bicycles for free to some kids. We could see the huge storage room full of spare parts and bicycles. Nigel offered us many things and finally we decided to take a new helmet each. We were happy about this generous present.

Only after noon, we left the former mining city and continued cycling. After a few hills, the terrain got flat and dead straight sections followed. In the last town, we bought food items, since the next village was around 100km away.

Ruler-straight roads characterized our route. Thanks to the tailwind, we made excellent progress and pelted passed the monotonous landscape. In a farm shop, we bought some local specialties. The beef salami was tasty and a welcome snack.

In all of Namibia are fences on the left and the right side of the roads, which define the private land. In one of the immense pieces of land, we saw a few greater kudus and elands. At the end of the day, we cycled 175km and therefore achieved a new Cape2Cape record, despite Fabian experiencing cramps in the tights at the end.

After a relaxing night on the premises of a guest farm, we spoke to the attentive owner and exchanged news about Namibia. Since the Corona-Virus or the consequences reached Namibia as well. Most of the flights were cancelled and therefore the flights of Adrian’s family as well. Right now, we try to find out if the reserved rental car and the accommodations are refundable or not. At this moment, there are only 3 confirmed cases of the virus in Namibia and all of them are tourists who entered Namibia recently.

The closer we came to Windhoek, the higher the traffic volume. However, most of the vehicles considered us and we did not feel unsafe that much. In the last city before the capital, we met a Russian traveler called Dimitri, who travels Africa by hitchhiking. He told us with a huge smile that lots of his personal belongings were rubbed by armed locals. This was not the first time and he had no chance at the police station, since the bandits had friends there.

The last kilometers until Windhoek, we had to cycle on a highway, but this was positive for once, since we finally had more space. Tired, we reached the middle of this immense country.

Vera and her family invited us to stay for one night in her home and for diner she invited even some friends and another traveler. We had a pleasant evening and like everywhere in the World, our main topic of conversation was the virus.

Discover Namibia by rental Car:

Adrian’s parents booked a room in a hostel in Windhoek. Sadly, their flight was cancelled and therefore we could profit from this nice room for two nights. In the hostel were many travelers and we met nice people. The majority was from Germany and already waiting or organizing a flight back home. The atmosphere was rather stressed, and many people already panicked, since they were afraid to reach their destination later than anticipated.

Currently, there are only a couple of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Namibia, but nobody knows if the numbers are correct and how many people were tested so far. From other cyclists who are in Africa now, we heard that people call them “corona”, since the locals know that white people from Europe or Chinese travelers imported the disease to Africa. Due to that fact, many cyclists already left Africa and flew home and therefore terminated their journey. Many commercial flights were cancelled in the last days and therefore many travelers are stranded.

Namibia celebrated its independence exactly 30 years ago. Unfortunately, the celebration for the anniversary had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The inauguration of the president happened anyway and many heads of state from other African countries came for a visit and ignored the risk of an infection.

Approximately 20% of the total population of 2.1 million lives in Windhoek. The area of Namibia is around 20 times larger than Switzerland. The population density of Namibia is after Mongolia the second smallest in the World.

Most car rentals were already closed or did not rent cars anymore. Finally, we found a small car hire company where we could rent a Nissan 4×4 for a fair price. We even bargained that a fridge, chairs, a camping table and a gas stove was included in the rental price. Due to the insecurity of the events, we only rented the car for a week with an option to extend.

While eating breakfast, we met Marie, a German student and offered her to join us. Spontaneously, Marie decided to travel with us for a while.

On the way to the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge on the edge of the Waterberg Plateau Park, we planned to stay for two nights and wanted to explore the surroundings. A friend of Adrian is the daughter of the owner of this and two other lodges and therefore the family offered us generously the opportunity to enjoy the seldom luxury. The lodge offered a stunning view on the surrounding escarpments and the nature.

The stay in the lodge came with a delicious breakfast buffet, coffee and cake in the afternoon and an imposing 4 course meal in the evening. In short, we were spoiled and could finally distance ourselves from the corona-stress a bit.

Around the lodges, there were several hiking trails for exploring. In the park, there are giraffes, rhinos, monkeys and many types of antelopes. Together, we walked the challenging trail, which was covered with tall grass due to the rain in the last weeks. At the source, which supplies the whole valley and the lodges with water, we saw more than a dozen of baboons, which observed us calmly.

In one of the many swimming pools, we cooled down and relaxed in the shade. We talked about travels and the current situation in Africa and how this pandemic could progress in the future.

Marie left us and found a couple that could give her a lift to Windhoek. Before we continued our journey, we walked along a trail describing the tragic history of a local tribe during the German occupation period. In a brutal way, the people were suppressed, persecuted and put in work camps for many years.

On small, less frequented gravel roads, we drove to the Ghaub Lodge. On the way, we passed a beautiful valley called “Tiger valley” and soon after, we reached the second lodge of the family of Adrian’s friend Dominique.

The only other guests were a sympathetic German couple, who travelled since several months around the world. Those two registered themselves with the German embassy as well for the repatriation flights and drove back to Windhoek, hoping to get on a plane back home.

Unfortunately, news reached us that the Namibian president decided that two regions will be on a lockdown starting in a few days to limit the spread of the virus. Due to that, we knew that our time with the rental car was limited, and we would not be able to move around freely rather sooner than later.

We relaxed on the calm surroundings of the lodges and enjoyed the luxury. Adrian explored the hilly region running and returned on time for coffee and cake. Achim, the brother of Dominique promised us an excursion to see the rhinos. He did not even want money from us for the normally quite expensive tour and we were looking forward to the trip like small kids. In the beginning, we saw many kinds of antelopes and dozens of warthogs. Shortly before Achim wanted to give up, we tried our luck on foot close to some waterholes. Suddenly, Fabian saw a male white rhinoceros just a few meters from us. Quickly, we secured ourselves, since these impressive animals can weight more than three tones and despite their immense weight, they are able to run 40 km/h easily. Therefore, we could tick off the second animal from the “Big Five”.

In the restaurant, we talked to some of the workers and heard that already many people were let go. Apparently, 10% of the Namibians lost their jobs due to the missing tourists in the country.

After enjoying the luxurious breakfast buffet, we drove to our next destination, the Etosha National Park. One of the highlights in Namibia and therefore all travelers recommended the park to us. First, we did a short stop in Tsumeb to visit Nigel. The talkative former professional cyclist and Tour de France finisher gave us a few spare parts for our bicycles and we exchanged our information about the current situation in the country.

Afterwards, we visited the Swiss couple Regine and Walter, who we met a few days ago on the campground. The retired couple was still on the campground and enjoyed the calmness and the comfort at that location.

After refueling the car, we drove to one of the lakes in the region. The impressive Lake Guinas was created due to a collapse of a cave system and is therefore 130m deep. An approaching thunderstorm made our swimming experience a bit shorter than imagined. On a side road close to the entrance of the park, we found a spot where we could pitch our tent.

At 7AM, much earlier than usual, we were already on the way to the park entrance and witnessed the sunrise. After passing the fence, we saw giraffes on the road and we were happy about our early luck.

After paying the moderate entry fee, we decided to do a detour around a relatively large lake. Shortly after, we already saw many blue wildebeests, plains zebras, oryx, kudus and other kinds of antelopes. From far away we saw an animal, which we could not recognize at first. But when the animal approached, we realized our luck, since it was a mighty lion. He proudly walked across the road and lay down under a bush in its shade not far from us.  We really did not expect to see a lion, since there are not many in the National Park and during the rainy season it is rather difficult to spot them.

The Etosha-National Park is half the size of Switzerland and therefore the second largest wildlife reserve in Africa. During the continuation, we saw not many “new” animals and the waterholes were not populated or less busy due to the current amount of precipitation. The salt pan of the park is immense and impressive. It looks like a sea without an end and offers no basis of life for most animals.

While relaxing in the shade, we talked to our car rental company on the phone and found out that we had to return the car already the same day in Windhoek. The reason was the planned lockdown of the capital. Since we knew about the lockdown, we were in contact with the car rental company and they were extremely relaxed about the current situation. Now, suddenly everything had to be done quickly (as usual in Africa) and we had no choice, except to cooperate. At least we could bargain that we could return the car in the middle, so only 250km instead of 450km southwards.

Therefore, we drove directly to the arranged meeting point and delivered the car to a driver, who travelled there with a bus form Windhoek. Afterwards, we initially wanted to travel to the Ghaub farm of Achim, to wait out the pandemic. Unfortunately, he declined on a short notice and said the whole farm was already closed and all the employees were dismissed.

After we thought about what would be best to do at this point, we decided to travel north again, since we at least knew Nigel from the bicycle project and the Swiss couple (Regine and Walter). We asked several people where they plan to drive, but nobody could take us for a decent price. Finally, a couple drove us to a service station where we found a transport in about one minute to Tsumeb.

In the car, we met a police officer who invited us to his home after we told him our situation, if we would not find another place in the next weeks. In the radio we heard that there were already several deadly accidents on the road to Windhoek, since all the people wanted to travel somewhere before the lockdown was in place. Shortly before midnight we finally reached the familiar campground and pitched our tent.

Therefore, we were in the north of the country and our bicycles were in lockdown in Windhoek. Our goal was the organization of a place to stay for the next days, weeks or even months. The lockdown of the two regions including the capital was rather contra productive, since it was announced a few days in advance. In the evening before the lockdown started, thousands of people fled from the capital to other parts of the country and potentially spread the virus.

With the help of contacts in Namibia, we got the private number of the Swiss consul in Windhoek. We called him to feel the current situation. The consul, Urs Gamma, was rather calm and said that he was glad that we were fine in the north and we should stay there.

In the meantime, the repatriation flights from the Germans already brought back the first tourists to Germany. Apparently, there were still more than 1500 Germans and 50 Swiss in Namibia. The number of Swiss citizens was not enough to organize a flight to Switzerland, so they organized a cooperation with Germany.

After three nights in the tent on the beautiful campground, Nigel from the bicycle project helped us to ask the manager of the resort if we could switch to one of the apartments. We did not want to camp without a kitchen and even a chair for an unknown number of days. The Swiss couple Regine and Walter got one of the amazing and state of the art flats for the price of the campground and we wanted to ask if we could share the flat with them. Nigel, with his gigantic network in Namibia, realized our wish and we could move to the extra room of the apartment on the same day. Already during the days before we spent a lot of time in the apartment to talk with Walter and Regine, to cook and to just relax on the sofas. Therefore, we created a flat-sharing community and we were all happy about this long-term solution. Finally, we had a place to stay for a while and could calm down.

Rückreise in die Schweiz wegen COVID-19:

Unfortunately, everything changed again, and a woman called Adrian using WhatsApp. She called with the number of the Swiss consul. Petra Illig, the coordinator of the repatriation flights of the stranded Swiss in Namibia was furious and bawled Adrian out during a few minutes! She said the holidays were finished and we should drive to Windhoek immediately. Not even the reason for the call was certain after five minutes on the telephone. During the third call, the obviously overwhelmed and unfriendly woman calmed down and we learned that Swiss people were flown home. They gave us a couple of hours to decide if we wanted to go home or eventually stay in Namibia for a long time.

Immediately, the tranquility in the new home was terminated abruptly and we discussed about the situation and which decision made most sense for us. Walter and Regina were convinced of going home as fast as possible. For us it was not clear yet and the call surprised us a lot and we expected a long stay in Namibia.

After a long discussion, we decided to go home, since we did not know how long this crisis would continue and how the situation in a third world country like Namibia will develop. In addition, South Africa had a strict curfew and was worse than Namibia. Since South Africa was the next country on our route, this did not really tune us optimistic.

A skin infection on Adrian’s leg inflamed during the last few days, so he got fever and took antibiotics. Due to that, we did not want to drive through the checkpoints unless the fever was completely gone, and Adrian felt like travelling again. A stay in a quarantine for two weeks was not on our to do list.

After a restless night and packing at short notice, Adrian tried to measure his temperature in the early morning, to be sure that there will be no complications on the way to the capital. The search for a thermometer was unsuccessful, but he felt much better and fit for the journey. We told this to Petra Illig as well and Urs Gamma and got green light for the trip.

We left the resort “Kupferquelle” with a bad conscience, since we could not even profit from the generosity of the owner, because we only stayed one night in the luxurious apartment.

The 430km until the capital, we could hitch in the campervan of Regine and Walter. Public transport in the direction of the capital was not working anymore and therefore it would have been difficult to even find a transport. So, we loaded all our equipment in the back of the vehicle, and we sat on the back seats. Normally, it would not be allowed to sit there, but we decided risk it in this emergency.

Without any traffic, Walter drove with about 90km/h southwards and made sure from time to time that we felt comfortable in the back of their home. During the ride, we were in contact with Petra and Urs, so we could all met at the checkpoint. There was another group of Swiss tourists, which crossed the «border» at the same time.

At the checkpoint, the military already installed tents and the image reminded us of the many roadblocks in Nigeria. The men in uniform did not seem to be too motivated and stood around in large groups in the shade with their assault rifle in their hands. Of course, the mandatory distance was neglected and often people wore the masks around their necks.

While we were waiting in line for the check, we asked how we would proceed from here and if there are places in the flight for tomorrow. Urs Gamma told us that the flight from the next day was already full and it was not sure yet, when the next flights will leave for Europe. Disappointed, we drove the last kilometers until the city.

All stranded Swiss were accommodated in an expensive hotel. For us the prices were too high, and we searched a cheaper alternative. We found a cozy room with a shared kitchen and a garden not far from the hotel.

We still had no prospect of a flight home and therefore we took the situation relaxed and brought our bicycles from the car rental during the first day. In addition, Nigel helped us organize bicycle boxes in an outdoor store to prepare the bicycles for the transport.

Finally, we learned that three more flights were allowed, and we were already on the waiting list for the first one. In the evening, we received the newest information in the hotel where all Swiss tourists stayed. There, we could coordinate it in a way with Urs Gamma and Petra Illig that we could give priority to Regine and Walter, so we had one more day to pack our bicycles for the flight. In addition, our hope was that we would not be on the waiting list again for the next flight and get a fixed seat from the beginning. We wanted to omit the travel to the airport with the bicycles and the luggage and then back to Windhoek again if there was no space in the aircraft. Exactly this scenario was situation when one was on the waiting list.

In the hotel, we met other Swiss travellers, who were travelling in Namibia for a few weeks and we exchanged our experiences and stories. Three men from Central Switzerland started in South Africa and cycled to Namibia. We had interesting conversations and made the best out of this inconvenient situation.

On the following day, we packed our bags and Fabian fit his bicycle in a very small box. This procedure took him around two hours, and he was obviously relieved when he closed the box with tape. In the meantime, Adrian found out that it did not make a difference how many pieces of luggage one had and how heavy they were. Furthermore, Adrian planned to bring his bicycle to the airport like it was, to wrap it there.

In the second last flight, we found a fixed seat and we were told that the bicycles could be transported without any problems. So, we informed our families and discussed where we would live after the journey home. Initially, we were not sure if it made sense to live with our parents or if we should isolate ourselves for a few days. The wire ran hot for a few hours and all possible options were weighted and clarified. Finally, we decided that Fabian would stay with his sister Nadine for the time being on the farm. Adrian decided to stay with his parents for a while, since they are exposed through their work and therefore have a larger risk anyway.

We could organize a transport that picked us up at our accommodation and brought us to the airport in around 30 minutes. The airport was practically empty and seemed as if it was closed. When we waited for the check in, Adrian wrapped his bicycle in a plastic foil and pieces of cardboard. An employee, who normally works in a different department, helped him and earned some extra money.

It was a bit bizarre, since all people surrounding us waited for the same flight and the atmosphere was much more relaxed than we imagined. Almost nobody wore masks and the distance was not possible to keep, even if the passengers wanted to.

During check in, Adrian joked and asked if we would fly first class. The employee replied in a good mood: unfortunately, you only fly business class. The people around us laughed and for us it felt like a reward, since we managed to live without any luxury until now. Generally, we were surprised about the relaxed atmosphere of the locals at the airport, since all of them will probably lose their job in the next days, at least for a while and will have no more money available.

Just after sitting down in the business class, Adrian was moved to the back, since he received the seat of the flight engineer by mistake. Adrian accepted the degradation under the condition that he could keep his lunch box. Due to the exceptional situation, there was no service in the airplane and each passenger got a snack box and a bottle of water to reduce the contact between people.

After landing, the passengers could exit gradually to omit large gatherings of people. This idea did not really work out, since at the first escalator the different groups met again. At the passport control, Adrian could pass without any issues. When Fabian wanted to pass, the officials said he needs to wait in the transit area, since it was only allowed to leave the country the same day as the arrival. Finally, he and other Swiss tourists could pass anyway, and we picked up our luggage. We already expected to miss the last trains, since our flight left Namibia later than scheduled. So, we had to sleep for one night at the airport. We searched a calm, dark corner and installed us with our mattresses and sleeping bags.

On the counter of the “Deutsche Bahn”, we asked about the fastest connection to Switzerland. The day before we read that a freight train went off the rails on the route to Freiburg im Breisgau and therefore this line was out of order for a few days. Therefore, the most efficient connection was via Offenburg and the Black Forrest to Konstanz. From there, we had to change trains once more to cross the border into Switzerland using a city train. Connections via Basel were too complicated under these circumstances and we would have to change trains six times, and this was not an option with our bicycles.

At the train station in Frankfurt, we met four other Swiss travellers coming from Bolivia. The two couples were already on the way home for four days and glad to be home soon.

Equipped with snacks and beer, the train ride seemed shorter than expected. We really liked the ride through the Black Forrest and a local gave us some information about the region. In Germany, nobody is checking the tickets anymore, but the trains were mostly empty anyway.

The change of trains from Konstanz to Kreuzlingen was not worth it, since the two stations were only about a kilometre apart from each other. Adrian’s mom Rita welcomed us happy and visibly relieved at the train station. Just like that, we were in our home country again and immediately, we tried to determine differences during the trip home.

Interesting enough, our documents were not checked at the airport in Windhoek, Frankfurt or at the border in Switzerland. They did not even ask us about our health condition. We expected fever measurements and questioning and even longer waiting times. Nothing was the case and we did not even have to search our documents from the Swiss embassy in our luggage.

Instead of driving to Buchrain, we were surprised in Römerswil at Fabians sisters place by a welcoming committee. We enjoyed the delicious grilled meat and the family time under consideration of the recommended distance, before our ways separated for the first time in a long time.

Our time in Namibia was eventful and will be in our memories forever. The highlight was surely the visit of the Etosha national park as one of the only tourists that day. In addition, we enjoyed the luxury of the lodges, which we seldomly experienced during our trip. Unfortunately, we could not share the Namibian experience with Adrian’s family, but this should not mean that we will never be able to that…

For sure is that our goal is the continuation of the journey as soon as the circumstances allow it. Nobody knows how long this worldwide crisis will last and in which state Namibia and South Africa will find themselves after this historic event.

In any case, we hope that you remain loyal and we will keep you posted regarding our plans and the situation in Africa.

Back to Namibia after 4 years in Switzerland:

20th of February – 20th March 2024:

Finally, after four years, we continue our trip! Hopefully, we can finish our cycling adventure from Cape to Cape this time. Now, we will be on the road for four months again and cycle through seven countries including Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho.

For the first two weeks of the continuation of our trip in Africa, Adrians parents accompanied us. Together with Rita and Andre, we rented a 4 WD with rooftop tents. We planned to travel the country by car, before we continued by bicycles towards Botswana.

Around noon, we took the train from Lucerne or Biel to Frankfurt. This ride took us around four hours. Due to the many strikes and delays of the «Deutsche Bahn”, we included four hours of back up. We had luck and the next planned strike of the German railway company was only in the beginning of March. However, the day before our flight, we read that Lufthansa cancelled around 90% of their flights for our day of departure. Luckily, our flight with Discovery Airlines was not affected.

In the huge airport, we walked the long way to the check-in desk and wanted to get rid of our luggage. Weeks before our flight, we called the customer service of Lufthansa several times to find out if the transport of our bicycles was a problem. The information on the website was not clear enough. On the phone, they told us that the officially included ski equipment could be replaced by our bicycles. Unfortunately, the employees at the counter did not care about this information and after a longer discussion, we had to pay each 150 Euros for our bicycles.

While drinking a wheat beer, we got rid of some travelling stress and prepared ourselves for the 10 hour flight to Namibia. The flight was during the whole night and only thanks to the winter time in Switzerland, we won an hour in comparison to Switzerland.

After a more or less quite flight, we arrived at 7 AM in the airport outside of Windhoek. After we bought a SIM card, Joel from the car rental drove us to our new home for the next two weeks. Even the bicycles and most of our luggage was brought to a friend in Windhoek. There, the bicycles are going to wait for us in a garage.

After we got all the know-how for our Toyota Hilux and the accessories, we drove to the city centre to buy groceries for the next four days. Our goal was to drive directly into the outback after the shopping in the city. Before, we organized Namibian dollars, ate lunch and bought malaria prophylaxis for Adrians parents.

After a few kilometres, we slowly got used to driving on the left side of the road and the new car. After approximately 80 kilometres, we reached a gravel road and adjusted our tire pressure accordingly. Already on the first day, we experienced rain. At this point we realized that our windscreen wipers do not work. We called the car rental and an employee explained us how to change the fuse of the windscreen wipers. Thanks to the great explanation, Adrian could follow the instructions easily and replace the broken fuse.

Shortly before sunset, we reached the simple camp site in the middle of the Namibian outback. There, we had a small covered rest area, an open air shower including a toilet close by. We cooked our dinner and installed our tents on the roof of the car. The view from our place for the night was breathtaking and we enjoyed the colorful sunset. Due to the long journey, we were all very tired and slept early.

After a relaxing night in the wild, we continued southwards to Solitaire. There, we visited the small village and bought some ice for our drinks.

On the road, we saw already a few animals. Different antelopes, a warthog with small ones and an ostrich.

The thermometer reached 40 degrees and let us sweat a lot. A huge contrast to the winter temperatures from which we came. In Sesriem, we ate lunch in the shade of a fuel station, before we visited the canyon close by of our campground. We hoped for some shade in the canyon, but most of it was in the hot afternoon sun and we felt ourself like we were in an oven at 40 degrees. Despite the heat, we walked the three kilometres and enjoyed the dry canyon.

Worked up from the heat, we drove back to the camp site and cooled our bodies in the pool. For dinner, we grilled local beef and some sausages on an open fire. In the night, some jackals visited our night spot and tried to get to the rubbish in the bin.

Due to the high temperatures and the ideal light situation, we decided to wake up at 6 AM and then drive to Sossusvlei directly. The sand dunes are 70 kilometres away from the gate. Only who sleeps in the national park is allowed to drive already in the early morning to the famous sand dunes. Our campground was situated directly in front of the entrance gate, which opens its doors at 6:45 AM.

On the way, we saw some Oryx-antelopes and ostriches again. The last few kilometres, we had to drive through a sand road where we needed the 4 WD. From there, we walked on an immense sand dune above the salt pan, which is called Dead Vlei. The ground was colored light brown and the sand had a red color. The youngsters walked up to one of the highest sand dune in the world, which is called “Big Daddy Dune”. The descent was extremely quick, since we took the direct way down and that took us less than two minutes for 220 vertical meters.

In the salt pan are a few dozen dead trees, which died due to the extreme heat and drought. The trees are dead since more than a thousand years, but don’t decompose due to the absence of humidity. The colors and dimensions of the desert landscape impressed us and we enjoyed the unique surroundings.

The increasing temperatures motivated us to go back to the car and drive to the camp site. There, we cooled down in the pool and enjoyed an ice cream from the shop inside the fuel station. In the evening, we visited another dune again before sunset. Unfortunately, we had to exit the park again, before the sunset really happened. The Namib desert is the oldest desert on Earth and has some of the highest dunes as well.

After an extensive breakfast including eggs and bacon, we packed our things and continued in the direction of Solitaire. On the way we saw a few Oryx and ostriches far away. The landscape changed regularly and it was interesting to look out of the window. Once the surroundings were green, then desert-like and suddenly gorges opened up around us. We drove into the gorge and the road led us out on the other side. It felt like we landed on the moon. From a view point, we enjoyed the panoramic view and the hilly landscape. Shortly after, we turned into a side road, from where we could see into the Kunene canyon. Despite the current rainy season the canyon was dry.

After another 100 kilometres in the seemingly endless landscape, we reached Walvis Bay, the second largest city of Namibia. Despite the only 50’000 inhabitants, the city on the Atlantic Ocean seemed large, since we only saw small villages the last few days.

Quickly, we found our appartement for the next two nights and installed ourselves in the two rooms. For dinner, we walked along the seaside and saw countless flamingos and pelicans surrounding the beach. We found a great restaurant with many local fish specialities on the menu, which was a welcome change to cooking ourselves.

Walvis Bay belonged to South Africa until 1994 before Nelson Mandela gave the region to Namibia. The deep sea port is the only one of the country and facilitates the transport of goods to the capital. Due to the fish-rich Namibian coast, we saw many fishing boats.

In the morning, we drove to the nearby salt mine. The yearly production is 400’000 tons of salt and is sold all around the World. Afterwards, we looked at the thousands of flamingos and other birds searching for food in the laguna around the city.

Since there are many seals around the laguna, we booked a guided kayaking tour for the following day.

In the afternoon, we drove to Swakopmund to feel the special atmosphere in the city. Many shops and restaurants have still German names and one could think that this city is located in Germany. Since it was Sunday, the city was quiet and all the shops were closed. Despite that we started a conversation with a security officer. Like all black locals, he was friendly and in a good mood. He was glad to talk to us to make his 12 hours shift less boring. He told us that the ex-president died recently and was buried today. From now on, this day is going to be a national holiday. Besides tourists, we saw many begging kids walking around barefoot, living in the streets. Since we do not like to give money, we gave a boy an apple we had in the car.

Back in Walvis Bay, we saw that in one part of the city there were only white Namibians or tourists in large houses. In another quarter of the city, there were much smaller houses in the middle of the sand and this part was much more densely populated by the black community.

At 8 AM, we met our guides for the kayaking trip. Adrian, a talkative and authentic south African, explained the program, before we drove in about an hour to the starting point of our small adventure. Using a sand road, we reached the peninsula called Pelican Point from where we started kayaking. From the kayaks, we could observe some of the 50’000 seals, which live in this area. During 1.5 hours, we paddled between the young seals and experienced the curious youngsters from a small distance. The seals came as close as a few centimetres and looked at us in a surprised way.

Due to the rather fresh 15 degrees on the coast in comparison to the more than 40 degrees in the desert, we had to change directly after leaving the water.

Afterwards, we drove further north and after 200 kilometres, we reached the Namibian Matterhorn. Spitzkoppe are two about 1700 m high granite mountains, which arise from the otherwise flat landscape.

Directly after our arrival, a young guide showed us some rock drawings which date back 2000 to 4000 years. It was interesting to learn more about this old way of communication. The self-confident guide asked us how this bad gravel roads in Namibia are called. With a smile he explained that they are an African massage. Up to this point, we never heard this saying.

Before we enjoyed a delicious, self-prepared risotto, we watched the beautiful sunset from a rock. The colors were increased and the red-colored granite rocks were glowing with the help of the last sunrays.

Our route led us steadily northwards and the landscape changed accordingly. The temperatures were already back to 40 degrees since we left the coast. Ater about 2 hours of driving, we reached the Brandberg mountain range with the highest mountain of the country. To climb the highest mountain would take three days and is not a smart idea with this hot temperatures. The rock painting “White Woman» is in this region as well. When we arrived at the entrance gate to the walking path, we were informed that the entry fee was 12 Euros per person without the tip for the obligatory guide. Due to the price and our rather low motivation to see the rock painting, we decided not to do the walk.

The further we drove north, the greener the landscape got and the more clouds decorated the sky. We even saw a few smaller lakes with many goats, sheep and cows around them. During a break, we talked to a few local men from the trip Herero. We gave them water, since their water source is far away from the village.

Later, we saw many small huts, in which woman with kids tried to sell gemstones and other souvenirs. Our accommodation was situated in a stunning landscape containing many rocks and a green surrounding. The reception was located on a hill with an amazing view to the surroundings. Afterwards, we visited the Vingerklip rock, which was standing out of the surroundings like a finger. On the way there, we saw a group of baboons, kudus and a zebra.

An approaching thunderstorm brought us the second rain event and convinced us to eat in the restaurant of the lodge. For dinner the staff prepared an oryx steak, which we wanted to try anyway during our stay in Namibia.

Adrian started his day with a trail run in the close proximity. Afterwards, we cycled westwards again and reached the small town of Khorixas after a while. There, we refilled our food supplies and pumped our tires. Shortly after the town, the tarmac stopped and a gravel road surprised us and we had to reduce the tire pressure again.

On our route, there were several places where one can see petrified trees. Some entrance fees were smaller than others. We searched a private owned location and walked to the 200-300 million years old trees, which now were made of rock. It was impressive to see the huge logs and the year rings.

After another hour we reached the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Twyfellfontein containing dozens of engravings in the rock. There were several animals, foot prints and signs made 2000 to 4000 years ago. We visited the rocks with a guide and were glad to be back in the shade after 45 minutes. Due to the desert landscape increased the temperature to 40 degrees again. After a toast sandwich in a luxury lodge, we tackled the remaining 150 kilometres to our overnight place.

The landscape got hillier and we gained in altitude. We drove next to beautiful rock formations and the more north we came, the greener the landscape got. Even meadows grew thanks to the rain and it looked like someone planted the grad there. The campground was situated in a landscape with many large boulders and red dirt, which was partly covered by gras. Before we laid down in our rooftop tents, we enjoyed the open air shower and the view on the milky way above us.

Ethosha Nationalpark:

Before we left the camp site, we tried to find out if we could enter Etosha national park from the west. After we asked several people, we found out that it should not be a problem. As we thought, the information from our 10 years old travel guide was outdated. In the last town, we refuelled our car and bought more groceries.

Etosha national park is half the size of Switzerland and has a fence around the 1700 kilometres long border. In the park are several camp sites and expensive lodges, so one does not have to exit the park every day. Tourists can observe the wild animals in their own car.

After finishing the paper work at the park entrance, we continued driving in the direction of our overnight stop, which was still around 190 kilometres away. Already at the first waterhole, we saw African elephants, plains zebra and three giraffes. We were extremely happy to already see that many animals. Only three cars passed us while driving through the western part of the park and we saw more animals along the way like blue wildebeest, ostriches, damara kirkdikdiks and ground squirrels.

When we arrived at the camp site, we saw a few other tourists, which were in the same region during the rainy season and hottest time of the year. Due to many thunderstorms around us, we decided to eat in the restaurant instead of cooking ourselves.

The first morning in the park, hyenas woke us up with their laughter-like noises. The park opens at 6.53 AM in the Namibian summer, just when the sun rises. So, we started our safari right then and hoped to see more animals before the temperatures rise to almost 40 degrees. To our excitement, we suddenly saw a black rhinoceros on the road. It was a youngster and ran forth and back. Several times it approached the car, stopped and went a few meters back. We were extremely happy to even spot a rhino. Rhinos are on the red list and only a bit more than 3000 animals of the black rhinos are left in the whole World.

During lunch, we reduced our to do lists and relaxed in the pool of the camp site.

On the way to the restaurant or the pool from our car, we always visited the waterhole. After sunset it is even equipped with floodlights. After dinner, we saw stunning colors due to the sunset, but no animals.

Like every evening so far, since we entered northern Namibia, huge walls of thunderstorms approached us and delivered some rain and wind. In the mornings, the sky is always blue and cloud-free again and only the puddles remain of the past rain events.

After two night in the same camp site, we changed to the Halali camp, which is located in the middle of the huge national park. The goal was to reach the 75 kilometres remote camp site using detours.

During the first hours, we saw almost no animals, despite visiting many waterholes and small secondary roads. Only after lunch, we suddenly spotted an elephant far away. Shortly after, we saw something in the distance, which looked like a branch of a tree. After a discussion, we consulted the binocular and agreed that it was a cheetah. To our luck, a group of zebras walked towards him. We already believed that the cheetah would attack the potential prey. In reality, he did not care and walked proudly in the other direction towards the waterhole, which was directly in front of our car. It was impressive to observe this agile and beautiful animal up close. The cheetah was not afraid due to our presence and we had enough time to watch and take some pictures.

Afterwards, it was already late afternoon and we drove back to the camp site. On the way, we saw large hurds of blue wildebeest, zebras and various kinds of antelopes. Tired from the animal search and the heat, we treated ourselves with an apero and celebrated the spotting of a big cat.

Before we prepared dinner, Fabian walked to the waterhole inside the premises of the camp site to see what was going on. He came back running like crazy and showed us wildly gesticulating that there were around six rhinos at the waterhole. Immediately, we went there and observed the animal spectacle for a while. The mighty animals cooled themselves down and the youngsters played wildly inside the waterhole. After dinner, Adrian came back from the waterhole running and told the others that there were 15-20 elephants including babies. Of course, nobody wanted to miss this opportunity. Like we were in front of a TV, we observed the pachyderms and amused ourselves about the unusual sounds and the thirst of the elephants.

From camp Halali we drove indirectly to the exit of the national park. We already paid the entry fee for three days and therefore had to leave the park until noon. For longer periods of time, we only saw springboks or single zebras. After around two hours, we reached a huge plain, which was covered by grass. Hundreds of zebras, blue wildebeests and antelopes filled their stomach on the extremely hot African sun. Afterwards, we regularly saw large hoards of the same animals and even a group of giraffes.

Shortly before exiting the park, we saw around two dozen of giraffes at the last waterhole. This was a perfect finish to our safari days and we could leave the park with a smile.

After we left the national park, we drove to our last prebooked accommodation. The campground and the lodge including a pool and a restaurant were located in a beautiful area. There was a waterhole without a fence to which animals from around the fenced perimeter visited. We saw many antelopes and even giraffes came by to drink some water. Due to the stunning view to the waterhole from the restaurant, we decided to skip cooking and enjoy a delicious piece of greater kudu meat.

Since we were still a bit tired from the past safari days, we slept until late. After leaving the stunning camp site, we drove until Tsumeb. On the way, we visited lake Guina, a karst lake with drinking water quality. The largest lake in Namibia with a size of 140 x 70 meters and a depth of 132 meters made a cool down possible.

After, we drove the remaining kilometres until Tsumeb. Suddenly, we saw a pick up on the side of the road. We asked the two locals if they needed help. They said yes and we stopped. The tire of the overloaded vehicle was destroyed and had to be replaced. The truck was loaded with a minimum of two tons of potatoes and onions. The problem was that the car jack only could be used after we removed half of the agricultural products. After the removal and the loading onto the truck, we could continue and the two guys were happy about our help.

In Tsumeb, we bought groceries again, malaria prophylaxis and got more cash. Afterwards, we drove to the camp site, which we already knew from our last visit in Namibia. During our last visit, this was the last accommodation outside of Windhoek, before we flew home.

In the relaxing campground with an incredible 50 meter pool, we met by pure chance a couple from the canton of Thurgau, which was in the same plane from Windhoek to Frankfurt four years ago. Ruedi and Ingrid recognized us immediately and we exchanged our stories on the spot. Many things happened in the past four years, but this emotional time was still present in everyone’s head.

Start cycling adventure part 2:

After the last breakfast together and a total of 3000 kilometres our paths separated. We took a collective taxi in the morning to Windhoek to our bicycles and Adrians parents continued driving towards the north. The goal is to meet again for two days, a week later in the middle of Botswana. To reach the destination on time, we had to cycle a minimum of 115 kilometres every day for a week.

Our transport to Windhoek, which was 430 kilometres away, arrived late, but the introvert driver drove with more than 120 km/h the whole way and made up time. In the car were seven people and a baby. The music was on maximum volume during the whole ride. After around five hours, we arrived in the capital and using another taxi, we reached the home of Otto. At his place, we stored our bicycles after our arrival. He welcomed us warmly and offered us to sleep in his guest room immediately.

Afterwards, we unpacked our bicycles and rebuild them. In addition, we organized a Namibian SIM-card for the remaining days. In the evening we met Otto and some of his friends for dinner and a beer in a local burger restaurant. Tired from the long car ride and the eventful past days, we fell on the mattress for the last time for a while and slept immediately.

Our alarm went off at 7:15 AM and the goal was to start cycling around 8 AM. We ate a few slices of toast, packed our bags, said goodbye to Otto and started to cycle. Only after 330 meters Adrian realized that he had a problem with his brakes. After taking a closer look, we saw the problem. After using the break, the brake pads stayed locked and could only be moved back manually. On the spot we did not know how to fix this problem.

Therefore, Adrian cycled to a bicycle shop in the centre of the city, leaving Fabian behind with the luggage. The mechanic of Mannie’s Bike Mecca immediately started working on the brake system and realized quickly that the brake cable was corroded and could hardly be removed. So, the brake cable was replaced.

After Adrian warm up lap of around 10 kilometres and 90 minutes delay, we could finally continue. The first 20 kilometres were very hilly and we collected many meters of ascent. When we arrived at the place where we rented the car two weeks ago, we filled our water bottles and left some things for Adrians parents.

Afterwards, the surroundings got more flat until the airport appeared. There, we ate something in a restaurant and did a well-deserved break. Soon, we did not see any turns anymore, as far as we could see. We steadily lost altitude, but were still at 1500 meters above sea level.

The heat made us drink a lot and we refilled our water bottles when we had the chance to. At a horse ranch, we saw some women and many kids in the shade of a tree. They were part of the San tribe and communicated  using click sounds. This was very interesting to hear.

After we reached 110 kilometres, we refuelled at a farmers shop. We even could warm up some water in the kettle to prepare a soup. Soon, the store closed and we continued. The plan was to stop after a few kilometres, but we did not find a suitable spot. Either there was a large fence left and right of the road or there were thorns and spikes on the ground. So, we continued for another hour and found a road without a looked gate after a total of 137 kilometres on a meadow used by cows.

The rising sun woke us up around 7 AM. We took our time to pack our things and eat a few slices of toast with chocolate spread. Meanwhile, the land owner visited us and asked if we needed anything. Additionally, he warned us, like other white locals too, that the (black) unemployed inhabitants in the two following villages or towns could steal our things.

The road was dead straight and the sun steadily increased the ambient temperature. After 20 kilometres, we reached a small village named Witvlei. There, we bought a toast sandwich and took a break.

We were only 50 kilometres away from the first and last city between Windhoek and the border. The whole stretch is 315 kilometres. In this region one realizes that Namibia is the second least country after Mongolia if it comes to population density. In the huge country live only 2.8 million people and of these about 10% live in the capital. After two turns and changing the lead cyclists five times, we arrived in the small city of Gobabis. We found a restaurant and took a longer break, before we attacked the 109 kilometres to the border with Botswana. We treated ourselves with pizzas named «4×4» and observed the locals how they drank litres of beer while it was 36 degrees and more.

Then the longest stretch without water or settlements followed up to now. We bought more water so that we had each about 3 litres and a few fruits in the huge supermarket. Luckily, the sun got weaker soon after and we could cycle 50 kilometres more, before the sun disappeared quickly on the horizon. Shortly after it was dark and the unbelievable sky with billions of stars appeared with the milky way directly above our heads.

In the night, a warthog visited us, but after a short while it left our camp again. Otherwise we could regenerate a lot with a distance from the road of 500 meters.

Dozens of trucks loaded with ore from Botswana drove past us in the last three days. In Namibia, copper, uranium or diamond mines contribute to about a fifth to the GDP.

To the border with Botswana, there were 63 kilometres left and we had each only 1 litre of water left. On the map we saw a lodge and planned to refill our water bottles there. Unfortunately, the location of the lodge was wrong and there was absolutely nothing. We decided to lift our water bottles in the air to ask car drivers for water. Not even a minute later, we got water and a coke each.

This water was enough until the border. The lodge came about 25 kilometres later. Shortly before the border, the road got hillier and we even had a longer descent. At the last fuel station, there was even a shower and we could wash our dirty bodies and clothes.

The border was quiet and in Namibia we never had the feeling that it would be dangerous, even though we were warned many times. The people were extremely friendly, despite scarce resources and a hourly salary of around 1 USD.

Now, we are looking forward to our next country in Africa!

Namibia appealed to us during both visits and the nature of this country is unique. However, we wouldn’t recommend this dry, expansive land for a bicycle trip. The distances between places or attractions are enormous, and combined with busy or poor roads, Namibia is less suitable for two-wheelers.

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