Namibia - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 41

Swakopmund

Tuesday 22nd April

We are both thoroughly exhausted after a long day of adrenaline pumping adventure activities. The lodge that we are staying in is a really nice one but. Having said that, however, I may be influenced by our experiences of the past weeks camping accommodation. Compared to putting up a tent every night, pretty much anything with a permanent structure and a regular bed is starting to look like luxury.

We had a lovely English breakfast in the restaurant this morning shortly before being picked up and whisked off to the sand dunes just outside of town for some sand boarding. We were each given a ‘high-tech speed machine’, as they referred to it, and were sent on our way up one of the dunes. Our high-tech speed machine was nothing more than a rectangular piece of flexible board that was smooth on one side and about three millimetres thick. The idea was basically to lay face down on the board, hold up the front end with your hands and push yourself off the dune for a ride of your life. Digging both your trailing legs into the sand a bit to keep from turning and holding the front edge off the board up off the sand was all that was necessary to build up enough speed to fly down the dune at breakneck speeds. It got fast enough (up to and over 80 km/h on some of the runs) for us to be completely terrified and wishing for the dune to quickly flatten out to bring the descent to a stall at the bottom. Allowing the front edge of the board to get too close to the sand would mean it digging into the sand and stopping abruptly. This happened to several people, myself included, and the problem is that your body still has a great deal of momentum and you end up continuing forward nose first into the sand. Essentially, this was a controlled crash – but not very controlled. It’s an adrenaline rush activity and it was certainly a lot of fun. The only down side was the fact that you had to climb back up the dune after each run to go again. Both Sandy and I had an absolute blast and we went several times with each run increasing in distance, steepness and speed from the previous. I ‘wiped out’ on my penultimate run as my board dug into the sand abruptly and I continued on for a good ten meters before coming to a very violent stop. Luckily, nothing was broken and I was back up the dune again for another go.

The fun on the slopes of the dunes was concluded with a spontaneously laid on lunch at the base of one, after which, we were driven back to the lodge. With just an hour or two between returning from the sand boarding and our next activity, Sandy went off into town to do a little shopping and I headed for the Internet café for an hour or so. Since our credit card had stopped working recently, I needed to exchange some e-mails with the bank in Holland to get things sorted out.

I thought sand boarding was a real adrenaline pumping activity but compared to quad biking, our next half day’s worth of fun, it looked more like afternoon tea with the vicar. Quad biking is fantastic but quad biking on soft sand in and around the dunes of Namibia is ten times more fun. After a few hours of racing around the dunes, I can honestly say that this afternoon was one of the highlights of the entire trip for me so far. Sandy, on the other hand, was less impressed but this was probably due to the chilly temperatures out in the desert. We both started off with automatic transmission quad bikes but after forty minutes or so, we stopped for a drink and a rest and my bike broke down. One of the guides remained with the bike until it could be repaired and I was given his manual transmission quad bike to continue with. Compared to the automatic, the manual was a supercharged, rocket-propelled missile and I was flying over some of the dune peaks. If I did this on a regular basis, I would probably be dead within a week. Shortly before we finished our ride, I was taken by surprise by a large hole in the ground where the wind had blown out a ditch in the sand. I was travelling just a little too fast to avoid it completely and in I went. Luckily, again, I was not seriously hurt (just a bit of a grazed thigh) and was off again within a couple of minutes. Sandy was not pleased with me at all after learning of my near death experience.

The whole group had a thoroughly enjoyable day here in Swakopmund. These sort of activities are not what I had envisaged when planning for this trip but I’m so glad we got the opportunity to do some of the anyway.

This evening, we were shown a video that was compiled from this morning’s sand boarding and it is a very entertaining half hour of footage. I bought a copy on VHS for a hundred Namibian dollars (about $12) and will send it home along with the DVD I burned just the other day.

We are up again at six o’clock tomorrow morning for another gruelling seven hours or so in the truck as we head up to Etosha National Park. Having had so much success in Kruger, I’m looking forward to getting there tomorrow afternoon. If we make good progress on the road, we may be able to get an afternoon game drive in.

I finished some more washing this evening and we now have various bits of clothing hanging up to dry all around the room. Hopefully, it will have dried enough by the morning to be able to be packed away in our backpacks.

As has been the case in recent days, there is so much more I could write about but I am just too exhausted. Perhaps I will find some time in the coming days to sit and reflect on the many things we have seen and done so far on this safari tour.

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