Canyons and Ghost Towns

Namibia is a country of large open spaces, deserted deserts and great big skies. There is also almost nobody living here. The total population is just over 2 million in a country over twice the size of Germany. As we drove across the border the Kalahari landscape continued before slowly flattening out with the red Kalahari sands been replaced by a more flat gravelly desert. With there been so few people in the country there are also very few tar roads. Mind you the gravel roads have so far been very good with the biggest danger being that the flat surface can encourage you to go too fast.   Our first stop in Namibia was at a farm famous for having a large grove of Quivertrees. These hardy trees are found throughout the desert but it is rare for them to be seen together in such numbers. They were very photogenic in the early evening sun. I say early, as the clocks went back when we entered Namibia and with it been winter here it is now dark by 5.30pm, although it is light by 6am so it means getting up early and going to bed early as the locals do. Very different to South America.           The farm that we stayed on also had 4 cheetahs in large enclosures. They had raised these cheetahs from cubs. Each evening they fed them and this allowed you to see them close up. In fact for Gilly and I, very close up as we were able to go into the enclosure with them. The children were not allowed to go in due to their size which meant the cheetah could still see them as prey, so they were not fully tame. We much prefer seeing the animals in the wild though even if it is not so close as this felt a bit canned. Still it did mean we could take some close up photos.     We left the Quivertree forest and headed south to what is claimed to be the second largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon. Whilst I can not testify to the accuracy of the claim it is a deep canyon and we had fantastic views down into it. Gilly and I have visited Namibia twice before and when we last visited Fish River Canyon 18 years ago we hiked to the bottom and back. Day trips down into the canyon are now prohibited which is probably a good thing for me as I am not sure being 18 years older it would be quite so easy.            We spent the night camping at the Canon Roadhouse, an interesting place in the middle of the desert. The grounds were full of old decaying cars and some of these also featured in the restaurant and bar. We had a lovely meal there where I sampled Gemsbok which was very tasty. As we were finishing dinner a live Gemsbok walked into the car park right up to the restaurant. I guess no one told him what was on the menu.  It was lovely been isolated in the desert and whilst it was cold at night the sky was crystal clear with the most amazing stars. Each night we could see the planet Venus rising with Jupiter more faintly next to it. The stillness and silence was very relaxing and it was lovely siting out in he morning with a cup of coffee and been warmed by the morning sun. We left the Roadhouse and headed to Luderitz. The scenery on the drive was epic with vast spaces of nothingness. As we approached Luderitz the sand dunes closed in on the road and sand was drifting over it been blown by the wind.   The highlight of our visit to Luderitz was visiting the ghost town of Kolmanskop. In the early 1900s diamonds were discovered in the desert near her and a diamond rush ensured. This town was built with mansions, workers housing a concert hall, shops etc. With diamonds came wealth so although the town was in the middle of the desert, the people still lived very comfortably with all sorts of luxuries shipped in. By the 1930s the town went into decline and it was completely abandoned by around 1950. After that it was just left to the be taken back over by the desert. Whilst diamonds are still mined in the area the town has never been reoccupied and now is abandoned. The buildings are crumbling and sand has drifted into the buildings. We had a great time on the tour and then wandering around on our own. The girls loved hearing about how people lived a 100 years ago.                           We camped in Luderitz on a penninsular jutting out into the Atlantic. This meant is was windy but we were able to find a place to camp between some rocky outcrops so that the wind whistled over the top of the truck.     As Luderitz is the only town of any size for 100s of Kms we also used the opportunity to shop and fully stock up. It's also on the Atlantic Ocean so we could not leave without getting some fish and chips before returning again to the desert.    

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