We flew yesterday from Cape Town to Windhoek, capital of Namibia. We have arranged a tour with Lark Journeys, who sent a driver to pick us up from the airport and drive us to the hotel for our first night’s stay.
We met Claire from Lark at the hotel where she gave us the detailed run down of our Namibia excursion. She left, and we took a walk in the neighborhood to get a bottle of whisky. The liquor store was right across the street from the Chinese embassy.
Windhoek is a very modern city, new buildings, clean, wide, smooth streets. Our hotel looks brand new. It has many buildings with 6 rooms in each, all named after wine varietals. We were in Sauvignon Blanc, unfortunately, as that is our least favorite. We had dinner at the Stellenbosch Tasting Room across the street. Dinner was decent, and the Cabernet Sauvignon was very good. I take back my complaint about South African wines from some days ago; that was a lousy wine tasting, heavy on bad whites, while the reds we tried ranged from not bad to pretty good.
This morning, we met Abel, our driver/guide for the week. Abel is friendly, informative and happy to accommodate. Our first day was mostly driving, 300 miles out to the Namib desert. The roads were excellent for the first 5 hours, divided highway much of the way, then decent, well-graded gravel for the last hour and a half or so. We had several stops in little towns, all with well-stocked supermarkets, and clean efficient gas stations.
As we got closer to our destination, the desert landscape got more and more beautiful. Weathered rock formations, ranges of low mountains, dried riverbeds. This is the oldest desert in the world and it looked like something out of dinosaur times.
Finally, we reached our destination in Damaraland. The Damara are the predominant tribe here. We stopped at the Damaraland Living Museum, it’s kind of like Plymouth Plantation. They are modern people trying to preserve their culture, dressed in skins, using ancient tools all in a little village made of sticks. They made fire with two sticks, brewed beer, did some blacksmith work, made jewelry from ostrich egg shells and danced. Then a young woman took us out into the bush to show us a lot of different medicinal plants.
We are staying in a tented camp very close to the living museum. It’s deluxe, our tent has en suite bath with plenty of solar-heated hot water.
After we got settled in, Abel drove us out into the desert to the top of a hill where we enjoyed a spectacular sunset. No one around for miles, just fantastic landscape.
Back at camp, we had a fabulous dinner. Carrot soup followed by barbecued pork chops, sausages and beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes, aubergines and mushrooms. With a bottle of Namibian wine. We can’t figure out how these camps can produce such excellent dinners in the middle of nowhere.