One of the fortunate few to participate in this spellbinding adventure, Molly Dawson puts her experiences into words:
We drove to Heathrow...
Today was a long day that pretty much consisted of travelling but despite this, everyone had lots of energy – probably mostly from excitement- and we were all looking forward to the journey ahead of us.
Finally arriving in Cape Town in mid-afternoon we freshened up at our hostel and headed down to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront for a look around. We wandered around like proper tourists and discussed South Africa's history of Apartheid and Nelson Mandela before heading off to a Steakhouse for dinner. All plates were cleared of food and we made the trip back to the hostel to get some well needed sleep.
After a quick breakfast and sorting out of all of our stuff, it was time to say good bye to Cape Town and begin our safari into Namibia. But, there was one thing we couldn't miss before leaving... the view of the city from Table-top Mountain. Although we didn't have time to go all the way to the top, we drove up part of the mountain and took in the breath taking and mesmerising views of the sun rising over Cape Town and now we started to realise why Mr White had described this as the most beautiful city in the world. Now it was time to leave Cape Town for good so we hit the road for a day of travelling to our next destination – Highlanders Campsite. However, what we were not expecting was THREE PUNCTURES along the way, extending our journey by a good 5 hours! But as Mr White and Mrs Opperman say – THIS IS AFRICA.
After an early start once again, we set off on the road again to travel through the final 100s of kilometres of South African land and crossed the border into Namibia. It seemed as though the weather changed instantly and the temperature rose by 10 degrees after just crossing the river but it was now we started seeing the landscape change drastically and the barren desert begin to form. When we arrived at camp it was dark and, once again, we set up camp under the stars and enjoyed a delicious meal cooked by the Cheetahs.
We woke before sunrise once more today as we drove towards Fish River Canyon to witness the sunrise over the ancient landmark. As the sun rose it seemed as if the canyon came to life with the sunlight bouncing off the rocks creating a spectacular array of colours that really did show a moment of real beauty. After taking plenty of pictures (selfies included) of the canyon we enjoyed a quick breakfast before hitting the road once more for a day of travelling. Now was the time we really started to see all kinds of African wildlife (kudu's, oryx, springbok, zebras and ostriches) and by this time we knew we were truly in the Namib Desert.
DUNE 45 DAY. We arrived at Sand Dune 45 (the tallest) early before sunrise and were all excited for the challenge of climbing the 600m tall dune. I for one definitely underestimated how hard climbing it was, as it took at least 15 minutes of steep up hill walking, but the view from the top was, without a doubt, worth the pain. We sat, cameras at the ready, and watched the sun rise over the dunes of the Namib Desert which was one of the most beautiful and breath taking things I have ever seen. Now was the thing everyone was looking forward to, making our way down the dune. We sprinted, jumped and tumbled down and the remains of sand from this were found for days after but T.I.A. Visiting Deadvlei (The dead lake) was a great experience also with excellent views and a hilarious 4x4 journey to and from the lake.
Today we travelled to Walvis Bay which was famous for seals, and we could see why when we arrived there. There were thousands and thousands of seals lounging across the rocks and swimming in the sea, but more noticeable than this was how much they stunk!! After spending some time here and taking plenty of pictures we headed to our next campsite, Little Lady Lodge and began to celebrate Mr White's birthday with a delicious BBQ and a performance from a local tribe.
Today, after a long hike and then a relaxing morning we hit the road once more and this time our destination was Dibason High School. After a long drive we finally arrived at the school by late evening and set up camp for a meal and an early night.
We woke up early along with all the boarders from the school today and attended a sort of opening ceremony assembly to introduce ourselves to the pupils and teachers of Dibason. We performed our national anthem and the cup song to them before listening to their national anthem in return. After this quick introduction we began work at the school. We split into teams, with Mrs Opperman's team taking to the girls dormitories to decorate 3 rooms and the TV room, Mr Munday's team decorating the boys TV room and Mr White's team creating a mini tennis court and repainting the netball court. After a hard day of work, the girls celebrated Esme's 16th birthday with a pampering session before we all got ready for a social event with the school. We enjoyed a delicious meal and lots of dancing with all the pupils of Dibason and it was overall another great day!
After attending a two and a half hour church service at the village church in the morning, it was time to play sports with some of the pupils of the school. First was the boys football match, which (with the help of Stevo, our truck driver) they managed to win 4-2! Then it was time for the girls netball match which we also managed to win, scraping a victory with a last minute goal leaving the score at 8-7. Meanwhile, Mrs Opperman and Ellie went to the local church to provide eye tests and glasses to the locals.
This morning we had the chance to attend some lessons with Dibason pupils, and we interacted with them and learnt about Namibia whilst also telling them stuff about England. After these three lessons we had lunch and then made our way into the village centre to visit the orphanage, with bags full of clothes, pencils, paper and a football. We had been told by the village Pastors wife that this was the place in the village most in need, as there were over 80 young children living there. So, we handed out our gifts to them and spoke to and took pictures with them (which they loved). We said our goodbyes to the children at the orphanage, feeling emotional but proud that we had helped them a little bit. Arriving back at the school, we attended a closing ceremony assembly and said our goodbyes to all our new friends at the school as we were leaving early the next morning to Etosha.
Leaving before sunrise, we hit the road once more to our final destination before we left Namibia, Etosha National Park. Arriving there in mid-afternoon we relaxed by the pool and the watering hole as we watched the wild animals enjoying a drink. We watched elephants, giraffes, zebras and even black rhinos walking around the watering hole as the sun went down and Etosha really seemed to come to life.
We hit the road once again, early today to begin our safari through Etosha. We travelled from watering hole to watering hole, seeing wild animals in their real environment. We even witnessed a near kill as a lioness nearly managed to attack an empala, before settling for a drink and then staring out a rare honey badger. We realised how unpredictable Africa really was as we begun to leave a water hole thinking there wasn't much more to see as zebras left, when a herd of elephants strolled towards us from the distance and we watched as the splashed about, played and drunk around the water hole. After an amazing safari, all feeling very privileged at what we had seen, we settled down around the watering hole by our camp to begin a night visual as we watched three black rhinos enjoying a drink of water.
As it was our last morning in Etosha, we said our emotional goodbye to the beautiful scenery of the watering hole and the wild animals gracing us with their presence before leaving and heading to Windhoek for our final day of our amazing journey. Early into the journey, Etosha through us its last surprise as we spotted a male lion relaxing under some trees a short distance from the road. On arriving at our residence in Namibia's capital of Windhoek, we freshened up in what seemed like luxury showers and spent our last evening together enjoying a delicious restaurant meal.
Day 15 - Summary
Namibia has been the best experience of my life, and I think I speak for everyone on the trip when I say that. It was an eye opening, unforgettable and incredible journey that I will never ever forget and I will take the memories of it with me for the rest of my life. It was an emotional two weeks, where not one day was a bad day. Everyday offered new experiences and memories that I will remember forever. I recommend this trip to anyone as it will be an experience of a lifetime for anyone. I cannot wait for the opportunity to go back to Africa and have a whole new experience once again.