Ai Ais Baby – Southern Namibia

Leaving the sand dunes of Sossusvlei behind we make a right turn towards Hoba and the Fish River Canyon. The road is an atrocious mixture of heavily rutted sand, though concerns that the next 140 kilometres will be the same are met with relief when it returns to tarmac after 5 kilometres. Hobas is the entry point to the canyon located within the Gondwana Canyon Park. Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) are responsible for the up keep of the National Parks and are doing a splendid job at it.

Fish Canyon
Hobas

Fish Canyon
Entrance to Fish River Canyon

Oryx, Fish Canyon
Our favourite of the antelope family, the war like oryx

Not sure what to expect our first view of the canyon leaves us wishing we had time to hike down and explore. A mixture of Arizona’s Grand Canyon and Utah’s Dead Horse Point it’s spectacular, the bend in the river adding to the drama of the scene below. Walking along the rim we take in the views before heading back for a picnic lunch with more views. We’re also finally able to get a good snap of our favourite antelope, the punk arse, war like oryx.

 

Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon

Fish Canyon
Fish River Canyon

Aloe. Fish Canyon
Fish River Canyon

Driving on a road to nowhere through a rocky gorge, waiting for the sand people of Star Wars fame to suddenly appear over the ridge, we’re gobsmacked when we finally arrive at our final destination for the day, Ai Ais Hot Springs. Yet again the setting of the campsite, between two vertiginous peaks, has all we could ask for and more, a bar, a pool and hot springs.

Ai-Ais
Ai Ais Hot Springs campsite

Ai-Ais
Ai Ais Hot Springs campsite

Ai-Ais
Ai Ais Hot Springs campsite – the deceiving pool that’s not so refreshing!

Being another day of 40 degree weather the lot of us are a little disappointed that the main pool is also fed from the springs. With Sarah being a little late to the party, we decided to keep this fact hidden behind a promise of a refreshing lie. To see the discontent in her eyes upon resurfacing after the head first plunge we’re in stitches at her misfortune.

‘That is NOT what I expected!’

Tonight’s the night. The Rugby World Cup Final, Australia v New Zealand. Lucky for us there’s no other Kiwis with us and we have a sweet bar with a big screen TV in which to watch it. Namibia, as is much of Southern Africa, are Rugby fans and its’s not long until the two of us are in a conversation with some locals, placing Jagermiester bets on who will/won’t convert.

Ai-Ais
The restaurant/bar at Ai Ais Hot Springs

Ai-Ais
Not a bad place to watch the Rugby World Cup

The couple we’ve met and their kids are on a getaway for the weekend and we stick around with them until the dinner bell rings back at camp. Immediately after dinner as we’re doing the washing up a white SUV abruptly pulls up and out bowls our newly met friend (who shall remain unnamed for privacy reason!).

‘Come over to ours for a braai!’

Stuffed full from the BBQ we’ve just had it looks like we’re in for a BBQ bang bang. Soon enough he has us two and Frank the German in the car, Matt and Frank both with full to the brim cups of red wine. After moving just three metres we’re brought to an abrupt halt, red wine filling the interior cabin in all directions. We soon deduce that we’ve hit a raised manhole cover in front of everybody else at camp.

‘It’s not my car it’s the wife’s’

is the response. What a sight we must have been, one big Namibian bloke, our German and the two off us pissed as parrots making a side show the situation. Just a hundred meters down the resort (yes we know, why didn’t we just walk??) and we’re in his families holiday apartment with the fire blazing and the braai cooking being handed beer after beer. An all-round bloody good night is had as we’re once again shown entertained by the amazingly hospitable locals.

 Landscapes
Driving Namibia’s great desert landscape

Rising the following day it’s the pack, tents, cook, clean routine to the next destination in this most spectacular of countries. The mercury has dipped below the 40 degree mark for what feels like the first time in days as we trail through this martian landscape on our way further south. Nudging up an incline we round a bend and suddenly before us in spectacular contrast fields of vivid green span the valley below as far as the eye can see.

‘We have arrived in wine country’

Into wine country
We’ve arrived in wine country

Payday Mayhem
Payday chaos at Noordoewer Spar

A quick stop sees us caught up in chaotic pay day stupor inside and outside Spar supermarket in the town of Noordoewer before we arrive to the tranquil camp of Felix Unite (yep we though it was a weird name too). Beautiful, lush green grass greets us, yet we’ve been dreading this day for some weeks. As the dirt road driving has finished we have been tasked with the removal of everything from below the truck which we need to clean ready for the next tour. Yay fun.

Felix Unite at Orange River
Truck cleaning time at Felix Unite campsite

Felix Unite Campsite
Orange River and South Africa beyond

Our kick arse pool overlooking the Orange River and South Africa beyond goes unused with the weather the coolest it’s been in weeks. Still the decking surrounding the pool is a perfect place to take in the fly fishermen in the river as the clouds roll by overhead (just beware of umbrellas in the wind). The night is one of the clearest and moon free we’ve had and we attempt to take some night shots, failing due to camera battery issues. There’ll be other opportunities.  Tomorrow we cross the final border and the wine fun begins in our final country of this vast continent, South Africa!

Felix Unite Campsite
Felix Unite campsite

Replica of Kanyo our guide's dress.
Our overland rivals, Intrepid, and their Barbie mascot

Felix Unite Campsite
This is what happens when you don’t fix the umbrella properly

For more great pics of Namibia check out our Flickr page.  Thanks for reading.

 

Note: You may have noticed we didn’t give the Rugby World Cup results. That’s because we’re from Melbourne and we don’t even like rugby. Unless we win. Which we didn’t.

 

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