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Tuesday 27 September

Bush Camp - Solitaire - Sesriem - Sossusvlei - Sesriem

Another early start (6.00) and were actually away by the designated time (7.30) although it is likely that we left the tarpaulin behind since we didn't have it this evening. Drove for a while before descending from the plateau for the first time since we had arrived in Namibia. Stopped to take photographs of the Naukluft mountains and the first sight of the Namib desert. Continued on to Sesriem, the entrance to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Registered here to obtain a permit to enter the park and then took the road towards Sossusvlei. We stopped at Dune 45 to take photographs and to have a quick climb.

We did not however reach the top because it was taller than could be seen from the car park. The difference in the temperature of the sand on the two sides of the ridge was remarkable and I nearly burnt my feet trying to take a photograph (on someone else's camera). Went on to the 2WD car park at the end of the road where we had lunch and contemplated the target dune for the afternoon, possibly one of the largest sand dunes in the world.

The intrepid group of Andy, Pat, Tim, Kate, Toni, Geraldine and myself started the ascent at about 2.30. Tim however gave up just as we reached the base of the dune. The chosen route was straight up instead of the ridge route used by previous groups. This proved to be very hard work especially when in the front but after about an hour we reached the summit and the view was great. We think that this dune was about 350m high. I tried to take a panorama of photographs but doubt that it worked very well. Pat's hat was blown down the far side of the dune and he was stupid enough to go after it. His climb back up was even harder then the previous one. The descent was fast, furious and fun. Andy and I decided to follow the ridge around for a while but decided that this was too slow so headed straight for the bottom instead.

It took us lhr15 to return to the bottom of the dune , smashing the previous record.

Back at the truck we played a game of football, but I soon retired after Carlos stood on my foot breaking my toe nail and generating a lot of blood. At 5.30 we started to head back up the road to view the sunset. After stopping a couple of times we arrived back at Dune 45 to see the sun actual go down.

Left here at 7.00 since we had to out of the park by 7.40 , 45km away. On the way back we came across a car accident where a vehicle had rolled over trapping a woman inside. Two other people had already got out of the car but were very dazed. Our nurses, both midwives actually, offered advice. Meanwhile Don produced a hacksaw and iron bar which were used to open the door after which the woman was extracted. We decided that there was nothing more that we could to do (there were lots of other people and the park rangers around and the ambulance had been called) so we left the scene. Surprisingly we weren't told off for being late out of the park, the German attitude to rules obviously has got all the way through to the Namibians. We arrived at the campsite at Sesriem at 8.35 and so had to put the tents up in the dark. We had dinner which did not contain any meat since we had not been to a shop in 4 days and went to bed.

Wednesday 28 September

Sesriem - Solitaire - Namib Desert Park - Swakopmund

Up at 6.00, had breakfast and set off at 7.30. We drove north seeing Oryx, (gemsbok) and Springbok. Got to Solitaire a 'town' which had been signposted from 100km away but was actually a petrol station with a shop attached. Continued on seeing more Oryx and Springbok and also some giraffe. The giraffe must either have been on holiday or come from a game ranch since they are not supposed to occur in this area. Went over a couple of passes (Kuiseb and Gaub passes) and passed back into the tropics. We saw the lunar landscape which is supposed to be a tourist attraction but was actually shit. Stopped for lunch on the gravel planes of the Namib Desert Park and then went to see a Welwitscha, a famous Namibian plant which was also shit.

Arrived in Swakopmund at 3.15 and went to the bank to change some money. Hung around at the truck waiting for everyone else to return. Also went to buy some beers and Cokes, but decided that 24 cans of peach flavoured Fanta was a bad idea. Finally we went down to the chalets where we were staying (in beds again). Found out that both the trip to the uranium mine and brewery tour which were to take place tomorrow could not be arranged.

Went to the laundrette to do my washing. The laundrette also contains a games room and upstairs a casino. Played pool while the washing was doing, naturally I won. Went back to the chalets and had some dinner. I put the mosquito net up over Andy's bed to save him from malaria, but he didn't appreciate the trouble that I had gone to.

By this time Derek had started being sick, but we assumed that it was something that he eaten and all went down Fagin's for a drink or two.

Thursday 29 September

Swakopmund

Woke up and Kate very kindly bought me a cup of tea. Not so kindly she had put some salt in it, which I did not find exceptionally amusing. Got up to find that Derek had been being sick all night and he was thus taken to hospital to find out the problem. Some of the group were supposed to go out fishing but this was also cancelled, so O trips out of 3 occurred. Wandered around Swakopmund in the morning seeing the pier, beach, tropical gardens, lighthouse etc. but were prevented from playing crazy golf because it was closed.

Looked in a few shops and then went to the tannery. I thought about buying Mum a handbag but ended up buying a Kudu leather fly swatter instead. Then we went to a Konditorei for lunch (I had Lemon Cream torte). Ended up back at the chalets because all the shops were shut until 2/3 pm but the chalet was also shut and the key was with a Spaniard who could not be found. Therefore went to play pool/ games machines at the laundrette for a little while before returning to town to visit the museum. This was not overly interesting.

It was quite cool the whole of the day, I wore long trousers and a jumper most of the day. In fact it was a bit like an English resort town out of season. On the way back from the museum we saw some pelicans and also some flamingos in the Swakop river.

Returned to the chalet again to find that Derek was suffering from a build up of fluid in the pancreas which leaked into the stomach and that it was caused by long term alcohol abuse. No one was being very sympathetic any more. We went out to dinner at Kuickis, a fish restaurant tonight. We were supposed to eat the fish that the fishermen had caught on their trip but this was not to be. I had some pleasant grapefruit schnaps as an aperetif, I had mussels grilled with cheese on top and Kabeljau (something like cod). Later on a bought a round of mixed schnapps drinks. I ended up with the cherry one and it was revolting. I went back to bed fairly early (~1.30) after this experience but some of the others decided to stay up until 4am at the local disco.

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