Thursday, May 31, 2012


9 may, wednesday- we arrived in windhoek mid morning, where we were met by david of nature friends safari's. after introductions, we took off for the main office in town to receive our detailed itinerary, vouchers, satellite phone and keys to the car for hire. we also received good advice for self driving. an hour later we were off! our long awaited for adventure about to begin! 
here in namibia, you drive on the left side of the road and steering  is on the right. and although most every road is dirt, signage was excellent and our directions were too. the first thing we saw were baboons near the road! we also saw: hundreds of weaver nests, pale chanting goshawks, and one dik dik. we wanted to stop many times for photos, and or to have a look, but we had a 5 hour drive ahead and we were hoping to reach our first camp before dark. it was an incredibly exciting feeling, to be in africa again, driving on our own. we were starting to feel the fatigue of travel and and so when we stopped for petrol, chuck popped in to a takeaway shop and bought two of the largest coca cola bottles we'd ever seen. between the cokes and candy we consumed, we made it in time, wide-eyed and right at dusk. we were met with welcome drinks at desert homestead and horsetrails by quentin and seven (that was his name). we were shown around and saw where we'll be staying the next three days (the above thatched chalet). oh! we had arrived at the perfect time, the place was glowing with lanterns, candles and the warmth of the setting sun. we're here!

oryx or gemsbok live here.

10 may 2012- 5:45 a.m. we're sitting at the sossusvlei gate, waiting in line for the namib naukluft park to open. this is the land of spectacular dunes, some of the world's largest, and among one of the oldest deserts on earth. (that is our truck last in line).

balloon safari's in the namib desert, tomorrow we'll go!

these are the classic spectacular dunes (this is what i showed in the first photo of my last post), glowing in early morning (or late afternoon) light. the photos above show dune 45, with people attempting to climb it.

camp had graciously packed a breakfast box for us, we are here in the namib-naukluft all day. 

 the hike to deadvlei is gorgeous but arduous in the heat, plan to be there at first light, if you go.

dead vlei- an old pan with skeleton trees, some over 500 years old. starkly beautiful, although we were too late for sunrise photos (we learned it's possible to obtain a permit, next time!)



i made an attempt to climb dune 45. it was more fun to run down, which i am doing here!

 at 4-5 pm, temps were around 34 c, 93 f.

11 may, 2012  balloon safari day!
we had a wake up call at 4:30 a.m. it was unsettling driving in total darkness, watching carefully for animals in the road. we met the other balloon riders at sossusvlei lodge and were taken by truck to the launching place. as we drove the sky began to lighten, soon we saw the balloon lying on its side. the noise was loud, when the butane was filling the balloon. every man was working together, and it was only moments before it was time to climb in! we had to move quickly, the balloon was full and wanted to rise.
inside the basket were 4 sections, and each section held 3 people. there were 12 passengers and our pilot paul. (on the drive over, we were told our pilot would be mr. pole. hee hee. pronunciations = charming).

once in, we were given a safety talk by mr. paul. you basically hang on for dear life in winds, and for
landing, you assume the position. which is: turn your back to the approaching ground, hold on to the hand grips and then squat. he also said never to stand after the first bump, because there will be subsequent bumps and you could be ejected. OKAY.

i was so excited. giggling and all. until we began to rise. i forgot that i have a fear of heights. for a few moments, it was more scary than fun, until i realized that you don't have to lean over the basket. looking down is only for the very brave, it seemed.

 chuck and my nervous smile.


after a while of floating over stunning landscapes where we could see for miles, the balloon was lowered. we could see animals and birds now! we were above a kestral hunting, and i spotted a black - backed jackel that had just dug up an ostrich egg and he was batting it around. incredible!
now the safari was ending, mr. paul said 'assume the position!' and we all did it wrong. hee hee. oops. we all turned around and held on. i could see the ground approaching fast through the little portholes in the side of the basket. we hit the ground with a jolt and a screech. we kept moving, bumping and banging. i was a little scared, as the basket began to tip, still dragging in the sand (dust flying everywhere). i saw the ground crew, which had been following along by truck, run up and try to keep the basket upright. they couldn't. i remember closing my eyes (chuck reported my eyes were open and huge and i was laughing), i thought all the people above us were going to fall on us and get hurt. dust and dirt were everywhere. there was shouting and laughing. hands were reaching out to me. everyone was a little shaken, and very excited. wow! wow! what an epic adventure!

 mr. paul in the basket still.

 the crew folding up the balloon, notice the skid marks the basket made.

 time to board the truck for the rest of our adventure.

 we drove for several kilometers and came upon this, a table, chairs, linen, breakfast and champagne in the desert!

 here is mr. paul performing a fabulous trick with a sword and a bottle of champagne...

 he sawed all the way around the bottle neck, and then with one fell swoop, lopped off the first few inches, champagne flying!

 we ate scrumptious food, laughed and chatting about our adventure, chuck and i kept winking at each other, me thanking him for this incredible experience. we met a new friend, a professor of anthropology in the states, he lives half the year in the u.s. and half in a cottage on the shores of lake victoria in tanzania. he gave us his card and invited us to stay.

more photos to remember sossusvlei and the fantastic namib- naukluft national park...
 we saw many ostrich

 we hiked

'love africa' shirt a gift from erin at dandelion dream, and new favorite indigo linen skirt made by karen for this trip. thank you talented lovely friends, i wore these all through namibia.

 waking view through the mosquito net of our room.

lodge view of our first three nights in africa.

view from atop a dune.

we felt sad leaving the dunes. we had been looking forward to being here for a very long time. but oh it's been fantastic. driving out we saw: herds of gemsbok (oryx), flocks of ostrich, a bevy of springbok, and a greater kestral. swakopmund and the skeleton coast is next!

xo lori (today i'm another year older)    :)
thank you so very much for all the kind comments on yesterdays post and lovely welcome back!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

coming home

matisa! that's damara for how are you? i hope well! we arrived back to the u.s. on sunday. it took four planes, twenty six hours flying, fourteen hours of  layovers, and one two hour air bus transport, to be home. when we were in africa, we drove almost three thousand kilometers, visited nine different lodges and camps, and took almost four thousand images. 

and we fell deeply in love. namibia is indescribable. the landscapes and the wildlife, and the people. the people. the pride of place that we found everywhere, and in everyone we met. it's been said that stepping foot on the african continent is like coming home. 

we had an incredible adventure and i truly don't know where to begin to share. i'm hoping as soon as the exhaustion of jet lag is over, i'll find a way. pockets were delivered, a new journal was made and new friends too. the following photos are a wee glimpse, of the last three weeks...

 it's so good to be home, there and here. see you soon!
 xxx lori