February 4th

Ship of the Desert
Tomlinson Clan
Wed 4 Feb 2009 18:20

24:43.3s 14:44.5e


Having fallen asleep to the sound of the sea lapping the shore, we awoke to the sound of seals and for some, the sight of jackals around our camp.  Another day had begun!


The day ahead was packed with dune driving, with the beach as our destination for our camp that evening. I started the dune drive with Francois, (our main man!) who taught me a thing or two!  I took the wheel of our car a little later and Paul sat with Francois.  My navigator was Douglas, who was absolutely fantastic on the radio mic, and my co-pilot was Kenneth and together we made things rock and roll (though not literally!)


We left the ground over the first dune whilst trying out a new form of dune driving!!!Breathtaking is all we need to say!  The dunes at this point were fabulous.  The last dune before lunch was perhaps the most spectacular of all so far.  One rule of dune driving is, “If you can’t see, don’t go”.  This rule I did break at the start of this dune..... and we had to be pulled back by rope as the wheels became only half visible......it was all very exciting!  Then we looked on with sheer amazement at what lay ahead.  A sharp bend to the left whilst going up a short, but steep hill and then as you reached the pinacle, the drop on the other side was sheer and incredibly long.  At the bottom, you had to do a very tight circle with full lock, and then put your foot right down to gain enough speed to get out of the basin you were in.  As we started off, all the Afrikaners  put their fists up in the air with their thumbs hidden in the middle. With this rather unusual salute, bemused and confused, we braved what lay before us.  We now understand this gesture to mean, ‘Good luck’!


After lunch, our little ‘team’ stayed together and ventured on through thick and thin.  I handed my wheel back to Paul and asked if I could sit alongside the recovery man Andre.  It was really fascinating seeing how they recover the vehicles that get really stuck in the sand.  I wasn’t with Andre for long when I was offered the chance to sit with the lead guide.  Naturally , one cannot turn down such an offer!!!! I was about to have the drive of my life......  I couldn’t possibly describe what I experienced.......!


The lead guide is called Len and his father is the chieftan of the Topnaars tribe in Namibia.  A kind and thoughtful man with amazing sand handling skills!


The dunes finally dropped straight down onto the beach that stretched for miles before us. As we drove along with the waves breaking onto the beach, we passed seals that looked on at us  with wonder as they were having their afternoon nap and herds of Gemsbok who were grazing on sea grass.


We found a place to stay and made it our beach side camp.  We had just enough time to erect our tents and go white mussel fishing before the sun set on our day.  Francois showed us how to catch the mussels. Kenneth was fantastic at this and caught an incredible amount.  We took them back to camp and Francois showed Kenneth how to open them and eat them.  Open them he did, eat them he did not........but I did......they were delicious!


The camp fire has been lit and it is time to go.  There are lots of Jackal tracks here, I wonder if they will come and visit us tonight.....?