Outside Terminal 1 Dubai International Airport on a Thursday afternoon to start my journey to Namibia.
After checking in I headed through immigration and then onto security where my Phantom quadcopter drone was pulled aside after the X-ray. After a quick swab for explosives I was quickly on my way though.
Looking across to the very empty Terminal 1 while taking the train to Concourse D.
After Jordan had invited me to join him for a few days in Namibia, I started looking at the best way to get there from Dubai. Qatar Airways fly to Windhoek but as it is only every second day it didn't match up and it was also quite expensive at $1237 return.
I found a cheap flight on Ethiopian Airlines to Johannesburg (JNB) for $400 however, and then bought an onward return ticket to Windhoek (WDH) for $273.
Hence my flights for the trip were:
Day 0: Flying Ethiopian Airlines (ET) from Dubai to Johannesbourg via Addis Ababa (DXB-ADD-JNB).
Day 1: Flying South African Airways (SA) from Johannesbourg to Windhoek (JNB-WDH).
Day 5: Flying Air Namibia (SW) from Windhoek to Johnannesburg (WDH-JNB).
Flying Ethiopian Airlines (ET) from Johannesbourg to Dubai via Addis Ababa (JNB-ADD-DXB).
Up until recently, New Zealand was one of the few Western countries where South Africans could travel without a visa. After a spate of problems with other African nationals using forged South African passports to enter New Zealand however, this privilege was unfortunately revoked.
In a tit-for-tat response the South African government revoked visa on arrival for New Zealanders. Hence for my trip to Johannesburg I had to travel on my UK passport.
Grabbing something to eat in the Marhaba lounge.
The ET A350 waiting at the gate.
Luckily I had the row to myself for the flight to Addis Ababa.
A Flynas A320 just behind us as we wait our ok from the tower.
A queue beginning to form as we waited for clearance to come.
We finally took off just after 6:15pm. Looking down on the Queen Elizabeth 2 at Port Rashid.
The Dubai skyline.
And the Burj Khalifa.
Flying high above Oman as we head out towards the Arabian Sea.
Watching The Founder, a film starring Michael Keaton as businessman Ray Kroc, who built McDonald's into the fastfood chain it is today. Very interesting movie and definitely recommended.
Simple but tasty dinner of beef and rice.
Flying over the Gulf of Aden towards Ethiopia as we avoid Yemeni airspace.
Above the capital just before we land at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
And a slighty chaotic arrival at the terminal to transfer to my onward flight to Johannesburg.
It was the evening rush hour and the terminal was super busy. After finding a seat and watching a movie on my iPad I joined the very long queue for security. They were calling people to come forward who had flights that were departing soon, so luckily I didn't have to wait too long.
And back out onto the tarmac, ready to board the ET 737 for the 5.5 hour flight to South Africa.
Chicken and rice served soon after take-off. I then put on my eye shades and ear plugs to take a few winks.
We arrived in Johannesburg ahead of time just before 4am. Luckily there was almost no queue for immigration and I was quickly through to pick up my bag from the luggage belt.
After checking in for my South African Airways flight to Windhoek, I made my way back airside. An EK 777 getting ready for it's 9:25am return to Dubai.
Cuppaccino for a much needed dose of caffeine at Mugg & Bean.
Followed by a very tasty Croque Madame sandwich for breakfast.
I met up with Jordan at the gate for our flight to Windhoek. He had flown in from London on a British Airways A380.
About to board the SAA A320 after a short bus ride to the remote gate.
A BAe 146 on the taxi way as we take-off just after 9:30am.
Above Pretoria as we start the journey north-east to Namibia.
Chicken and mashed potatoes with pasta salad.
And some more coffee to help shake off the jet lag.
Looking down on the border of Botswana and Namibia. It was interesting to see it so clearly demarcated.
After landing at Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport, we made the short walk from the plane to arrivals.
And stamped into Namibia, my 30th country in Africa visited.
After meeting up with Rianda who had flown in 2 hours earlier on a SAA flight from Cape Town, we went to sort out our ride for the next few days. I somehow had managed to leave my car license back in Dubai, but luckily Rianda had brought hers though.
Our Toyota Hilux 4x4 for the next four days.
The plan for the next four days was to drive from Windhoek to Swakopmund via Okahandja where we would spend our first night in Namibia. After some sightseeing in Swakopmund we would head southeast to Sesriem and stay two nights at the Desert Camp. After checking out the sights of Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft National Park we would head northeast back to Windhoek for a one night stay before flying out the next morning from Hosea Kutako International Airport.
After sorting out our Toyota Hilux we made the 46 kilometre drive into Windhoek with Rianda at the wheel.
Once in Windhoek we headed to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to pick up park permits for the trip. It was a relatively simple process we were on our way after only 10 minutes.
Topping up the tank with diesel and buying a few snacks at a local service station.
We were then on our way again.
Passing through Okahandja and taking the B2 to Swakopmund.
The road was sealed all the way and with little traffic we made good time.
About 40 kilometres before Swakopmund we headed off the B2 to check out the moon-like landscape in Dorob National Park.
I took the opportunity to launch my Phantom to get a birds-eye view.
A panoramic view of the surreal landscape below.
We then continued our drive through the 'lunar' landscape.
It was quite unreal how dry and desolate the terrain was. Even in the desert in Dubai there is some vegetation and some sign of life so the complete barreness was quite unreal.
A lone road sign as we took a quick detour left before heading on to Swakopmund.
Looking across the arid landscape with the Rössing Mountains in the distance.
And a perfect backdrop for a selfie!
We then headed into Swakopmund and checked into the Swakopmund Plaza Hotel. $102 for the night including breakfast.
Just after 6pm we headed out to look for some where for dinner.
At Swakopmund Jetty. At the end was Jetty 1905 Restaurant so we decided to check it out.
Work on building a wooden jetty commenced in 1905, and followed up with a steel jetty in 1914. After the First World War it became a pedestrian walkway and was then declared structurally unsound in 1999 and was closed to the public for seven years. In 2006 it was renovated with the seafood restaurant added soon after.
We didn't have a reservation but luckily they managed to find room for us. The busy kitchen on display as we made our way to our table.
For the starter we each had the trio of oysters, with one baked garlic oyster, one tempura oyster and one grilled oyster each for $N85 ($6.50).
Rianda's seafood skewers for her main with mussels, prawn, calamari, litchis and onion served on grilled line fish ($N130 or $10).
Jordan opted for the Jetty 1905 mussel pot, tossed in creamy white wine sauce and served with toasted bread fingers ($N115 or $8.80).
And I enjoyed the delicious black pepper and toasted sesame crusted tuna medallions served with potato mash, pickled ginger and sweet soy sauce ($N220 or $16.90).
Overall a very tasty dining experience in a very unique location!
We then walked back along the jetty and back to the hotel for some rest after a great first day in Namibia.
With the two hour time difference from Dubai I got up at 5:30am and went for a run along the beachfront. I noticed a familiar shape in the darkness and caught up with Rianda and we jogged back together to the hotel.
After a quick shower I walked down to the beach to take my Phantom out for a fly. Looking down at the jetty stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean with the restaurant at the end where we had eaten the night before.
Jordan had been up since 3:30am with jetlag and also was out for a stroll. He took over the controls for a few minutes for a bit of a fly around.
The sun rising in the early morning above Swakopmund.
Looking south down the coast with the sand dunes in the distance.
Some of the beachfront houses. There were quite a few curious seagulls circling but luckily I managed to evade them and bring the Phantom safely back down to earth.
Back at the hotel we had breakfast just after 7:30am.
And a seriously tasty omelette stuffed with delicious bacon.
We then headed for a bit of a walkabout around Swakopmund. Outside the Höhenzollern Building just down from our hotel. Built in 1906 during the German colonial era. On top is a statue of Atlas, bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders.
A portrait of Che Guevara painted on a wall.
Outside the old German barracks. It is now home to the Swakopmund Youth Hostel.
Crossing the street in the main Central Business District.
Lekker (yummy in Afrikaans) Ice Cream.
Taking a left on Bismarck Street to Woermann Haus. After visiting former French, English, Portugese and Italian parts of Africa, it was interesting to visit a place with German influence.
Built in 1894, Woermann Haus consists of the main house, a courtyard and a tower.
The view from the top of the tower.
The building now houses a library and art gallery.
We then stopped off at Cafe Anton at Hotel Schweizerhaus.
Marvelling at all the sugary goodness on display.
Jordan opted for a piece of the tasty apple strudel and iced coffee.
While me and Rianda shared a caffè latte and a meringue and a petit four.
We then carried on our stroll through town. Swakopmund Lighthouse, built in 1902.
Palm trees by the beach at Swakopmund Mole (sea wall).
After stopping by the local supermarket to stock on some snacks and water, we checked out of the hotel and then headed to a service station to fill up with diesel before starting the drive to Sesriem.
Crossing the bridge over the Swakop River as we head south out of town.
After passing by Walvis Bay, we stopped at Dune 7, a large sand dune just out of town.
I half-heartedly climbed up a few metres but with the midday sun it was far too hot to muster the energy to climb further up.
At 383 metres tall it is the tallest dune in the Namib Desert.
Railway tracks between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
We then headed inland for our first major stretch of unsealed road. It was well graded and in good condition so we still managed a decent pace.
Stopping at Vogelfederberg to stretch our legs.
Mount Vogelfederberg is 527 metres tall. I briefly considered sending my Phantom up for a better look but it was far too windy.
Continuing our drive east on the C14.
After an hour of very dry and desolate terrain, we came across a few tree's.
More tree's along the path of a dry riverbed.
An otherworldly looking Quiver tree, indigenous to parts of Southern Namibia and the Northern Cape of South Africa.
The terrain getting more rugged as we head further east.
Stopping in the Kuiseb Canyon. It was amazing to see how much the landscape varied over such a short distance.
After Kuiseb Canyon the road turned south towards Solitaire.
Stopping at the Tropic of Capricorn just after 3pm.
Two male ostriches by the road.
Heading further south on the gravel road C14.
We reached the small settlement of Solitaire just before 5pm.
Fueling up. It was the first real sign of civilisation since the 235 kilometres from Walvis Bay.
Outside Moose McGregors Desert Bakery.
Their apple pie had been recommended by other friends who had passed through Solitaire, and also reputed to be the best in Namibia!
A photo of the late Moose McGregor, a Scot who had moved to Solitaire and opened the bakery more than 20 years ago.
The crumb topped apple pie was definitely worth the long drive!
We then pushed on for the final drive south.
We covered the 83 kilometres to Sesriem in about 45 minutes.
We arrived at the Desert Camp, our lodging for the next two nights, just after 5:30pm.
The Desert Camp consisted of 20 self-catering units with adobe-style walls and canvas sides and roof.
The main bedroom.
And the bathroom. We opted for the dinner and breakfast half-board option, and at $161 per night it was very reasonable.
Dinner was at the nearby Sossusvlei Lodge, 4 kilometres up the road near the entrance of the park.
We got there just after 6pm and were the first to be seated for dinner.
The outdoor braai/barbeque.
An amazing and bewildering selection of meat was on offer. As well as boerewors, beef, pork, chicken, and lamb they had Wildebeest, Zebra, Ostrich, Blesbok, Eland, Oryx, Kudu, Hartebeest and Impala!
My Ostrich and Zebra steaks on the grill.
The tasty selection of cold meats and salads.
A great feast at the end of a long day.
Despite the big dinner I couldn't resist a bit of overindulgence by eyeing up a few of the desserts.
And they tasted as good as they looked!
We then headed back to the Desert Camp to get some rest for another busy day tomorrow.