Namibia, horizons of green desert

Time to sneak in a non-running-related blog post. Just because I can :)

Back home after two fantastic weeks – the first spent running an average of a marathon a day for five days, and the second doing so little that I’d have made a sloth look energetic.

Cape Town and Namibia are contrasting worlds in so many ways, and coming home after even just two weeks there, takes some adjusting. During our week of exploring, we clocked up about 3 000km of driving, and I’ve never seen so few people. There was just no one about for miles and miles. I guess that’s understandable when you think that Namibia, with its surface area of 824 268km2, has just 2.2 people per km2. It’s three-quarters the size of South Africa and yet its population is about half a million less than Cape Town’s. Gets you thinking.

And when I say there was nobody about, I mean really nobody. Driving through Namibia is not like driving in other African countries. There’re no settlements to be seen, no kraals, no little roadside stores, vendors or fruit sellers, no village kids running around, no herders, no huts. Instead there’re just miles and miles of bush.

I’ve travelled in many countries, developed and developing, but I’ve never experienced one that felt so remote, so isolated, so empty. To me Namibia was endless space personified.

It’s also a land of contrasts. From the burning red dunes of Sossusvlei and the bleached white crustiness of Dead Vlei, to the lush green thorny bush around Etosha and the knee-high grass that coats the country from north to south since the heavy summer rains, Namibia is filled with visual contradiction. In the past two months there’s been flooding in various regions of the country, with roads and bridges washed away from the heaviest rains experienced there in 120 years. And yet Walvis Bay remains one of the driest established cities in the world, with an annual rainfall of only 10mm.

Travelling around Namibia is an eye-opener. It’s one of the last untouched, unspoilt landscapes on the continent, giving us a window into how it’s always been, but sadly, the way we're messing up our world, probably won’t always be.