It’s 4.15 am. Still quite sleepy, I creep out of my tent to be, some minutes later, ready to sit in the truck that is waiting for us. Shortly after 5.00 am, we leave the campsite and after a one-hour-drive we reach our destination. I jump out of the truck and feel the fresh, clean air surrounding me. Above me lies nothing but the still dark and cloudless sky.
Immediately, we start climbing “Dune 45” which spreads itself right in front of us. Finally we sit on the ridge of the dune, searching in anticipation for the expectant sunrise. Bit by bit, it edges out of the darkness until its warm rays caress our faces and then the entire plain before us.
And as J.W. Goethe’s writes in “Faust” “I am a man here; I can be a man here!” Seldom have these words been more appropriate.
It’s the end of April 2010 when I had the chance to experience this amazing wonder of nature. Accompanied by 13 other adventurous tourists and three guides, I’m on a tour which leads us from Cape Town through the north-western South Africa up to Swakopmund in northern Namibia.
After three months of work as a volunteer in 17 on Loader Guest House in Cape Town, I wanted to experience another part of Africa – a part of great wideness, yet with much peace around me. I had chosen the South African tour operator NOMAD to do justice to my quest. Nomad offers a wide spectrum of different adventure tours through the whole African Continent, which can easily joined (or finished) at different places along the way.
Our camping adventure started on an early Sunday morning in Cape Town. Day by day, we criss-crossed this part of Africa which totalled a distance of almost 2000 km. “Frankie”, our commodious truck, was a very good buddy during the whole trip.
Our trip led us to the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa; to the Orange River (the natural border between South Africa and Namibia); to the Fish River Canyon; through the Namibian dessert and finally to the old coastal city of Swakopmund.
The intensity of this tour can barely be described in words. All senses are enhanced and stimulated. Swimming in a late afternoon in the Orange River towards the setting sun; walking barefoot through the soft sand; just lying down in the sun and feeling the whole body surrounded by blandly warm dessert sand – How could one describe all those moments?
For me, it feels like leaving my former life behind in order to gain a moment of pure calmness, of inner and outer peace and tranquillity.
However, besides the amazing landscape, for me the most impressive fact about this tour was the extraordinary team spirit amongst us. Our eclectic included people from Poland, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, South Korea and Spain; young and old people; whites and blacks harmonising in a way that I’ve rarely experienced before. Everyone was helpful and ready to support their fellow travellers who soon became friends.
Unforgettable are all those evenings of collective eating, chatting, laughing and the sharing of interesting stories.
All those great feelings wouldn’t have been possible without NOMAD’s work. The company succeeded in organising the perfect framework for our experience. Our awesome guides Thabang, Patrick (replaced during the week by Mat) did a fantastic job. They helped us building ONE group out of many different characters. They guided us to the most beautiful places in Namibia. They gave us a permanent feeling of security. They made sure we had a daily menu which was not only extremely well cooked but varied from meal to meal. In addition, Thabang, Patrick and Mat were available at all times and supportive in every single situation.
“I am a man here; I can be a man here.” – I’m sitting in the warm dessert sand looking towards the sun rising lazily in the distance. At this moment, one of my life dreams finally becomes reality.
I’m just … happy!