Archive for March 18th, 2011

Namibian Adventures: Outrunning The Joneses

March 18, 2011

Adventure Namibia! Out Running the Jones!

Anyone who has spent a dismal March day in the north of England knows what it is like. You check your mail and there – while the rain drizzles down, and the cold early night draws in –  is a beaming post card sent by the utter swine who lives next door explaining how warm it is on the beach in the Bahamas at the moment.

He doesn’t actually say “Ha! Ha! I’m here. And you my friend are there! Drink your drizzle! I’m having a Pina Colada!”  

 But that is what he means.

 Traditionally this sort of gruesome gloating sparks a competitive atmosphere known as “Keeping up with the Jones.”

 Hot tip, chaps! If you are involved in this grisly scenario, Namibia is your answer!

 You don’t just keep up with those infernal Jones (going to the Bahamas next year simply won’t cut it – they’ve already done it and anyway they will be in Bermuda which will no doubt be much better).

 No! You book a ticket on Air Namibia and outstrip them completely. Keeping up is not a consideration. You are here to out run them! 

 And the key to success is in one word; ADVENTURE!

 Namibia is drenched in adventure. And it comes in all shapes and sizes.

 To take one small example, when I first stepped foot on Namibian soil, I found it extraordinarily adventurous to change a tyre.   

 I am not alone in this regard. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper sent a travel writer over and he, too, suffered a flat. The photo caption read “Suddenly I realized that I couldn’t change a tyre. I’d never had to do it.” 

 The Brit spent three long paragraphs describing his initial terror, his manly decision to fend for himself, his heroics with the jack, his struggle with the spanner and his final triumph over the lug nuts (after a passing vehicle stopped and its driver gave him a crash course). 

 My post card to the Jones wasn’t as long. And I wasn’t paid for it. But as I licked the stamp I thought, “Gotcha!”

 For most Namibians this no doubt sounds a trifle puny when it comes to trading post card punches with your neighbours.

 But the fact remains that a lot of what we take for granted –  pungent biltong, long empty roads, gravel tracks, mountains, deserts, dunes, seals, flamingos, rolling plains, clear night skies, braais, bushfires etc. – are, for newcomers from the urbanized West or Far East, pure adventure.     

 For those of you reading this who are spoiled and taking things for granted (and thinking “darn those Jones are in the Bahamas! I‘ve got to book tickets!”) I recommend a re-think.

 The Namibian tourism industry is currently on a growth curve of epic proportions and every day brings a new and adventurous development.  

 First; National Parks and Protected Areas (PAs).

 Good news for map and guide book publishers seeking gainful employment. The maps and books will all need changing. And soon! New National and Trans-frontier Parks are being created and connected at an unprecedented rate.

It is conceivable that within twelve months this country will find itself central to the largest PA network in Africa, if not the world.

Linking PAs in Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa is just the tip of the sand dune (or the surface of the wetland). The entire Atlantic coast, as well as a vast tract of land restoring ancient wildlife migration routes from Etosha through Damaraland to the Skeleton Coast is also scheduled for park status.           

If you can’t have an adventure in that lot, then there’s no hope for you! The Jones will have won. 

Yes, let’s get back to the Jones. And one-upmanship!

So, the Jones family went skiing. Big deal. You did too! And you skipped that boring snow thing! Snow’s for Christmas cards. Real men (and real women) go for sand. You have zoomed down a titanic dune at 80 kph in the oldest desert on earth!

And you’ve still got the sand in your ears (and scorch marks on your bum plus a complimentary DVD) to prove that you were dumb enough to do it.  

“OK”, think the Jones. “We’ll go fishing.”

A nice try. They pull in a salmon in Scotland. You beach a large bronze whaler shark on the Skeleton Coast. (Please put it back.) Or you spend a weekend in a boat riding high waves and hauling in snoek during the annual run. Or you battle tiger fish in the Kavango to the background roar of hippos and rumble of elephant herds.  

There is a pause and then the Jones come at you with another attempt.

“We have just had a weekend in France. We caught a light aircraft…”

“Really? I’m taking my light aircraft license as we speak. The views are incredible!”

“We climbed Ben Nevis,” attempt the Jones.

“Brandberg. Highest peak in Namibia. Lots of amazing Bushman petroglyphs.”

“We went hiking.”

“What a coincidence! We’ve just finished the Fish River Canyon hike. Biggest canyon in Africa.”

“Golf!” counter the increasingly desperate Jones. “We’ve just been playing golf! You should have seen the Greens! All the rain we’ve been having really makes them glow.”

“You should see our Browns. And our sand traps! Tee-d off on the Oranjemund course with an oryx  looking over my shoulder.”

“We bought the kids some huge balloons from a guy in Oxford Street. Never seen any balloons that big.” 

“Champagne breakfast. Hot air balloon safari over Sossusvlei.”

BLOG ED: Due to unusually heavy Spring rains the vlei is currently flooded. A very rare and extremely photogenic, not mention startling phenomenon.

A long pause from the Jones.

Then; “Horse riding. We’ve just been horse riding. ” 

“Yes, it’s nice isn’t it? I’ll never forget our horseback adventure following the old ox wagon trekking route across the central Hochland plateau down through the pass to the coast. It was almost as good as our camel safari monitoring black rhinos with Save the Rhino Trust up in Damaraland. Our donkey rides and races in the carts up in the Himba kraals in Kaokoland weren’t quite as dramatic but… ” 

Silence from the Jones. And then in a final futile burst comes this;

“We spent the weekend camping. It was so inspiring to get back to nature. John even thought he saw a fox. And a deer. It was a magnificent animal.”

“Camping? A fox? And a deer as well! It must have been quite an experience. I remember pitching a tent above a dry riverbed. Didn’t get a wink of sleep. There were all these giraffe being noisy and then a hyena arrived. There was an electrical storm. Wagnerian! And when I put up a tent beside a diamond ghost town in the Sperrgebiet after five hours driving through a …”

Etc. Etc.

I won’t labour the point. Because I’ve already done it. Those Jones simply don’t stand a chance. A postcard sent from Namibia will never be dull. And it’s my guess that those Jones have no idea how to change a tyre.


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