I really felt sad leaving Kulala Desert Lodge. It was such a beautiful and relaxing place. I really wish we had planned for at least one more night there. Alas, we didn’t and we were back on the gravel road by 10:00 the next morning heading towards our final destination, the capital of Namibia, Windhoek (pronounced Vin-hok).
Once back in Sesriem, we headed south on C19…all gravel road which took us past some interesting scenery and mountains. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to the town of Maltahöhe, which was the beginning of paved roads….yay!!!
Driving along, in the middle of nowhere, we encountered people hitching a ride. Looking around, David and I both wondered, where on earth did these people come from? I am sorry to say that we didn’t stop to give anyone a ride. Some people kind of nodded their heads when they realized that we were foreigners…as if to say “yes, I know you don’t stop for strangers.” Others were more adamant in trying to make us stop. Maybe it would have been safe but honestly, we didn’t want to find out the hard way that it wasn’t.
Just outside of Maltahöhe, we saw people riding in carts. Of the two we saw, one was being pulled by a team of horses being driven by a man with two small boys. The second cart appeared to have a family, a man, woman and 2 small children that was drawn by donkeys. I would love to have had a picture but didn’t want to appear rude so will have to keep the “photo” in my memory.
It was wonderful to arrive in Maltahöhe and drive on a paved road. The town itself is very sleepy but offered a unique gas station/store. Outside the store was a chalkboard with “Merry Christmas” written in several different languages.
From Maltahöhe, we continued on the C19 towards Mariental where we would connect to the B1 highway that would take us to Windhoek. Silly me, I thought that once on the B1, we would be on a four lane highway. Never assume anything when traveling. Their highway system compares to our secondary roads in the states. It was just two lanes, so passing was a bit challenging at times…especially when you got behind a lanky, old semi-trailer truck. There isn’t much to say about our ride except that the scenery often reminded us of the landscape we have seen in Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming.
At one point, we came to a bridge that was under construction and was down to one lane. The stoplight on the bridge was done manually. There was a lady at our end and a young man at the other. They had walkie-talkies that they communicated with to determine when they were supposed to change the light from red to green. There was nothing to protect them from the hot sun. I couldn’t imagine sitting or standing there all day doing that job. I imagine, though, that they were just grateful to have a job.
Off to the side of the bridge, appeared to be a tent with a fireplace that had a pot on it. It looked as if that might be where the construction workers were staying while they were working on the project since it was very remote area.
Just about 15 minutes outside of the city of Windhoek, we saw a very large baboon cross the street. I frantically tried to get my camera out to take his picture but didn’t get it in time. On the side of the road that he crossed over to, there were several other baboons, some with babies clinging to their back. When David slowed the car down, so I could take a picture, they took off….like I have said many, many times before, me trying to photograph wildlife is not a good match! Just a short way down the road, however, we saw this warthog! Imagine….we were just minutes outside of the capital!
We rented a small efficiency apartment in Windhoek. It was Hartmann Suites on the corner of Burg and Ballot Street. We arrived at 5:00 PM after another long day of traveling. As well as Christmas, December 26 is a public holiday in Namibia. It is called family day and we heard in our travels that this is the day that families get together to and pay tribute to their ancestors and enjoy a large feast.
Darn those holidays when you are traveling!!! There was very little open. Katharina, who checked us in to the apartment, was kind enough to give directions to a couple of restaurants that she knew would be open. We really didn’t feel like eating out but the grocery stores were closed. On the way to one of the restaurants, we stopped at a convenience store and bought some pasta. There was some olive oil at the apartment so we went back and made a meal out of plain pasta with olive oil and salt. It was good but would have been better with a glass of wine but couldn’t buy any because of the holiday.
I wish I could tell you of all the wonderful sights we saw the next day in Windhoek but I can’t. In all honesty, we were tired and just wanted a “down day”. We did drive through the center of the city….it appears to be very clean and very modern. It was a Saturday and I honestly don’t know if any of the tourist sites would have been open. The city was very deserted. We were told that everyone heads for the coast……much like here in Johannesburg.
Sunday, the 28th, we were scheduled to return to Johannesburg. The airport is about a half-hour outside of the city. If we had been heading south, instead of north, I would have questioned if we were driving back to Johannesburg instead of flying. Finally, we arrived, dropped off the rental car….dirty as it was…we really had tried to find a place to wash it but didn’t have any luck because of the holiday…..checked in for our flight and a couple of hours later, we were back in Johannesburg.
It was a great Christmas and like David kept asking throughout the trip, “I wonder where in the world we will be next year???”