Road Tripping Namibia, Book Review

  • Title: Road Tripping Namibia
  • Sub-Title:  Iconic Journeys Through This Beautiful Country
  • Editor:  Thea Grobbelaar
  • Designer: Nicole Bannister
  • Cartographer and Project Manager:  Genene Hart
  • Proofreader and Commissioning Editor Elaine Fick
  • Photo credits: Shaen Adey except where otherwise specified
  • Publisher:  MapStudio (available from www.mapstudio.co.za and major online retailers)
  • Year:  First Edition 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-77026-641-4

Namibia

Every so often I get a book which makes me miss my late father very much.  Road Tripping Namibia is one such book.  I paged through it and desperately wanted to share it with him, show him the routes, discuss them with him, and most of all plan a trip to Namibia with him.  The book becomes a bitter-sweet journey through what might have been if only my father were still alive and well – the way I remember him, of course.

The book starts, as most non-fiction works do, with an introduction.  This sets the mind of the potential traveller at rest.  While Namibia may seem exotic, it is actually more accessible than we thought.  We get tips for driving on gravel, a warning about Namibia not being pet friendly, general safety, necessary paperwork for the vehicle, and an important tip not to over extend ourselves by taking on too much at one time.  From a budget point of view one can travel there in a sedan with a tent for accommodation.  Fancy lodges and a 4X4 are not necessary for the basic road trips outlined in the book.

Then we turn the page and encounter our first trip – The Namib Route (Swakopmund to Wolwedans).  We are told that it is a distance of 433km, with a total driving time of 6 hours and 40 minutes.  The journey is split into three sections (Swakopmund to Walvis Bay, Walvis Bay to Sesriem and Sesriem to Wolwedans).  The distance for each is given, together with the highlights.  A Living Desert Tour, a 4×4 trip to Sandwich Harbour, Walvis Bay Lagoon, stargazing, climbing a dune for sunset or sunrise, a hike or a horseback ride, eating apple strudel at Solitaire, and Ballooning over the dunes.  The next few pages expand on this, including lists of contact details for all the recommended activities.  The impression gained is that this is not a day, but a three or more day adventure to be experienced at leisure.  The tip about not over extending ourselves really makes sense.

Diamond Towns and Wild Horses (Noordoewer to Luderitz) is up next.  The book is published by MapStudio so it stands to reason that the maps will be a major feature of this wonderful book.  This section was done by Road Tripper Ron Swilling and he gives us information in a slightly different format (no room for boredom).  The 1619 km Adventure Route (23 hours 30 minutes driving time) follows.  Divided into six sections this takes one from Windhoek to Sendelingsdrift.

The most alluring of the trips for me is perhaps the next section, the Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (a tour of the Orange River, Fish River Canyon and Richtersveld National Park with Fiona McIntosh), Noordoewer to Alexander Bay.  It is a distance of 505 km with a driving time of 9 hours split into four sections.  I would certainly spend more than one night at each section.

The Kalahari Route, the Windhoek Passes and the Floral Route follow in similar vein.

Now the specialist stuff kicks in with ‘Twitching’ Namibia – A birder’s paradise, Kavango and Zambezi with Road Tripper Willie Olivier (this will have meaning to the many men of around my age who were stationed at Rundu or Katima Mulilo), a Cultural Route, Kunene and the Four O’s, a Wildlife Route with Road Tripper Fiona McIntosh from Walvis Bay to Etosha National Park, Rocks and Rock Art with the photographer Shaen Adey herself, Damaraland and the Kaokoveld and then, finally, the Skeleton Coast – an Angler’s Paradise (Walvis Bay to Terrace Bay).

Most of the Road Trippers did more than one trip and Katy Sharpe and Nick Buys also undertook these Road Trips.

I was entranced by the book and will take it down and stare at it longingly for a while during the time when I decide on my 2016 holiday – winter in Namibia sounds good, or maybe spring to catch the flowers.  Whether one is doing real time travelling or armchair travelling, this is a fascinating book with hours of pleasant anticipation of exciting journeys.

Just one caveat, if one wants to see the welwitschia one needs to ignore the good advice to travel in winter because they only flower in summer.  One can’t have everything.

Road Tripping Namibia is available from www.MapStudio.co.za (0860 10 50 50).

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About moirads

Clergy person, theatre and music lover, avid reader, foodie. Basically, I write about what I do, where I go and things I love (or hate).
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