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Words and photographs: Annelien Robberts
Here is the thing about October in Namibia. The long-awaited December holidays are still intangibly far, but that does not stop Christmas decorations from popping up in shopping malls. Nor does it alleviate the extreme heat. These elements undeniably add up to a proper summer feeling that spells D-E-C-E-M-B-E-R for every Namibian. Yet it is only October. For some of us it means crunch time at work, despite all the year-end celebrations. Slacking down is not an option.
To add to the frustration, yet another Whatsapp group appears at the top of your chats. But before you lose it, you realise that this one might be a sanity saver. Group name – “Camping weekend”. Group members – lekker people only. It’s on – the organising of a camping weekend at Namibgrens.
The best thing about camping at Namibgrens is that you do not need to be a seasoned camper. Their team can easily pitch a tent for you kitted out with stretchers and bedding. Each campsite offers a large shaded area, with its own wash-up and braai area, as well as its own bathroom set among the boulders. And if camping is not your thing, there are plenty of other accommodation options. Check out the website.
So, let’s talk activities. What do you do on a hot summer’s day at a place bordering the Namib Desert?
Option 1: Wake up early. Go for a run amongst the splendid scenery. Enjoy a well-deserved breakfast afterwards.
Option 2: Wake up at around 7, which counts as sleeping in. The sun forces you out of hibernation after a cool night – typical desert weather. Enjoy a cup of coffee with a rusk. Take a dip in the pool. Return to camp for breakfast number two. Not any less well-deserved than the first option. It’s been a tough year.
Option 3: If you are preparing for the cycling event of the year (in Namibia it is the Desert Dash), wake up early and go for a bike ride to Solitaire. Have a slice of the famous apple crumble and hope that you are lucky enough that your fellow campers will agree to fetch you there by car.
Option 4: Take the car to visit Sossusvlei or Solitaire, both worthy of being on everybody’s road-trip itinerary.
Once everyone has returned to camp and recovered – either from cycling 50 km or an overdose on coffee and French toast topped with banana and bacon drenched in honey – the pool becomes the main gathering point. In the late afternoon, a volleyball game is the order of the day. Then, according to the sun’s position, it is already time to leave to Spreetshoogte Pass – a beloved sundowner spot situated fewer than 10 km away. We cheers to a year well-lived and to the final things that still need to happen before we can start planning Christmas dinners.
Back at camp the fires are lit for the evening’s braai. Then comes my (next) favourite part of the weekend – when musical friends take out their guitars and everybody starts singing along around the campfire. By two in the morning, when the only light comes from the smoldering coals, the stars shine brighter than you have ever seen them before. We try fighting the break of dawn but eventually retreat to our tents.
It’s the simple things in life that recharge our batteries. We are ready to take on the last stretch with courage in our hearts and new memories made.