After getting back to Windhoek from our trip to Sossusvlei, our paths separated again – Brendans trying to find a way to get to Maun and/or Livingstone, while Teemu and Carlos had to go back home again. Arttu and I decided to take the night train to Swakopmund. The train took almost 12 hours to cover the distance of about 350 kilometers. Once again it was due to the fact that it picked up different cargo wagons during the night, but also because we were delayed by two hours due to a broken TV, which was still not working after some maintenance.
In Swakopmund we wanted to go for some sandboarding in the dunes surrounding the city and I wanted to meet up with Cameron and Natasha (the couple that I had met in Lüderitz) again to join them on their trip up the skeleton coast and into Etosha National Park. However, they were planning to arrive after us, leaving us two days to explore the city on our own.
The town itself is supposed to be the most German town in Namibia. And it’s true, you can see it everywhere: The buildings, the bakery and the food offered in pubs and restaurants is all German. The streets are full of German speaking tourists (more than in other towns), emigrants and locals and even the weather makes me feel like I’m back home in Hamburg – it’s cold (23° C, compared to the rest of the country where it’s around 35° C) and grey; at this time of the year the clouds often don’t clear at all during the day.
For sandboarding we managed to find a good deal, which included transportation, stand-up and lay-down sandboarding plus lunch and a movie of this half-day activity. After everyone was equipped with helmet, boots and board, we made our way up to the top of the dune. The first few runs we were going sideways down on the board, because the dune was too high and too steep to go down straight.
Going sideways requires the same practice that you need for snowboarding, so the people who had experience here had a clear advantage. This is one thing that should have been highlighted in the beginning. Luckily there was also the lay-down sandboarding, where you get down on a thin wooden board, get a big push by one of the assistants and race down at a top speed of up to 64 km/h. Even if you’re so close to the ground, you don’t get covered in sand – unless you fall off the board or make a wrong move; the latter one happening quite often…
By the end of day two we still hadn’t met up with Cameron and Natasha, who were delayed at Sossusvlei. So we spend the next day biking and jogging from one end of town to the other to do some exercise, which I haven’t been doing for quite a while. We also walked some more around downtown with Margje (Holland), who happens to be the volunteering doctor that Renske (I met her on the first day in Windhoek) is replacing.
By now Cameron and Natasha had reached Walvis Bay, a little south of Swakopmund, but got stuck there with some problems with the car. Here is where Arttu and I decided to go back to Windhoek with Margje, because the car would not be ready for another two days. We were counting on better and warmer weather, as well as more activities and a better hostel. And we did get all of the above, including a nice dinner with game meat at Joe’s Beer House, free food, drinks and movies at the Brazil-Namibia Film Festival and of course more time at Chameleon Backpackers!
When C&N’s car was supposed to be ready I said goodbye to Arttu and boarded the train to Swakopmund once again. However, I was not lucky and the car was still in the repair shop for another day when I arrived in Swakopmund. This, along with misunderstandings, a lack of communication and a bad feeling in my stomach made me change my plans. I canceled my ride with C&N (along with the prospect of going to the Skeleton Coast, Twyfelfontein and Etosha) and took a shared taxi back to Windhoek.