Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Fish River Canyon’

The blog of my 2002 Namibia trip is back online

August 22nd, 2016 No comments

I am pleased to report that the blog for my month-long trip trip to Namibia with World Challenge Expeditions in 2002 is back online after being taken down temporarily since May. If you read the blog you will notice that there are some references to an anonymous group member, as opposed to naming the group member being talked about like I do most of the time, and that some photos have black boxes on them or are cropped to non-standard dimensions. Let me explain.

Some of you will know the details by now, especially with the worldwide media interest generated by his story, but a member of the group who travelled with us to Namibia was recently convicted of some serious crimes that he committed while living abroad. I won’t go into details, or mention him by name in this post, as I would prefer not to receive web traffic from the sort of people who might search for his name online. However due to the media interest over the summer I found it necessary to take the blog down to protect my own privacy.

I now feel that sufficient time has passed since his conviction and so, 14 years to the day from our final full day in Namibia on this trip, I have returned the blog to my site. Where possible I have found new photos to replace ones that he was featured in but where this was not possible I either cropped the photo or added a black box to cover him in photos where he was recognisable. I have also removed his name from the blog itself.

Our group

(Most of) our group

In the school hall

In the school hall of Oaseb Senior Secondary school in Gibeon

For the purposes of any media that may find their way to this blog, in the event of any future interest in his case, I have no information to give and will not be making any statement or providing any further information. However I will point out that the fact I have edited a 14 year old blog in ways described above should make my feelings about this issue perfectly clear.

The original text of my blog has been archived to my computer should it be needed by anybody, for a valid reason, although the changes to the content itself were fairly minor other than removing references to the one group member.

I am glad that I have finally been able to put my blog back online as this was an amazing trip, one which probably started my love of getting off of the beaten path and delving deeper into the culture of places I visit. Without this trip I would probably never have visited many of the places I have seen since, had some of great experiences that I have had or met most of the amazing travel buddies that I have met. Plus the people and scenery of Namibia are great as you can see from the selection of photos below.

Four Fingered Rock

Four Fingered Rock

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Tallest sand dune in the world

Tallest sand dune in the world

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

If you have not read my blog from this trip then feel free to have a browse as I really enjoyed it. It contains details of our time improving the sports facilities of a school before travelling around the country seeing the sights and having fun. Sights and experiences from the trip include visiting Gibeon, Mariental, Hardap, Sesreim, Namib-Naukluft, and Windhoek in addition to trekking through Fish River Canyon and Dune Boarding in Swakopmund. It is a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Share

Fish River Canyon

August 16th, 2002 No comments

We did it! Fish River Canyon has been conquered by a gang of kids from Kent, a Metropolitan Police trainee and a trainee teacher! At 85km it was a bit tiring but we saw some amazing things along the way.

We got up early on the 13th to begin the trek. We took a while to get ready which meant we didn’t start until a bit later than we wanted to but we made enough distance to an ideal camping location 7km into the canyon. Before we started Rod took group photos for us all and this is another photo that brings back such great memories as I type up this transcript.

Our group

Our group

Rod - the TRUCK driver

Rod – the TRUCK driver

It took a while to descend into the canyon. The trail was a bit crumbly under foot and you needed to watch where you were treading. One of our group was a little hesitant so I stayed back with him and Jez until we caught up with the others at the bottom of the canyon next to the river. We relaxed there for a bit before starting off on the main portion of the trek. We only progressed a few km on the first day, which was a lot less than we hoped, but where we stopped was an ideal location to spend the night. Our campsite was on a bit of an embankment with ditches that had been etched in the sand on either side. We had some sort of monumental WWI trench battle throwing sand backwards and forwards which was fun for a while but soon got annoying. We won anyway when me and Dominic went behind enemy lines and ambushed everybody from the flanks.

Bottom of the canyon

Bottom of the canyon

Our group

Our group

The next day we stopped at some hot springs and a building which somebody, probably from the UK, had painted “Sainsbury’s” down the side of. I didn’t get a photo of that but somebody else did – I’ll see if I can find it later. The hot springs really helped the feet which were starting to ache by now. While we were there we also saw a Horse although how he was there and how he survives is a good question! That day we progressed quite a bit and trekked about 23km and our campsite for the night was next to some bushes near the river on the bend of the canyon. It was really windy so we had to weigh the top sheets of the tent down with rocks to stop them blowing away. Although strangely enough even though the tents only just stayed in position the cutlery and plates that we had to abandon when the sandstorm came in were still there. I guess they had a low enough profile even when abandoned mid-way through a run from the river up to camp! We also saw our first rain of the trip although it only lasted 20 seconds.

Me at the Hot Springs

Me at the Hot Springs

Horse

Horse

My tent group

My tent group

Yesterday was our longest stint of the trek. We trekked about 35-36km seeing some really lovely scenery such as “Four Fingered Rock” and also the grave of a German soldier. When the country was a German colony the army had a huge battle against the Nama tribe who didn’t want them there. The battle took place in Fish River Canyon and the Nama were destroyed but only one German soldier was killed and he was buried at the scene. Our campsite last night was near the river but surrounded by bushes, which we thought was a good idea after the storm the night before, and it also provided us a good shelter from the baboons we saw 15 minutes or so before setting up camp. Last night was also the night most of the group decided to “sample the facilities” – ie digging a hole in the ground… but enough said about that. We thought it was going to be another storm due to the sky but nothing happened and it was a fairly calm night. This was just as well as Harley decided it would be a good idea to swim across the river yesterday when he took a shortcut that got him stuck on the other side of the river – his stuff was wet enough from that!

German soldier's grave

German soldier’s grave

Four Fingered Rock

Four Fingered Rock

Red sky at night!

Red sky at night!

Something I will really remember from that day is the Haribo incident. We were resting at the bottom of a hill that we were going to climb over as a shortcut when Will suddenly said “Do you know what I could do with right now? Haribo!”. He then went into his bag and pulled out a big bag which he had been saving and shared it out. Jez, our other leader, said the same thing but about Kylie Minogue but alas she wasn’t in there even after he pulled everything out all over the floor!

Dan R went one too far last night too so Jez got his own back by poking him with a big bit of wood then chasing him around the canyon floor. I didn’t take part even though I felt like it due to him being a complete menace to society so far this trip! We had a nice campfire going though which added to the atmosphere and he didn’t make this one explode !

Dan and the stick #1

Dan and the stick #1

Dan and the stick #2

Dan and the stick #2

This morning we knew the end was in sight as we only had 24km to go. The leaders decided it would be a good idea to give us some training so gave us one of the radios we had then set off into the distance without letting us get ready first. It was good to be out on our own but the group did get split up a few times. We all regrouped at the bottom of what we thought was a shortcut before heading up the hill a bit to try and get reception on the radios to contact the leaders. It turns out it was the wrong way anyway so we went back to the river and followed it along its course until we found our leaders waiting for us. After a few harsh words we progressed further before stopping for lunch.

After lunch we all headed off at our own pace. Some people were faster than others, then there was a group of people that finished a little later, followed by me, Dan Becks and a couple of other people. We were all pretty exhausted by the end but when we walked up those final steps and saw the campsite there was relief! We walked into the campsite, around the corner and saw the truck which was even more of a relief. Dan B screamed “trruuuuuuck!!!” and ran towards it which was something I didn’t have the energy for despite it looking like paradise.

Finishing the trek

Finishing the trek

Since getting back we’ve just cleaned up and relaxed by the pool. Unfortunately my electric razor has run out of battery so I had to get a disposable one from Simon and attempt to use it for the first time ever while in the shower. New experience but I managed it.

We’re going out for a meal in the restaurant tonight!

Share

From Namib Naukluft to Fish River

August 12th, 2002 No comments

Only a few days have passed since we left Sesreim and so much has happened already!

As I was the leader on the 10th when we transferred to Namib-Naukluft it was my job to make sure camp was set up in time for us to go out on a short trek that evening but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan. Dan seemed to have turned one or two people to the dark side and they just made life difficult for me. They took ages to set up camp and then took a long time to get ready for the trek meaning that it would be dark by the time we got back, which didn’t help. Although I did manage to get a photo of me with a bird eating out of my hand during the time I was waiting which is pretty cool.

Me feeding a bird

Me feeding a bird

After a while we were all finally ready for the trek. We had to do the 10km Olive Trail today as the longer Waterkloof trail takes 8 hours and would just not have been possible this late in the day. It was still daytime when we started the trek but the sun was rapidly approaching the horizon. The scenery was absolutely amazing as you can see from my photo below. The Naukluft region of Namib-Naukluft is a lot more mountainous than the Namib region, which Sesreim borders, and I saw some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen while in the region.

Me on the Olive Trail

Me on the Olive Trail

Trekking the Olive Trail

The trek only took a couple of hours but it was dark by the time we reached the last part – a traverse along a rock wall over a dark pit full of water. I’m OK with heights but not the idea of falling from them so traversing a rock wall without being able to see what was below me was not fun. To get around we attached ourselves to the chain that had been attached around the side of the canyon with a harness and carabina and traversed it one by one, albeit slowly. Not one of the best parts of the week but it was worth it for the views.

This was scary!

This was scary!

On the 11th we headed off in the morning on the longer Waterkloof trail which was estimated to take 8 hours. Once we started Rod took a few people who developed pretty bad blisters on the night trek with him into town to get supplies. We continued on our trek and saw, once again, loads of absolutely amazing scenery including trees as far as the eye could see, a quiver tree, rock pools and also some baboons just ahead of us in the canyon near the end of the trek. There was a little bit of climbing up hills on this trek but nothing compared to that traverse on the Olive Trail.

Trekking the Waterkloof Trail

Trekking the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

When we returned back to the campsite we found that those baboons we saw had caused all sorts of trouble. After the others returned from buying supplies they were relaxing in the campsite when they heard a noise. They didn’t know what it was until a few minutes later when some baboons went walking past them carrying our medical kit. Will, one of the group leaders, chased them up a hill before throwing rocks at them to make them go away (but not before they ate half of our paracetamol collection). That wasn’t the only thing they did – they broke into the truck, ate all of our bread, threw Jon’s T-Shirts onto the ground and left some rather smelly deposits on one of the seats. That cause quite a few problems throughout the rest of the expedition, as did them peeing on one of the other tents in our group.

That evening we relaxed at the campsite and had an early night ready for a long drive ahead of us but the sleep was short lived due to a visitor that came past our tent in the night. I was half asleep when I heard some rustling outside. It made me alert but I didn’t know what it was until I heard the loud growl of a Leopard right outside our tent. Sam didn’t wake up but I’ve never seen anybody jump and sit up as quickly as Simon did when he heard it. It walked away after a couple of minutes and we all slept again but I was very nervous at the time as I didn’t know what it was planning to do.

This morning we made the trip from Namib-Naukluft to Hobas – the town at the start of Fish River Canyon. We passed through Mantahohe and Bethanie on the way and stopped at a petrol station for supplies, to use the toilet and to refuel the truck. We thought the toilet was locked until the attendant at the petrol pumps called us over and unhooked a key out of the tree above him and handed it to us. Hardly secure but it worked. Somebody bought a HUGE bag of what looked like wotsits – it was 12 inches square at the bottom and about 3 foot tall!

Look at those snacks!!

Look at those snacks!!

After stopping off for supplies we made our way to the Hobas campsite where we watched the sunset over the Fish River Canyon and had a nice BBQ to mark our last day before embarking on a long trek through the canyon that will take 4 days starting tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it as I’m not the most athletic of people but it will be an experience I’m sure.

At Fish River Canyon with a beer

At Fish River Canyon with a beer

Share