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African Roadtrip: Day 1

Cape Town, South Africa to Fish River Canyon, Namibia

I had been in Cape Town for 2 nights/1 day and we set off our 10 day African roadtrip. Our main goal was to get to Victoria Falls and to see animals along the way. We had no idea what we were in for, but we went whole heartedly into this experience. No GPS for us, just an Atlas and Max’s thorough directions for each day.

We started off the day early around 4:30am and actually got out of the apartment at 5:00am. Once we got out of Cape Town, it was a somewhat boring drive for quite some time. There was a lot of construction along the way, which added a significant amount of time to our day. Our destination for this day was Fish River Canyon in Namibia. We were staying at a campsite just outside the Canyon, which was about nine hours of driving.

Because we were in a South African rental car, we had to have special permission to cross borders into Namibia and Botswana. At Hertz, they did not have this paperwork ready to go despite requesting it ahead of time. They promised that they would email it to us the following day, which they never did. It wasn’t until we were 7 hours into our drive, close to the Namibian border that we panicked.

Maxwell had to call Hertz and have them send it over. Luckily we stopped in a town, Springbok, and they had 1 computer and printer. Hertz then decided to email in a format that was illegible and non compatible. Panic continued and Maxwell decided to contact his father, who is computer savvy, to reformat it. With a 7 hour time difference, we woke Greg up but after some time, he was able to get it in the format we needed.

Hertz, you are terrible. 

A more interesting note to our time in Springbok, as we ate lunch at Nando’s Chicken we were able to watch President Obama’s speech at the funeral processions for Nelson Mandela. It was a somber time in South Africa, as Nelson Mandela had passed away just prior to my arrival. A large portion of the town was gathered in a central circle with a large projector displaying the events occurring in Johannesburg at the time. Although still sad, the atmosphere of both Springbok, Obama’s speech, and the country in general were that of celebrating the life of Mandela, rather than grieving. It was a unique experience being so far from home yet having our own President in the same country at the same time.

African Roadtrip

Landscapes in South Africa

It was time for my first driving border crossing. Maxwell seemed to be a professional so that put me at ease. But as you can see in the picture below, Namibia did not initially come off welcoming…

African Roadtrip

Welcome to Namibia?

The border crossing went fine, but took forever. There was five people working the desk and each doing less work than the one before them. After getting our passport stamps, someone had to come search our car. We had two bottles of wine to drink along the way at camp sites, which this person did not like. He was asking a lot of questions about us selling the bottles in Namibia. Maxwell is convinced that this border guard was just bored as he was pilfering through our trunk. Who knows, we were let through, so I guess it didn’t matter!

As the drive continued, it seemed to get more desert like as the amount of green vegetation dropped drastically. The roads that were in Namibia were not paved which added to the road trip feel. This was my first taste of the place Maxwell so vividly described .

Desolate, beautiful, and wild.

As we arrived in our first campsite, my anxious feelings start pouring out of me. This was my first camping experience- ever. As Maxwell begins to pitch the tent, I am immobilized, as he so gracefully captured in the picture below.

(This begins a pattern of Maxwell taking pictures of me when having an ailment of some sort. He normally tells me calmly, “You’ll appreciate this later” as he snaps a photograph.)

Maxwell moves through the campsite, tent, dinner over the braai, and campfire building with grace. At this point, I have resigned to sitting at the table, drinking our controversial wine and writing down our happenings of the day.

African Roadtrip

Writing down the highlights of the day over wine

African Roadtrip

Making the fire

African Roadtrip

Organised campsite

African Roadtrip

Happy or just happy because of the wine

African Roadtrip


African Roadtrip

Our home for many days

Since this night, I have gotten much more comfortable with camping and camping meal preparation. As described in our camping meal preparation post, this meal consisted of burnt borewors and a heated can of beans. Ew. I would never eat this now, but at this moment in time- I still had to impress Maxwell.

As the meal ended, the wine wore off and my anxiety increased again. I realized that I would be sleeping outside, in the desert, in Namibia, with animals all around me. Needless to say, I did not get the best sleep that night as I got used to the new noises, a tent, and the time change.

It should be noted that this is not where our campsite was. We stayed in Hobas, which was about 15 minutes away. The campsite of Hobas felt incredibly remote, as it only consisted of a small shop. The nearest town was about an hours drive away, and it was only a gas station and small shop. I’ve never felt so far away from everything!

The first leg of our African road trip. Cape Town to Namibia.

The first leg of our African road trip. Cape Town to Namibia.

With construction, the Hertz debacle, the border crossing, and Namibian roads- what was estimated to be around eight and a half hours of driving turned into eleven hours.

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