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Travel Namibia 11 Drive time In Namibia, you can surf down towering dunes, visit stunning national parks and drift over mile after mile of unspoilt wilderness by Cessna plane, microlight or balloon. And that’s just for starters. No wonder it’s consistently voted Africa’s top adventure destination. What’s more, you can go it alone: with good roads and efficient services, a little independent thinking is all it takes to put yourself in the driving seat – literally – and discover this inspiring country at your own pace. Hamilton Wende checks his map, loads up with supplies and gets behind the wheel. MAIN PHOTO Steve and Ann Toon Way to go. A long straight road through the Namib Desert.

“Sossusvlei is one of my top ten unmissable African sights” Freewheeling 12 Travel Namibia Iwill never forget the moment I crested a ridge on the road between Swakopmund and Windhoek. In a sudden, breathtaking panorama, the vastness of the Namibian landscape opened up before me. Dry and undulating, the horizon stretched out for miles in every direction. The sky arced above, impossibly blue, streaked with wisps of white cloud that made it seem even higher. I felt my spirit soar as the mountains and the flat dry grass plains unfolded. It reminded me of the sensation I had years ago when flying over the Moroccan coastline on the journey back to South Africa from Europe. Crossing that boundary between sea and land, where the turquoise Mediterranean gives way to deep, folded mountains and harsh, primeval rock formations, I knew I was on my way home at last. Africa’s uniquely rugged, uncompromising landscape defines the continent, all the way down to Table Mountain. Its geography of grandeur never leaves the soul, no matter how far you travel or how long you stay away. The call had come out of the blue. A German television company wanted me to help them research a travel documentary in Namibia. I would spend the next three months driving in and out of the country, often on my own, scouring the back roads for quirky, unusual places and people. I had some experience of 4WD driving in South Africa and Botswana’s Central Kalahari, but I’m certainly no expert. Frankly, the thought of driving so far and for so long on my own was slightly daunting, but I welcomed the challenge. I knew I was unlikely to encounter real danger. Namibia is mostly a safe, friendly and efficient place in which to travel. Still, breaking down or getting lost alone is no fun, and I hoped that wouldn’t happen to me. My first journey was into the far north to meet the Himba people who live on the Angolan border. “If you value your kidneys,” said Marlien, a lodge owner who I met on the balcony of her lovely home in Windhoek, “don’t drive too fast. The roads are filled with small dongas that you hit quite unexpectedly.” She was right. The sand roads in Namibia are