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Travel Namibia 33 Rob Ford Extra fuel capacity There are few petrol stations between towns, so fill up wherever possible and opt for cars that have long range tanks. The rest camps in Etosha do stock fuel but they have been known to run out. If you are heading to Namibia’s far north or into the desert then talk to your guide or car hire company about your route and whether you will need extra jerry cans to carry fuel. Remember that air conditioning and low-range gears eat up fuel. Water cans and recovery kit If you want to visit Namibia’s remote regions then you will need to carry jerry cans for water and some basic recovery equipment in case you get stuck. You can share the recovery kit between you if you are travelling in convoy, but make sure you don’t get separated. Red Tape Check you are happy with the small print of your hire agreement – particularly the insurance and collision damage waiver. You have to be at least 23 years old to hire a car in Namibia and you’ll need a valid driving licence from home (the new photo ID licence is best) and your passport. Double check with your hire firm before you leave to find out what paperwork they require. If you intend to hire a car for more than 90 days you’ll need an International Driving Licence. “It is worth arranging your vehicle hire in advance as you’ll get the best deals and the best selection” TWO wheeeels ratherer than FOUR Watching the sunrise from a rooftop tent at Brandberg Film star Ewan McGregor and his mate Charley Boorman recently rode their motorcycles though Namibia for a BBC TV series called Long Way Down. Their journey took them over 15,000 miles of African roads. They loved the easy-to-drive roads in Namibia and visited Windhoek, Sesriem and Fish River Canyon. You can read more about their journey at www.bbc.co.uk/longwaydown B iking in Namibia requires a full motorcycle licence. Experience of driving off road is useful but not essential as most organised tours are paced to suit everyone. Simon Brown recently returned from driving around Namibia on his motorbike searching for prehistoric rock art. He wrote: “This motorcycle journey through Namibia fulfilled my highest expectations and more. It opened my mind and senses, gave me the freedom to explore and left me wanting more. Remember, dust and sweat rinse off in the shower, aches in your wrist soon fade and your bones will quickly warm after that chilly ride along the coast. It’s only the big grin and memories that last a lifetime. “Oh … if you’re wondering, the ancient rock art is rather amazing too.” If you fancy following in Simon’s tyre-tracks you can read about his trip in edition 39 of Travel Africa magazine www.travelafricamag.com There are a number of operators to help you achieve your dream: n Africa Bike Tours (www.africabiketours.com) n Africa Unlimited Safaris (www.africansafaris.co.za) n Bushtrackers Africa (www.bushtrackers.co.za) n Globe Riders (www.globeriders.com) Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in Namibia Julian Broad © Long Wayay Down Simon Brown

34 Travel Namibia Havekids, Pete Sinclair, his wife Celia and their three children – Freddie aged ten, Poppy aged eight and Stanley aged seven - spent five months driving the length of Africa. Their favourite place, without a doubt, was Namibia. What I remember about Namibia is the sheer beauty of the desert. What the kids remember is the fabulous seal colony on the Skeleton Coast and, of course, its smell! “They also loved the dinosaur footprints at Kalkfield,” Pete laughs, “although, for some reason, they always mention that the German farmer who owned the land had taken a paint brush and ringed each fossil with white paint, just in case you missed it!” After travelling the length of Africa in a Land Rover with his young family, Pete Sinclair isn’t surprised that the memories that endure for each of them are so different. “In so many ways that’s the beauty of Africa, and of Namibia in particular. It is so varied that there really is something for everyone.” The family had a few rules for success on the road. First, they would try to stop at least every couple of hours. Also, after a particularly long day on the road, they wouldn’t drive at all the next day. “Sometimes there was a lot for the kids to see out the window but on other occasions there wasn’t. When they got bored we got them to look at the guidebook and choose where we were going to stay next and what we were going to do. They also learned their times-tables, singing them as we went along.” When all that failed, the children had Gameboys to entertain them. The Sinclair family spent two weeks in Namibia and is now keen to return. For Pete it was the perfect place to travel with children. “Namibia is raw, it’s remote and you feel like you are having an adventure, yet, despite that, there is a safety net. If things go pear-shaped in Namibia then you know that help is close at hand. I think there is nowhere else in Africa that has that combination,” he says. And Pete always recommends self-drive holidays. “I believe you get a much better feel for a country if you are driving yourself. Guided holidays always stop at the same places and the people there see tourists on a very regular basis. If you choose where to stop yourself you will have a very different experience.” A self-drive holiday also means you have the freedom to choose when you switch locations. Families with young children are often up early and can take advantage of that by travelling in the morning when it’s cool. Most of the time the Sinclairs camped, but they also tried farm stays, lodges and hotels. In Etosha they were lucky enough to get a rondavel with a view of one of the floodlit waterholes. From their kitchen window they watched as a jackal arrived, then some elephant, a lion, giraffe, kudu, zebra, springbok and a white rhino. However, one of Pete’s favourite memories is of a campsite at a guest farm. “When we got to the farm, it was completed surrounded by a seemingly endless electric fence. We found the entrance and had to buzz for attention. A woman answered and told us to ‘come on up the drive’. The track to her house turned out to be eleven miles long. For me it summed up the pioneering spirit and remoteness that still exists in Namibia.” The idea for the Sinclair’s epic trip came when Pete realised he was missing seeing his children grow up. “I had been working for a US software company and had been away from home a lot and I wanted to get to know my kids.” Their route took them from their home in Northumberland through Europe, the Middle East and into The Mechanics willtravel “that’s the beauty of Africa, and of Namibia in particular. It is so varied that there really is something for everyone”