You Haven’t Lived Till You’ve Gone Dune Surfing
Have you ever been in a desert? Whether you have or haven’t, I want you to take a moment to imagine sitting on top of a colossal sand dune over 30 stories high. You’re in a sturdy car – but that doesn’t matter because its nose is facing about 37 degrees down the dune! What do you do? Do you get out? Or do you push down on the accelerator and GO?
And even though I thought my heart would bounce out of my chest, I took a Toyota Land Cruiser down that dune, and up and down another few dunes over the course of three days. I don’t think I’ve had this much adrenaline pumping through my veins since the first time I tore around a track in a Lamborghini. I also haven’t been this terrified, or had this much fun, in years. What made me choose to go on this outrageous adventure?
It All Started With Worms
A friend of mine was given authentic Mexican mescal as a gift. It’s kind of like tequila, you know the one with the worm in? We got chatting about eating the worm and he said that he once ate mopane worms in Namibia and that it was a stunning place. I remembered seeing a car trip through the Namib Desert advertised. Two months later, we’re on a plane heading for Africa!
What a Place
Armed with nothing but gears, gorilla-sized tires, some grit and a few jerrycans for extra fuel and water, I went on a heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled African adventure. Our trip started in a convoy of 12 cars, mostly Toyotas, all fitted with radios so we can get some expert guidance on how to drive around safely in what felt like the world’s biggest sandpit.
Don’t Forget Your Deodorant!
Everybody had to let their tires down to 0.8 bar as our tour leader Willem gave us a thorough speech of dos and don’ts before taking off. The talk was good but nothing can prepare you for the slides and slips and ridiculous angles we got into on the dunes. One of the other guys on the tour took a sharp turn and hit a clump of vegetation which peeled his tire away from the rim. Willem fixed it with a lighter and a can of deodorant. How, I have no idea, I was too busy concentrating on doing the most technical driving I’ve ever done.
So Much Life (And Death) in One Place
Besides having an epic driving adventure, Namibia was well worth the visit. We were told it’s the oldest desert in the world, but the Namib is anything but boring or dead. Even with all the shipwrecks, ghost towns and fossil plants almost 2,000 years old (the Welwitschia Mirabilis), the Namib is teeming with life. We drove past majestic Oryx blending in beautifully with the sand, saw cute and curious lizards basking on the dunes and came across at least a thousand smelly Cape fur seals suspiciously eyeing a couple of jackals darting around them. We even got up close and personal with a playful herd of zebras.
And on the show stopping final night of the tour, before flying back early the next morning, I experienced eating mopane worms around a big bonfire. Thankfully, I had some amazing local beer to wash them down with! What a wild trip.