Today the trip starts to get a bit more interesting! Breakfast was at 8am which Siziba said is "a nice lie in" and then we headed to the Namibian border. Unfortunately this took a little bit longer than planned as one of the group members is from Hong Kong. She had previously confirmed with them that she didn't need a visa but the guys on duty didn't know the difference between China and Hong Kong so they tried to make her pay for a visa. After a lot of arguing and negotiating we got the matter sorted and she was allowed through without charge!
Now that I'm starting to get to know the group better I'll introduce them, sort of. There are 14 of us in total at this stage although that's likely to change as some people will only be doing certain parts of the tour. There are 2 Brazilians (a fluke as they do not know each other), a lady from Japan, another from Hong Kong, a lady Australia, one from Switzerland, 2 from Holland and the rest are German. Adam and I are the only 2 from the UK. I'm still not sure about everyone's names but I'm getting there slowly!
There was an opportunity to go canoeing down the river this morning but the scenery isn't all that spectacular, it isn't cheap and the alternative is to take more time getting to our destination and spend the afternoon chilling in the swimming pool there, with predicted temperatures of up to 40 degrees this was a no brainer and everyone opted to skip the canoeing.
The drive took us through what is basically desert, there isn't much else to say about it. Although there were some very interesting plants that looked to be dead on the side of the road. Siziba stopped to show us them and even picked one. He told us that these plants are not dead, just conserving energy, but they can detect even the slightest rainfall, when that happens the flower heads open up and seeds are released so that the plant can propagate. He demonstrated this by pouring a small amount of water onto one of the seed heads and we watched it open. During the rainy season (although there is very little rainfall in this area each year) the plants have little white flowers.
Several hours later and the countryside changed again and reverted back to the more scrubland type vegetation which grows in sand just like in vast areas of South Africa that we have already seen. However, here there are some strange looking trees which are actually "mega-succulents". Google it!
Our destination was a camp site on the edge of the Fish River Canyon. This is said to be the second deepest canyon after the Grand Canyon. Strange really seeing as the canyon we hiked in Peru is supposed to be twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, who knows! Even Google and Wikipedia searches can't seem to answer that one! Anyway this one is also said to be the oldest and some of the rocks that form the bed of the canyon are 300 million years old!
Once our tents were up and we had a lunch of rice salad with sausage and salad most of the group went to find the swimming pool and we lazed around for the next couple of hours. At 4pm we left Vincent behind to prepare the dinner and all jumped back on the truck to go and see the canyon. We were about 10 minutes from the main viewpoint.
Siziba dropped us just past this at the next viewpoint and we walked back to meet him which took about 30 minutes. The views there are stunning but the temperatures were soaring and there is no shade. That said I'm coping with the heat much better than normal so I must be getting used to it. Christina from Perth in Australia was not coping. She tells me that once the temperatures get above about 35 degrees in Australia they don't go anywhere without air conditioning and they definitely do not spend time outside!
Once back to the main viewpoint we relaxed in the man-made shade and waited for sunset, which turned out to be spectacular right across the canyon.
We returned to the campsite at around 8pm to be greeted by Vincent who had made a fantastic vegetable curry with pasta and homemade naan bread. It was delicious and only mildly spicy, or so I thought…Adam and I were the only ones who said it wasn't too hot. I'm told that German's do not like spicy food and even the Brazilian's were saying it was borderline "burny"!
Tomorrow we have a very long drive ahead which means an early start, breakfast is at 6.15am!