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Learning to drive in Namibia!

Namibia Day One

View Namibia road trip 2004 on ToonSarah's travel map.

Eningu Clay House Lodge

We landed at Windhoek’s small airport around midday and after clearing all the formalities and collecting our luggage we made our way to the car hire desk. Once our paperwork was checked we were escorted to the parking area. After taking advice from the tour company we had decided on a 2WD rather than 4WD vehicle – although we’d be driving on gravel roads for most of this trip we were assured all the ones on our route were manageable in a 2WD and as we had no experience of 4WD we felt trying to learn here would be the harder and potentially riskier option.

Before leaving we took our time checking the car thoroughly, as we’d been warned that we could be penalised for damage not already logged – damage that was all too likely on those gravel roads. We pointed out a few additional scratches not marked on the hire company’s record sheet and then signed for the car – it was time to hit the road!

Welcome to Eningu Clay House Lodge

Chris had kindly ‘volunteered’ to do all the driving on this trip, so I was navigator. We had opted to spend our first night in a lodge that was relatively near the airport – around 70 kilometres away. For the first couple of these we were on tarmac but very soon we had to turn south on our first gravel road.

Fortunately there was very little traffic (as we were to find pretty much everywhere) so we could take our time, mindful of the advice we’d been given. The main points of this were to stick to under 50 kph and not to do anything (brake, change direction) too suddenly.

Just fifteen minutes into our drive we spotted a kudu – another reminder, if we’d needed it, that we were driving somewhere very different from home and needed to stay alert not only because of the road surfaces but also the very real risk of encountering animals on the roads. There are very few fences here, and the quietness of the roads means that animals are likely to regard them as a simple extension of their usual territory.

Eningu Clay House Lodge

Our bungalow

We arrived at our destination unscathed after just over an hour’s driving and were immediately taken by the property. The rooms are in individual adobe buildings in attractive grounds on the edge of the Kalahari Desert which the lodge’s website describes accurately as ‘vast camel thorn savannah’.

Inside our room

There was plenty of time left of the day to enjoy our surroundings. At our host Stephanie’s suggestion we went for a walk in the bush, accompanied by the lodge’s friendly Labrador dog Shaka. The walk led to a small lookout tower with views of the surrounding land.

Chris in the grounds

Chris with Shaka, and cacti in the grounds

Toucan in the grounds

Me at the lookout tower

When we got back I braved the small unheated swimming pool which was pretty chilly despite the heat of the day (it gets very cold here at night as we were soon to see) but very refreshing.

In the evening we had a delicious dinner served to us and the two other guests in front of a welcome open fire.

A much-needed warm fire

After dinner we all went outside and Stephanie led us up onto the flat roof of the main building where there was a good telescope. Living in a city I was astounded by the number and brilliance of the stars – it was my first time star-gazing in such an unpolluted environment and I’d never seen anything quite as spectacular! We saw some of the brightest shooting stars I'd ever seen, and found three of Jupiter's moons through the telescope.

But July is winter in Namibia and here in the desert the nights are freezing, so after our time up on the roof we thoroughly enjoyed a glass of the local brandy in front of the fire, and were happy on returning to our room to find a hot water bottle in the bed. What a great start to our Namibian adventures!

Posted by ToonSarah 08:38 Archived in Namibia Tagged birds night desert road_trip hotel roads africa dogs namibia cacti kalahari

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Sounds great

We got 4WD in Costa Rica in 1996 - not because we needed to use 4WD, but because 4WD cars had better ground clearance which we needed for the potholes.

We had gravel roads when I was growing up and all the boys practiced donuts. It's great fun.

by greatgrandmaR

Yes, it was a nice easy start to our trip Rosalie :)

What are donuts (in this context)?

by ToonSarah

Donuts are driving in tight circles . . . usually fast and loud. It's a teen activity in the USA. They like to leave tire marks on city streets and the activity is discouraged by local law enforcement. Out in the country no one seems to care.

Your Eningu Clay House Lodge reminds me of New Mexico. I love it.

by Beausoleil

Impressive photos - well done!

by CliffClaven

Yes, that makes sense Sally, thanks. And I know what you mean about New Mexico - all that adobe! We stayed in several other adobe built hotels on this trip, it is popular in Namibia too :)

Thanks Michael - these are just the few digital photos I have from that trip as the slides remain stubbornly elusive!

by ToonSarah

Being in a place with no light pollution reveals an astounding array of stars. Great that you had that in Namibia.

by Nemorino

I like the look and description of your accommodation. It looks like a fun place to stay.

by irenevt

February 2018.

by irenevt

We were in Namibia in February 2018. I see I put my answer on the wrong blog!!!

by irenevt

Thanks Don and Irene. One reason I love desert regions is the brightness of the stars at night :) The accommodation here was super, as it was in most of the places on this trip - there are a couple of outstanding ones to come in later entries! So you were here much more recently than we were Irene :)

by ToonSarah

Lovely place to stay!

by katieshevlin62

Hi Katie - yes, it was lovely here although we didn't have long!

by ToonSarah

Indeed it can be cold at night, but during the day I only remember the scorching heat!

by Ils1976

What time of year did you visit, Ils? We found the July days just pleasantly warm :)

by ToonSarah

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