Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Namibia - Swakopmund

(What a day this was. These three month old lion cubs were just amazing fun. One of the absolute highlights of the trip. This is an old pic of me when I was in Antelope Park in Zimbabwe. Thanks to Emma for sticking it on Facebook.)

Swakopmund on the Namibian coast is a bit like Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Though originally popular for its beautiful setting, the town now doubles up as a site for some of the wildest 'sports' and activities you can do anywhere in the world. (Tandem) skydiving and quad-biking are two of the most popular activities, but I instead signed up for Sandboarding and (solo!) paragliding, on the grounds that there are activities that are extremely rare.

As we arrived in Swakopmund, I saw the Atlantic for the first time in eight months. We had completed our journey from 'Coast to Coast', as our Oasis trip is named.

First off, Sandboarding. Being a keen snowboarder, I'd been looking forward to this for weeks.

Namibia is a sandy country. In fact, it is famous for its sand dunes and home to the largest dune in the world. On one particularly mountainous sand dune near Swakopmund its possible to strap a snowboard to your feet and board down the dune.

After looking forward to it so much I was a bit disappointed. Its not that the boarding doesnt work - it does. In fact, its actually possible to go faster and be more confident than on snow as the sand is finer than the finest powder and very soft to fall in.

The problem with sandboarding is the faff factor. I get frustrated with the faffing part of snowboarding - unclipping the bindings, riding the tow, walking to the paste, but at least with snowboarding there is a piste.

With sandboarding you have to walk back up after every run! And then you have to wax your board before you clip in again - major hassle.

The saving grace on the day was the ramp. I've done jumps in sandboarding but nothing as big as this (below) - this was a really forgiving surface to try jumps on.

(Right - as well as stand-up boarding, you could do lie-down boarding. I managed to clock a speed of 74kmph)

Overall it was well worthwhile, but maybe in the same category as 10-pin bowling for me - ie I could get excited about it if I haven't done it for a while but would probably always quickly get tired with the faffing.

But I still had the paragliding to look forward to after that... except that it was cancelled due to some kind of mix-up. So i decided to do skydiving instead... and then that was cancelled due to high winds. So Swakopmund didn't really go too smoothly for me! Actually though, it was nice to have a few days of just relaxing and not doing anything too strenuous.

With all of my activities cancelled on the last day I had plenty of free time on my hands. I ended up getting 'facebooked' off my nut in Swakopmund. Definitely the best website out there (I'm so over Myspace). Man, I'm addicted. If you aren't on it yet, get on there. It's about as addictive as chocolate cake, laced with crack.

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