After three years of longing to return to the Namib desert, I finally did last month. We said goodbye to ‘Discovery’, our boat during our flying trip in Mozambique, and bribed our way through a series of African airports with our 60kg of excess paragliding luggage and finally touched down in Windhoek…it felt good to be back. We picked up what was to be our home for the next 2 weeks, two huge Toyota pick up trucks with every dessert option imaginable and tents on the roof.
Heading North to Etosha we started our trip as a safari. Etosha is a mix of jungle and a huge salt dessert which was once the largest lake in the world but has long long since dried up. Despite contemplating trying to fly here with our paramotor, the constant sightings of big African predators made us decide not to. Probably just as well since the first flight on the paramotor was to end up in disaster with a crash landing which was bad enough without needing the extra problems of lions and elephants! After leaving Etosha we headed further North where we lived for a couple of days with an authentic Himba tribe in a small village of mud huts near the Angolan border.
Living with the Himba people was an extremely humbling moment for our group of westerners in our big off-road trucks with thousands of francs worth paragliding gear in the back. These people live so simply as though time passed them by 200 years ago and the rest of the world forgot about them. We saw no men as this was the dry season and the men had all headed South months ago with their cattle in search of wetter lands leaving behind the women and children to the almost impossible task of cultivating this baron vastness and to raise their goats. They welcomed us into their village and the children would dance for us in the evenings. All they asked for in return was flour and maize. Living in mud huts, they have absolutely no sign of a single Western mod-con.
Despite strange winds and regular sightings of dust devils, we were keen to fly above the little Himba village, but I was only airbourne for a matter of seconds before the paramotor was forcing the glider hard laft and I came crashing back down to earth. We think the problem was due to a faulty prop but are still not really sure what happened. Having pretty much written off this motor and due to constant engine problems with our second motor, unfortunately we were not going to experience the wonderful motorised flights that I did 3 years ago.
This meant that all the flying would have to be on the dunes of the famous Sossusvlei, but even here extremely strong gusty conditions were going to make the little flying we did dangerous.
Flying the dunes was almost impossible. 50-60km/hr winds meant that at times we were flying 13 sqaure meter speed wings at exhilerating speeds and even when the winds did drop we couldn’t fly anything bigger than 18 squre meters. Dust devils were also a constant problem and concern.
Namibia is a truly wonderful country and despite our frustrations with flying on this trip we had an incredible time with good friends, camping under the African stars and seeing so many wonderful things.
Watch the video here: