Preparing for the Namaqualand to Namibia safari

Back in the late 1980’s, when I wasn’t even old enough to grow much of a beard, travel opportunities to Namibia for men of my age were not only free, but they included board and lodging as well as an entire outfit of clothing. This came courtesy of the South African Army. Included in their irrefusable offer were two pairs of boots, socks, underwear, pants, shirts, jackets, blankets, eating utensils, bags to carry everything, food, an R4 assault rifle and enough propaganda to rearrange the thinking of even the most liberal minds. Somehow I managed to avoid the government sponsored tour of what was then known as South West Africa and did my national service in South Africa packing stores and driving trucks near army HQ in Pretoria instead. We supplied most of the hardware being used by our compatriots up on the border between South West Africa and the Cuban/Russian funded country of Angola. Everything from beds to biscuits and bullets came through our stores and got sent up to the border by truck. A lot of my friends served there and apart from one guy who lost an arm and suffered multiple other injuries after a mortar exploded in the armoured vehicle he was riding in, they all had the same thing to say: the place was indescribably beautiful. The soldiers who served there had a much easier time of things than we did. They grew their hair long, played volleyball all day, spent a lot of time drinking beer and turned their skins brown under the abundant South West African sunshine. All while suckers like me who served in the Ordnance Services Corps often worked 18-hour days loading and off-loading trucks. Going to SWA, whilst fraught with danger, seemed to be a better deal even if it meant you’d only see civilization once or twice in a two-year period. Fast forward some 25 years, South West Africa is now Namibia and I find myself provisioning another trip to the place of the big skies. Except this time the packing and provisions are totally different. No more tent pegs and guide ropes, or rifles and bullets. The packing I’m doing now is for our safari to Namaqualand and Namibia. I get to go there for real this time. Happiness! We’re also spending a few days in Cape Town prior to heading up the road to Namibia, which is great because I haven’t been there since circa 2000. […]