Photographers Robbert Koene and Gerda Genis took their trusted Landrover through the oldest desert in the world.

Leftovers in the namib desertThe area is a restricted zone. Formerly known as Diamond area no 2,  part of the Namib Naukluft Park, an ecological reserve in the Namib desert in South West Namibia.

It is thought to be the oldest desert on earth, with sand dunes reaching 300m in height and covers an area of 49,768 kms, it looks barren and dry, but a surprising collection of desert creatures survive in this arid region. Snakes, chameleons, scorpions, hyenas, and jackal visit our campsite at night. The desert Gemsbok (oryx gazella) roams here and we learn that they dont drink water but get all their moisture from plants and grasses.

A 4x4 trek through the Namib Naukluft desert in Namibia

Most of this huge park is off-limits to the public, but a few selected 4×4 operators are licensed to take people through this amazing landscape. Coastways Tours is one of them and our expedition leader and guide Wittes, a weathered ‘diamond in the rough’, is a legend in Namibia. Besides being known for his knowledge of the dunes and the history of the area, his legendary use of language, a mixture of English, German and Afrikaans in one sentence, had us in stitches and on attention at all times.

Wittes would lead the way every day in his ‘White Lady’ a 4.5 liter Land Cruiser bakkie (truck). Behind him, the rest of the group: 2 Landover Defenders, 2 Prados, a Pajero, a  Fortuner and a diesel Land Cruiser. This last vehicle, manned by our chefs, is the Back-up and Sweeper and quickly becomes the most important vehicle in our midst, because their mission is to set up camp and help anyone that gets stuck.

All vehicles stay in touch via a walkie-talkie (2-way radio) and the issue at stake all day is to “not loose sight of the guy in front of you, to communicate with the guy behind you, to NOT leave litter and NOT get STUCK”!

Wreck of Eduard Bohlen now lies 400m away from the sea shore

In the next 6 days we learn how to drive in soft sand, which gears to use, discover dif-locks, high ranges and so much more whilst paying close attention to instructions barked at us via the radio, as we drive. We stop for a chameleon and a head-standing beetle, eat dinner from an African potjie (3-leg pot) over a open fire, discuss the stars at night, sleep soundly after a warm shower and wake up to a hot breakfast and moerkoffie (coffee) every morning.

Bumps, grind and dust became our close friends and soon we were completely enchanted by the seemingly endless sea of dunes that changes its shape and color every day and wished we can do it all over again by the time our journey was done.


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Photos and texts : Robbert Koene & Gerda Denis