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  • Writer's pictureAjmal Samuel

Embarking on an African odyssey: Unveiling the beauty of South Africa and Namibia

My 20-day African odyssey has drawn to a close, unfolding against the captivating landscapes of South Africa and Namibia. From the bustling city of Cape Town to the boundless expanse of the Verneukpan and the serenity of the Namib Desert, each day stood as a testament to the spirit of adventure and resilience.

Cape Town Adventures

Our journey commenced in Cape Town, offering an exhilarating mix of sightseeing, driving, scuba diving, and paragliding. The first day showcased scenic peninsular landscapes, including Hout Bay, Chapmans Peak, Kommetjie, Simons Town, Muizenburg, and Constantia, setting the stage for an unforgettable expedition.

Then Sentinel, Hout Bay, with the surf spot they call the Dungeons for the massive wave breaks that form ahead of the reef that can be seen in the background.

Misty Cliffs, between Kommetjie and Cape Point.

Seagulls take flight along the rocky peninsular abutting the Seapoint promenade.

Stories of Resilience at Huis Andries Oliver Quad Center for Quadriplegics

During my stay in Cape Town, I had the privilege of visiting Huis Andries Olivier Quad Centre, witnessing the remarkable resilience of quadriplegics who manage their own center. Sharing life stories with the occupants, including my own, their narratives resonated with a clear message of strength within adversity.

Members of the Huis Andries Oliver Quad Center for Quadriplegics tell their heart warming and inspiring stories of truimph over struggle.

Scuba Diving and Paragliding in Cape Town

Our days were filled with unique memorable experiences, from diving into the cold waters of False bay, the realm of the Great White shark, to soaring above Cape Town's skyline. The underwater world was enchanting, challenging, quite mysterious infact, allowing me too temporarily overlook life's stresses.

Kelp forests that teem with life on the Simons Town side of False Bay.

The perfect conditions in Cape Town also granted me exhilarating paragliding adventures, thanks to my instructor Matthew van Zyl from Adaptive Paragliding.

Ajmal and Matt on Signal Hill, prepping mentally and logistically for their first tandem jump together.

Captivated by Verneukpan's Beauty

Upon reaching Verneukpan, I found myself captivated by the surreal beauty of the salt pans. Handbiking became a symbolic journey, creating memories that resonate with the vastness of this unique landscape. Picture almost gliding effortlessly on the handbike, across the wide-open horizon with the sound of the wind as a constant companion. It was a truly surreal experience, one that left me in absolute awe, impressing upon me memories I'll forever hold close to my heart.

Handcycling on the almost infinite space of the Verneukpan.

Crossing Borders and Embracing Tranquility

Once into Namibia, our expedition continued to Keetmanshoop and the Quiver Tree Forest Camp -next to the Giants Playground, a rest camp offering rustic simplicity amidst Namibia's rugged terrain. Setting foot in the Giant's Playground transported back in time, so ancient is thisarid realm of rock,sand, wind and scorching sun. To witnes the strange quiver trees standing amidst colossal dolerite boulders was a truly unique experience for me.

Ajmal before what is known as the 'Giant's Playground' on the outskirts of Keetmanshoop, Namibia, herewith seen contemplating the intricate dance of geological forces that has shaped this ancient landscape. The colossal rocks strewn across the area seem as if they were carefully arranged by giants, adding a mythical touch to the awe-inspiring scene.

A row of Quiver trees, Keetmashoop. Bushmen, also known as the San people, utilized quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) for various practical purposes. The soft, spongy tissue found in the hollowed-out branches of these trees was often used to make quivers for holding arrows. The San people would carefully select a suitable quiver tree, hollow out a section of the trunk, and then fashion it into a lightweight and durable quiver to carry their arrows.

Beautiful Wolwedans Dune Camp

After an exciting dust and gravel drive of some 450 kilometers from Keetmashoop, we reached our highly anticipated destination: the Wolvedans Dune Camp. Siutated within the austere beauty of the 250-thousand-hectare Rand Namib private reserve, it provided us all with a unique perspective on life and the importance of inclusivity. This space, a haven for nature enthusiasts, allows one to disconnected from the world. Surrounded by towering sand dunes and rugged pristine wilderness, we were reminded of the resilience and survival strength of nature and how that is wired into us through eons of evolution. Wolvedans certainly served as a reminder, that there are no limits to what we can achieve when we cultivate a collective mindset and embrace values which align with the notion that we support each other, as we're all in this fragile yet and unpredicatable world together.

Ajmal on the breakfast veranda, soaking up the early morning sun and the grandness of Wolvedans's eastern quadrant.

Looking west into the vast and alluring beauty of the Wolvedan's plains.

Defying Limits in the Namibian Desert

Driving through the Namibian desert, my adventure illuminated the power of resilience, as we quite literally broke through physical and mental boundaries as we traversed landscapes that seem literally to have no end. To drive into what can only can be described as infinite space, is an mind altering experience. Once in Swakopmund, quad biking on the sand dunes, brought about a feeling of personal triumph, marking a return to the thrill of two wheels, after a 36 year absence.

As we adjusted our sails to reach undiscovered landscapes, this journey through South Africa and Namibia was more than an adventure; to my mind it was a testament to our ability as humans, to embrace that priomordial inclination we all carry within us, like ancient hunter gathers, to go venture into the unknown.

The road to what looks like nowhere but is in fact the road to Swakopmund, Ajmal's final most northerly Namibian destination for this particular adventure.

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