Moonward bound

Why bother with rockets and spacesuits, when you’ve got the D1991 road straight to the moon, just an hour from Swakopmund?! We’d heard about this place, this moonscape. And so when we started the drive, we thought the flat road, seemingly taking us deep into nothing, was the moonscape. When I look up into the dark skies, I can imagine the moon being a bit like this; flat in places, lonely and desperately dry.

“Once again there was the desert, and that only.”
― Stephen King, The Gunslinger

We needed a break from the fog which had consumed the Atlantic coast and so we packed a picnic and drove inland along the D1991 road. As the fog began to lift and as the road took us deeper into the desert, the most bizarre and fascinating landscape I have ever seen began to emerge. My first thought was simply, ‘what is this place?’ And for a few moments I imagined myself exiting my space rocket as the famous Neil Armstrong and delivering to you all, my “One small step for mankind speech!” Only I was speechless and perplexed!  The road took us to the border of ‘flat,’ and there beyond us stretched a sandy, rugged canyon, rippled with black rock and surrounded by domes of compressed sand!

The D1991 road is mostly known as the Welwitschia drive. Before entering the canyon, the road skirts around it, boasting a number of spectacular view points and walks. As the name suggests, it’s also a popular route for those of you who want to see the prehistoric looking Welwitschia plant that lives for thousands of years.

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


Soon we wound our way down through the canyon and onto the Swakop River bed, a sandy oasis with ancient trees and an abundance of plant and animal life. At the bottom of the canyon, there is a beautiful picnic spot. Here we enjoyed a few hours of clambering up rocks, watching things like tok tok beetles, a long with enjoying a delicious picnic of smoked salmon and avo, washed down with a cold Windhoek Lager! I’d say that today was a perfect day in the desert! Blue skies and wide open spaces and some of the most dramatic scenery I have ever seen. They say the moon is made out of ‘cheese!’ I think we found the Cheese!

“The desert could not be claimed or owned–it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names… Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape.”
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient 

Walk on the moon 2

For more information on Welwitschia Drive, check out the following links:

Welwitschia Drive – Namibia

Goanikontes Oasis Restcamp and permit requirements for the area

6 replies »

  1. This brings back fantastic memories for me, Dave and I did the drive last year whilst celebrating my 60th. I cannot wait to get back to Namibia. Thanks for sharing your travels with us.