Spitzkoppe, Namibia

This gets a post all of its own as Spitzkoppe is stunning.P1070201 One of the most beautiful places I have been to.


unusual rock formations
A breadth and depth of views I’m not sure our cameras captured

We are travelling slowly and really appreciate the gradual changes from the desert to scrub to savannah (I’m not sure of the official names, again, I’ll check this when I have good internet connection).

We entered Spitzkoppe by a gate and no idea what we we were entering. We were looking for the 8am porridge stop. We had entered long dry grasslands and it is windy.

Like lighting a fire in a haystack
Like lighting a fire in a haystack

I refuse to allow a fire to be lit. I didn’t use to be the one who made the decisions like this. It feels very unusual but I feel quite strongly that the responsibility falls on me. In this case, some think it will be safe enough but I disagree. I am not willing to risk setting fire to Namibia, I’m pretty sure that would be the end of the trip. I’m a bit surprised at my unilateral decision but that’s it. As a result, we can’t stop at the 10 mile point. I radio Emma and Mike to let them know. A couple of miles down the road we find this large rock formation with a natural wind break, and I agree, very nervously.

Backing Cleo onto the rock formation to act as an additional wind break
Backing Cleo onto the rock formation to act as an additional wind break

This journey is a constant risk assessment. I wouldn’t have risked an open fire but fortunately before we left, I bought an Ezy stove at a huge reduction from Wild Stoves and this is totally brilliant, even better than expected. The stove doesn’t allow any embers to float away and we bury the ashes and cover them with the water we use to wash the dishes. Phew!

Then we accidentally enter Spitzkoppe rest camp, which has some gorgeous areas to stay. Luckily, they kindly let us off the entry cost:

Emma’ll stretch anywhere
Here we are
Here we are

Emma stops for some more scenic stretching:



The support team has to head into Usakos for supplies, leaving Emma and Mike on their own. I am anxious the whole time. The roads are terrible compared to the UK but not bad once you get used to the juddering. I also learn to drive faster as that way we seem to glide over the top. I’m not sure if that is what happens in reality. We don’t get back until the early afternoon, leaving Mike to rig up some shade from the midday sun for Emma.


winter desert flowers spotted along the way

That night we park well off the road but it turns out to be out to be our scariest moment so far.

We end the day with lots of food. I believe in keeping a team well fed.



In the Desert part 2

Sunrise in the desert. And our 2 storey home.
Can you see them? Emma and Mike head off into the early dawn.
Can you see them? Emma and Mike head off into the early dawn.

The desert is amazing and beautiful. Our days settle into a routine. 5.30am start. The stars are still out which is, of course, wonderful, “It makes getting up early worth it” I say to Mike and he agrees. Emma and Mike leave as soon as it is light. Emma running, Mike on the bicycle. We clean up the camp and set off. I am very strict in the desert. I’m not sure how quickly things decay here but I’m guessing slowly, so we have a “leave no trace” policy. Poo paper goes in the poo bag. Not everyone is happy with this but no-one wants toilet paper blowing across the desert.

I never knew there was so much life in the desert. We can see hoof prints round our camp.

What is it and can we eat it?
What is it and can we eat it?

At 8am (10 miles down the road) Robert lights a fire (he has become our fire man) and he calls, “Aysha, you’re wasting my fire.” I have to get snappy with the porridge. No milk, as we have no fridge. Porridge with salt. I know this sounds horrible but as long as you put it in at the beginning it tastes delicious. Then, after it is cooked, I add cinnamon and honey – in time, at the request of the team i also add two apples and a banana. Around eating, which must happen within 20 minutes of stopping, Emma needs a massage, sunflower oil works surprisingly well. Emma also needs to use her roller and to stretch.


9am Emma and Mike set off again for another 10 miles or so. We have to pick a nice spot for lunch.

Mid run stretch on the only line of hard ground.
Mid run stretch on the only line of hard ground.

11am is the long lunch break waiting for the heat of the day to pass. Eating, sleeping, repacking the back of the car, massage for Emma.

3pm Emma sets off again for her final 10 miles or so, depending how she is feeling.

See you later Emma and Mike
See you later Emma and Mike

The sand is tough to run, she slips back with every step and its harder on her leg muscles. The wind is also against her. At the end of the day, we only have wet wipes for her to wash off the dust and sand. Carrying only 100 litres of water in total for 5 people means we have to be careful with the water we use as we don’t know where we’ll fill up next. But I rarely hear any complaints from Emma.




In the Desert

Ready? ... Go!
Ready? … Go!

Emma and Mike head off through Henties Baai and into the desert.

No water No firewood
No water No firewood

Fortunately, we have 100 litres of water, firewood, and a flame torch (yes, I know that’s cheating but its in the tool box, seems a waste not to use it).


We meet for lunch. I’m really pleased I bought the awning to put up shade for Emma. Its hot but there’s a breeze. Avocado and tomato sandwiches. We lay out the yoga mats as seats. We’ve not done any yoga yet, but the mats are useful to sleep on, sit on, as a massage bed and as a ground floor to the tent to make sure we’re not stepping on snakes or spiders. They make good padding too around fragile items in suitcases.


At every stop we set out the solar panel to charge up the leisure battery. For anyone who wants to know we got the kit from Holly Brook Power supplies.



I’ve also tried out the washing machine, which was suggested by two other travellers who are famous for the idea (I’ll look up their names when its not 3am in the morning before we set off again). It involves putting your clothes in a sealed container with water and washing powder and letting the rocky road shake everything up. I’m impressed my clothes come out pretty clean. Mike puts up an ingenious washing line for me.


Emma sets off at about 3pm after the heat of the day. She runs a total of 38 km, a gentle first day! She’s incredibly chipper at the end and offering to help.

Despite the emptiness of the desert there are animal prints and holes near our camping spot.

Robert gets a fire going and I cook chicken curry without the chicken. I deliberately choose foods that don’t waste water. We’re faffing around afterwards until Mike calls us over to see a baby puff adder. We must have almost parked on top of him. After that we decided boots were a must at night and to pack up and head to bed as soon as possible.

“We’re almost there, we’re almost at the start”

We, Emma and I, have been frantically busy getting to this point. 18 months of preparation, planning, training. For Woocash, 3 months of working every night on the car.

We’re almost there. We’re almost at the 31st August. We said we’d start in August and we like to do what we said.

27th August: Mike and Emma are exhausted from their flight. To make sure that their luggage was under the restricted weight limit, Emma wore all her clothes (leggings and trousers) and transported a small baby’s worth of CLIF bars in her pockets.

Emma's CLIF bar baby
Emma’s CLIF bar baby

As soon as Emma and Mike arrive, I whisk them off to the best Sushi Restaurant ever. It hasn’t even opened yet. We’re allowed in as its run by our lovely new friends Barbara and Keletso Nyathi. Either its very cheap or they give us a whopping discount for such delicious food.

Lots of food makes a happy Mike
Lots of food makes a happy Mike

The first night we are all together, we sleep 4 of us in the 2 man roof tent. Top to toe like sardines. Surprisingly, comfortable and warm. But no wriggle space. And the wind catches the tent and makes it flap all night.

28th August: we have our first TV interview with One Africa TV and a radio interview at Radiowave.

Kirsty at Radiowave, just as bouncy a person as Emma
Kirsty at Radiowave, just as bouncy a person as Emma
Emma and Kirsty: peas in a pod

Turns out loads of people listen to radiowave we go on to meet people all across Namibia who have heard about us.

We, also, drop off Cleo to have her extra fuel tank fitted. But when we go to collect her and pay, at the end of the day, their card machine isn’t working. The owner insists on a passport as a guarantee. I can’t leave mine as I need it to get that amount of money out the bank, so we have to leave Emma’s.

Then its off for the best First Aid Training I have ever had, at Maerua Medical Centre. We learn how to put a drip in anyone who starts to dehydrate. Emma insists its not going to be her.

28th August is a 5.30am start. Emma’s passport has been stamped well short of 90 days. For no known reason 30 days is all she has, which puts a lot of pressure on her to run fast! If we can, we want to get that sorted.

7.30am we pick up Emma’s passport from the 4 x 4 centre and leave Mike’s in its place.

8am we’re at the Namibian home office to resolve the visa issue. They say it will take until next week and cost about 580 Namibian dollars. We decide to find another solution.

8.30am I’m at the bank asking for a bank transfer but there is no agreement between the UK and Namibia bank and so its impossible. Luckily, someone advises me to keep putting my card in the ATM until I have all the money. There’s a maximum you can withdraw at any one time but not a maximum to how many times you can do this.

9am Hand over the money to Mike and Woocash to pay for the car.

9.30am Meeting at the British High Commission, who sets us up with a meeting with the Mayor of Henties Baai. Emma writes a press release whilst I chat to the Mayor’s office. She’s skilled like that.

Then rest of the day is running about getting kit for the car and trying to find an internet cafe. It seems everyone has a smart phone except us and no-one needs an internet cafe. Robert, from the SEED Project, flies in from Harare, and Gunther picks him up from the airport for us again as we run out of time.

Tired Emma
Tired Emma

Its a late night again.

30th August
We have last minute items to get before we head for the coast and a water container to return that’s leaking already. We finally set off and 6 hours later we meet the Mayor of Henties Baai, who turns out to be lovely. She wants to have us round for breakfast before we start but there’s no time. (Henties Baai, looks gorgeous to me, I like it a lot)

31st August

We’re HERE! We’re at the coast and Emma’s about to start!!



Henties Baai in the early morning. I think its beautiful.
Henties Baai in the early morning. I think its beautiful.


Collecting Cleo, Emma and Mike

We meet amazing people, again. Liliana and Emil Schmid have been to 180 countries and been travelling for almost 30 years. We’re a bit star struck.

The incredibly nice and inspiring Liliana and Emil, gave us lots of confidence after all the scare stories most people tell you
The incredibly nice and inspiring Liliana and Emil, gave us lots of confidence after all the scare stories most people tell you
and their fantastic car – also a toyota landcruiser

After getting some good advice we leave, reluctantly, and the kind owner of Loubser B & B (tel: 091 128 7347) gives us a lift to Woker Freight Services, who are the import agents. I’m bouncing with excitement to be getting Cleo. The agent comes in looking serious. He warns us that boxes in the car have been opened and things have been stolen. We turn silent and sit and wait to be taken to the car. All of Woocash’s mechanics tools are in there plus the stove and other essential items. Its a quiet journey to Cleo. I get out and check her over.

A few boxes opened and emptied but they left the rugby ball and Emma's Ice packs, which are very important to Emma.
A few boxes opened and emptied but they left the rugby ball and Emma’s Ice packs, which are very important to Emma.

The metal chest is still padlocked. I am overjoyed, nothing has been taken. Cleo has been roughed up a little but no serious harm done. The plan to save time and money paid off. Now, its a 4 hour journey to collect Emma and Mike from the airport.

“What’s that smell?” I ask Woocash. Its a burning kind of smell.

Ten minutes later, water started spraying out the engine onto the windscreen. Cleo’s radiator hose had popped off.

Thirsty Cleo in a pretty sunset
Thirsty Cleo in a pretty sunset

With the help of a friendly Namibian, Cleo is swiftly back on the road but restricted to a paltry 45mph. We would never make it to the airport on time. With no way to contact Emma, I called a friendly taxi driver (Gunther) and asked him to stand with a sign and collect her and Mike from the airport.