A project completed (and I have the blisters to prove it!)

When I first visited Goanikontes-Oasis back in October, I started to think about a return trip to that relaxing retreat by hiking from Arandis across the desert and down a number of dry river canyons. While I had painful memories of the reconnaissance mission to remind me of the challenges, it was still a project I looked forward to accomplishing once summer was over and the temperatures were more tolerable.

Last weekend (Easter), we had both Friday and Monday off work so the timing and weather were perfect. My advanced planning paid off: my coordinates for the entry slot into the first canyon held true; the ground conditions were as expected; there was very little game (only some ostrich, springbok and baboons) and a good number of song birds; and my estimated distance (45-50km) was almost spot on at 52km.

I had only two disappointments:

  • The new boots that I’ve been breaking in for a few weeks are still too new, so hot spots on the back of my heels after 8km turned into pretty nasty blisters, especially when going through the softer sand of the Swakop River. Ouch! I felt every one of these steps!

  • The claim I had heard of no predators on the route was challenged by large paw prints that I later identified as leopard. The tracks were on the Khan River bed that had flowed 4 weeks before, so it was impossible to know how fresh the prints were. I saw no other evidence but quickly became grateful that blisters were my only worry!
Stock photo

I was dead-tired by the time I arrived to Goanikontes Saturday afternoon, and was warmly greeted by fellow PCVs Andrew, Jen and Nathaniel. We camped the rest of the weekend which involved mostly hanging in our hammocks, catching up on our Kindle-reading and eating Jen’s camp-gourmet cuisine.

Come Monday, when it was time to return home…   I hitched a ride back!

Here are some photos of the trip.

5km out of Arandis, just past the airport, I can see the mountains in the distance that border the first river canyon.
Before I reach the mountains, however, I pass and climb over numerous rock piles.
The side canyon (documented in my earlier post) finally brings me to the Khan River canyon, where it’s evident that water has recently flowed.
The river banks were recently eroded.
The Khan River is narrow, with steep walls and wonderful formations.
The artwork created by the dried silt yielded infinite patterns and designs – some of these cracks were at least 30cm deep!

The first night’s camp gave me trees for my hammock and a nearly full moon to light up the canyon walls.
A few hours into the second day’s hike brought me to the wider (and more sandy) Swakop River, with numerous pools of standing water.
This nesting bird-shaped feature confirmed that I was approaching my destination. I had seen it first last October, from the opposite side, where it holds the same appearance.
Trying to decide to whom I should send this promotional photo: Amazon or Thermarest?
Andrew, Jen and Nathaniel are great camping companions!

Author: Chris

Until recently, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

8 thoughts on “A project completed (and I have the blisters to prove it!)”

  1. Hi, Kristi! During the peak summer months (November thru March), it is often above 40 degrees C during the day, so not recommend for treks like this. By waiting for the autumn, I enjoyed highs in the low 30s C with very little humidity. It cools off quite a bit at night. On some of the longer developed trails (permit-only), water pumps are installed so I only need to carry what I need each day. On this overland trip of my own, I carried 6 liters which served just fine for my drinking, cooking & cleaning needs. You’re right about the southern hemisphere stars, and the Milky Way always seems within reach. Watching all the shooting stars is a fave activity while in the hammock (besides napping), but for sleeping, I use the tent for extra protection against insects and other critters that might want to join me…

  2. Wow! I’m continually amazed at how dry it is there! What do you do for water? That river looks pretty sparse. Do you all in the hammock all the time? What is the temperature most days? Great adventure you are on! Bet the stars are magnificent.

  3. Hello Chris. Beautiful photographs indeed. Thank you for sharing. I got goosebumps looking at those footprints. They are gigantic leopard prints and looking fresh. You are so lucky. Just be careful out there please. Nevertheless, I’m really enjoying your blog…. Take care.

    1. Yes, Terry – actually much quieter than I expected. Even the birds were silent. At night, any small sound (like a rock fall) echoed throughout the canyon, and the baboon calls in the morning were eerily dramatic.

  4. Again- National Geographic worthy photos, Chris! Beautiful- you have an eye for geography. And that was an awful big footprint! Thanks for sharing the beauty of your surroundings!

  5. Was just thinking of you the other day and wondering how your anniversary trip?hike?trek? had gone. So fun to share it through your photos. Loved the designs made by the cracked silt.
    The rock formation in the photo with the caption “The Khan River is narrow…” looks like a man watching over the comings and goings. Sounds like you had a nice one year celebration. Wishing you a wonderful, memorable second year full of positive impact, adventures and learning experiences.
    Take care.
    Love,
    Melanie

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