We meet Nadja in the Namibian capital Windhoek and set out for the coast along a road which she promises will be spectacular. The landscape here has been formed over millions of years by drifting continents, volcanic eruptions, ocean currents and unabating winds. Namibia’s coastline used to be attached to South America, which means that we are right on the fault line that divided Africa and America.
We drive through a varied landscape with vast plains, deep valleys and sweeping views of the mountains in the distance. So far we have not encountered a single car, only a tortoise on the road and a couple of grazing springboks in the fields. In a way it is no surprise: this country, which is more than three times the size of the United Kingdom, only has two million inhabitants.
As we draw nearer to our final destination, the landscape becomes more arid. We are entering the desert, with sand dunes as far as the eye can reach. We leave the dirt track and drive into the desert for about half an hour until we reach a sheltered area below some rocks where two other cars are parked.
We get out of the car and look around. Not a sound. The grey rocks reflect the orange glow of the setting sun.
“Up here!” a voice echoes from somewhere above. We climb up the rock and meet Hilmar, who has come here to watch the sun set with friends. “Welcome to the moon!” he says as he shakes our hands and points to the plunging views over the valley and its bizarre landscape. “I brought some fresh oysters and champagne for the occasion. Get ready for the best sunset of your life!”
With the sun behind the mountains and the sky still pink and orange, we follow our host over a steep hill into a narrow valley where some 300 candles in paper bags have been scattered over the rocks like stars. A desert camp has been set up in the clearing between the rocks. “How do you like my desert dining club?” Hilmar asks.
Dinner is fantastic: great food, great scenery and great company! As we throw a last log on the fire, the candles go out one by one. We walk to our tent and I realise that I have never heard such a deafening silence, nor seen such darkness. Welcome to the desert!