I have seen the advertisement of this ride before, but I chose to ignore it. Months later here it was again. The Brandberg Rhino run and ride is taking place on the 11 of June, three days from now. The Brandberg Rhino run and ride is an annual running and cycling event that is organized by the Save the Rhino Trust. A Trust that that support saving one of the last remaining great and wise elder species of Africa: the Rhino. The beautiful creature has been around for 50 million years but however, approximately 95 % of the entire world Rhino population has been reduced by humans in a short period of time.
In Namibia Rhino poaching has been on the rise in the past 5 years. Thanks to our Asian friends. However it is only In North west Namibia where you can find the adapted Black Rhino living on communal land without formal conservation status. In 19980 lots of the desert wildlife creatures were slaughtered within the Namib Desert which led to the shrink in the rhino numbers. Hence the formation of the Trust. SAVE THE RHINO TRUST was officially registered in 1982 by Blyllic Loutik. Since I have a heart that is close to nature, I decided to sign up for the race. I however realized that I have missed the signing up. When my soul wants something it does not rest until I get it and no and deadlines is not an option for me. I contacted the event organizers and they responded within an hour and few minutes. I could still sign up. I had the option to do a 7km trail run, a 13 km trail or the 26 km trail around the scenic landscape surrounding Uis and the Brandberg Mountain. I chose the 26 km. That is how serious I am to support the SAVE THE RHINO TRUST.
How I planned to get to UIS
I have developed the mentality of trusting the universe. To the extent that I let things to play out instead of me planning things out. I have tried to arrange for rides with locals on Facebook in the past months but to no avail. So I decided to go the free spirit route.
What I did prior to departure
I have signed up for the 26 km mountain trail but ever since my bike got stolen, I never dared to exercise. It has been about 3 months now that I have not done any proper exercise. Therefore the Saturday of 10 June, I woke up early morning to practice a bit. I did a run and walk exercise to the Lagoon and beyond which was approximately 8 km from my house. In total I did 16 km since I came back working as well. I kind of woke up the muscles a bit for tomorrow’s trail.
Upon returning home, I packed my backpack and was excited to go. It was time to go explore North West Namibia for a while. I hitched hiked to Swakopmund for a small fare. In Swakopmund I went to Spar for some snacks (I head rye bread in mind). I got mad love for rye bread and thought I will have lots of it in Swakopmund. I however was wrong, Windhoek Grove mall Spar tops and does not disappoint me when it comes to Rye bread. Allas,
I bought some
• Bananas ( another weakness of mine),
• Cheese (yes, those close to me knows it: I got mad love for cheese.
• Bread ( Although I was disappointed about the variety I had)
• Berry Juice( I needed it for my blood)
My total expenditure this far was N$ 85. I then got into a cab to Ocean View Service Station where I could directly get hike to Henties Bay.
After hustling for a ride for less than ten minutes, I managed to negotiate for a ride to Henties Bay for N$30. The ride to Henties Bay was so exciting maybe because I have never been beyond Swakopmund towards the north west of Namibia. It is between Swakopmund and Henties Bay where the best fishing spots are. I saw a lot of fishermen out there with their four wheelers and fishing rods along the ocean. I kind of got inspired to get a fishing permit, buy a fishing rod and go out fishing on blue days. I mean wouln’t it be fun to get tanned up in the sun while waiting for the fish to bite on mu line? Do not be surprised when you hear that I went fishing.
On our way to Henties Bay, we passed by this beautiful settlement called Woltzbaken. The houses in this place all head one thing in common: a water tank stacked up high that it catches your eye. Oh wow. After 75 km we arrived in Henties Bay which happened to be another hidden treasure of Namibia. I will discover it one day (maybe with my fishing rod).
Did I mention that I met a young boy that was also headed to Uis at Ocean View (I know right, the universe always confines to bring me the best). After all I was not the only one heading to UIS. The lift from Swakopmund dropped us off at the junction where we would exactly get hike to Uis and beyond. There were many cars passing by. Judging from the bicycles that were hooked on the cars I could tell that some of the cars were headed to the same event. I tried to solicit a ride from the passing by cars by putting on the best smile that I could give and stretching out my hand, but many of them just passed by. Some even accelerated the speed when they were passing by. Allas, a benevolent Nama farmer that was headed to Outjo came by after some 45 minutes and gave us a ride. Yey let’s go.
Henties to Uis
The journey was long and a silent one. All I did stare out of the window, gazing far as the eye could see. My eyes came into contact with the naked desert of Namibia. Apart from the electricity lines, all I could see was beige sand, tiny shrubs and blue skies. The music that played along the way was also in tune with the mood of this ride: kind of country music. My soul screamed for more moments like this. Road trips are exactly what sets my soul on fire.
As we approached the Omaruru district and the Tsiseb Conservancy, mountains and shrubs started to appear and as we rolled closer to Uis distict, human and wildlife also started to show up. Along the way I saw people holding up crystal rocks (I later found out that they are mined near the Bandberg and Spitzkoppe). The rocks are then sold to by passing tourists.
After exactly 3 hours, I made it to Uis. Uis is apparently known for the mineral wealth. It has 3600 inhabitants (but I only saw less than 2 % of this population). It is such a small placec that you could easily spot a person that is not from the place. There is only one service station, one supermarket and one free standing restaurant in Uis. There is however 4 guest camps (very beautiful and clean) and a few B& B including Petras B& B where I stayed. Uis is the nearest town from the Brandberg Mountain (the tallest mountain in Namibia) It is at the Brandberg where you find the White lady painting which is believed to be more than 2 million years old. Many people that visit Uis are tourists en route to Brandberg or Khorixas and beyond.
Upon arriving in Uis, I tipped my drive N$ 50 for the ride which he was however not expecting but gladly accepted it. I could see his eyes light up. I then bet them farewell and a great journey ahead. Afterwards I headed for the Daureb Isib campsite where I was expected to pick up my race number.
At Daureb Isib, I met the race organisers and they were in a jiving mood and optimistic about tomorrow’s run nd ride. I couldn’t help it but joined the hype. Along the boxed streets of Uis, cyclers could be seen practicing and preparing for tomorrow’s ride. I walked around town trying to find accommodation. Mind you I booked none in advance and with so many people expected for this event, all places were fully booked. Somewhere in me a little voice assured me that I will find accommodation and I should just keep looking. After going around town for a while, I eventually walked into Petra’s B&B (please do check it out if you happen to visit Uis one day). I was welcomed by a friendly lady and although they were fully booked, they managed to find me a room in the main house (I trust in the power of the universe hence the name of this blog). At about 18h30 I joined the other riders, runners as well as the emotional supporters for a dinner braai and auction. My hands goes up for those benevolent people that made bids to the auctioned items. There are so many people whore cares about the SAVE THE RHINO Trust. With so much motivation, I headed to my accommodation and went to bed optimistic and ready to run for the rhinos tomorrow.
At exactly 5h00 I woke up and prepared to meet the team at 5h45. The day has finally arrived. I am going to run 26 km within the Brandberg Mountains. Although I expected my muscles to hurt from yesterday’s 16 km last minute prep, they were not hurting or maybe I was too nervous to feel the pain. At exactly 06h00 am the cycling team set off and exactly 06h15 am the runners were on the go. At first I was part of the front pack but later started to fall behind. I felt like giving up at the first turn but a little voice in me told me to keep pressing on. I realized that I did not come this far just only to come these far. So I kept pressing on and after a while the track got into a riverbed. The riverbed was approximately 4 km of thick sand and that proofed to be a real challenge for me. After the 4 km we made it to the road leading to Khorixas where the trails separated, the 7 km went separate and so did the 13 km.
The 26 km trail followed the road to Khorixas and made a turn somewhere ahead. I almost got on the wrong track as I followed a lady who intended to do the 26 km trail but ended up on the 13 km. Halfway to the 13 km my intuition told me that I was on the wrong route and I turned back, met a team of 4 people doing the 26 km trail and I kept up with them for a very long distance. I kept in front of them as it motivated me to keep going and not to let them overtake me. However along the way, the two men overtook me one at a time.
The views of the Brandberg Mountain in the early morning hours were spectacular. At some point I wish I had my phone to take some awesome pictures. (Hopefully I will be going back soon). Somewhere in between the trail there was a team on standby with oranges and water. I grabbed to slices of oranges as fast as I could and made my way through another short riverbed. The lady whom I was keeping up with felt behind as she opted to fill up her water bottle. I saw it as a chance to take it slow for a while. While navigating the terrain of the trail slowly the lady caught up with me. Oh I was tired but told myself to keep going because if I let her surpass me I will not have the same motivation to keep going. I kept up with her for about 800km or so and eventually felt back. All I could do was watch as she disappeared along the trail just like the mirage disappear along the Namibian roads.
All of a sudden I was alone surrounded by the beautiful mountains and trees. My feet dreaded on the orange sand of the Namib Desert as I pushed myself forward. I made stops here and the along the trail and at some point I felt like sitting down and get into a meditation session. It was a divine moment. After 4 hours of perseverance I managed to cross the finish line. I was so proud of myself and for the love of the Rhinos. I am naturally not a beer person but I couldn’t resist the Light Windhoek Lager beer that was served at the finish line, courtesy of Namibia Breweries. I finished the beer can in shots of 3.
After the winners were announced and votes of thanks given, I went back to the B& B and expressed my gratitude to my host and I headed out for the main road.
It was time to get back on the road. I had to walk 2 km again to get to the intersection where the road from Uis to Henties Bay intersect the road to Khorixas. At the junction stood two men that were selling the crystal gemstones. I couldn’t help but watch as they approached all cars passing this intersection in anticipation of selling at least one of the gems. Out of more than 15 cars that passed by, only one vehicle came to a stand to support them.
I also stood there in my running gear, stretching out my hand, with a weary smile in anticipation that my co-runners and riders from the event will spot me and offer me a ride. They All passed me as they sped off, leaving a thick white windy dust in our faces. Eventually two men who supplied the event with mobile toilets stopped and offered me a ride. I could not have wished for a better ride than this because it gave me amazing views and great conversation with the two men.
In Swakopmund I bid them farewell and headed for another ride to Walvis Bay. I was not the only one headed for Walvis Bay. There were two other ladies headed there. 5 minutes later a fine looking gentlemen, who seem to understand the hustle of a hitchhiker stopped by and gave us a ride.
At my desired drop off zone, I expressed my gratitude to the driver and got out. My legs were dead. It took me more than 30 minutes to get home that afternoon while it normally takes me 5 minutes. At home I did some stretches, showered and immediately went to bed.
So proud. Weekend well spend.
What do you think of my weekend & Brandberg Rhino Run and Ride? Should I invite you next time around? Comment and share, let’s connect.