Thursday 29 September 2011

Higher than a kite on our wedding anniversary

Its 5.30am, 8th September 2011, our 4th Wedding Anniversary and we are on holiday in Namibia. The exact location is the Namib Desert near to the Sossusvlei Dunes, the highest dunes in the world.

Yesterday we climbed one, which at 300m is no mean feat in the heat of the desert. To add to the difficulty level is the fact that the beautiful red sand is as fine as talcum powder and getting a proper footing is difficult and exhausting.

But.... if you know me, then you know me, I led Hubster to the top.

"on top of the world looking down on creation......."

Eric is the Pilot. Eric is also the owner of the Balloon Company "Namib Sky". Eric is about as cool and knowledgeable about his craft as you can get.
As well as giving his 10 wide eyed balloon virgins a running commentary in perfect French, German and English, it is soon clear he is an incredible pilot, fun, playful and clearly passionate.

As he fires up his "baby", he is in constant radio contact with the "Sky Boys" on the ground. Up, up and away in the most elegant and gentle fashion possible. Apart from the intermittent WOOSH from the gas fired flame, there is no sound, hardly any sense of movement and certainly no sense of altitude. We rise without barely noticing it.

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We are now in Eric's playground and he is in playful mood.

The sight before our eyes is other worldly.The Namib Desert Savannah to the East heraldsa beautiful sunrise, lilac in hue. To the West, rolling in over and through the valley's of the Sossuvlei Dunes is a thick blanket of icy-cold sea fog, charging in from the coast hundreds of kilometres away.
As we look from one side to the other, there could notbe a more contrasting vista but both incredibly beautiful.
Stunning lilac hued sunrise in the East

Icy cold sea fog rolling in from the West

Eric is delighted with the show that Mother Nature has given us today, he enthuses "we are so lucky, there may be only 20 days a year like this"

A fantastic anniversary present then, just perfect.

We dont just soar high above the mountains, Eric takes us to play among them, skillfully piloting the balloon through their rocky curves and undulations. At one point, we feel so close to the rock that it seems we can touch it.

Breathtaking colours contrasting land and sky

Hovering in the mountain tops

Look carefully, can you see the shadow of the balloon in the mist?
Adore this picture of Hubster, delight and happiness all over his face
The balloon's shadow looms large as we make our descent
 to the desert floor
Back to earth with a very exciting "sports landing!. Imagine the dam buster bombs skimming the water? That is us, the 1 tonne basket pitched on it's side skimming the desert grass land to an eventual 40m - ish halt.

Woo hoo! Laughing heartily and lying on our backs with our legs in the air, we clumsily scramble out. It's not pretty.
The Sky Boys rally into action and we are whisked away to the most sumptious breakfast in the biggest restaurant in the world - The Namib Desert.

Eric kicks off the proceedings by ceremoniously and deftly lopping off the neck of the Champagne with a hefty machete. I believe he is well practiced.

It couldnt have been the more perfect start to a wonderful anniversary and we left with our spirits higher than a kite.


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