Did you know you can find the moon right here on Earth?
Well, not exactly the moon, but as close as you’re going to get to it. Outside of the busy town of Swakopmund, just half-an-hour’s drive, the road starts morphing from barren sandhills to barren rocks, hurriedly crafted out of layers of million-year-old stones as if their sculptor had to meet a strict deadline.
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In contrast to the golden hues of the Namib dunes closer to the coast, the Moon Valley is angrily grey, not a spot of colour to be seen anywhere – except for the ancient welwitschia plant.
It might sound like a desolate place, but just like the empty moon, it retains a wild beauty – if you can look beyond the tracks of wayward quad bikes.
You might even recognise a road or two from the last Mad Max movie – another layer to its apocalyptic charm.
An oasis in the middle of nowhere
But it’s not all lifeless – drive far into its heart where the banks of the dry Swakop River beg for water, you’ll find the out-of-place Goanikontes Oasis. Someone in the 1800s decided that this was the place to build a farm – in the middle of an imposing climate on the banks of a river that only runs when it rains.
And through sheer obstinance - typical of any Namibian - it stands today as a resort and popular farm restaurant. At first visit it might seem like they boer with rusted vintage cars – scattered around the property – and includes a dubious old petrol station.
One car has even be turned into a table for diners who like a bit of whimsy.
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Then you start noticing the wayward goat – an escapee from the petting zoo in the corner – tiny horses, fuzzy llamas and big tortoises who you can almost hear shouting ‘keep the noise down’.
The restaurant is also as no-fuss as the animals – delicious baked goods hold on for dear life in the refrigerator, ice-cold Namibian beer (in ice-cold glasses) are served non-stop and every day of the week a new buffet menu entices people from afar to travel for traditional Namibian cuisine.
If you decide to stay over, they stay true to the aesthetics of the Moon Valley with domed-like dwellings that look like they come out of a 60s space movie, alongside a giant natural pool for when the desert sun eats at your skin.
It’s also the perfect base for tackling the lunar trails (there are three to choose from) or you can opt to explore the Moon Valley on a mountain bike.
Whatever you hope to find among the cracks and desolation, be sure to take a buddy with you to keep the lunacy at bay.
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