Millican customer and photographer, Frank Hoyinck, got in touch a few months ago to tell us about his upcoming trip of a lifetime to Namibia. We had to keep in touch and to hear about how he got on in such unique landscapes with Smith the Roll Pack 18L for company.
Location: Namibia, Africa
Words & Photography by: Frank Hoyinck
After an 11 hour flight, 3 in-flight movies, 2 instant meals and absolutely no sleep I arrived in the land of the Himba people and the San Tribe. From the capital, Windhoek, I headed south to south-west. Soon after crossing The Tropic of Capricorn Latitude I saw a huge “red carpet” roll out in front of me. Red dunes appeared on the horizon and wherever I looked I simply saw miles and miles of red dirt.
The only sign of life here was one lost wilder beast, searching for some shade and some sporadic vegetation. There was more dead than alive as it struggled to hold onto the rocks and not be blown away by the hard wind. I opened the window of the 4x4, as it had started to feel like being in an oven, and could hear the struggling tyres being tortured by the red gravel. At that moment the song “Extreme Ways” was coming out of my mp3 player…the timing of Moby could not have been better, it made me realise that this trip was not going to be a walk in the park and that I may have been completely unprepared….as usual.
The coolness of the early morning gave me the chance to climb one of the highest sand dunes in the world, the reward was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen. On top of the dune I watched as the sun stretched out over this unique red landscape. It makes you feel incredibly small. Watching this land from above you start to realise that this land is simply empty…it is full of emptiness.
Proceeding to the west (the only thing I saw in the rear view mirror was a cloud of dust) I reached a village named Solitair, I could not have invented a better name for it if I’d tried. Actually, it is not a village, the only building there is is a bakery that is surrounded by a graveyard of old cars. Miles and miles later, driving on narrow roads with steep ravines on each side, I fell upon amazing views at the gates of the Skeleton Coast.
Again this name hits the nail right on the head. Passing the gates which are surrounded with bones found along the coast makes you feel like you may be entering the gates of hell. The only thing you can see in front of you is flat scorched landscape, it is like being on the moon. The wind picked up and the temperature increased to 40 celsius. Without the “safety” of a car this land will chew you up in a blink of an eye, without water I think you may only last a couple of hours. Every now and again you can see a bit of the coast and the South Atlantic Ocean, the beach is littered with rusted old shipwrecks from decades ago and I started to feel sorry for the sailors of these ships. I can imagine their happiness after being thrown onto the coast and surviving their shipping disaster, but also their disappointment when they realised where they had been beached…there is no way out alive here by foot.
The only testimonial of life here is a shredded car tire left along the side of the road. The constant sound of the tires hitting the sharp rocks is hypnotising and I start to ask myself: why and what am I doing here? As a free-lance photographer, my camera has always been my compass, always searching for new places to take photos, to tell a story. I started this trip only with a basic fixed lens camera and soon I started to go crazy that I didn't bring all my gear with me. I calmed down when I realised that even if I had all the cameras and lenses in the world with me it would be impossible to capture the sheer beauty and perspectives of what I could see. Like many photographers say: the best camera there is is the one you have in your bag.
After turning to the east and after a couple of massive rain showers that turn dust into mud, the contrast of the landscape could not have been bigger. The landscapes turn from black to green, from dust to wood, and the first thing you see are giraffes towering above the landscape like protectors of the earth. This land and the wildlife has been poached for many years and it is still going on today, more than ever. Wildlife has been killed for its meat and ivory and even just for fun. Even the extremely rare Rhino is still being shot for its horns. Poorly equipped rangers, who are few and far between, have the almost impossible task of protecting all the wildlife that are left. Brave men who are risking their lives against well-funded poachers who will do anything to make a kill. Luckily I have been blessed to see fields and fields full of zebras, springboks and wilder-beast, peacefully grazing the green plains whilst being watched by the real owners of this land…the mighty lion.
So, if you want to have a true adventure, pack your back, be prepared….but not too much. After more than 20 mosquito bites, 2 flat tyres, spotting 3 rhino’s, one elephant and again, absolutely no sleep, I am back in Windhoek.
I'd like to say many thanks to my travel companion and one of my closest friends Olaf Zinken. Every time he pushes and motivates me to be a better photographer, I would not have been in Namibia without him. Thanks again for the lukewarm beers and your patience in giving me the possibility to take the best photo I can.
And to my other travel companion, Smith the Roll Pack. This bag is like a soulmate, every pocket is just in the right place, nice natural materials are used which make it very comfortable to carry, together with a beautiful design. The 18L is the perfect size for on the plane and in urban areas. Finally, a bag that does not use noisy velcro and tonnes of zippers. Less is more, that’s for sure.
Until next time! Frank.