Photo Essay: Solitaire, the Namib Desert Oasis

by Ekua on November 30, 2012 in captured on memory card,Namibia

It’s called Solitaire. It was not named after a card game or a piece of jewelry, but for its remoteness. There, in the middle of the desert, you’ll find rusty old defunct trucks sinking into the dust and spiky plants rising out of it. It looks like a place where vehicles have come to die. Its description doesn’t make it sound like the most inviting highway rest stop you could visit.

But this is certainly not a sad solitary place; it’s a place that brings respite from a day of driving across barren land. After you’ve barely seen anything or anyone for hours, Solitaire emerges, shining in the desert, full of people and full of life. It’s hard to imagine how everyone got there because where were they on the road?

Solitaire is the sole place to stop for gas, food, and toilets along the 6+ hour journey from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei. Our only other stops had been pulling over briefly to take pictures, and one time to use nature’s toilet behind the not so discreet cover of our truck. In Solitaire, we could shake off the monotony and recharge.

And I was so taken by this colorful place that’s frozen in time, but where time has been allowed to take its toll:

Old gas pump in Solitaire, Namibia

Solitaire, Namibia

Rusty car in Solitaire, Namibia

Solitaire, Namibia

Rusty truck sinking into the sand in Solitaire, Namibia

Solitaire, Namibia

Old car sinking into the sand in Solitaire, Namibia

Old tractor in Solitaire, Namibia

Solitaire, Namibia

Decaying truck in Solitaire, Namibia

Rusty trucks in Solitaire, Namibia

An old motorcycle and prickly pear in Solitaire, Namibia

Toilet turned into a planter in Solitaire, Namibia

Flowering cacti in Solitaire, Namibia

Desert plants in Solitaire, Namibia

Solitaire, Namibia

Two birds in a tree in Solitaire, Namibia

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sojourner December 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm

What an interesting place. Your pictures are amazing. Namibia seems like quite the unforgettable experience. Enjoy!

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Ekua December 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Thanks, glad you liked the photos. I was really inspired by this scenery! Namibia is profoundly different from anywhere else I’ve ever been and the trip was full of surprises.

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Sunee December 6, 2012 at 6:38 am

Lol, that aloe growing inside the toilet is less than inviting though. I can see why you had to make use of “nature’s toilet” instead :)

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Ekua December 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

We had to make use of nature’s toilet before we arrived there because there was nowhere to stop between Swakopmund and Solitaire! It’s pretty crazy how long you can drive in Namibia without seeing anything. Solitaire also has real toilets that aren’t filled with plants :P I like when people turn old household equipment into planters! At the hostel I stay at in Oaxaca, one of my friends turned an old toilet and a retro washing machine into planters for the roof terrace… fun, quirky, and cheap!

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Sunanda December 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm

These look like pictures from a Coen brothers movie! :) So quirky!

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Ekua December 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Maybe not as bleak as some of the Coen bros’ movies, but it definitely had a Wild West vibe. There was kind of a strange dichotomy of having the look of a deserted place while being the only place full of people on this long drive!

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