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Reader: Braving Namib desert in a Duster

2014-11-11 10:45

NAMIBIA, BRAAIS AND THE OPEN ROAD: Shaina Herman poses with a Renault Duster at Fish River Canyon, Namibia on the way to the set of Ultimate Braai Master. Image: Shaina Herman

Shaina Herman

Driving through Namibia, the orange sands reflect the most beautiful dunes I’ve ever seen in the rear-view mirror of the Renault Duster.

I grip my hands tight on the steering wheel and tell myself "small corrections" as I swerve in and out of soft warm sand near Dune 45 in Sossuvlei, arguably the most photographed dune in the world. The sand and rocks beneath my tyres have no idea that this is my first 4x4 trip and though learning curve is steep, the Duster forgives me the entire way.

At least the other, more experienced drivers in our group don’t laugh at my novice mistakes and offer advice.


Jess Fogarty (SA 4x4 Magazine), my driving partner for five days, tells me she has the perfect song for me. As if this adventure was a coming of age scene in a Hollywood Blockbuster, she turns the stereo up and the sounds of American music blast far and wide. At that moment, my ignition clicks, and now, I am unafraid and finally understand why so many people have a relationship with rugged cars that take on the great outdoors.

On the way to the set of Ultimate Braai Master on the Orange River, the reason I’d been invited to join a group of adrenalin junkies, I envisioned the thousands of kilometers of off-road Namibian terrain, unsure of my own abilities.

IMAGE GALLERY: Reader's Renault Duster Namibia adventure

After years of hesitation (and tears, so many tears) I’d finally learned how to drive a manual car about six months earlier. Learning on a 1985 Suzuki jeep gave me a huge appreciation for the smooth-riding Duster.

My confidence grew as our legendary guide 'Fires', an advanced driving trainer, and the rest of the group, offered pointers to correct my mistakes.

When we climbed down rock face and jolted up hills in all-wheel drive, 'Fires' ran along side the car, like a dad cheering his learner daughter on. High-fives were doled out and the Duster and I bonded, both of us tough and versatile.

Our trail from Windhoek to Fish River Canyon to the set of Ultimate Braai Master featured starry nights at Alte Kalköfen and the epic expanses of Namibian savannah. The SUV took on open plains, orange landscapes, red rocks, deep canyons and untouched wilderness. Namibia is a playground for vehicle's like the Duster.


The Duster forgave my mistakes, took poor terrain in its stride and traversed gently down rocks. It transitioned easily from open tar to dirt road so that I never felt my nerves come over me.

Beyond the tension of everyday life, towards the simplicity and ease of Namibia’s nature, I was given the chance to experience a holistic adventure, a new SUV, a group of teachers and a vivid landscape. From travel and food writer, to honourary "stick shift" professional, the journey inspired a confidence and love for off-road driving.

Read more on:    renault  |  food24  |  namibia  |  4x4  |  your wheels  |  travel

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