The Living Edens

By Richard Matthews, Producer and Cinematographer

Richard Matthews

Journey through the dunes

I looked down at the sea of sand ahead of us. For mile upon mile sand dunes towered around us, the whistling wind whipping across their surfaces and sending plumes of fine yellow grains curling into the air. We’d been driving south for over an hour, the tyres of our four-wheel-drive land rover deflated to give the vehicle more puchase on the hot soft sand. We were headed for Sandwich harbour, an isolated lagoon on the Namibian coast famous for its bird life and its spectacular scenery.

Back in town, in Swapokmund, we’d been advised not to try the trip on our own. Others had set out on the journey recently and had had to be rescued after getting hopelessly bogged down in the sand. But they were tourists, new to Namibia and with little experience of driving through desert dunes.

The film crew on a dune ridge
We, in the other hand, had been doing so for the last seven months and we’d learnt a thing or two about desert driving the hard way ourselves. Getting stuck was just part of the the job, as was the hours of back breaking digging and pushing that it usually took to get us out again. Furthermore we were equipped for whatever the desert had in store for us. We had excellent tyres, sand ladders, a spade, plenty of food and water, and most important of all -- an air jack -- a big inflatable plastic bag that attached to the car's exhaust and inflated to raise the vehicle out of the soft sand when we got stuck. Not that we were stuck -- yet. Our problem was that the tracks we’d been following had suddenly petered out, blown over by the relentless wind. We’d never been to Sandwich harbour before and all I knew was it was south of us. If we took a wrong turn we could end up miles from nowhere, off the beaten track and with little chance of anyone coming by for weeks. Which was the right way to go? There was only one way to find out.
Driving up the dunes

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