Who is Eben Delport?
Eben Delport used to be an IT specialist – in Windhoek, Namibia. His company often sent him to Luderitz and, from the air, he marveled at the stark beauty of the Namib Desert. Then, one day, he decided to go an experience the desert in his 4×4… and never left.
The first thing that strikes you about Eben Delport is his calm demeanor and the gentle way he communicates with people. This we’ve learnt after numerous trips with his company, Uri Adventures, over the last four years. When vehicles got stuck – rather inevitable for first-time dune drivers – Eben calmly pulled them out within moments.
The bearded Walvis Bay resident has a strict policy when a vehicle is bogged down: only he does both the talking and the recovery, and no other members are allowed near the “problem”.
This may seem a bit autocratic to the uninitiated, but anyone who’s been on a 4×4 trip and heard “4×4 experts” surround the stricken vehicle, offering often conflicting advice to the driver, will realise the merits of Eben’s method.
Simply put, it works – so efficientyly that the rest of the group often hardly knows that a revovery has taken place. On our very first evening with Eben Delport, back in 2009, we were camping at Olifantsbad. With a hot day behind us, now relaxing in a camping chair, we quizzed Eben about his love affair with the desert.
Flying between Windhoek and Luderitz as an IT specialist for a financial institution, Even decided to visit the beautiful places he’d seen. But it wasn’t that simple. First, he had to obtain a special permit, since the area was restricted to employees of the Department of Fisheries and researchers. No tourists were allowed to venture into the “Sperrgebiet”. In 1998, he obtained a permit to enter the Namib Naukluft National Park. Thereafter, the Delport family of Eben, his wife Marita and children Jacques and Natasha used every free moment to head for the desert.
Eben then sent a proposal to Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, asking them to allow him to take tourists into the desert.
“A couple of Ministry representatives and I spent three months exploring, and establishing suitable routes for 4×4 desert tours. The concession was granted, and we today share it with Coastway Tours.” says Eben.
Are their tours popular? Well, they’re always fully booked several months in advanced, and Eben can barely keep up with the demand. With years of experience, incredibly knowledge and a deep appreciation and respect for the desert, he’s the kind of guide whose love for the desert is infectious.
If you’re ready for the dunes of the Namib, with one of the Leisure Wheels partner guides, check out Uri Adventures here: www.uriadventures.com
DID YOU KNOW: An “Uri” (meaning: “to jump”) was a vehicle developed in Namibia for the South African police – a 4×4 that looked a bit like a wire car. Eben originally used Uris for his trips, then Toyotas, Land Rovers and most recently, a Nissan Patrol.
Nissan Patrol 4.8 litre 4×4 GRX
From this month onwards, Eben will be tackling the steep Namib dunes in one of Nissan SA’s Patrols. The petrol engine produces 190kW of power and 425 Nm of torque – great for sand driving – and has been modified with a front bumper, all-terrain tyres, an extra fuel tank, a snorkel and seat covers.
“I spend most of my days traversing our beautiful continent with up to 3 000 people each year and as the ‘leader of the pack’ the Patrol suits the position as the lead vehicle on all my safaris. It’s an honour to be able to associate with Nissan South Africa in this regard,” remarks Delport.