The Namibia Special is the first two-part special episode that ex-Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May presented as part of the Amazon Prime motoring series The Grand Tour. It aired at New Years - on the 30th and 31st of December, 2016 - as the seventh and eighth episodes of the show's first series and was entitled The Beach (Buggy) Boys. Though technically the first special episode of the The Grand Tour, the show was really the twelfth special episode featuring Clarkson, Hammond, and May, following the Patagonia Special which aired as part of Top Gear's twenty-second series. The special follows the trend set by the presenters' former travels across Patagonia, Burma, and Africa in being aired in two parts. The first part chronicles the presenters' journey through the Namib desert in search of a road while part two focusses on the journey from Windhoek to the Angolan border.
|Customised VW Beetle Buggy||Jeremy Clarkson|
|Customised VW Beetle Buggy||Richard Hammond|
|Customised VW Beetle Buggy||James May|
To prove to their producer, Mr. Wilman, that beach buggies aren't terrible, the presenters are challenged to drive across Namibia to its border with Angola. After first customising their own buggy, the guys meet at the Namibian coastline to formally receive their challenge. The guys set off into the desert in search of a road leading to a town where they can buy a map. Having not found a road, and with the sun setting, May and Hammond entrust Clarkson to be the navigator after he tells them he can determine where to go by reading the stars. They set off following Clarkson but fail to find a road and are forced to sleep under their cars.
The next morning, the guys realise that Clarkson has led them back to their starting point and they decide to simply follow the beach north to find a road. In doing so, however, they realise that they are becoming trapped between unclimbable sand dunes and the incoming tide of the Atlantic Ocean. The situation is made worse when they arrive at Namibia's salt pan at the top of the beach, which they are forbidden from driving across, and are forced to race the tide back down the beach to escape.
Having spent a second night sleeping under their cars, the guys decide to head inland to search for a road. However, this means that they must contest with the Namib desert's enormous sand dunes. Clarkson and Hammond both have close calls with two separate sand dunes while May struggles to climb them with his underpowered buggy. Later, Clarkson's buggy breaks down and he is forced to attach a rope between the buggy's engine in the rear and the front windshield in order to be able to decelerate.
Eventually, however, the guys find power pylons and follow them to a dirt road. Overjoyed, they begin to head down the road when Clarkson is forced to stop again. Hammond and May decide to leave Clarkson and head off in search of a town. Clarkson hails a passing motorist for some water and mends his car as best as he can. However, his efforts are only somewhat effective, as he is forced to stop every two or three miles to prevent his buggy from overheating. Over the next four hours, Clarkson manages to travel just twenty miles and he sets in for a long cold night on the road. Elsewhere, Hammond and May finally arrive at a town - Windhoek, the capital and largest city of Namibia. There, they head straight for a hotel with a bar to wait for Clarkson.
The next day, Clarkson, having nursed his buggy into Windhoek in the early hours of the morning, suggests that the trio should spend a day gathering supplies in the city before heading off again, given the rough conditions of the first leg of their journey. While Hammond opts for more traditional tenting equipment, Clarkson and May end up purchasing enough camping gear to necessitate hiring two large safari trucks to transport it around.
Leaving Windhoek the next day, the trio eventually wind up at a game reserve in Omaruru; while there, Clarkson notices a bunch of dehorned rhinoceri, and decides that the trio should try and help the conservation efforts. The next morning, the presenters' put their plan into action, and set off to try and find some poachers. Finding it difficult to spot them on the ground, Clarkson decides that they should use parasails to spot the poachers from the air, though this fails when a gust of wind causes Clarkson to crash into Hammond. At night, the trio don tactical gear and tranquiliser guns before heading out for another search, but their efforts are fruitless, and Clarksons end up shooting Hammond by mistake.
Because Hammond was unable to be woken the next morning, May and Clarkson put him in his buggy and get a helicopter to lift him and his car to a meeting point further down the road, much to Hammond's bewilderment upon finally awaking. The next two days on the road shake May and Clarkson's buggies, causing numerous breakdowns along the way. Tired of the rough roads, May tries to lead an expedition offroad, which only causes more mishaps.
On their third day, after a final night of driving with broken headlights, the trio finally arrive at Angolan river. The next morning, however, they realise that there is no path to their destination and that they will need to find a way to cross the river. They decide to build a cable car across the river, which takes another day to complete. Clarkson and May are successful in reaching the beach with the cable car, but Hammond's buggy becomes stuck a few feet from the destination. Clarkson and May, unable to help him, decide to conclude their efforts to prove Mr. Wilman wrong as a failure.