Today is our 30th Wedding Anniversary. As we don’t know if we will have any luxury (toilets) or a restaurant where we go, we pre-celebrated in Eagle’s Nest, a couple of days ago.
We only had tar roads going south from Windhoek, in Sussusvlei and here between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The steep gradients on Spreetshoogte Pass were paved with stones. The rest is gravel.
Speed limit is 100km/h – speeding is not a problem, as there is no police and you rarely have the urge to go much faster. As there is little erosion, the surface is usually smooth, except when crossing dry rivers. Your well being depends on when the road was last graded.
People tell us, the government neglected the roads for a while and some stretches have a brutal combination of washboard and ruts – not really deep ruts, but heaps of gravel. It is like driving in the snow. As long as you stay in your rut you are fine. If the rut runs out or for some other reason you hit the heap of sand or gravel, you car starts to swim. We were shown a picture of a recent accident, where a Land Rover flipped over.
Dips are also fun. You come at 100 km/h, you see the road go down into the dry river, but you don’t know what condition it is in. Usually, stepping off the gas and crossing at 80 km/h is fine, 95% of the time. Sometimes you see a rock sticking out or heaps of sand or the edges being steeper than normal, then you know you are too fast. – Not much you can do about it. Once we had all 4 wheels in the air after climbing the other side of the dip. Sounds like fun?!?
So here is the route we did so far. We are starting the northern part, tomorrow.
Got up in the morning without a plan. It was freezing cold and Swakopmund is pretty much like a Nordsee resort with a Baltic Sea see bridge.
Tried to boil water for coffee for more than an hour. The gas burners refused to give more than a very small fire. Our neighbors had the same problem, but came with a hug coffee pot bought at reception.
We watched the birds and were unsure what to do.
So we went to town and found the NWR (National Wildlife Resorts) office open although it was Sunday. We asked what to do and bought a permit for the Welwitscha Drive. A 160 km circle through the desert.
You drive through the normal desert…
… and come across a rise and look down into this chaos of a mountain range and black rock. This cannot can only be partially be captured in a photo
I found it most spectacular to cross the dry bed of the Swakop River, which is like a green oasis surrounded by burned rock. There is 3 camp sites and it was fun to get into 4×4 mode to cross a small sand dune into one of them. Very lonely place…
The only animals we saw, was this Strauss
The main attraction is the Welwischia Mirabilis. A plant that gets 1500 years old (there is one to be seen). I’m sure it looks healthier at times with more fog…
We closed the day driving along the sea and the outskirts of Swakopmund. Reminded us of Auckland.
I made the mistake to get out of the car near the sea bridge and promptly got 2 people going at me trying to sell some key rings. I hate this and finally lost the battle, buying them…
We finished the day at Kucki’s Pub, where we had Pepper Steak (me) and King Klip (Sabine) with Bratkartoffeln (very German with Speck und Zwiebeln).
So a slow day turned into a good one.
Left Tsauchab River Camp a bit sad. One of the best campgrounds we have ever been on.
Drove to Remhoogte Pass. About 10% steep climbs. Easy. Met a motorbike tour group with very light Enduros.
Then we came to Spreetshoogte Pass with its more then 20% steep descend. The view from the top was most spectacular. No photo can capture this. Looking almost 1000m down on the multi colored desert with mountains sticking out. There is few views like this in the world.
Going down the 20% gradient was easy, as that part was paved. Still, going in first gear still wasn’t enough. We had to break every now and then to not destroy the engine.
Did a picknick up there, of course.
The driving on the main road to Swakopmund got long and tiring. We crossed the “Sudlicher Wendekreis” and stopped for a picture, which we didn’t on the way down.
This road to Swakopmund shows how different desert landscapes can be. Besides what you see here, we crossed a deep canyon, got into a maze of small canyons of black rock and finally the sand.
Checked into the Alte Bruecke campground. Each site features grass, a private wash house and the usual Braai place. … but it’s cold here. While I write this, I’m shivering.
Did a big shopping at the local Spar. No alcohol sold after 13:00 Saturday until Monday morning.
Sabine created a feast of Hamburgers in our cast iron pan. Life is great.
Last night at the bar was a bit too long, so we saw funny annimal on our way back to the camp site.
In the morning, we decided to stay another night and perhaps do the 4 passes drive. The owner told us “we will keep you busy all day on our premises”, so he sent us on a day long 4×4 drive and hike.
Sabine didn’t want to move to the open air camp site, even though I could imagine sitting on this toilet enjoying the view – there is a similar open air shower, too.
The area is totally dry rocky desert, but our first stop was in a fig tree “Urwald” with actual water, flowers, birds and baboons. (fortunately, they stayed away from us)
Just sitting and watching them…
Next stop was a 1.5 hour hike through a canyon. It actually turned out to be the 4×4 version of a hike. Very hot and lots of climbing up and down.
Last was a true 4×4 drive. We climbed up steps in the path I never would have thought so easy. Going down afterwards mad you really feel how high those steps were. At the Rock Drive, we turned round. There was a steep section with holes exactly the size of our wheels and steps distanced to engage front and rear wheels at the same time. Didn’t want to try it or ruin my tires on the sharp rocks.
We started to end the day on a whinery. Namibian wine grown in the desert. Tasted it and bought a bottle for our Braai.
We told Niki, the land lady about the Black Mamba a couple of years ago and she remembered. She sent us to this camp site – Reni, is that it?
Next stop camp ground bar. One Gin Tonic too much with the couple from Germany from last night. Then we drove into the sunset and back to our camp site.
The grilled Springbock was perfect, the sweet potato didn’t work out. The Namibian wine was very good. When the camp fire died down, we were able to savour the stars. — Good night.
Decided not to join into the stampeded to be at Dune 45 (45 kilometers from the camp site) at sunrise. Didn’t sleep well, so got up none the less and drove out there.
Climbed a sand dune and watched the spectacle. Then “ski’ed” down.
The drive to Sossusvlei was more spectacular and a 5 km deep sand passage made my day. Had breakfast after that.
Then we drove to the very end, sand again and climbed “Big Mama” a big dune. We sat up there for a long time and saw the little creatures that live there. Some Sand Geckos came very close. Seeing them run up the dune is worth the climb.
Drove back around noon. 5:30-13:00 is already a good tourist’s work day. At the park headquarter, we were able to book accomodation for Etosha towards the end of our trip. Then we drove to a camp ground 60 km away. Worst road so far. Sharp rock and deep gravel ruts. I respect our Toyota Hilux for not breaking.
The camp ground is quite unique. Reni and Bernhard, I guess you have been here, too. It is about 2 km from the farm. You can only reach it with a 4×4, as you have to cross a dry river bed. It has its own toilet and shower. Very idyllic.
Now we are driving back to the reception for dinner. Zebra filet… and the dry river is called Zebra, too.
… the dinner was great. 3 courses unique Afrian and very tasty. Met people who have their own 4×4 campter stationed in Windhoek and drive all over the place. Interesting. Found out they are our neighbors on the campground. Another kilometer from our site…
We love it.
Woke up in this peaceful canyon had breadfast and used the unique showers. Bliss.
Then drove along the Namib toward Sussusvlei. The road was partially bad, but very very beautiful. Half way, we met the grader, making the roads a little better.
Stopped in Betta for coffee and lentil soup. No cash to be had. Running short, after we had to pay cash for gas and camping.
Then drove on to the park entrance of Sussusvlei. What a circus! Got a place on the overflow campground without toilets, water or shade. No problem, as we only planned to go there after sunset and leave before sunrise.
Booked dinner in the lodge outside the park and went to watch the sun set on Elimduene.
Parked the car on the campground and went for BBQ dinner in the lodge. What a treat. They had all on offer, which roams Namibia. We had Kudu, Impala, Warthog and Hartebiest and a good bottle of red. There was this rally going on with all this valuable cars on shitty roads…
Clipdrift before bed and off to a short night.
Didn’t sleep well and got up early. Took the car to drive into the desert to watch the sun coming up. It was ice cold out there.
When I came back, I warmed up in bed and then took a hot shower. The luxury of the chalet we rented.
Drove the 7 km to reception and checked out at 10:00. Then filled up gas, beer and cash. I had asked the lady at receiption about the condition of Pad 707 and she answered: “These days, there is a lot of traffic and they don’t grade the road very often. So conditions are very bad.” She was right, we met 5 cars in 1/2 a day and shook loose a metal sheet on the underside of our car.
We drove with the sand dunes on our left and the rocky mountains on our right and decided to visit a farm at the side of the road… a 23km drive on a sand lane through spectacular landscape. At 40 km/h plus foto stops, this takes an hour.
All 4 sites of the Koiimasis campground were full, so we got the “sharing” site a bit further remote. The washhouse we had for ourself was lovely.
Before we could repair the car, we had to drink a beer… for obvious reasons.
We took a little nap and while we lay there, Damara Dik-Dik and Rock Dassies walked up to our car. Cute.
In the evening we exchanged routing trips with a French couple over a beer. They were driving for 1.5 months and were following dry rivers. At one time, they got stuck for 4 hours in a hole and saw lion, just after they had the car freed up.
A salat dinner and some star watching and then to bed, early.
We thought the main attraction was our privat wash house, but now we have equally creative oness…
Started the day with breakfast in the cafe next door. Then drove to town to ask about Kolmanskop and fill up our camping gas at Pupkewitz Construction Supply Company.
The visited the goast town starting with a guided tour. Interesting stuff. Workers were not allowed to leave the premises for 2 years and during the last week, they got treated with Rizinus to clean out any diamonds they may have swallowed. Sounds funny, but may not have been at the time.
Then we drove to Klein Aus Vista where we took over the house we had reserved the day before. – Wow. View, ambiente, feeling – great.
The house is a 7 km drive on a sand road from reception. We first climbed the mountain behind our house.
Then we watched the sun set, lighted a fire and had a BBQ (Braai). We finished the day in front of our in door fire place, because it got very cold outside, again.
Oh – and we watched the stars, of course.
My night ended at a quarter to five, when the first South Africans packed up for
their drive back to Cape Town. Got up very early and fought the cold until the
sun was finally warm enough to have breakfast at 8:30.
Had to borrow gas from our friendly nabour, who is actually running a camp groun
d in South Africa herself. Took a note to go there one day in a future trip.
Stopped in the first town to buy food and water. The Spar was open on a Sunday, but didn’t offer to refill our gas bottles.
Enjoyed hours of driving through beautiful, ever changing desert. Some steep and
narrow passages, but nothing difficult at all. Often we came back to the river, but 50 meters away from the water, you see no sign of green.
Stopped in Aus for coffee and reserved a chalet for the next night. We decided t
o celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary a couple of days early in a place I fou
nd on the internet and which fascinated me.
s Nest in Klein Aus Vista
The drove on to Lüderitz. On the way we got sand blasted and got a first idea o
f the sand desert.
The camp ground in Lüderitz is on the tip of a peninsula and very windy. We were worried our tent roof might not stand it (and Sabine took a dislike in the area, which is said to have a high crime rate).
So we found this place…
Once inside, you think you are in Germany
Had a nice dinner in a cafe, which is in our back yard. Tourists are advised to not walk in the streets after sunset, so this was handy. The menu offered things like Thüringer Wurst and Eisbein, but we resisted and had fish.
…oh, and it has WiFi with internet connection – who knows when we’ll that again. Many places offer WiFi, but few actually connect to the internet.