KM’s driven : 6450km
Total liters of fuel : 949 litres of diesel
Fuel consumption : 7.0km per litre
Average diesel price : NAD 10,99
Nights Camping : 35
Nights B&B/Hotel : 2
Fines : 0
Bribes : 0
Theft : 1 (tangerines by Baboons)
Highlights : Fish river canyon (Judith) / Deadvlei (Wilfred)
Caprivi Strip and Border crossing into Botswana
From Ngepi camp we drove towards the eastern part of the Caprivi Strip, just south of Kongola. Our campsite lies on the banks of the Kwango river and the next morning we were greated by a herd of buffelo’s on the other side of the river.
We spent our morning cleaning the car, updating the weblog and our photo book. Judith also called with her brother and Mom & Joop to discuss plans to spend Christmas and New Years together in Tanzania. Even though we really don’t like deadlines on our trip, as we unfortunately had for Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Etosha National Park due to high season, this is a deadline we look forward to. They will arrive in Tanzania on December 17th for a safari around the Serengeti and a nice relaxing beach holiday on the coast of Tanzania.
Late afternoon we drove to Bwabwata National Park for a game drive. Wilfred is reluctant to reduce the pressure in the tyres as he saw a good gravel road leading into the park, but the lady of the reception was very persistent…reduce your tyres!! We soon find out why… After a couple of hundred meters we were driving in loose sand. The road is very bumpy and the car shakes from the left to the right as the bumps are uneven. We decided to call this the ‘trampoline effect’ as we were moving up and down in our seats while driving in the park (wondering how this would have been, had we not changed our shocks last minute J). Some of the tracks were tricky as you could suddenly drive into very deep sand. Whilst Wilfred kept his eyes closely on the road, he manages to spot the largest hornbill in the south, not just one but three of them!
The next morning we woke up a bit later than usual and enjoyed our breakfast whilst overlooking the river. After breakfast we drove back to Ngepi camp and set up camp on the same spot as two nights before… and yes, our view is exactly the same… many hippo’s swimming in front of our campsite.
On September 27 we drove to the Mahango-Mohembe border crossing. When we walked in to the offices in Namibia it is around 10.00AM and nobody is at the immigration desk. After 5 minutes or so Wilfred asked the police officer two counter down from immigration if he knows where the immigration officer might be… after another 5 minutes he came back and said they would be with us in 10 minutes or so…never interfere with a immigration officer and his coffee/cigarette break! When he finally takes place behind his desk the formalities only take a few minutes.
Next stop the immigration offices of Botswana. The formalities are straightforward; fill in our arrival cards, have our carnet de passage for the car stamped, and pay the road tax and insurance. We were told this could be paid in Namibian Dollars (as there is no ATM or change office at the Botswana border post), but since July 2016 you are only allowed to pay in BWP (pula) or USD. The amount for road tax and third party insurance for 30 days is 150 pula (about US$14,-) which we don’t have or US$25 if we pay in dollars. Judith mentioned’ but that is twice as high as the amount in pula, after which the customs lady just laughs and said ‘oh, not three times as much’? Our last option is to pay by card in pula, but she mentioned the machine didn’t work this morning due to bad mobile reception. Wilfred is persistent and said ‘let’s try it anyway’. He is led into a small room and made a joke that if they keep their fingers crossed it will work… after a few minutes the transaction is declined… the customs lady stated that this is because he didn’t have his fingers crossed… So they tried one more time… after some very long minutes of waiting for the machine to establish a connection the payment is finally approved. After our payment we got all the stamps for our car and we can cross the border into Botswana !
Kamanjab and West Etosha
Recently a campsite was opened at the west side of Etosha in an area that used to be closed to day visitors. It is a popular site with hardly any availability, but we learned they would allow camping on the picnic sites in case they are fully booked. With this in mind, we change our plan once more and head for the west gate via Kamanjab. This town is part of the region where the Himba’s live and we visited on of the Himba villages. The Himba’s are a subgroup of the Herero that were part of the early Bantu migration. The women are famous for smearing themselves with a fragrant mixture of ochre, butter and bush herbs that will color their skin a burnt orange hue. We stayed at a campsite ran by a Belgium-Dutch couple. After checking in, we learned that overlanders even stay free at the campsite!? Well…there is one (very minor) catch…they want to take our picture for the overlandersbook. As their restaurant is highly recommended for their game dishes we decided to eat there… a nice bushman sosatie (a skewer) of giraffe, kudu, zebra and gemsbok accompanied with the best fries of Namibia…finally crispy fries as we like it and no strange looks when you ask for mayonnaise.
The next day off to Etosha, again… in the past the west side of Etosha could only be visited when staying in a very expensive lodge. Now a new campsite has opened, called Olifantsrus. In the past this was an open air abattoir where they killed more than 500 elephants, because the elephant population was to large and they became a danger to the biodiversity of the park. The campsite is build around the abattoir and you can imagine how it was.
The waterhole at the campsite is the nicest we have seen at the different camps. It is a two story tower with an open viewing deck at the top and a glass viewing room on ground floor with water surrounding the tower. On one of the days we saw three elephants drinking and bathing there…not even 3 meters from us !
The west side has very different vegetation than the east side and the density of animals at the waterholes is much higher as well as the variety animals at the same time. It is difficult to describe…you just have to see it yourself to believe it.
After 10 days in/around Etosha we are skipping Kaokeland and Rucana Falls, making our way to Waterberg Plateau and the Caprivistrip.
At Waterberg Plateau we decided to stay inside the private concession area instead of the campsite of the Namibian Wildlife Reserve (as there a many aggressive baboons on their campsite). Our campsite is a lovely spot in de valley of Waterberg Plateau with a shaded picnic area, fire pit, braai and our own ablution.
Waterberg Plateau is a table mountain of 59 kilometres long and between 16 and 20 kilometres wide. Animals were reintroduced at the plateau and, if you’re lucky, you can spot black and white rhino’s, elands, klipspringer and giraffe. They live on top of the plateau and because of the high cliffs they cannot move down into the valley.
On our first night we met a really nice Australian couple (Michael en Kirsten) at the bar and ended up chatting until late. They gave us the name of a new lodge (Batonka lodge) in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (which we booked for our stay there) and we gave them some tips for their upcoming stay in Cape Town and the wine region. The next morning they visited us at our campsite for a cup of coffee and since it was their last day in Namibia… they gave us most of their supplies… Thanks for the G&T… we really enjoyed it!
Near Waterberg, we did two short hikes; one on top of the plateau with a guide named the ‘honeymoon sun downer’, a hike concluded with a bottle of champagne during sunset on the ridge. From the ridge we spotted a group of giraffe in the valley. On top of the plateau we only saw the dropping of various animals, but not any real game. And then it was time for our sun downer… at 50cm from the edge of a 250-meter high cliff… and we were supposed to sit there and relax??? We took our seats, but we’re still not sure how ‘relaxed’ we were…but you can decide for yourself by looking at the picture of us. The other hike combined the fountain and porcupine trail, which led us to a nice part of the valley where the trees where mainly green and even blossoming.
On our way to Grootfontein we stopped at the Hoba Meteorite…the largest (known) meteorite in the world, weighing 54 tons, consisting of 80% iron, 16% nickel and some other minor sorts. Somehow it doesn’t seem that impressive to Judith…there is no crater around and it just looks like a piece of iron of 3x3meters and is just a bit over 1 meter high.
Before leaving Grootfontein the next morning we visited the ‘Alte Fort’ Museum, which served as a military fort early 1900 and afterwards as a boarding school. To save the fort from demolition in 1974 someone started fundraising for a museum and finally in 1983 the museum could be opened. The nicest exposition is one of the local tribes, like the SAN (Bushmen), Herero and Himba, which explains some of the differences between these tribes.
Okanvanga river (near Rundu) and Caprivistrip
From Grootfontein we continued to Rundu, passing the Red Vet Line (again). Meaning no meat may be transported from the north to the south. In the south farms are mostly privately (white) owned, fensed and closely regulated. In the north however the land is community owned and anyone is allowed to farm and keep stock that generally runs free. When crossing the line from the north you need to drive your car through a bath to disinfect your wheels (even al your shoes have to be disinfected (better not wear flip flops ;-)). It is also said to be the line that distinguishes ‘first world’ Namibia from the ‘third world’ Namibia.
Along the road to Rundu we saw lots of settlements (a few huts at the time along the B10/B8 highway). In our lodge (Hakusembe lodge) just 15 kilometres outside of Rundu is a gift shop and Wilfred saw a really nice t-shirt with the statement “I make dirt look good”. A t-shirt hand dyed with African dirt, giving it a nice rusty colour, but unfortunately no t-shirt in his size. There is a smaller sizes for children, so we decided to send one as a birthday present to the son of friends. Standing in line at the post office, with only 8 persons in front of us, it still took us almost 50 minutes to send the parcel… Another African learning moment; people just step to the front of the line, or a person stands in line for 3 friends… And coincidentally, it is end of month again, meaning the queues are longer as many people are depositing or sending money to their families as they just got paid.
While doing groceries in the supermarket Judith noticed a lot of security people standing at the entrance. Everyone needed to show their bags of groceries and the receipt as proof of payment.
After stocking up, we wanted to start our drive on the B8 highway to the west of the Caprivistrip. Our GPS led us through the township around Rundu where the infrastructure had changed… After a U-turn, using a less formal road next to the road works, we reach another small village and people were looking at us thinking that we are completely lost... They’re not entirely wrong, however after a couple of kilometres through what feels like the middle of nowhere, we reach the B8 highway!
The Caprivi strip was named after German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi (in office 1890–1894), who negotiated the acquisition of the land in an 1890 exchange with the United Kingdom. Von Caprivi arranged for Caprivi to be annexed to German South-West Africa in order to give Germany access to the Zambezi River and a route to Africa's east coast, where the German colony Tanganyika was situated. The river later proved unnavigable and inaccessible to the Indian Ocean due to Victoria Falls. The annexation was a part of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, in which Germany gave up its interest in Zanzibar in return for the Caprivi Strip and the island of Heligoland in the North Sea. However during WWI the Britsch army invaded the Caprivistrip and it was the first allied occupation of enemy territory.
Being close to several river (with water year round) we noticed a strong change in vegetation. There are more green trees and many vegetable gardens next to the informal settlements, on the riverbanks. Late afternoon we reached our campsite (Ngepi camp) near Mahango Game Reserve. There is wifi available in the bar area and we decided to try to update our travel blog…but internet is extremely slow and it took more than 2,5 hours to upload 15 pictures (that was Namibia - Part 3).
The next day (September 23rd) we went for a short game drive in Mahango Game reserve. The reserve is a protected area in Namibia within Bwabwata National Park. It is situated at the country's eastern border with Botswana in the flood plains of the Okavango River basin, close to the Popa Falls. The Caprivi Strip encloses the western part of the park which was established in 1986 and covers an area of 24,462 hectares (60,450 acres), but was closed for a long time due to the war with Angola. It has been designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International with over 300 species. About two thirds of the bird species found in Namibia are located here as it includes both wetland and tropical terrestrial species. This reserve re-opened in 2007 when a substantial number of animals were again in this area (most of the animals were poached by humans since it was their only means to get food during the war or had fled to different areas). Our self drive followed the river and even though we do not see any animals we had not seen in Etosha (with the exception of hippo’s and a few birds that we had already seen at the campsite) it was still a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
Okahandja and making our way to Etosha National Park
As we have already driven more than 10.000 kilometres it was time to get the car serviced. The last week Wilfred made numerous phone calls to different Toyota garages…always getting the same answer…we don’t service import vehicles, as we can’t get the right parts for your vehicle. After some calls back and forth, explaining that the only difference is that the steering wheel is on the other side, but is exactly the same model as the African troopy and we have most spare parts with us…we finally get an appointment !
On Monday morning we bring the Cruiser to the garage and within one hour service is done, just some fresh oil, a new oil filter, check of the brakes and all the other fluids and we are good to go !
From Tuesday to Thursday we have booked campsites in Etosha and from Okahandja it is almost 350 kilometres to the Andersons’s gate of Etosha National park. We also needed to do our shopping in Otjowarongo for the next four days of camping as there are no other major towns on the way to the park. Judith did the grocery shopping in a Super Spar store. It is the biggest supermarket we have seen in Namibia so far…and lots of tourists walking through the aisles to get their groceries for the stay in Etosha as well.
Our plan was to stay overnight Outjo, but since we arrived early in the afternoon, we decided to have a late lunch and drive another 80 kilometres to the Etosha Safari Camp…but not before calling them and book our campsite, since it still high season. The campsite has grassy pitches and several animals room the grounds… Next to two Zebra’s, we were surprised by several small antelopes we had not seen before that looked like a crossing between Tintin (Kuifje) and a Steenbok (after browsing the mamal book, we find out they are Damara dik diks). In the morning around six, we here some noise around our car. Unfortunately, it was still too dark to see anything, but other guest tell us that several giraffes were enjoying the trees around us.
Etosha National Park
September 6th is the day we drove into Etosha. We signed in at the Anderson’s gate where you also need to declare if you have any meat with you or not. Etosha is part of the so called ‘Red Line’, the animal decease control checkpoint between the north and south of Namibia. This means we are allowed to bring meat into Etosha but not out and as Wilfred loves a good beef fillet, he doesn’t seem to mind that much. We have booked three nights in the park at three different campsites, so next to seeing lot’s of animals we hopefully will see different vegetation as well.
Our first day is Etosha was very successful ! We saw three herds of elephants drinking and bathing at a waterhole, many springbok and gemsbok, black-faced impala’s, korhaans, kori bustards, blue wildebeest, spotted hyena and even black and white rhino’s at the waterhole from the viewing deck at the campsite.
The next days we drove almost all the tourist roads in the east side of Etosha all the way to Namutoni. All campsites at Etosha have a waterhole in walking distance of the camp, however the one at Okaukeuja really stands out from a viewing perspective. Again we are very lucky on our self drives having seen a pride of 7 lions (two adult males), a spotted hyena and even a leopard resting in a cave in the ridge of a waterhole while zebra’s and black-faced impalas graze right above it. Game driving is different here then in South Africa. Due to the draught of the last five years animals are mostly concentrated at waterholes, meaning you plan your drive from waterhole to waterhole and we conclude that you see the most animals at the hottest time of day the day while they are in search of water.
After four days in Etosha and the high temperatures we decided to stays a couple of days at Ethosha Safari Camp again, relaxing, working on the photo album of South Africa and having our laundry done.
This is a pretty little coastal town just 40 kilometers above Walvis Bay and brims of German colonial buildings. It is a nice setting just to wander through the centre of town and take in all the nice buildings, some perfectly restored and others almost in state of despair.
In the region around Swakopmund there is not only mining for diamond but also many other minerals/crystals. To get a good impression we visited the Kristall Gallery, a small museum and jewellery in one. It has some of the most incredible crystals in the world on display, including the largest quartz crystal that has ever been found, weighing 14.100 kilo. Looking behind it we saw a huge strong steel construction to support the rock for display.
At sunset we went to ‘the Tug’, by locals named as the best restaurant in town. The restaurant is located at the jetty and is housed in an actual tugboat. As the restaurant was fully booked, we ended up in the captain’s bar for some wine and oysters.
Since the weather had changed from 35-40 degrees in Sossusvlei to 15 degrees with a drizzle in Swakopmund we changed our plans and decide to leave the next day… Meaning no second try for Wilfred on sand boarding in the action-packed town of Namibia (quite equal to Queenstown in New Zeeland).
Omandumba, Omaruru and Brandberg
In Omandumba we stayed at a campsite in the Erongo Conservatory run by the local San people. While driving very close to the campsite we are pleased with a sighting of a giraffe, very close to the road. Wilfred absolutely loved the place; stating this is the prettiest site we camped at. There was only one place, meaning no neighbours at all (except for the San families on the other side of the large rock) giving a feeling that the campsite reached from where we were to the mountain range on the horizon. In the evening we noticed lots of baboons and remembering how aggressive they can be…we prepare our water pistol. Fortunately the baboons don’t come to the campsite and we have an undisturbed diner and breakfast.
The San families also operate a ‘Living Museum’, which provides an excellent opportunity to interact with them and learn more about their history. We did a short tour of the village were we learned how they make: ropes of a plant called ‘Gemsbok horn’, jewellery of ostrich egg shells, traps for guineafowls and bokkies and fire (without matches)…and yes even Wilfred learned form that!
When we left the campsite in Omandumba towards Omaruru Wilfred saw a pamphlet of the region and read that white and black rhino were also living in the conservatory and could have crossed our path... Some things are better to learn afterwards, as the campsite was unfenced and we also hiked up the boulders to watch the sunset!
In Omaruru we visited one of the four wineries that Namibia has, Kristall Kellerie. They only produce two wines; one white and one red one, and next to that they produce different snapps, brandy and even gin. We did a tasting combined with a “local & lekker” plate, with local meats, such a kudu, springbok and zebra.
The next two nights we spent near Brandberg (Fire Mountain) on a campsite in the dry river bedding. Brandberg gets it’s name from the colouring of the massive pink granite during sunset, which resembles a fire. The summit is the highest peak of Namibia. The region is also well known for the Desert Elephant (a sub species that is supposed to have bigger feet to move easier through the desert). We learned that the elephants are quite far from the camp at the moment and decide to take it easy a read a book in the quietness of the campsite.
Erindi Private Game Reserve
In the Tug in Swakopmund we met a SA couple that was so enthusiastic about the Old Travellers lodge in the Erindi private game reserve that we decided to see if we could celebrate our wedding anniversary there and splurge a little. We booked ourselves in a luxury suite with full board and 2 game drives.
We did two game drives and were very lucky to see two male lions, two cheetah with a kill (probably impala), seven white rhinos, lots of different antelopes, giraffe, honey badger, many more. From the viewing deck that overlooks the dam we saw zebra’s drinking, hippo’s and even many African wild dogs (including puppy’s) and a brown hyena feeding on a carcas. Some of these animals we have on picture and others are in our memory forever. All in all a very lovely way to celebrate our anniversary!
Ai-Ais Transfrontier park, Luderitz, Tiras Mountains, Sesriem and Sossusvlei, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Omaruru, Windhoek, Etosha National Park, Opuwa, Rucana Falls, Waterberg Plateau, Grootfontein, Caprivi strip.
General - History
Namibia is one of the youngest countries in Africa, as it only became independent in 1990. In colonial times it was part of Germany as the Germans, Portuguese and British agreed on the borders of South West Africa (SWA) in 1890. Germany was mainly interested in the diamond mines in Ai-Ais and around Luderitz. The German colonial times didn’t last that long as during WWI South Africa invaded in 1914 and Germany faced their defeat in May 1915. In 1919, under the treaty of Versailles, SA got mandate to govern South West Africa. Germany had to renounce all it’s colonial claims and by 1920 all the German farms were given to SA settlers and the mines were incorporated into the SA consolidated diamond mines (nowadays Namdeb). While the mandate was renewed by the UN after WWII SA was more interested to annex SWA. They scrapped the terms of the mandate and rewrote the constitution. Despite pressure from the UN SA refused to release their grip on SWA. A political organisation, called SWAPO, starting fighting for independence. After the international courts upheld the SA mandate as legal SWAPO started with guerrilla fighting in 1966. In 1972 the UN finally declared the occupation of SWA by SA as illegal. When Angola became independent in 1975 it was sympathetic to SWAPO, allowing them to set up basis in the South of Angola. SA responded by invading Angola, leading to the Cubans sending many troops to Angola to support the Angolan military. The invasion of Angola failed, but fighting between the different countries last until late in the 1980’s. Finally in 1988 under pressure of the major economical decline and the war costing SA more than US$250mln per year and got SA to participate in negotiations for independence of SWA. And in 1988 a deal was finally struck between SA, Cuba, Angola and SWAPO. In 1990 the first election in Namibia was held and leader of SWAPO Sam Nujoma, after 30 years of exile, was sworn in as the first president of Namibia.
Ai-Ais Transfrontier park (Ai-Ais hotsprings and Fish River Canyon
On August 21 we crossed the border to Namibia with a surprisingly fast procedures at the South African side with numbered offices from 1 to 3 (admittingly; it was a Sunday morning). We visit all offices to get our passports and the carnet de passage stamped and get the clearance from the police. It just took us 20 minutes to get to the Namibian side of the border. The actual border entrance was closed for construction and no signs were placed explaining where to go… We decided to drive around a couple of buildings and park the car continuing on foot to find the offices. We headed for the first office we saw, which turns out to be the office for signing the carnet de passage, the employee signs it and our car is officially in Namibia before we are. Two more offices to go to get the passports stamped and the road tax paid. After that we were good to go. Within one hour we were driving into Namibia towards Ai-Ais hot springs resort in the Richtersveld/Ai-Ais Transfrontier Park. The park is mainly formed around two rivers; the Orange and Fish River.
The hot spring is at a constant temperature of 65 degrees and too hot to go into. It is used to supply the hotel and campsite of hot water and for the spa with pools at different temperatures. After a couple of days without any hot water we spent a couple of hours soaking in the pools.
Next stop was Fish river canyon measuring 160km in length, up to 27km wide and an inner canyon reaching a depth of 550m. Surprisingly the Fish River canyon actually exists of two canyons; one inside the other. Both are formed entirely differently, but that is difficult to distinguish for us while enjoying the views. At the various viewpoints we were very impressed by the exposed rock formations (sharp corners, rounded edges) and lack of plant life. When we visited early morning the views were clear, but during the sunset there is a haze over the canyon that influences the view negatively (or is it the fact that we are looking straight into the sun?).
Aus, Luderitz and Ranch Koiimasis
Aus is a very small town in the middle of… and serves as a petrol and lunch stop for us on the way to Luderitz. While walking in town it appears that all small businesses (aimed at tourists) are managed by the same family. When drinking our coffee, we are confronted with the German heritage… They make excellent espresso machines, but poor the lousiest coffee… We should have known better.
Just outside of Aus, on the way to Luderitz, there is an artificial waterhole aimed at the wild horses (feral horses). It is a very nice stop and we are served many horses near the waterhole, drinking and bathing in it. Just when we want to leave a herd of Oryx (Gemsbok) join the horses at the waterhole.
We arrived in Luderitz in the late afternoon and after cooking a lot of nights while camping decide to go to a wine & oyster bar… Unfortunately we find the recommended one closed; Cooking after all and we buy a fresh Kingklip at the local fish shop in the harbour… While driving back to the campsite however, Judith noticed a sign Diaz Wine and Oyster bar… and this one seemed to be open! We enjoyed fresh oysters, baked with various toppings. The waitress laughed as we ordered more and more oysters…she even mentioned we are doing a rather extensive oyster tasting!
In the morning we did some sightseeing in Luderitz; Shark Island, Diaz point and some of the old(er) colonial buildings (early 1900s). As it is high season in Namibia we also needed to plan our trip a bit more in exact, meaning we basically have to book all the needed reservations for Sesriem/Sousesvlei and the Etosha National Park. Although we cannot get all the accommodation on the dates we want, we replan the route a little bit to make it fit. We are now faced with two deadlines: Sesriem on August 28th, and Etosha NP on September 6th. Yes, deadlines, even when we’re on holiday with all the time in the world!
After Luderitz our next stop was planned half way between Luderitz and Seriem, as this is almost 500km. We ended up at a campsite at Ranch Koiimasis. Our campsite and the surroundings were more beautiful than we imaged on fore hand and staying an extra day seemed like a no brainer.
Sesriem and Sossusvlei
Since it is high season in Namibia we needed to plan more a head, however our planned stop near Duwesib castle didn’t look that nice, so we decided to drive closer to Sesriem, one of the most popular sights in Namibia. Not a good idea during high season as it turns out… if you don’t have a booking and spontaneously want to stay another night at the number one tourist attraction of Namibia! The only campsite within a 50-75km radius appears to be fully booked. While sipping a cold drink on the terrace of the fuel station (that also manages the campsite) we were debating on what to do next…staying in a really expensive lodge or a campsite 70km further away…then the girl for the fuel station walked up to us, she asked ‘Do you still need a campsite for tonight? Someone just called to cancel for this evening.’ So there we are thankful we can stay close to Seriem and Sossusvlei.
Our first stop in Sossusvlei is the Deadvlei. With a 4WD we are allowed to drive the extra 6 kilometers to a special parking closer to Deadvlei. Wilfred has to do his best off road driving so far…the sand is very thin and deep and the tracks are difficult to follow. At least a couple of 4wd car get stuck here everyday, but Wilfred managed to get us sound and safe to the parking from where it is ‘only’ a short walk to Deadvlei (satisfied, but very exhausted after our 2,2km walk in at temperature between 35-38 degrees we get back at the parking). Deadvlei is a large pan that has high red dunes tower up to 200 meter above the valley floor and the floor is mostly white, cracked dry mud.
The next morning we woke up at 05.00AM to start at 6.15AM with our hike up ‘Dune 45’. Yes, we learned from the day before that hiking mid day is not the best idea! Dune 45 is a huge red sand dune of more than a 150 meters high. From the top of the dune we have a ver nice view of the surroundings during sunrise. The name of the Dune, Dune 45, is not very inspiring…it appears to be 45km from Sesriem...
After descending Dune 45 we made our way to Sesriem Canyon. This canyon is only 1km long and 30 meters deep. The canyon itself is pretty small if you compare it to Fish River Canyon. However the rock formations are completely different from what we had seen so far. The short walk down below, is very pleasant compared to the temperature outside the canyon that had already reached around 30 degrees (at 10.00AM).
On our way to Walvis Bay we stopped for a coffee break at Solitaire. A very small town of nowadays 50-75 people (outside the many tourists that stop for a short break or overnight stay on their way to Walvis Bay/Swakopmund). In 1996 the town was even smaller… Ton van der Lee arrives there and meets the only two persons living in this small town. Ton stays a couple of years an even opens a small primitive restaurant and camping. He likes the fact that only a few people per day pas through the town, but than the inevitable thing happens…he gets noticed by the lonely planet…and tourist form all over the world stop in Solitaire just to eat in his restaurant or stay at his small campsite. Gone is the tranquillity, the peace and quite…so Ton sells his restaurant and campsite and leaves. Solitaire has become to busy for him.
From Sesriem to Walvis Bay
From Sesriem/Sossusvlei we drove, via Solitaire, through the Namib-Naukluft national park towards Walvis Bay. The variation of vegetation we saw during our drive is impressive; from just desert plains, to the valley of a thousand hills. It was a long day of driving, almost 350km, but as the landscape changed so often it was never boring! We never planned to stay in Walvis Bay, however after spending some time shopping, yet again, for camping stuff, we decided to book a B&B and not continue the drive to Swakopmund. An excellent choice, our B&B had really comfy beds. Yes, even better than our matrass in the Land Cruiser! And the fastest internet in Africa so far. We decided to go out for dinner after cooking every night for the last two weeks. From the window at The Raft (our restaurant) we saw couple of dolphins jumping and having some fun in the sunset. It really is a lovely sight. Walvis Bay has a lagoon that is home to many flamingo’s and we expected to see many of them…but the thousands of flamingo’s we saw is much more than we expected! In the Bay of Walvis Bay we also saw a many pelicans and they are huge! In hindsight we are very pleased to have spent the night here.