Fish River Canyon

 Posted by Elizabeth at 3:48 pm
Apr 182011

Ai-Ais National ParkThe landscape changed pretty much as soon as we crossed the border into Namibia. It has become quite flat and barren with very little sign of life, both human or animal. The roads have turned to gravel but are better than some of the tarred roads and we can travel on most of them easily at 80km/h.

As expected, it is also getting much warmer as we travel north. Last night was the first night we stayed in shorts, didn’t need a jumper and we slept with the tent open. All in all it is quite pleasant at the moment.

We have spent the day in the Ai-Ais National Park and visiting the Fish River Canyon. The canyon is pretty Ai-Ais National Park Ai-Ais National Park Ai-Ais National Park

spectacular and there are a number of viewpoints from which to admire it. The Fish River has carved out the bottom section of the canyon, but it is getting close to being the dry season when people hike along it, so there wasn’t a great deal of water in it. camp at Canon Roadhouse

We are stopping the night at the Canon Roadhouse. A quirky restaurant, bar, lodging and campsite. It has old rusty cars both inside and outside the building and all sorts of motoring paraphernalia adorning the walls and floors. The camping area is quite pleasant with designated sites and perfect amenities. We have just had a massive hail storm, but the tent survived and only the chairs ended up a bit wet. All part of camping!


 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:40 pm
Apr 192011

Quiver Tree Forest, KeetmanshoopWe left the Ai-Ais National Park and headed towards Keetmanshoop through pretty flat desert plains not seeing much except for some Springboks, ostriches and a huge goanna. We dropped in to see the Quiver Tree Forest and the Giant’s Playground. The forest is supposed to be the largest group of quiver trees in southern Africa. They are unusual trees but I don’t think it is worth the entrance fee, especially when you drive up the road a little further and you can see them anyway for free! The Giant’s Playground is an unusual collection of groups of rocks that look like a giant’s playing blocks piled up around the place. Again it is unusual but not worth the fee.

We camped last night and tonight at Klein-Aus Vista Camp at Aus. Another pleasant camp,although no grass this time, but still we have hot showers.Kolmanskop

Today we took a tour around the old ghost town of Kolmanskop. It was a significant diamond mining town in the early 1900s and had everything there you could ask for, even electricity when nowhere else had it. They had a large hospital, butchery, bakery, shop, ice making facilities, a huge concert hall and a school as well as all the mining buildings. The town was abandoned and is being overtaken by the shifting sand dunes. Some buildings are completely full of sand, others are partially filled. It was an extremely interesting tour and place to visit and would definitely recommend it.

Hospital, KolmanskopHospital, KolmanskopDoctor's house, KolmanskopQuarter Master's house, Kolmanskop

The area around here for hundreds of kilometres is still a restricted diamond mining area. Even today they are mining diamonds – 1.6 million carats up to the third quarter last year alone. When they first arrived you could literally pick them up by the loads straight from the ground. That would have been some find!


 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:46 pm
Apr 212011

GemsbokToday we drove through some pretty countryside. The road travelled around some small mountains, passing through the valleys rather than climbing over them. We saw heaps of springbok, some gemsbok, ostriches and a black-backed jackal along the way. We even had a herd of springbokSpringboks travel with us alongside and in front of the car for a few kilometres. They definitely have some stamina and can travel at quite a speed. Even after staying with us for some time they were still moving at 60 km/h. They are quite cute the way they hop on all 4 legs into the air, which is apparently called pronking. It was definitely a highlight of the day.

Sesriem CampWe are now in Sesriem, staying at the Sesriem Camp – which even though yesterday when I rang they assured us they were fully booked and could not possibly reserve us a site, we were able to secure a perfect spot when we arrived! So, don’t believe anything you are told over the phone and turn up anyway! We have a pleasant site, slightly away from the other sites with a huge tree providing shade and a gentle breeze blowing – not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

We took a walk through the Sesriem Canyon this afternoon. It is an odd small canyon, that is more like a large crevice,  that has appeared for some reason here. We walked to the bottom as it isn’t that deep and along the riverbed for a bit. All in all it was quite a pleasant walk.Sesriem Canyon

Tomorrow we are aiming to get to the dunes for sunrise. The gate opens at 5am for us as we are staying within the park (for those staying outside the park it opens at 6am) and it is about 45 minutes drive to the dune. Definitely an early start and I am not looking forward to the actual climb up the dune!

Sossusvlei to Swakopmund

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:55 pm
Apr 222011

Dune 45After a 4.30am wake up, we were packed up and through the gate at 5.05am and on our way to Dune 45. The early start wasn’t so bad as we were in bed early and there were people up at the same time so we really woke up anyway. It was still just dark when we reached Dune 45 and began the climb up the ridge of it to the top for sunrise. Man was it HARD work! You climb along the top ridge of the dune and slowly make your way to the top. It felt like every step you took forward you slid back halfway in the sand and it was steep. My calves really ached and I needed to stop every 15 steps or so – I am way too old for this! You think you are nearly at the top but then as you reach the peak you realise that no, there is yet more to climb and that was just a false hope! I did though make it to the top, and in time for sunrise. We sat ourselves down in the fine red sand at the top of the dune and watched as the sun slowly rose and bathed the red dunes in the morning light. It was quite pretty and peaceful and was worth the hard slog to the top. I am sure tomorrow my legs will be aching!

Dune 45Dune 45Dune 45

After descending the dune, which was a damn sight easier than climbing it, we headed off down the road to Sossusvlei. The last 5km of road is 4wd only and is thick soft sand. Fully knowing better, we were too lazy to let the tyres down and of course we got bogged when we had to stop for someone else who had got stuck and was blocking the way. It only took 10 mins to let the tyres down, dig a bit of sand away from the rear wheels and get on our way again, so it was no big deal, but we won’t be so lazy next time! At the end there was another huge dune that people were climbing, but there was no way I was going to climb another dune!

Our plan was to spend the day at Sesriem Camp, but it was still really early when we Springbokgot back so we headed off to Ganab Waterhole in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, again seeing lots of springbok. We stopped off at Solitaire to sample the famous apple crumble. It was pretty good, although one serve is way too big. When we got to Ganab it was warm but very windy -perfect washing drying weather. We made ourselves comfortable with a cuppa and had a peaceful rest for an hour or so whilst the washing dried. As the wind was still really strong, we decided that we really did not want to spend another sleepless night being blown around by the wind and decided to head off to Swakopmund. (In hindsight this probably wasn’t the best decision as the wind seems to stop in the evening and where we ended up staying was horrible!)

Near Walvis BayAs you drive in to Walvis Bay it is like you have come to the end of the earth. There is a thick grey mist from the ocean kilometres inland, with grey gravel, sand and dunes as far as you can see. There is no sign of any life, human, plant or animal and there are a few small rugged rocks here and there like you are on the moon. The sand dunes are building up around the power poles and the whole landscape is barren and desolate. (The picture really does not capture it). The drive along the coast from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund is no better; There is sand everywhere with a few buildings seemingly pushing up out of the sand. The road has sand  on it at times and the heavy mist is ever present, making it nearly impossible to see the ocean even though you are only a few hundred metres from it. The locals though don’t seem to mind and they were out along the coast fishing and picnicking. After talking to the locals, it seems that they only get 1-2 hours of sun a day and the mist is always around. How they get their washing dry I don’t know as the mist is wet! Why anyone would want to live here is beyond me.

The only place left to camp was at Mile 4 Camp, which was not particularly pleasant. It is a large campground with hundreds of sites right on the water, but there is not one tree or blade of grass to be seen. The toilets had hot water, but were not very clean and to top it off, there were several groups of people who were spending the weekend together and at night they had a full on band playing and singing Christian songs (which I am sure only had 3 words to each one) at full volume. We were not impressed! We moved sites to one right down the back as far away from them as possible and did manage to get away from the noise.


 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:42 pm
Apr 232011

Amazingly my legs weren’t sore at all this morning!

We spent the morning stocking up on food and fuel in preparation for our journey north.We then headed back down to Walvis Bay, Dune 7 and to the Welwitschia Trail. The trail takes you through landscape that really looks like you are on the moon. There are black and grey dunes in abundance and again it is very desolate. We saw some Welwitschia plants which are supposed to be thousands of years old and apparently survive from the water in the mist. The look quite odd, very straggly and half dead.

On the Welwitschia TrailOn the Welwitschia TrailWelwitshia plant, on the Welwitschia Trail

The Swakop River is currently in flood as they have had more rain than usual, so unfortunately we had to go 40 odd km back to Walvis Bay and then another 40km to Swakopmund rather than take the short way across the river.

Tonight we are staying at Sophia Dale Base Camp about 15km outside of Swakopmund which is much nicer than Mile 4. There are trees and shelters and clean amenities and the owner is friendly. This is a much better option if you are staying in Swakop.

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