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.


 Posted by Elizabeth at 11:53 am
Apr 252011

The owner at Sophia Dale let us use their internet connection before we left without charging us for it, which was really nice of him and allowed me to get some posts up to date.

SpitzkoppeWe had an easy drive to Spitzkoppe where we camped last night and again tonight. The camp is community run and the sites are scattered throughout the area in between the huge rocks. We are staying at site 9 which is sheltered from the wind and has a reasonably level spot to park the car so we aren’t sliding out of bed.

Last night we had our first bush shower as there are no amenities unless you want to drive a couple of kilometres back to the gate. It was pretty luxurious really as we have a hot water Spitzkoppeunit with a shower handle attached to it, and whilst we have to be quick to save water, it definitely makes you feel much cleaner.

Last night whilst we were eating dinner we had a Spotted Genet walk about 3 metres from where we were sitting. It is only small like a cat, but neither of us had seen one before so it was pretty cool. There are also lots of colourful lizards running around on the rocks.

The rocks around the area are large and red and quite scenic. It is popular with climbers as there are some vertical rock faces for them.

Today we are having a rest day at Spitzkoppe, allowing us to catch up on some washing, clean out the car and let it dry out (I think the tap for the water tank got opened a little whilst we were driving over some really rough Spitzkopperoads the other day and the carpet is now quite wet and makes the whole car stink).Spitzkoppe

We will head off to the Skeleton Coast tomorrow.

Skeleton Coast

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:16 pm
Apr 262011

We left Spitzkoppe reasonably early and headed back towards the coast. What a surprise, but 80km from the coast we hit the inevitable thick grey mist again! At least today we only got stuck in it whilst we were inland and our drive up the coast was not completely invisible. We thought the landscape could not get any more barren, desolate and inhospitable than what we had encountered near Swakopmund, yet most of today we travelled up the Skeleton Coast which was even worse.

We stopped off at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. It is estimated there are 100,000 seals here (yes 100,000!) and it smells like it. (Girls, imagine the worst smelling market we have visited and multiply it by about 1000 and that is how bad it smelt). It was definitely mouth breathing only and even then I nearly threw up a couple of times it was that foul. The smell aside though, it was a pretty awesome sight seeing so many seals crammed together in the ocean and on the beach. There were also some pups around feeding from their mothers.

Cape Cross Seal ReserveCape Cross Seal ReserveCape Cross Seal Reserve

Skeleton Coast ParkWe drove along the Skeleton Coast, passing salt pans and a couple of shipwrecks and some abandoned mining gear. There were no animals or grass to be seen and the only humans were the few tourists. Early on we came across a bogged vehicle but they managed to get out just as we walked up, and we managed to get through just fine.



Skeleton CoastSkeleton Coast ParkSkeleton Coast Park

About 40km from the coast we exited the Skeleton Coast Park and suddMowani Mountain Campenly the landscape changed. There was grass and trees and hills and animals again! We saw more Springbok as we headed towards Twyfelfontein where we stayed the night at Mowani Mountain Camp. They cater mainly for lodge guests, but have 3 campsites, each with their own long drop toilet and cold outside shower (we opted to use our own so it was hot!), washing up facilities, water and are quite separate from each other. It was great value at only $N100 ($14).


 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:36 pm
Apr 272011

Rock engravings, TwyfelfonteinToday we visited the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, the Petrified Forest, Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes. The rock engravings were really interesting. They believe they are between 2000 and 6000 years old and were done by the San Bushmen as a means of communicating to other tribes. The engravings are all of animals and their footprints rather than people. There engravings of seals and penguins which means the San people must have travelled inland from the coast which is over 100km away.Burnt Mountain

Burnt Mountain looks to me just like a heap of gravel rubbish dumped beside the road from roadworks, but I guess everyone sees things differently.

Organ pipesThe Organ Pipes are a bit of an oddity. They are rocks that have formed into tall, split pieces of rocks that resemble organ pipes.

The Petrified Forest was simple,Petrified Forest but to see the trees was pretty cool. They still look like fallen trees, bark and all, yet they have turned into stone. They apparently travelled here from central Africa during floods. The guide here was pretty unenthusiastic, unlike our guide at the rock engravings unfortunately as I am sure we could have learnt a bit more about the place, but it was worth a look.

We left the area and headed towards Palmwag where we got our first puncture about 20 minutes from where we were staying. No big deal and easily fixed, but annoying to have to get the jack off the roof and change the tyre. We were lucky though that it happened on a nice flat piece of road and that we realised earlier that we didn’t have a wheel brace with us and bought one. The hi-lift jack though decided that it didn’t want to go down so we had to kick it out of place (not so good).

We stayed the night at the Palmwag Lodge camp. The camp is quite expensive compared to other places, although we did get a site to ourselves with our own shower and toilet. I do not think though it is worth the money unless you need somewhere where you can eat in the restaurant.                          

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