Posts filed under 'Namibia'
After a couple more really enjoyable days spent in Namib Naukluft, we did end up heading south down to Sesreim, the town where the entrance to Sossusvlei National Park is. On the way you go through a tiny hamlet called Solitaire – its basically just a fuel station in the middle of nowhere which has an attached general store, bakery and small rest camp. However, the bloke he set it all up was brilliant at marketing and its all done up with old antique relics relating to the garage – rusting ancient cars, old petrol pumps, etc etc. There’s even what appears to be a Ford Model-T pickup truck there, gently rusting away in the desert sun. We stopped to refuel and grab a couple pies from the bakery for lunch, then got back onto the road and carried on to Sesreim.
Sure enough, the campsite was full but it was not a problem as there were the fabled overflow camps – we got overflow campsite A, which was tucked up against to the wall around the pool area. Hey we were only after a place to sleep and nothing more, so it was perfect.
After setting up camp (well, just putting up the tent really) we headed into the park. First up was driving down to check out “Dune 45″, which is probably the most famous and most photographed one in the park as its right next to the road and has a bunch of dead acacia trees in front of it which makes for a nice photo. It was getting to be afternoon so we gave it a try climbing up a bit. However the sand on the sun-facing side was too hot to stand on and it was blowing over the crest of the dune at a decent pace (so stung the legs if you got too close) which meant we couldn’t climb up via the crest and had to contend with softer sand on the side – wow what a mission! Every step you take you slide back half as much as the sand slips back down the face, so it’s totally exhausting. We got quite far up but just not to the very very top. Awesome views from up there though. After our exercise session, we slowly headed back to camp (Dune 45 is so named as it is approx 45 kilometres from the campsite). On the way we stopped at a spot the lady at the park office had recommended for sundowners – Elim Dune. With our small cooler bag filled with Savannas and snacks we climbed up high enough to get an awesome view of the valley between the dunes and the sunset and all that, then settled down to watch the “show”.
We skipped a main dinner that night and just snacked on cheese and biscuits as it was to be a very early night. That is because the gates inside the park open a bit before sunrise so the eager can get down to the big dunes and Sossusvlei itself for sunrise. Our alarm was set for 4:30AM the next morning (the gates were due to open at 5:15AM) but it wasn’t necessary as just about the whole campsite was up and getting ready to go see the sunrise too. We joined the queue of cars at the gate and ended up being the 3rd vehicle (behind 2 overlanding trucks full of snoozing foreigners). We made it to Dune 45 before the sun started showing over the horizon but alas the weather was not on our side that morning. It was super cloudy and for about a minute or so the sun broke through the clouds and turned the sky an awesome red but then it got lost in them again and it was back to grey.
Not to worry though, being a cloudy morning meant it stayed cooler for much longer than normal. We headed all the way down to the end of the road, and first went off to explore “Dead Vlei”. Its a small salt pan with a forest of acacia tree skeletons poking through it – very picturesque. Then we scrambled up the side of one of the dunes next to the vlei (and got to the top finally). Next up was Sossusvlei itself. We drove up to the edge of it and were surprised to see it still had quite a lot of water in it. Apparently thats not a common sight, so that was quite nice. We didn’t climb the main dune at Sossusvlei itself as peering up it we could make out 4 or 5 tour groups already climbing it. Instead we drove slightly back up the road to the parking area for Hidden Vlei and then set out on the 2KM hike through the dunes to the vlei itself. On the way there the sun finally broke through the clouds and boy did it heat up quick. Anyway, we got there and not another soul was around – we had the vlei totally to ourselves. We sat there for a while admiring the view and watching a small herd of springbok in the distance, but eventually the heat of the sun got too much and we made our way back (this time via the crest of a dune that ran for part of the way back to the parking area). Along the way we came across one of those lizards which handle the heat of the desert sand by lifting its opposite feet off the sand when it gets too hot – and he was doing it! Very cool to see.
By the early afternoon our day permit for the park was running out (in Namibia the park permits are in units of 24 hours – starting from when you entered the park) and we’d climbed up several big dunes and explored the vlei’s (along with taking several hundred photos haha) so we headed out and back onto the road again, towards either Luderitz if we had enough time or to Aus, a town about an hour and a bit before Luderitz. Turns out we didn’t have enough time to get all the way through to Luderitz that evening and so we stopped off at a place called Klein-Aus Vista. Quite a nice spot with a well laid out camping area. Not surprisingly though we were in bed rather early again that night (hey those 4:30AM wake-ups take it out of you).
The following morning we headed down into Luderitz. The drive there is through some incredible scenery, totally desolate just with the odd wild horse running around. The previous evening had been windy and it hadn’t died during the night – in fact the wind was just picking up all morning and when we got down to Luderitz it was blowing quite briskly. We drove around the town for a while, checking out all the old buildings and the views over the harbour. We also checked out the campsite we would have stayed at if we’d made it down to Luderitz the night before and were glad we hadn’t – it was on what used to be an island (before land reclamation in the harbour joined it up to the mainland) out in the sea, with hardly any shelter from the wind. It would have been quite a miserable night there! Feeling a bit peckish we parked at the “waterfront” and went exploring the edge of the harbour accessible to us which took all of 5 minutes. We picked up some hake and chips from “Captain Macarenas” (yes, that was the actual name) and sat at a picnic table on the waterfront having an early lunch. We decided we’d seen enough of the town and that we should carry on heading south, probably down to a town near the border called Rosh Pinah, but if we got there early enough for the border crossing to head back into South Africa that day. And so around midday we were back on the road again.
Add comment November 12, 2011
Well, after our amazing time in Namib Naukluft Park, we had a crossroads of where to go. Onwards to a town called Solitaire, then on to Sesreim and the world famous Sossusvlei sand dunes. Or back to Swakopmund so we could rinse and repeat our Namib Naukluft experience :-)
We chose the later, and popped back into Alte Brukke for a night to charge up the batteries, restock on supplies and most importantly have an awesome hot shower after 3 nights out in the bush. On the monday morning we popped back into the NWR offices to book a further 3 nights in Namib Naukluft and then to book ourselves into the Sesreim campsite for a night so we could do Sossusvlei on the way out from Namib Naukluft. Turned out that Sossusvlei campsite was full on all the nights we could work around, but the lady helping us assured us they have an overflow campsite at Sossusvlei and you just rock up and its all fine.
So with a fully reloaded car we trundled back into the park, this time to check out some of the more southern sites. The first one we tried for was a place called Homeb, which the guide books described as being on the edge of a dry riverbed which acts as the northern boundary of the Southern Sand Dune Sea (or something like that), conjuring up images of waking up facing an enormous range of massive sand dunes. Well, it was kind of like that, except that the books failed to mention there’s a whole bunch of houses down there where goat and cattle farmers live, and the campsite is just about literally in one of their back yards! Now to us, the appeal of Namib Naukluft is to get away from civilisation and find yourself your own corner of the world for the night. So we turned around and headed for the backup camp we’d been eyeing out on the map – Mirabib. Turns out there were about 6 or 7 campsites around the hill, all nicely spaced apart. But not a single one was occupied. We drove around, selected the prime stand and had our camp setup just before nightfall. On went the campfire – a nice roaring one to celebrate halloween – and then our final chore before sunset. To carve some jack-o-lanterns out of some gemsquash! (Hey, Swakopmund at least does not even appear to know halloween exists – so we had to make do). We got an awesome pair carved up and popped some tea candles in as dusk rolled in and they looked awesome next to our campfire. Then, as the first stars started to appear an owl came swooping down low over our heads, screeching like a banshee. Think it was just mother nature adding the finishing touch!
We had an awesome night there, but the next morning when we woke up it was to the sound of buzzing. Turns our a swarm of bees had come across some cleaning up water we’d left out the night before. There must have been hundreds there, all sitting on our kitchen table. I carefully moved the wash basin off to one side, then we set up our “bee hotel”. Thats what we call a silver foil tray which some bread rolls came in that we put a bit of golden syrup and then a bunch of water into. That went next to the washing up basin and as the bees moved across we retrieved the odd utensil that had freed up until all our stuff was out the way and cleaned and the bees were just hanging around their “hotel”. It did mean that breakfast was out the question though as they swarmed towards any water or moisture, shame they must have been rather thirsty. So instead of staying for a second night, we went off to explore several more campsites listed on our map. None were as good as the first two we stayed at (Bloedkoppie and Rock Arch) and eventually we were all the way back at Rock Arch. And here it is that I am updating this blog post :-)
Think there’s just enough time for a cold savanna or two before sunset. Enjoy!
2 comments November 3, 2011