This is the second and last part of our Namibia 2018 trip report.  We left off in part one where we arrived on day 12 at Mile 4 Caravan Park in Swakopmund Namibia.  It is now day 13 and we are still in Swakopmund.

Day 13 – Thursday, 27 December 2018 – Mile 4 Caravan Park (Swakopmund, Namibia)

We were up early morning and ready for the Zeila Shipwreck, Cape Cross & Dead Sea tour that we had booked with Desert Tracks.

On our way to Cape Cross we passed the “Free Republic of Wlotzka’s Baken” named after Paul Wlotzka, a sturdy Prussian coachman to German senator Pridas’ survey party.  Click on the link to read more about this.  This is a self-sustaining settlement of wooden cabins and bungalows on the beach and is a haven for many beach anglers.

Our first stop enroute to Cape Cross was the Zeila shipwreck. The Zeila stranded on 25 August 2008 near “Die Walle”, a popular fishing spot about 14km south of Henties Bay.  The fishing trawler was sold as scrap metal to an Indian company by Hangana Fishing of Walvis Bay.  It stranded after it came loose from its towing line while on its way to Bombay, India shortly after it left Walvis Bay. It seems unlikely that they will be able to rescue more than a few usable items from the stranded ship.

Read more about the shipwrecks of the skeleton coast on this link.

We drove through Hentiesbay and briefly stopped at the Gallows.  Initiated by Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers in 1978, who respectively settled in Hentiesbay in 1969 and 1971 as two of the first permanent residents as an appeal to keep the town and beach clean.

Once past the town of Hentiesbay, the road lead past expansive salt pans where rock salt is being mined and refined. Next to the road is little “stalls” where you can buy salt crystals.  It is not manned but operated on a trust basis.  At each stall is a tin or bottle in which you can put your money for the purchase and each item is marked with the price.

At Cape Cross our tour guide waited for us in the vehicle while we had a walk to look at the seal colony.  Cape Cross is a breeding place of the Cape Fur Seals and you can read more about it by clicking on the link. It is estimated that there are more than 100 000 seals at Cape Cross.

To most the name Cape Cross relates to the Fur Seal Reserve.  However, its history is interesting.  The  Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on Namibian soil in 1485 at Cape Cross.

Halfway between the Cape Cross and the entrance gate to the reserve is a camp area with four campsites.  It provides a wooden platform with a table and two benches and a bit of protection against the wind.  There is nothing else other than two put toilets a distance away.  If you camp here it will be you against the elements.

We stopped here for lunch that was provided for by Desert Tracks.

Our guide provided very little information about Cape Cross, the seals and the Portuguese.   After lunch we packed up and headed back to Swakopmund, it was the end of the tour.

On the way back we asked the guide about visiting the Strathmore South Tin Mine and Namibia’s own little dead sea.  It was included in the brochure and tour plan that we bought.  His answer was the road leading to it was impassable and he is not going to attempt driving it.  It was clear that he was in a hurry to get back to Swakopmund.

Very disappointing to say the least considering that the tour cost a whopping N$ 4 356.00 for two people, and that we could have done it on our own as very little additional information had been offered by the guide.

We took it up with Desert Tracks and they have offered us a free voucher for any of their tours on a next visit.  As we will not be in the area soon, we gave the voucher to friends of us who planned a later visit to Namibia.  They did a tour with Desert Tracks and they were very satisfied.

On our return to Swakopmund we asked the tour guide if he could direct us to the famous Yellow Bus as we would like to buy fish and chips.  He had no idea what we were referring to.

That evening, sitting and enjoying the sunset over the sea, we decided that we had enough of Swakopmund.  Although booked for another day we decided to leave the next morning and find a place to camp somewhere between Walvis Bay and Sesriem as we were only booked from the day after at Sesriem.

Day 14 – Friday, 28 December 2018 – Mile 4 Caravan Park to Solitaire Desert Farm (Solitaire, Namibia)

We break camp early morning and then went into town to fill up and find something for breakfast before leaving in the direction of Sesriem.

Inquiring about the Yellow Bus at the filing station they were also unable to assist us.  They did however direct us to “Fork ‘n Nice” for fish and chips which turned out to be the Yellow Bus that we were so desperately looking for.  We can recommend them, the best fish and chips that we ever had.

We looked at our T4A maps for camping places enroute to Sesriem and was able to secure a campsite at Solitaire Desert Farm.

Our route took us through the spectacular Namib Naukluft National park, with the part of the road (C14) through the Kuiseb Canyon being very special..

The story of two German Geologists, Henno Martin and Hermann Korn hiding in the Namib Desert for two and a half years during WWII, is well known amongst Namibians but lesser known amongst visitors.  Visitors might be perplexed by encountering the sign at the Kuiseb Canyon viewpoint. Click on the hyperlink to read their story.

On arrival at Solitaire Desert Farm we were pleasantly surprise, what a beautiful place it was.  The lodge as well as the campsite exceeded the expectation.

The campsite was level and clean with plenty of shade.  Each site has its own small ablution with hot water from a gas geyser.

Later the evening we had the opportunity to experience the most beautiful sunset and took plenty pictures of it.

Camping cost at Solitaire Desert Farm was N$ 200.00 p.p.p.n.

Day 15 – Saturday, 29 December 2018 – Solitaire Desert Farm to Sesriem Campsite (Sossusvlei, Namibia)

We did not get up as early as we normally have done on the trip as we had only a short distance to cover from Desert Farm to the Sesriem Campsite.

Enroute we stopped at Solitaire to taste some of their famous apple pie and to fill up with fuel.

We did not get up as early as we normally have done on the trip as we had only a short distance to cover from Desert Farm to the Sesriem Campsite.

Enroute we stopped at Solitaire to taste some of their famous apple pie and to fill up with fuel.

Solitaire was a sheep farm originally established by a Mr. van Collier in 1848.  Legend has it that it was named by his wife and that there were diamonds in the area.

A Scottish adventurer, Percy Cross “Moose” McGregor moved into town and started a bakery, Moose McGregor Desert Bakery, more than 20 years ago.  He started selling a variety of bakery items including the now famous German apple pie.  His apple pie and warm friendly attitude has become the reason why people from all over the world visit Solitaire.

We stopped in Solitaire for the same reason, to taste the apple pie.  We arrived just after 10:00 the morning just to find that the apple pie was sold out.

We also learned that “Moose” passed away in January 2014.

After we filled Dagga Boy with fuel and bought some items from the local store, we proceeded on our journey to Sossusvlei.  Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan situated in the largest conservation area in Africa, the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 meters.

The Sesriem campsite was a little bit disappointing.  The little shop was poorly stocked and dusty.  One can clearly see that there is no attempt to keep it neat.  The ablution block however is kept clean.

The swimming pool area and campsites on the other hand have not seen any maintenance for a very long time.  It is sad to see that a once beautiful campsite can fall into such a state.

After inspecting our allocated a campsite, we decided to take a short trip into Sossosvlei.  The first sand dunes are quite a distance from the Sesriem campsite.

We drove till we found the first big dunes from where we watch the sunset.  Being booked at Sesriem we can stay out for an hour longer after the gates are closed.  We were back in camp just after sunset and settled in for the night.

Just a few hundred meters outside of the park area is the Sossus Oasis Camp.  The camp has a fuel station, shop and internet café.  The upkeep of this campsite is a lot better than the Sesriem campsite and the shop is well stocked.

The downside of camping at Sossus Oasis Camp is that you have to wait for the park gates to open in the morning and you have to be out before the gates closed in the afternoon. 

Day 16 – Sunday, 30 December 2018 – Sesriem Campsite (Sossusvlei, Namibia)

We were up very early as we intend totravel as far as possible, at least to some of the bigger dunes, before sunrise for pictures of sunrise over the dunes.

In this part of the desert, which is in the middle of the Namib Naukluft National Park, many of the dunes are protected and you can’t climb them. But Dune 45 has been set aside for visitors to explore, so they can learn more about the natural wonder. Its name comes from the fact that it is 45 kilometer from the Sesriem gate en route to Sossusvlei. One must ensure to visit early in the morning to watch the sunrise over the vlei from the top of the Dune.

After taken several sunrise pictures, we moved on towards the end of the road at Dead Vlei.  Dead Vlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River from flowing any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean.  However, due to the dry conditions in the Namib Desert the River seldom flows this far and the pan remains bone-dry.  During an exceptional rainy season, the Tsauchab fills the pan. When the pan fills it can hold water for as long as a year.

After we explored the area around the famous and much photographed Sossosvlei dune I gathered enough confidence to tackle the dunes and walk the distance to Dead Vlei.  It was a tough walk, but it was most rewarding.  The views from the top was astounding.  After walking to the top of the dune for the view I descended down the dune all the way down to dead vlei for a closer look.

This is something that you must do.  It is absolutely worth the effort.

Also a must see in this area is the Sesriem Canyon approximately 4.5km from the entrance gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The Tsauchab River has shaped the Canyon over millions of years, and it is one of the few places in the area that holds water all year round.  The early Afrikaans explorers in the region named the canyon after the fact that they had to use six (“ses”) leather straps (“riem”) tied together to create a rope long enough to lower buckets into the canyon below, in order to fetch water.

Camping cost at the Sesriem Campsite is N$ 350.00 per person.  Entry fee into the Sossosvlei Park is N$ 60 p.p.p.d and N$ 10 p.v.p.d.

Day 17 – Monday, 31 December 2018 – Sesriem Campsite to Quiver Tree Forest Lodge and Camping (Keetmanshoop, Namibia)

True to our nature, and as it has happened so many times, we got restless and decided to leave a day earlier.  We have decided that we will spend one day extra at our next destination which was the Quiver Tree Forest at Keetmanshoop.  We were ready to leave early morning as the gates opened.

The previous night we heard thunder and saw the lightning in a distance.  Not far from Sesriem we saw the first signs of heavy rains.  The road (C19) was still flooded but passable.  One could see from the debris that the water was much deeper during the night.

Enroute we came across an accident where the road was partially washed away.  A motorist did not see it early morning in the dark and ended up in the donga left by the water.  Luckily there were no injuries and a recovery team were already on the scene.

Our route took us through Maltöhe and Mariental towards Keetmanshoop.  The Zanishoogte Pass between Sesriem and Mantöhe is a beautiful area. The road up to Mariental was a good gravel road and from there tar to Keetmanshoop..

We were at our campsite at the Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground 13km from Keetmanshoop early afternoon and settled in.  Shade was scares and it was hot.  We had our own little ablution block, which was not luxurious but clean and functional.

Later the afternoon we had the opportunity to enjoy the sunset from our campsite and took some pictures.  As we were tired after the long trip, we decided not to venture into the forest but to leave it for the next afternoon.

Day 18 – Tuesday, 1 January 2019 – Quiver Tree Forest Lodge and Camping (Keetmanshoop, Namibia)

It was a hot day, a very very hot day and there was not much shade to hide against the blazing sun.  But we sat it out in anticipation of experiencing the sunset in the Quiver tree forest.

Early morning we had a visitor in our campsite, a warthog that came to look for something to eat and Gerida offered him (or her) an apple.  He ate half of the apple and then took off.  One of the farm workers later the day told us that it a tame warthog named Spekkie that stays at the farmyard.  Later the afternoon Spekkie visit again and dug a hole under the water tap of our campsite and spent some time lounging in the water which had accumulated under the tap.

As the sun started to set I took the camera and venture into the Quiver tree forest hoping to get some good sunset pictures, and I was not disappointed. Words cannot describe the sunset which was just amazing.  Surely worthwhile the effort to be patient and to wait for.

Camping cost at the Quiver Tree Forest was N$ 160.00 p.p.p.n plus a park entry fee of N$ 65.00 per person.

Day 19 – Wednesday, 2 January 2019 – Quiver Tree Forest Lodge to Leeupan (Van Zylsrus, South Africa)

Wednesday, 2 January, basically signaled the end of our Namibian holiday, and the start of our journey back home.

We were up early, before it become hot, and packed up and was ready to leave.  We took the C16 (a gravel road but in good condition) from Keetmanshoop to the Rietfontein Border post.

The border post was a breeze.  If all border crossings could be so easy and without any hassles or problems it would make our travels so much easier.  From Rietfontein we followed the tar road which was in good condition to Askam.

In Askam we stopped for something to drink and eat at the Diamond T Coffee Shop.  I inquired about the condition of the road from there to Van Zylsrus, our next stop, and was told that it is bad.  Bad, I thought that we had driven many bad roads during our travels so this one could not be all that bad.  But let me tell you, if one of the locals who drive these roads every day tells you it is bad, then it is really bad.  It was most probably one of the worst roads ever that we have traveled.  Had we known that beforehand or had listened to the advice we would have taken the tar road to Upington instead.

It was already late afternoon and very hot when we arrived at Leeupan near Van Zylsrus where we have booked for camping.  We did not feel like camping in the heat and enquired about the possibility of alternative accommodation and was offered the guest house at a reasonable rate.  But what a dump that was, totally in a state of disrepair and not to be recommended.  But we were tired and took it at R 300.00 per person per night, which we believe is totally overpriced for what you get.

Day 20 – Thursday, 3 January 2019 – Leeupan to Pretoria (South Africa)

We left Leeupan very early in the morning as we had a long trip to Pretoria ahead of us which included another 20-odd kilometer of terrible gravel road to Van Zylsrus and another 30km after that before we reached the tar road.

When we stopped at our home late the afternoon is signaled the end of yet another one of our fantastic and enjoyable trips.  And we have already started thinking and planning the next one.

“Dagga Boy” (Our Land Cruiser with the Bushlapa Bosluis 2)

 

This was the first real overland trip with our new vehicle.  We did two short week-end trips after we bought Dagga Boy, but this trip was the real test.

Yes, we are very pleased with the new setup.  There are a few smaller changes that we will make here and there but for the rest he lived up to all expectations.

Our previous vehicle for many years was Shrek, a Land Rover Defender 110.  We sold Shrek after our Namibia/Richtersveld trip of December 2017.  A decision that we took earlier in 2017 even before the trip was planned.  Not that there was anything wrong with Shrek, we just wanted to get a camping/travelling setup that fit better into our needs, and Bushlapa seemed to be the way to go and for that we needed a different type of vehicle.  The Bushlapa Bosluis at that stage was only built to fit on a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Toyota Hi-Lux or a Ford Ranger.  So, the Land Cruiser was the obvious choice.

We will post a full report on Dagga Boy and the alterations done later.

Greetings

Pieter & Gerida

Landrovingafrica

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