Planning and trip preparations

The planning and preparations for this trip was the easiest ever. With the experience gained over the years of travelling if was very easy for us to decide on a route, make the required bookings and off we go.  Border posts no longer stress us in the way that it did on our first trip.  We are now very relaxed in the way that we handle border procedure and officials that are trying to make life difficult.

Over the years we have made many changes to Shrek, our Land Rover Defender, resulting in nothing else to do other to pack the last few items, fill the diesel tanks, and drive. As far as packing for the trip we are now so well organized, it is basically a matter of loading our clothes and groceries and we are ready to go.

We are in the position that we can plan and book a trip in a couple of days.  If you read some of our earlier trip reports, you will note that it latterly took us months to plan our first few trips and we stressed a lot about what we might have forgot and what can go wrong.

Day 1 –  Saturday, 16 December 2017 – Pretoria to Upington

The first leg of our trip took us from Pretoria to Upington.

Upington was just a stop-over and we opted to stay in a guesthouse rather camping.  We wanted to leave early morning for the Namibian border to try and avoid standing in the expected long ques at border control.

We stayed at the Gemutlich Guest House for the night and can recommend it.  Very neat and comfortable with a splash pool and ample secure parking.  Friendly personal service from the owner.  Also assist us with a power lead to connect to the fridges in our vehicle.

Distance and time:

Pretoria to Upington – 854 Km and 08:15 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Excellent tar road all the way.

Accommodation:

Gemutlich Guest House

S 28.441899  E 21.245177

Contact No:  +27-79-195-6128

E-Mail: gemutlich167@gmail.com

Tariff:  R 300.00 p.p.p.n.

Day 2 –  Sunday, 17 December 2017 – Upington to Hobas

We were up early morning and left Upington just before 06:00 after we stopped at Engine for fuel.

The Nakop border post with Namibia is 130km from Upington.  The process on the South African side went smoothly with no waiting ques.  At the Namibian side a few kilometers further things were different.  The Namibian Government has implemented a new system and it still had a few clutches that needs sorting out.  Namibia now require fingerprints from all persons crossing the border.  This system is slow, and the officials still need some training. The result was long ques and people crammed into a small building without air conditioning in terrible heat.

When the official was ready to take Pieter’s fingerprints, the system fails to read his little finger.  After several unsuccessful attempts (it felt like an hour or more) the official decided to stop trying and noted that Pieter has only four fingers on his right hand and pass us through.

We stopped for fuel at Grünau as we were unsure about the availability between Hobas and Aus.  Between Grünau and the Ai-Ais National Park we encounter the most amazing rock formations.

The Hobas campsite and Chalets is within the Ai-Ais National Park.  However, you don’t pay any park fees for entering the park and visiting Hobas.  If you want to go further into the park and visit the Fish River Canyon you must get and pay for a permit which is obtainable at Hobas.

The campsite and facilities at Hobas are excellent. The ablution block is well planned and clean.  Most of the campsites has good shade but late arrivals might not get a shaded campsite.

Distance and time:

Upington to Hobas – 397 Km and 4:30 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Good tar road from Upington all the way to Grünau.  From there a good gravel road to the Canyon Roadhouse enroute to Hobas.  The 16km from the Canyon Roadhouse to Hobas was badly corrugated.

Accommodation

Hobas Campsite

S27.61974  E17.71457

Contact No:  +264-61-285-7200

The cost for camping was N$ 190.00 p.p.p.n.

Day 3 –  Monday, 18 December 2017 – Fish River Canyon

We woke up early morning and get ready to visit the Fish River Canyon.  We bought the required entry permits for the park at the Hobas Campsite Office and drove the 10km to the first (main) viewpoint at the Canyon, and from there to a number of other viewpoints. It is impossible to describe the vastness and beauty of the Canyon in words or to capture it on video or pictures.  You just must see it with your own eyes.

The road from the Hobas Campsite to the viewpoints was badly corrugated.

Day 4 –  Tuesday, 19 December 2017 – Hobas to Luderitz

We left Hobas early morning enroute to Luderitz.

The road from Hobas to where we join the B4 between Keetmanshoop and Luderitz is a good gravel road.  The first 16km of the road up to the Canyon Roadhouse which were badly corrugated on our arrival has been graded the previous day and was a pleasure to drive.

We stopped at the Canyon Roadhouse for breakfast and I had a look at all the vintage cars and equipment that they had on the premises and also took pictures of it.

Driving west on the B4, 51km before Klein Aus you will find the Biltong Plaas (S26.62030 E 16.74634) on the right hand side of the road.  We stopped here to stretch our legs and for something to drink.  Biltong Plaas is worthwhile a stop.  We bought biltong, homemade snacks and cooldrinks.  You can read more about them on their Facebook page.

Between Klein Aus and Luderitz the wind has moved sand and in one place a whole dune across the road and earthmoving equipment was busy trying to beat the wind and clear the road.

On arrival in Luderitz our first stop where we made bookings for a photographer permit to Kolmanskop. This permit give you access to Kolmanskop from just before sunrise till after sunset.

We also arrange for a boat tour to Penguin Island on the Zeepard.

We then proceed to Shark Island were we camped for three days. Beautiful views all around you, but no shade and a wind that blew constantly for the three day we were there.  It was hot during the day and very cold during nighttime.

Distance and time:

Hobas to Luderitz – 402 Km and 05:00 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Good gravel road (114km) from Hobas to where you join the good tar road (B4) between Keetmanshoop and Luderitz.  Be mindful of sand blown across the road between Klein Aus and Luderitz.

Accommodation (Quality and Cost):

Shark Island Campsite

S26.63485  E15.15208

Contact No:  +264-61-285-7200

The cost for camping was N$ 170.00 p.p.p.n.

 The campsite is basic but clean.  Ablutions functional but in need of some maintenance.

Day 5 –  Wednesday, 20 December 2017 – Kolmanskop and Diaz Point

 

The plan was to be at Kolmanskop before sunrise.  However, the wind and cold weather changed our plans and we left much later after we first visited Cymot in Luderitz to buy warm jackets (R 1 129.22) for the boat tour the next morning.

The entry fee for a full day Kolmanskop was N$ 315.00 per person.

Click on the link Kolmanskop for more information and the history of Kolmanskop.

The below is a few pictures taken during our visit to Kolmanskop.

On our way back from Kolmanskop to Luderitz we paid a visit to Diaz Point.  After the expedition by Bartholomew Diaz to sail around the southern end of Africa failed during a storm at the Cape of Good hope Diaz was forced to turn around.  On the return journey he sailed into Luderitz Bay.  At the point where they set foot on land a stone beacon was erected on 25 July 1488. This point is known as Diaz point.

As we enter Luderitz on our return from Diaz Point we drove through the streets and took pictures of a few of the beautiful buildings in Luderitz.

Road Conditions:

The road from Luderitz to Kolmanskop is a good tar road till the turnoff.  From there it is a short dirt road to the entrance gate (S26.70193° E15.23173°) at Kolmanskop.

 Positives:

Visiting Kolmanskop feels like taking a step back into history.  A place worth visiting when you are in the area.  You can really get a feel for the hardship that the inhabitants of the town experienced staying in the area and working the diamond mine.  The Town is in die middle of nothing but desert.  The work currently undertaken to renovate some of the old buildings is commendable.  So is the fact that some of the structures in the process of been reclaimed by nature are left alone.

 Negatives:

If you can plan your visit for a day that it is not too hot, and the wind is not blowing it would make the experience so much better.  During our visit the wind was reaching storm level and we were sandblasted by the sun and burned by the heat of the sun.

Despite this it was still a wonderful experience.

Day 6 –  Thursday, 21 December 2017 – Boat Tour with the Zeepard

Today it was time for our pre-booked boat tour of the coastline and visits to Diaz point, penguin and seal islands.

The owner of Luderitz Safaris & Tours picked us up at our campsite and took us to the jetty at the harbour from where the Zeepard would depart.  It was freezing cold and the jackets bought from Cymot really saved the day for us.  The owner/guide of the Zeepard is a very knowledgeable person and his tales and stories made for a fantastic experience. 

The cost for the tour was N$ 450.00 per person.

Day 7 –  Friday, 22 December 2017 – Luderitz to Potjiespram in the Richtersveld

As we normally do while on tour, we planned to leave Luderitz early morning in order to reach our destination as early as possible.

We stopped at the Total Fuel Station just as you leave town to fill up.  It was then that the very alerted Fuel Attendant pointed out that fuel was leaking from underneath the vehicle.  He just started to fill the auxiliary tank.  Luckily, I had empty jerry cans with me, and he assisted me to drain auxiliary tank into it. Further investigation revealed that the fuel pipe between the two tanks has burst right where it makes a very sharp bent.  The pipe was replaced by Land Rover in Pretoria a few month ago and it was clear that it was not correctly installed hence the reason for the bend in the pipe.

But now we had a problem that needs to be resolved before we could commence to the Richtersveld.  The friendly attendant directed me to a garage in town which could possibly assist.

The friendly garage owner agreed to assist.  He had a look at the problem and inform me that it would take the best part of the day as he would need to take the main tank (which was now full of diesel) out to reach the auxiliary tank.  That was a major problem as we had nowhere to stay over as our house was on top of the Land Rover.

One of his mechanics, a small and skinny guy, had a look at the problem and said he might be able to get his hand in between the tanks and replace the pipe.  He tried and was able to replace the pipe without taking out the tank.  We were able to leave about two hours later with a new pipe fitted.

We stopped again at the Total Station to fill the tanks and thanked the Attendant for noticing the problem and guiding us to someone who could help us.

Needless to say, from there onwards, I checked the pipe every time when we stopped for possible leaks.  We did not experience any further problems for the rest of our trip.

At the Namibian border post just before the Orange River the official question the fact that the records show Pieter has only 4 fingers but now has 5.  He explained his little finger has grown back, the official accepted the explanation, stamped our passports and let us through.

The highlight of the days trip was crossing the Orange River at Sendelingsdrift with the Pont.  The Namibian border post alerted the South African border that we are on our way and when we arrived at the river the Pont was already on its way from the other side.

We then proceed to the South African border post and the Sanparks Offices which was right next to each other.

Border formalities was processed without any hassle and so was our booking for the Richtersveld.

We asked about flying our Drone in the Richtersveld and the Sanparks Officials gave us permission to do so.  This was the first time on the trip that we would be able to get some Drone footage as we were not allowed to use it in Namibia.

We then proceed to our first campsite in the Richtersveld which was Potjiespram.

At Potjiespram we tried to get some Drone images, but the wind was just to strong to fly and we abort the attempt.

Distance and time:

Luderitz to Potjiespram – 328 Km and 04:30 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Good tar road from Luderitz to Rosh Pinah.  Approximately 10km from Rosh Pinah you leave the tar road and travel on a good gravel road to Sendelingsdrift.

Accommodation (Quality and Cost):

 Potjiespram Campsite

S28.07936  E16.94710

Contact No: +27-278-311-506

The cost for camping was R 120.00 p.p.p.n.

Conservation fee of R 70.00 p.p.p.d. was payable.

 The campsite is basic but clean.  Ablutions functional but in need of some maintenance.

Negatives:

The bushes around the campsite is so thick that you could not see or walk to the river.  Even the view of the mountains was obscured by the bushes.

However, it did not bother us to much as it was only an overnight stop on our way to the De Hoop Campsite in the Richtersveld.

Day 8 –  Saturday, 23 December 2017 – Potjiespram to De Hoop in the Richtersveld

We left Potjiespram for De Hoop early the morning. The road to De Hoop would lead us through the mountains in the picture below.

Enroute to De Hoop we stopped at the rock imprint known as The Hand of God.

The road lead us over the notorious Akkedis Pass.  A nightmare for some travelers while others find it not to be that difficult.  We negotiate the tight corners and narrow passages between rock carefully and me and Gerida are in agreement, it was not difficult at all.  We have over the years travelled roads that is much much more difficult than Akkedis Pass.

At De Hoop camsite we found a spot on the river bank next to a “huge tree” with plenty of “shade”.  Look at the picture below and you be the judge of whether we had enough shade or not.

Distance and time:

Potjiespram to De Hoop – 43.0 Km and 02:30 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Challenging in some areas but not too difficult.

Accommodation (Quality and Cost):

De Hoop Campsite

S 28.18689  E 17.17822

Contact No: +27-278-311-506

The cost for camping was R 120.00 p.p.p.n.

Day 9 to 11 –  Sunday to Tuesday, 24 – 26 December 2017 – De Hoop the Richtersveld

We spend three days at De Hoop.  The heat was challenging, but we were able to go in cool down in the Orange River.  We spend hours in the river with lots of small fish and the occasional larger one’s swimming around us.  An experience we will not easily forget.

Positives:

In our opinion De Hoop is one of the better campsites in the Richtersveld, for the simple reason that it is easy to swim and cool down in the river.  A must visit when you are in the Richtersveld.

Negatives:

The December heat was challenging, but swimming in the river made up for that.

Day 12 –  Wednesday, 27 December 2017 – De Hoop to Richtersberg in the Richtersveld

We left early morning from De Hoop enroute to the Richtersberg Campsite further up next to the Orange River.

There are two roads (tracks) that lead from De Hoop to Richtersberg running parallel with each other. When we booked in at Sendelingsdrift we were warned not to take the sand track closer to the river but rather the gravel track next to the mountain.  If you take the sand track you “will get stuck” we were told.

We wisely decided rather to be safe and not to take the sand track.  Although I have at time contemplated to switch to the sand track because of the rocks on the road we stayed on the safe route.

About halfway enroute to Richtersberg I notice something on the sand track.  But it was far in the distance and could not make out what it is.  As we got closer it started to look like a shack of one of the goat farmers that operate in the Richtersveld.  Getting ever closer it started to look like a vehicle.

Then as if from nowhere a little boy appear in the road in front of us waving at us to stop.  As we stopped his little sister and mother also appear further down the road.  Gerida immediately recognized them as Annelien Oberholzer and her two kids whom we met during December 2016 at Victoria Falls Waterfront Lodge and again at Eureka Camp in Lusaka in Zambia on our way to Malawi.  They were heading in the same direction.

They were on their way from Richtersberg to De Hoop and was driving on the sand track and got stuck.  When they noticed us on the gravel track, they decided to run towards the track to stop us for assistance as they were afraid that we might pass without seeing them.

We drove down to the sand track to where Riaan was busy trying to recover his stuck vehicle.  The Land Rover was up to its belly in a rut filled with powder like sand and had no traction at all.

After a meet and greet I and Riaan assessed the situation for the best line of action.  I positioned our Land Rover in a position where I had some solid ground under the wheels, and we hooked Riaan’s Land Rover up with the winch.  After we have ensured that all the links were safe, and everybody was out of the way should the winch cable or a connection breaks we start winching. In no time he was out of the rut and back on terra firma.

We greet and each depart in their own direction with Riaan now on the gravel track.

Distance and time:

De Hoop to Richtersberg – 10 Km and 0:45 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Two tracks between the campsites.  The one a sandy track with deep ruts and potholes filled with powder like dust which makes it very difficult to see it.  The other a gravel track which is uncomfortable to drive with all the rocks in the road but the safer option to take.

Accommodation (Quality and Cost):

Richtersberg Campsite

S28.18691  E17.17824

Contact No: +27-278-311-506

The cost for camping was R 120.00 p.p.p.n.

Positives:

The views of the mountains on both sides (Namibia and South Africa) was stunning, and so was the sunrise and sunset views. 

Negatives:

The December heat was challenging.  Swimming in the river was not as good as at De Hoop due to low water levels and lots of slippery big rocks on the riverbed which you had to negotiate before reaching deeper water.  In the deeper water areas, the water was flowing very strong making swimming a bit risky.

The campsite had plenty of bushes, but one is unable to camp under it.  The result is you camp next to it and depending of which side you are you are exposed to either the morning or afternoon sun.

 

Day 13 & 14 –  Thursday & Friday, 28 & 29 December 2017 – Richtersberg Campsite

As the deeper water areas was risky due to the strong current we styed in the shallower water.  We inflated two truck tubes that we took with us and use that for float on the water to avoid walking on the slippery rocks.

There were several goat farmers in the area, and they walk though the campsite early morning and late afternoons with their goats and dogs.  That has disturbed the peace that we were looking for.

The heat was killing us, and we decided to call it the day and left after two days.  It was 47.6 Degrees Celsius and did not really cool down at night.

Day 15 –  Saturday, 30 December 2017 – Richtersberg to Springbok

We had packed most of our things the previous evening and was ready for an early departure.  We would leave the park through the Helskloof route and gate, and from there follow the Orange river towards Alexanderbaai and them Port Noloth. 

After a quick drive through Port Noloth and a view of the campsite that we have booked the decision was anonymous, lets push through to Springbok.  A long track but good roads all the way.

After leaving Port Noloth we started to look for accommodation in Springbok.  We wanted to find a Bed and Breakfast type of lodge as we did not want to pitch camp for one night only.  We contacted Lekkerslaap and with half an hour we had accommodation secured and paid.

We Spend the night at Hananja Lodge and can recommend them for the ideal stopover enroute.

Distance and time:

Richtersberg to Springbok – 355 Km and 6:45 hours travelling time.

Road Conditions:

Gravel track in the Richtersveld, corrugated dirt road from the Richtersveld exit gate to Alexandra Bay.  From there good tar road all the way to Springbok.

Accommodation (Quality and Cost):

Hananja Lodge

S29.68092  E17.84545

Contact No: +27-84-401-6177 or +27-82-962-3213

The cost was R 348.00 p.p.p.n.

Good quality and recommended for a stopover while travelling.

Day 16 –  Sunday, 31 Desember 2017 – Springbok to Olifantsfontein

Sunday the 31st of December 2017 we were travelling from Springbok to Olifansfontein.  We are on route home.

Shortly after we left Springbok we contact Lekkerslaap again with the request to find accommodation for us in Kathu or Kuruman.  They come back a short while later and confirmed a booking at the Ranch near Olifantsfontein.

And yes, no matter how hard I tried I could not go through Kakamas without a stopover at the famous “Pienk Padstal”.  But is was a nice break to make the long trip more endurable.

Distance and time:

Springbok to Olifantsfontein – 558 Km and 06:30 hours travelling time.

Accommodation (Quality and Cost):

The Range

S27.91152  E22.86304

Contact No: +27-53-331-7000

The cost was R 230.00 p.p.p.n.

We were not impressed by the Ranch at all.  On arrival at the Ranch I first had to find some-one who could assist us.  I was at the point of leaving when some-one came to assist.  Then at first, they could not find our booking at all.  After explaining that we booked and paid through Lekkerslaap the excuse was that the person handling the Lekkerslaap bookings is off duty.  Eventually they put us in a room but wanted me to pay for it, which I refused as we already paid.  That took another half and hour before they finally agree and put us in a room.

The room was not clean, and the aircon was not working.  Hot water was a problem.  I am convinced that the room allocated was not the room that we paid for, but we were tired and just want to get to bed.

We were close to a swimming pool and very noisy guests.  We will not visit the Range ever again and also not recommend them to any-one.

Road Conditions:

Good tar roads all the way.

Day 17 –  Monday, 01 January 2018 – Olifantsfontein to Pretoria

The road from Olifantsfontein to Pretoria was long and boring.  We have traveled this piece of road many times and nothing on it was new to us.

We arrived late afternoon at home, tired but satisfied with a wonderful trip to the southern parts of Namibia and the Richtersveld.  Both has been on our bucket list for a very long time and now we could finally tick it off.

Distance and time:

Olifantsfontein to Pretoria – 677 Km and 8:30 hours travelling time.

Is it worth it?

For you … still wondering if you want to explore the rest of Africa, here’s what we say:

“Sometimes the best thing that you can do is not think, not wonder. Not Imagine. Not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best”

A bit of nostalgia

We close this report with a bit of nostalgia.

This was the last trip with our trusty travel companion for many years and many unforgettable trips. 

We have decided that it is time to sell Shrek, our Land Rover Defender. Not because we must, and certainly not because Shrek has become unreliable.  Shrek is still able to do many overland trips without any problem. 

The only reason for selling Shrek as that we have decided to try a different camping and travelling setup for which Shrek is not suitable.

We will make sure that we find a good home for him.

Greetings

Pieter & Gerida

Landrovingafrica

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