Yihaaa..... Let's start our worldtrip!
Bijgewerkt: 14 jul 2019
We know that you have had to wait a bit, but we didn't no how to start our first blog. ;-) In the first days we already experienced so much and we are really looking forward to share this with you. We will do our best to make it as attractive as possible and from now on try to keep the blog up to date.
After a short flight from Cape Town to Windhoek, we were nicely met by someone from Bushlore, the company that is renting out our transport and home for the next couple of weeks. He gave us a detailed description of how the car worked. After 2 hours had passed, we had already forgotten half of his explanation, because we were too excited to jump into the car and try everything out. On top of that came the time pressure to arrive in Sossusvlei before dark, as it is not recommended to drive here in the dark. After a sprint through the supermarket, refueling the car and lowering the tire pressure, we headed for Sosussvlei.
There are 2 roads that go from Windhoek to the Sossusvlei. The shortest route is via the B1 to Rehoboth and then via the C24 to Sossusvlei. But a friend recommended us to take the long route via the C26 through the Gamsberg Pass to the C14 to finally arrive in the Sossusvlei. This route will cost you 2 extra hours, but then you have a nice gravel route to tackle right through the mountains with fantastic differences in landscape.
Setting up the tent seemed so simple during the explanation, but when you have to do it yourself for the first time, it is different. Put a knot in the strap, how thick does the button really have to be? Where do we leave the cover? Where do we find the sticks? When is the ladder in the right position? And so on, and so on, but after some plodding, it finally stands ... our shelter for the first night.
Our next project is making food ... Where do we find what, how do we work? That is quite difficult if you have never had to prepare camping-style food. I have never seen a camping in my life. Fortunately, our car is equipped with a large drawer where 9 large containers are equipped with cooking utensils, tools and other equipment.
Cooking is done here on 2 gas cylinders on which 2 gas rings can be screwed, a baking tray and a braai (actually a bbq, but that should not be called that in South Africans, because they use wood instead of cabbage). With a well-stocked fridge you can easily make a 5 star dinner.
Now an incident accured that I would like to describe per minute, so that you get an idea of the spectacle:
7:00 pm ... After setting up the tent, I walk to the neighbors to make friends. The neighbors turn out to be a Belgian couple who had left Windhoek a few days earlier. They make about the same journey as us and soon there is an amicable conversation. Inge started cooking.
7:15 PM ... Inge calls me. I think: "hmmmmm food, I feel like it". Inge think: "oh noooo....Chris come over here very quickly.
7:16 pm ... Do to Inge's mega husky voice at that moment, I have no clue of what she is saying. So I say, "I will be right there honey."
7:17 PM ... Inge calls me again and it comes across as something more urgent now.
7:18 pm ... I walk towards our campsite and ask: "Is dinner ready? "Inge points towards the gass bottles and I see that one of the gas bottles is on fire.
7:19 pm ... We watch the game, because we do not know what to do. I think run for our lives, the whole thing is going to explode. Inge thinks, be a man and get that fire under control.
7:20 pm ... With great heroism and danger to my own life (as I like to describe myself) I run to the gas burner, kick the beans off and flee to safe position.
7:21 PM ... Inge gives me a ladle. I ask: "should I throw this to the gas bottle and hope that it goes out?". "No ... you have to try to turn it off". I think ... .😱, but I still go and try it and miraculously I turn off the gas bottle and I safe us from a world-class disaster ... ... although I say so myself. After that we ate delicious rice, meat and gritty beans. In my eyes a real 5 star dinner;).
The Sossusvlei is part of the Namib desert in the Namib-Naukluft and forms the oldest desert in the world bordering the Atlantic Ocean from Swakopmund & Walvisbay south to Lüderitz. It is said that this desert has had a dry to very dry climate for about 80 million years. The park covers an area of 50,000 km2, making it one of the largest national parks in Africa.
As soon as you enter the park, the landscape changes as the kilometers fly by. From a steppe with mountains with huge stones to massive red sand dunes up to 300 meters high. The distance from the gate to the Big Daddy, the highest dune in the Sossusvlei, is about 65 km of which the last 5 km is only accessible for a 4x4. If you do not have a 4x4, trucks stand ready to bring you to the Big Daddy and Deadvlei.
Because we have a 4x4 and we have extensive experience with driving in sand ... NOT ... we wanted to drive that last part ourselves. With good courage and a good tip from one of the drivers of the trucks ("keep speed") we drove the last 5km to the Big Daddy. You all know how the laundry runs in the washing machine, but have no idea how the clothes will feel after a wash. Now imagine how, in a 4x4 with 40/50 km per hour, we drove through loose sand with hills and holes in the road. I think I finally know how the laundry feels after being washed.
We took "keep speed" a bit too literally as 20km an hour would suffice.
Exciting # Sensation # Learn how to drive.
Once you have arrived at the destination you have forgotten everything. In the distance you can see the high top of the Big Daddy, surrounded by beautiful red high dunes.
We decide to climb the first dune. The dunes are gradually rising and despite the heavy ordeal it is worthwhile. The Big Daddy is the crème de la crème and you can climb it in 2 to 3 hours, if you are aware that you have to take the short cut. However, if you take the Royal route, which we did, then you can add 1.5 to 2 hours. We didn't make it to Big Daddy, because we were tired after a dune that is twice as small as the Big Daddy and we had too little water with us (note: to climb the Big Daddy you have to have 3 liters of water per person, we only had 2 liters for 2 persons).
Besides the Sossusvlei there is another tourist attraction in this area and that is the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon is completely dry during the dry season, but as soon as the rainy season starts, water flows from the mountains to the canyon and the entire canyon, 30 meters high and 1 km long, is filled with water. The highlight in the dry season, according to the guide we had with us, is that at the end of the canyon (a short 10 minute walk) you will be treated to a small, dirty, pool of water. In our view an attraction that can be skipped during the dry season.
SWAKOPMUND & WALVISBAY
Yes ... what can be said about this now. Let me put it so that the road to it is many times more beautiful than both places together. The road goes through the desert, over mountains and through large grass plains. It was a surprise after crossing every hill again what kind of landscape you'll find. You can drive endless pieces here without meeting anyone. I think that this was one of the most beautiful routes we have seen during this holiday.
In short a few points about these 2 places. Around Walvisbay there are a number of animals like pelicans, dolphins, humpbacks and flamingos. It also has the largest port in Namibia. Swakopmund is a town located on the beach of the South Atlantic and consists largely of German architecture. You will find a supermarket, restaurants, shops, bars, a bank, etc .. This place can be used to make purchases for your transit. You can also participate in various outdoor activities here. We have chosen not to do this.
After the hot Sossusvlei, the cold air and 18 degrees in Swakopmund were very pleasant. After installing our spot, which is now installed within 8 minutes, we went exploring the neighborhood. We have walked through the city and across the beach. Eventually we stranded at a restaurant / bar on the pier and treated ourselves to a nice glass of wine, excellent oysters and sushi. If you ever go to Swakopmund then I can definitely recommend this restaurant Jetty 1905.
KAMANJAB @ CHEETAH FARM
This morning we got up at 5:30 am to continue our journey to Kamanjab. We will travel about 450 kilometers today on gravel routes. The first 100 km is only desert, afterwards we will encounter beautiful rolling hills. Just outside Swakopmund, on the way to the north, you find 1 fishing boat that has just gotten stuck before the coast. This boat now serves as a resting place for different birds and is an ideal place for street vendors to sell their goods to tourists. And if you do not want to buy anything, you can also just give them money, according to one of the street vendors.
More towards Kamanjab you will find here and there little villages of no more than 7 houses spread along the road. Women stand in beautiful dresses around the side to spin circles to lure tourists. The men are busy on the land or are lying lazy for their houses made of corrugated iron.
When you arrive in Kamanjab, drive another 20 km or so and you will find a fence on the left that leads you to the Cheetah Farm. After another 15 km on a bumpy path you finally reach the Cheetah Farm. The first thing you notice is the high fence around the farm with behind it Cheetah's who walk around the yard like a kind of watchdogs. Then the owner comes out, gives one of the Cheetah's a pat on his head and then steps through the gate to welcome us.
The owner appears to be very friendly and he leads us to the campsite where we will stay one night. A fantastic place in the middle of no where with good facilities. Definitely recommended for a stopover to / from Etosha or Swakopmund!
The Etosha National Park, with an area of 22,000 hectares, is one of the largest wildlife parks in Southern Africa. The park is best explored by own car (a 4x4 is not necessary), but there are also organized game drives.
We sleep at the campsite Okaukuejo. The advantage of this campsite is that it has an illuminated waterhole so you can see a lot of wildlife in the evening when most animals are active. And the best way to do it is with a cold beer leaning back on a bench to hang out and enjoy the spectacle.
We decide to make our own game drive the first day through the park. With some luck we arrive at a waterhole where we meet drinking giraffes, zebras, gemsboks and ostriches. Our next day our luck doesn't run out as we see black rhinoceros (less than 2 meters away), lions, elephants, antelope and much more wild. How wonderful to be able to experience this as the animals just walk in front of your car.
Because we found Etosha so amazing, we started the morning with a game drive to the west of the park, towards Namutoni. On the way, of course, the usual wildlife. You start to get used to it, but we know we don't get it for granted. Our Dutch culture makes it a little bit that we are in a hurry to see the next animal on our list.
Through Grondfontijn we drive to Rundu (B8). Normally this is a 120 km / h road, but this is not feasible because there are so many animals on the road. Not only animals, but also groups of people. Children who come from school, or adults who go to work. Especially on the road to Rundu you will find many people, because here are a large concentration of villages to be found.
You see a lot of poverty here ... most people do not have cars, live in thatched houses, live off the land or sell wood and, as the children call it, sell 'oranges' to tourists. Now these 'oranges' turn out to be no oranges at all, but a certain unknown piece of fruit, which you love or don't. We didn't. So for us it was more a charity act rather than that we really enjoyed it.
Where you find Germans or English in different cities in the south, mainly dark people live in Rundu ... except for 1 Thai, hahaha. We were also very surprised to see him run a store.
Our new stop is just outside Rundu and when you arrive you will find 2 gates with behind it a beautiful lodge with a beautiful house, large apartments, green grass, no dry trees and a beautiful campsite. Did I say is was beautiful?
The lodge is located on the Okovango river and separates Namibia with Angola. There is a nice sunset cruise on the river, but this sounds more exciting than it eventually was. A few naked Angolans who wash themselves are the most exciting of the tour. Fortunately, there is Wifi to upload some beautiful pictures and let the home front know that everything is going well with us.