A long & not so winding road (part 2)

A long & not so winding road (part 2)

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Tropic of Capricorn

Enjoy the second part of Liz’ adventures in Namibia!

Day 5:
Hammerstein to Solitaire

The theme today was to be sand and lots of it! After a 5am breakfast we drove to Sesreim and on paying the conservation fee drove (on a tarred road – joy of joys!) to the dunes of Sossusvlei – a remarkable phenomenon – the highest sand dunes in the world!

To get right into the dunes we needed to avail ourselves of the 4×4 taxi truck and then we walked (difficult task in sinking sand) into the dunes to find the ‘dead vlei’ a dried up pan with inert-looking trees sticking up. The colour and graceful curves of the dunes is truly memorable.

We considered climbing Dune 45 but we were all too tired, we returned to Sesreim and had a beer instead!

Although I had pre-booked accommodation for every other night of the trip I had left day 5 free to allow us some freedom and flexibility. After reading a concoction of guide books we all decided that en-route to Walvis Bay the quaint town of Solitaire sounded the most appealing. Looking for a town, we actually sped straight past the small cluster of buildings, which turned out to be the entirety of Solitaire – a bakers (we soon discovered this was famous for its apple crumble pie – yummy!), a tyre repair shop & petrol station, a grocery shop and our lodgings for the night – Solitaire Lodge. Doug & I set up our tent and explored the town (which took all of 3 minutes) before lying by the pool while mum and dad had a power nap. After yet another stunning Namibian sunset at ‘Solitaire International Airport’ (so the piece of wood on the sand said) we had yet another great braai savouring the Namibian meats and beers. We all slept well with full bellies and the serenity of the dunes etched in our memories forever.

Day 6: Solitaire Lodge to Walvis Bay

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Dunes

Desert & sand, bleak & inhospitable, that is the summary of day 6. The highlight of the day was crossing the Tropic of Capricorn (funny there was no line across the road!) where we posed for photos by the sign.

Somewhere between the Gaub & Kusieb passes the boot catch broke due probably to the constant vibrations caused by the road surface and the lid opened spilling out some of the contents.

This was not noticed at first but luckily, somebody driving behind noticed our possessions strewn across the road and eventually caught up with us and returned them. We tied the boot closed with the tent guy ropes and continued on our bumpy journey.

We arrived in Walvis Bay driving through a sand storm and tracked down the local Nissan dealer who kindly replaced the boot catch free of charge! We caught up with Elizabeth & Doug’s friends Lindi & Marty at their restaurant ‘Anchors on the Jetty’ where we had lunch & dinner & everybody caught up on gossip.
After a long and stressful journey through the Namib-Naukluft Park it was great to arrive in Walvis Bay and to catch up with old Cape Town friends, Lindi & Marty who had moved to Walvis Bay. I had mixed feelings – missing the tranquillity of the desert but enjoying the ‘civilisation’ of a town – but soon fell for the charm of the town soothed by a plate of fresh seafood served at Anchors for both lunch and dinner!

Day 7: Walvis Bay

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Walvis Bay

After a hearty breakfast at ‘Anchors on the Jetty’, we signed up for a 3-hour catamaran cruise with Mola Mola tours to explore the Walvis Bay lagoon – entertained hugely by the skipper, Walter who fed Popeye the one-eyed seal who slipped aboard, together with aerial feedings of pelicans and gulls. We sailed the lagoon with sightings of dolphin and many seals on a colony on the foreshore. The voyage culminated with a wonderful spread of local oysters, other fishy treats and champagne.

We spent the afternoon exploring the small ‘working town’ of Walvis Bay and the local saltpans with the multitude of bird life in the area. A family braai finished off our nautical day.

Day 8: Walvis Bay to Khorixas Lodge – Damaraland

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Sunset in Damaraland

The time in Walvis Bay allowed us to stock up with supplies and was a bit of luxury for me and Doug to be out of our tent! We said our farewells to Walvis Bay and continued our journey north through Swakopmund and up the coastal road past Henties Bay where we left the tarred road and headed towards Khorixas on the sand/gravel road C35. About 50kms after Henties Bay driving well under the speed limit, we hit a sandy patch of road and the car went into a skid.

I was driving, and remembering friendly advice fought the instinct to brake and allowed the car to skid where it pleased until it went up on two wheels and then the panic struck! After mounting the sand curb the car slowly came to a stop and we all quickly jumped out to discover the bumper some meters away and a wheel embellisher missing! We managed to tie the bumper back on with our trusty tent guy ropes (these were more useful then ever imagined!) and continued our journey shaken but unscathed.

Lesson learned: In Namibia we strongly recommend hiring a 4 x 4 vehicle.
(On returning to Cape Town, I was informed that the C35 has the highest accident rate in Namibia!)

Khorixas is a very small town set in the stunning Damaraland district well known for the traditional Himba people who inhabit the region. We stopped at a few stalls and marvelled at the collection of dolls and semi precious looking stones the women were selling. We arrived at our destination -Khorixas lodge and relaxed after our hot, dusty and eventful journey. We spent some time in the pool and then finished the day with another braai marvelling again at the quality of Nambia’s meats and beers –my two favourite things!

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