Tuesday, May 24, 2022

IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING

 

Australian borders are finally open, but first our long-awaited family holiday in Tasmania. Unfortunately, only part of the family can participate because of Covid. Such is life.

Back in Brisbane it is last-minute chaos before we head to the airport. A long flight, but no Covid tests required, we simply flash our Covid vaccination certificates on our phones.

Finally, we reach Windhoek, are collected from the Airport and head to the Transkalahari Inn where GR2 has been stored for over 2 years. It is with great excitement that we see her again, but she is still stuck in the shed, her batteries are flat. John spends the afternoon trying to recharge them. Reluctantly we overnight in a room. The next day John heads into town for new batteries. I clean. By 3pm we drive out of the shed and park in the camping area for the night.

Saturday morning, we head out for a grease and oil change and general checkup. Much later we head into town for groceries before heading back to our campspot. We plug back into power to build up our house batteries. All seems good so we plan to head off on Sunday, but when we return to the truck after dinner the house batteries are boiling and look ready to explode.  We won’t be leaving town yet.

 Sunday, we explore the lovely city of Windhoek. The castles up on the hill, the lovely old German buildings and the totally gorgeous gingerbread Church sited crazily enough right on a roundabout. Finally on Monday we leave the Transkalahari Inn. We have a day chock full of chores. Lithium batteries being on top of the agenda. Coffee machine second. John is devastated his Nespresso machine has stopped working. We leave it at the shop to be repaired and spend most of the afternoon getting the batteries installed at Theunis’ home where he works. When his lovely wife Thelma arrives home, she asks us to stay for dinner. A fabulous evening chatting and we sleep overnight in their driveway. Thank you both.

Just a few more stop offs for some necessary items and then we top up our fuel tank. YAY we are finally on the road. We head south on the main road only stopping for lunch at the lovely Lake Oanob resort near Rehoboth. No one is there so we find ourselves a waterfront chalet and picnic area to use. Later we drive through the tidy town of Rehoboth and continue south, finally stopping for the night at a magic spot overlooking the Hardap Dam. We share our spot with a troop of baboons who sleep overnight on the rocky cliff behind us.

In the morning we decide to drive into the Hardap Reserve to see the lake, but decide the entry fee is too much for a quick look at the lake. We follow back roads to the next town of Mariental and continue south through flat, flat, flat countryside. In the distance we can see the Brukkaros Volcano that we are heading to. We turn off onto a gravel road and finally onto a narrow, rocky, steep track that goes right up to the rim of the caldera. A truly amazing spot. There are the remains of a campground here and we settle in for the night.

In the morning we set off to walk into the caldera itself, and then up the hill to the ruins of a German Observatory. An amazing climb. I’m pooped and of course John isn’t! Time to head back down that disgusting track and continue along more back roads passing through the tiny town of Berseba where the locals live in tiny huts and drive about in mule carts. I don’t think we have seen six mules pulling a cart before. Then miles more desert – all tinged with green as Namibia has had more rain than usual in the past few months.

Our next stop is at the rather lovely big town of Keetmanshoop where we fill up with diesel and water. From here we return to the main road and head to the Naute Dam for the night. There is an old disused campground near the dam wall where we stay for the night. Down the road there are huge grape and date plantations, and beside them the Naute Kristall Distillery. We stop for coffee but somehow the very friendly owner convinces us to try some and we leave with a bottle of date brandy. We have spent a lovely hour chatting with her about life in Namibia and results of Covid restrictions (as you do)

Time to get on the road again and head towards Fish River Canyon via the Gondwana National Park. After a short stop at an old kiln we continue to the Canyon Roadhouse and have to stop as we spy more old cars. Inside the whole pub is filled with cars and car related “stuff”. Perfect for car buffs to wander around. We stay for lunch before finally heading into the Ai Ais Richtersweld Transfrontier Park. We pay our entry fees at Hobas and head to the lookouts.

What can I say? The Canyon is breathtaking, my photos don’t do it justice. Definitely on a par with the Grand Canyon in USA. We cannot walk down into the Canyon – day hikes are forbidden and the long hike requires special permission. We can see why as it is very hot with not a skerrick of shade. We spend all afternoon going to the numerous lookouts. Early evening, we take the magical drive to the Ai Ais Campground (no free camping allowed in National Parks). We settle in at dusk on a lovely grassy spot – amazing in this dry wilderness. In the morning we hike along the canyon and river for a few kilometres. When we return, we check out the lovely hot pools here, but they are way too cool for me, so it’s time to pack up.

Today totally magic driving through some stunning desert scenery as we head to Aussenkehr and the Orange River that marks the boundary of Namibia & South Africa. We are stunned to see miles of manicured vineyards along the rivers edge. And just as surprising is the town full of shanties, all clean and tidy. We are hunting down the Quiver Tree Forest marked on my map, but when we can’t find the road, so we turn and head back. We plan to drive the Orange River road. Signs say it is closed, but we have checked with the Transport & Roads Dept and they assured us we can drive through. We also see a few trucks and numerous locals using it.  Lots of roadworks and damage from flooding, but it is in pretty good condition and yet another stunning drive. On dusk we find a great spot in an old mining area way above the road. Another stunning red sunset.

Today it’s a huge driving day as we head along the river and through more desert on a lovely sealed road to the diamond town of Oranjemund. This road has only been open for 2 years. We cannot leave the road as the whole area, even though it is the Sperrgebiet National Park, is reserved for diamond mining. At the beginning of the road there is a barge that crosses to Sth Africa, and at Oranjemund there is a bridge. John wants to cross it, and because I say we can’t he decides we must, and sweet talks the customs lady into letting us cross, turn around and return. Then out to the river mouth for lunch before exploring the township – all neatly set out in a grid pattern. Followed by the drive back out. Much later we turn and head north, all the way to Aus. We have located a nice camping place in the hills on our app and head there, but they are full so head back to Aus to the campground in town. It proves to be pretty good and we enjoy a meal at the local pub.

Our adventures in L├╝deritz coming soon.

IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING - PHOTOS

At last John is reunited with GR2

View of Windhoek from Lovers Lookout

The Gingerbread Church on the roundabout

Lovely Lake Oanob

The church in Rehoboth

The main drag of Rehoboth

Over night view of Hardap Dam

The gorillas keeping a wtch over us at night

Local transport

Heading in to Brukkaros

Hiking the caldera

Can you spy our camper

Berseba

Eight Mules!

Local suburb in Keetmanshoop



Locals

The kiln in Gondwana National Park

Some more locals

The Canyon Roadhouse



Our first sight of Fish River Canyon





Heading out of the Ai Ais Campground

Vineyards in the desert beside the Orange River

Aussenkehr


Driving along the Orange River

Crossing the Fish River as it enters the Orange River


More locals

A quick trip to Sth Africa - on the return

The Orange River meets the ocean

Back through the desert

Passing mines