Friday, June 3, 2022

FROM THE OCEAN TO THE KALAHARI

 

Our next destination is the town of Luderitz. To get there we drive through the Tsau/Khaeb National Park, famous for its wild horses. They are smaller and stockier than other horses as they have adapted to this arid climate. We see quite a few before taking the side track to the view point at the water hole. Here we see not horses, but a whole herd of gemsbok enjoying the water. A few young males engage in a “horn” tussle. Then we continue our drive through the desert. Nearly there we spy the old ghost town of Kolmanskop and drive in. It closes at 1pm (because of wind) and as it is already hot and windy, we decide we will come early tomorrow.

The town of Luderitz is perched on rocky outcrops beside the ocean. It is a dry barren place – without the discovery of diamonds this place would never have been built. We park in the main drag and wander around. It is 38deg today – stinking hot. After lunch we explore the nearby beaches, including the mussel farms. Later we admire the old German style buildings in town – the gorgeous church, a hilltop mansion and rows of brightly painted buildings. Then we head to the Museum, which opens at 3pm. The plan is to go to the seafood restaurant and overnight in their courtyard, but our plan is foiled. They are closed today. Instead, we head out to the windswept lighthouse and ocean front. Absolutely gorgeous, but there are 100’s of pesky little flies. Sadly, we leave this magic spot and end up camping on an inlet near town – the bonus is the blood red sunset and no flies.

The next morning, we head to the old diamond town of Kolmanskop to explore. We wander through the windswept site gaping at the lovely old houses, still with wallpaper and bathrooms, through rows of labourer quarters and numerous other buildings. Everything is being consumed by the sand dunes. The township was left to the mercy of the sand when the entire township was relocated to Oranjemund by 1956. Hours later we head off to cross the desert. We decide to have lunch at the waterhole lookout, and this time the horses are there playing in the water. One is in the middle splashing the others, just like a naughty kid. Later they leave, only to stop and roll in the dirt.

From Aus we head north, taking mainly back roads, stopping at Theunis’ family farm to buy biltong from their shop. The next stop is at the tiny town of Bethanie. There are numerous churches in town as this was one of the earliest missions in the country. By now it is getting late and there are fences on either side of the road, so we turn down a back road, head up the hills and pull over for the night. We are surprised when 2 cars go past.

Wake to a chilly grey day. Drag ourselves out of bed and continue north to stop at tiny Helmeringhausen. It is really only a petrol station and Hotel, but the drawcard here is the apple crumble cake – we can confirm that it is delicious.  Then another interesting stop: a Ute is stopped and 6 guys wave us down. They have a puncture on their trailer and no wheel brace. John to the rescue. They also have no jack – instead they have 4 large human Jacks!

 By the end of the day, we reach Duwisib Castle. There is a camping area at the farm so we stop for the night. We meet a South African/English lady with family in Brisbane and spent the evening chatting to her.

Late the next morning we hit the corrugated road again. Magic desert scenery with lots of rocky outcrops and rows of red dunes. Even an occasional glimpse of wildlife. Later in the day we pull into the tourist town of Sesriem. There are rows of tourist buses returning from the dunes. We decide not to revisit the dunes as the day is cloudy, so they won’t look as amazing as last time we were here. Instead, we head on to Solitude where there was a campsite and great bakery. Sadly, the bakery is closed, but we still camp there for the night.

Yet another cold night, but before long we hit the road heading over the Spreetshoogte Pass. This is the steepest pass in Namibia and no trucks are allowed.  The views are awesome. Once over the pass we see signs for fresh bread at Namigrens Farmstay, so can’t resist stopping. We end up staying for ages chatting to the manager. (He is a huge All Blacks fan!) Bonus: the sourdough is amazing.

Much later we head down to Rehoboth to restock with food, and as it is getting late, we decide to head back out to the Oanob Resort to camp for the night. And what a welcome we get – eight giraffes checking us out. We get a lovely spot beside the lake and enjoy dinner at their restaurant. The next day we look through their aviary and wander their nature drive – but those giraffes are in hiding today. Back at Rehoboth the kids are having a huge sports day and town is packed. We top up our phones before hitting the road. It is Saturday and we plan to be in Windhoek by Sunday night ready to get some work done (hopefully). We wind through the shanty town of Hoachanas, which is pretty eye opening. Sad fact: unemployment here is 55% and there is no safety net or dole.

We continue south along gravel roads passing game parks with numerous salt pans. We spend the night camped beside a waterhole just outside the fence of a game park, right on the edge of the Kalahari. Sadly, no animals come to drink tonight. More back roads in the morning and we do spy quite a bit of wildlife – gemsboks, springboks, wart hogs and my favourite, giraffes. Much later we reach the scruffy town of Dordabis and finally the main road that heads to Windhoek. We head to the Urban Camping, located in the city, for the night.

Monday, we start our search. Well John does. First to the Isuzu workshop. They put us in contact with a mechanic who can do the work tomorrow. Then to a camping shop for parts and on to an electrical place to get plugs installed. Last chore of the day to get a chip for our Garmin GPS. Phew, back to the campground. Tuesday, we collect the Isuzu parts and spend all day at the workshop and get a few leaks sorted in the power steering pump and the left front hub.  By 5pm we leave and head to the petrol station – fuel prices are going up tomorrow. It is also Africa Day tomorrow and so the next 2 days are holidays, but most places take Friday off as well to make it a 5-day holiday. Got those jobs done in time! In the evening we enjoy a meal at the iconic Joes Beerhouse with Thelma & Theunis. We decide we will head out of the city in the morning.

Wednesday, we fill up with water and food, collect Johns brand new firewood bags that now hang over our spare wheels at the back, before hitting the road again. Northwards this time.

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