Mittwoch, Januar 02, 2008
how I survived Namibia
5.800km later ...
I'll begin with the end:
When I came back to Cape Town, everything was just rushing. Way too fast, and hectic. On 30th we were supposed to have lunch at Die Strandloper, a quiet, friendly fish "restaurant", directly on the sea (www.dieStrandloper.com). Everybody would consider it quiet, calm, and a very relaxing area. But due to the real lonelyness of the dessert, we've not been used to this and skipped lunch after an hour - it was just too much for us (you're supposed to spend the most of your day there, having lots of different courses).
1st Day (23rd) - Leavning Cape Town for the Cango Caves
We (me and Ryan) went up north-east to the Cango Caves, old caves with stalagmites and stalactites, some 8 to 12 meters high. We just made it in time for the last guided tour thru the caves on that day.
Finished in the caves we went on further north, heading on to the N1 that took us to Colesberg, where we stayed that night. On the way to Colesberg we passed an area of the N1 where a ghost lady hitch hikes - she stops drivers, gets into their car, and after a while she disappears, leaving the car driver alone who will soon end up in an accident. There are also sightings of ghost cars sometimes - it seems like they're approaching you, but never reach you.
Fortunately we did not see any of them.
2nd Day (24th) - going to The Cradle of Mankind (Die Wiege der Menschheit)
Everything started here, some billions of years ago.
We rushed thru Bloemfontain and other cities to be in time for an evening game tour, which we were told does not take place on 24th of December. So we unpacked, and went back to Johannesburg for a bit of shopping for the evening braai.
Very nice, very lovely, very calm, as we were more or less the only ones to be there over night.
3rd Day (25th) - The Cradle
Early morning we woke up - some Baboons (quite dangerous monkeys) searched our waste bin for some useful stuff. At about 6 a.m. I opened the curtains to see what's outside just to look straight into a face of a baboon. I don't know who was more surprised ...
At 8 a.m. we were fetched by a ranger of that reserve to take us for a morning game drive. Quite interesting, lots of animals to see out there. Rhinos, giraffe, and lots of other stuff.
Lunch time was big dinner time: 5-course-meal, with a desert buffet at the end. Gorgeous. For only 300 Rand per person.
Afterwards we were so staffed that we just stayed in our chalet, relaxing, reading. Dinner was more or less just a small snack because there was so much left of the day before. Sitting there in front of the fire, in the dark, listening to the animals of the Cradke. Some very strange noises, of most probably not very friendly animals could be heared, and something big was in a bush not far away from us. But we stayed as long as the fire was big. ;)
4th Day (26th) - leaving west, Upington and Namibia
We managed to get to Upington as long as it was daytime, but when we left it, it was getting dark outside. Driving to the border at night, we passed two huge swarms of insects ... Driving thru them was quite interesting. But after 5mins I couldn't see anything thru the wind screen anymore. So I had to stop, go out and clean the wind screen with old trousers we wanted to get rid off anyway (and it's still lying in the car while I write this text).
We reached Karasburg in Namibia at about 11p.m..
5th Day (27th) - going up north - on streets that are not really streets but gravel, and where you are happy if you see someone else within an hour ...
We went thru Keepmanshoop, and moved west as we wanted to get to the dunes. On our way we were short on fuel so we went up north again on the C14 to Bethanie, but they were empty. So we dragged ourselves to Helmeringhausen, where we could refill (if they'd been empty we'd be stuck in the dessert ^^). It was not the last time we've been to Helmeringhausen, and it will again proof to be usefull.
So we went up further north to Maltahöhe where we refilled again and tried to get west, while it was getting dark. Bad idea to drive into the sunset on those roads. While not really be able to see what's on the road, something really cut into the wheel from the side, cutting it off like a can opener opens a can.
Changing the tire while it was getting dark.
So we went back to Maltahöhe, and stayed there over night, in a hotel with a bar that looked like those bars of those hotels in these B-Hollywood-movies (or Tarrantino-splatter movies). I expected some lone gunman to show up every minute - or at least some vampires. (If I think about it: even the hotel looked like one of THOSE hotels)
6th Day (28th) - trying to reach the Dunes (for 100km distance you can expect 2 to 3 hours of driving if you don't come with a 4x4)
But first, get up early and see if the local garage could give me a new tire for the rim. But they couldn't. So a careful 1 hour drive thru the desert to Mariental, where we go the wheel repaired, some food and fuel.
Moving back again thru Maltahöhe, west to the Dunes at Sesriem. The oldest and largest in the world. Some are 320meters high. We went into Sesriem, and took the new road to the Sossusvlei, a newly created area of green stuff in the dessert because of a flood in 1997 (which was only hold back by the dunes, and it floods there every 10 years). In the Sossusvlei we took a guided 4x4 tour thru this area.
(still outside the Sossusvlei)
After that we went south to get to Aus, taking the scenic route. But as it was getting dark again, we decided to stay on the C27 road that took us into Helmeringhausen, where we stayed at one of the nicest hotels I've ever been at (www.helmeringhausen.com).
7th day (29th) - going south to Fish River Canyon and back to South Africa
We left Helmeringhausen in the early morning, just to crash the car into the sand shoulder of the street. So we had to walk back 9 km to Helmeringhausen to get some help. Fortunately a woman just drove by after a 1/2h walk and took us to Helmeringhausen. We got some helped, that car was pulled out, the front right wheel which popped off it's rim was repaired and not even 2hours later we were on the road again ... south. :-)
We took the C13, went thru Aus, rushed along the Diamond Restricted Area, and ended up in the afternoon in the Fish River Canyon. Beautiful area. Not as quiet as the rest of the country, but nice. A bit more traffic (*lo*, 2 cars an hour), and now and then some people gone fishing.
From there it was only some hours to the border ... and shortly after the Fish River Canyon, paved roads where on the way. Glorious day. We went thru the border, to Springbok, had a dinner there, and decided to drive thru till Cape Town ... 600km from there to go.
It was a 15hours drive from Helmeringhausen to Cape Town, but a beautiful one ...
I miss that country. Very lovely countryside, damn quiet, and lonely there. And no one is in a rush. Except some stupid people who overtake you on a gravel road and throw a stone into your windscreen. It is still broken, don't know when I'm going to repair this one. ^^