Start: November 18, 2014, Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Finish: December 5, 2014, Torra Bay, Namibia
Number of dunes climbed: 4
Number of flat tires: 1
Number of weaver finches recruited as minions: sadly zero
After crossing the border of South Africa to Namibia we head north in search of sand dunes and deserts. We have our first flat tire, try and tame some finches and rediscover some spectacular campsites.
Our first destination in Namibia was the Fish River Canyon, think Grand Canyon with fewer guard rails. You can hike it, raft it and you can even stand on the cliffs taking some pretty amazing photos with no one shouting at you to step away from the edge.
We camped at the Canyon Road House, just outside the national park. An interesting place filled with old cars with trees growing out of them. The bar plastered with license plates from around the world and some vintage auto shop tools and parts scattered about.
With images of the movie From Dusk Till Dawn in the back of my mind, I kept wondering how these cars, parts and plates ever got stuck out here in the middle of nowhere.
We had a pint of the finest we selected our campsite, pitched our tent and made some lunch, in that order. After lunch we were sitting in the shade listening to the birds when I noticed that all familiar hissing sound. A flat! Seemed like the roadhouse wanted another exhibit.
After a moment of “oh crap! Where’s the jack?’, and Jess calmly pointing out that there was a secret compartment for the jack, we quickly took the wheel off, removed the old rusted piece of twisted metal and plugged the leak with our trusty safety seal tire repair kit.
There will be no Blue #2 with a tree for the roadhouse today.
The next morning we hit the road in search of the canyon. Trying to avoid the luxury tour busses filled with camera slinging tourists we ended going down one of the more bumpy roads to a lookout where we could do a little hike.
The views were amazing, the silence deafening, it was perfect. Click the photo above to see the full panorama.
From the Canyon we went to a little town called Aus, where the road splits to Kolmanskop a deserted diamond town and Sesriem home of some amazing sand dunes.
The campground was home to a few social weaver colonies, these little finches are fearless in numbers and pretty fun to watch. The next morning we made a pot of coffee, no sooner did the bag of rusks make a sound, when we were surrounded by hundreds of these little chirpers. Each looking for attention and a crumb or two.
I tried to recruit some minions to do my bidding, but ran out of crumbs. It seemed that minions would not come that cheep.
After the coffee kicked in and the finches moved on we headed out to Kolmanskop. Abandoned in the 50’s the town is now home to sand dunes. They have taken over most of the buildings. See our Facebook album for more photos of this cool ghost town.
After an early night we headed to the second highlight of the trip. You might remember that Jessica is a little desert rat, a love affair that I believe started here on our honeymoon. Sesriem Campground, is minutes away from some of the most spectacular sand dunes in Namibia. Temperatures in the shade was in the high 130’s, but at least it was a dry heat and there was cold beer at the bar.
We stayed here for three nights, it gave us the chance to retrace our visit in 2006.
First up was Hidden Vlei. A 4km hike takes you to an overlook of a dried up mud flat, littered with dead trees. Jess and I swore we had never been here before. When we got back to the campground we compared some photos and were shocked to see that we had stood in the exact same spot 8 years before. Click on the photo to see it enlarged.
Hiking back to the car park Jess again snapped a photo of this tree. Seems like things are a little dryer now than it was back then. There are no green shrubs, no grass, even the tree looks shriveled and noticeably thinner.
To see some other great photos of the Sand dunes click here to see our Facebook album.
After three days of soaking in the sun in the desert we headed to Swakopmund to hydrate and recover for a week, while catch-up on work. We rented a little self-catering unit, cooked some fancy food, took long walks on the beach and even went to the aquarium.
We heard of the lichen fields neat Swakopmund, and how if you give these sun scorched algae some water they transform into vibrant green leaves. We decided that we would give this a try. Pretty cool eh?
Further up the road we made a quick stop at a town made mostly of shipping containers. Each house a different configuration, color and size. We pulled up some old photos and stopped to take another few comparison photos. Click to enlarge.
Two gates each with the skull and cross bones guard the entrance to the Skeleton Coast National Park and serves as warning to all those who enter. This is not a forgiving place. Shipwrecks dot the coast line, usually accompanied by a dead seal or two.
The winds are relentless, the scenery unforgettable.
On the first day of our trip we heard a lady refer to the wind on the coast as “the iron cleaver”. Looking at the state of this abandoned oil drill you can see why. I wonder what it will look like in another 8 years… Click to enlarge the photo
Stopping at one of the shipwrecks to take some photos, Jess said "ok, tell me when the wave comes in" I did... the first few times, then I thought i would rather take a video.
Above on the left is our first overland rig, the daring little Ford Fiesta, we happen to stop on pretty much the same spot, as you can see even the sign posts don’t last here.
After spending the night at windy Torra Bay, a seasonal campground that turns onto tent city we headed to the Etosha National Park.
Coming up next we enter the Etosha national park, see some lions, eliphants and rhinos!