From Diary 3
3/12. We have a nice campsite underneath a flowering Acacia erioloba which attracts a lot of birds. There are several beetles, lizards and skinks as well. I feel like I am appreciating an adventure by Kipling. Unfortunately, the birds drops on us and the tents, which kind of spoil the pleasure.
I walk to the office to pay for the camp and the now, while we have a park permit - as we should have had for Welwitschia Drive and yesterday, we head into the park. Our first stop reveals some really interesting stones. They have been sand blasted and their different components are more visible.
Here we find the 30 meter deep Sesriem Canyon, cut into a concrete, flat area by Tsauchab River. Due to last knights rain, there are a scorching, brown stream in the button. The shelves on the side of the canyon, which is only four to ten meters vide, are a nesting ground for pigeons.
We drive back the lodge, and out towards the pink dunes. 45 kilometres out, after numerous photo stops, we reaches Dune 45. This 150 meter high dune is probably not the biggest, but it is the most accessible. I find plants and beetles around it's steep sides, but have to give in, when I try to climb it. We crosses Tsauchab river several times, but although this it further down stream, it is completely dry. The sand drains the river, and it is only with years in-between the water reaches the end on the surface.
The sand is steaming! Burns like fire on my feet. We head further out on this weird, sealed road in the Namib Naukluft National ark. We have driven hundreds of kilometres to reach it, by gravel roads. We reaches the last park for two-wheeled driven vehicles, and a bit further out, it turns tricky.
We drive among patches of hard, white clay and 30 centimetre deep, very loos sand. A low four-wheeled driven car is stocked. I don't dear to stop besides him, although I have engaged all our car can do off road. Walk back, and try to push. Then I dig his car free while my co-adventurer gets our sand letters.
He have driven out here in the early morning, while the sand wad hard due to the due. Now, we get him two meters ahead, and he is stock again. Not more we can do, but get a big truck to fetch him. We continues to the end of the road, next to Death Vlei. It is one o'clock, and my co-adventurer wants to wait the worst heat out.
I spend the time walking the nearby dunes, photo some plants and animals and do some measuring. The sand is 67C on the surface, and ten centimetres down, it is 50C. No wonder I had to put my heavy boots on! The humidity is down on 42% while the temperature in the shadow get to 45C.
At three, we start walking out to Death Vlei. We take a significantly de-tour across, and on top of the mighty dunes. Between them, some plants are clinging on to life. Many of the flat areas between the dunes are white, dry and hard clay.
It is rather windy, and on the top of the dunes, sand is in the air. We walks on the ridge of a huge dune, and after some time, we spot the - from photos - so familiar sight of the dead trees on the flat, white clay pan. The temperature have dropped to 43C, and if it haven't been for the wind, this might be a bit hot. A gemsbok stands in the shadow of one of the dead trees, and it does not seem to be bothered by us.
The valley is surrounded with huge dunes, which seem to be pink or orange. Along with the blue sky and the white clay and the black, dead trees, it makes a fantastic site. In one tree, a couple of white crows have made their nest. Seems to be a perfect spot - if you don't wants neighbours. My co-photographer wants to wait for an other hour to get the lights right, I am content, and heads back.
On the way, I meet a huge group of large, black beetles, and a few green. The black ones seems to like my boots, and at one point, I have around ten sitting, chewing on them. They are either sitting in the shadow of me or some of the small plants, or making fast raids out on the scotching sand.
We are the only ones out this fare, and while I accidentally drops some of my breakfast, I make a group of sparrows very happy. If I didn't know better, I would have thought someone else have broken the parks law about feeding animals...
I am covered in fine sand, and I'm afraid my camera have it the same way. My co-driver turns up at six, and we heads for the exit, 65 kilometres back. The sun is setting, and it causes for even more photos. Numerous gemsboks, ostriches and springboks can be seen along the road. I also seen a light brown mongoose cross then road.
We leave the camp and park, and head down C19 (and NOT C27). We are looking for a camp about 30 kilometres south, but ends up 100 kilometres south. We have taken the wrong road, and there are no camps near by. It is black night, and I'm really not that keen on driving on unfamiliar gravel roads in the dark. I spot several animals on the road like black mongoose and rabbits. Swallows are resting on the road, and bats are passing our lights.
We take a shortcut by D827 and meets with C27. 30 kilometres back, we find the sigh for the Wolvendance Camp. They have their own, private nature reserve, and their driveway is literary 20 kilometres of bad gravel road. When we finally gets there, it turns out they don't have campsites, but we are in luck; there are a vacant room - at 3750 N$.
That might include some of their activities like nightly game drive and maybe hot air balloon flight, but it is defiantly not what we are looking for. We head back the long drive way, and turns south. After we have left the private game park, we turn into the shoulder of the road. We have not seen huts for several days, and the white farmers live with great distances. We have not seen an other car for hours, and beside from the wildlife, we feel quite safe here.
There are a thunderstorm over the nearby Losberg mountains, but the sky above us seems clear. We have been driving 180 kilometres in the dark, on gravel roads, and I start to feel it. The headlights are way too low, and the roads are still marked by the rain. It is half pass ten, and I still have photos and diary to write. Makes an error, and some of my Death Vlei photos get blown to electrons in cyberspace.
While I sit outside, all kind of animals passes bye. The insects are attracted by the light, and they attracts bats and a rather large bird. On the ground, something rat-sized are puzzling, but I hope that's all. It will be interesting to see where we are in the morning! Once again, it is pass midnight before I give in, and I'm not even finish!
4/12. Quiet night until half past five when a car rushed bye. I wake up again at six, just to discover we have a flat tire. Try to pump it, and head on. We have decided to skip breakfast here, and use one of the official picnic places. Unfortunately, there are none at this particular road. Instead, we use a farmers road for one of his giant fields.
Seems like the tire still leaks, so we swap it with one of the spare tiers. Good tool onboard makes is easy, and after breakfast, we head down C27 towards Aus. We are in a cattle-sheep land. The farms are huge, and there are little or none cattle on the fields in the heights, and the farms are huge. Further down, the grass have a slight greenish nuance, and the farms tend to be smaller.
We makes a few stops, and each time, I find a new Cucurbitaceae. One with egg sized, really spiny fruits, one is a melon and one have egg sized fruit with a few, real small spines. There are a huge amount of butterflies, and I discover they are coming out of their cocoons along the road.
I spot a meter and a half meter long snake on the road. When we passes it, it raises it front third and widens out it's neck. Here are three different spitting cobras, and this might be one of them. That means I don't get the close-ups I would like to have, but I get it chased up in a tree, and shoot a few shots.
In Bette we use the gas station, which makes up half of the "town". A pair of small woodpeckers are living in a large Aloe next to the station, and different, large beetles from around can be found n the concrete. we continues, and the landscape remains the same, until we reaches Tirasberge.
A small group of, what I would call black gipsies are camping with their colourful wagons and horsed along the road. We make a stop a bit further in the mountains. I spot a Hoodia curorrii, which is in full flower. Screams from above turns out to be a group of baboons on the mountain ridge. I can hardly see them, but their screams are loud.
We makes a small de-tour to reach Helmeringhausen. It is only five houses, but one turns out to be the shop we need. Real primitive with enormous home made shelves behind the counter, but the large room encounters all the white farmers in a huge area can dream of - except rain.
We buy water for the co-driver and milk for me. An ice cream and a JungleBar, and we push on towards the south and succulent land. It have been raining in some areas, and there are a light greenish shine to be seen. We drive among large, steep gravel hills or maintains, which fits have been buried in fine gravel. That makes vide, completely flat walleyes with a dense cover of grass. A few , low termite mounts are found, but not in the amount I would have thought on these waste plains.
We can still find a few interesting plants on the slopes, but they are hard to access. On one, we find a large Aloe dichotoma, which ells seems to thrive on the ridges. A few column Euphorbias can be found, and one have a Viscum sp. A few skinny Sarcocaulon stands without any leaves nor flowers.
We descent even more, and enter the Lüderitz plain. This is massive cattle land, and among the few interesting things we see, is a giant windmill in a different design. Same farmer have fields with Opuntias. Could be for the fruits?
We drive on a straight road, which seems to last forever. Finally, around three, we reach the big town Aus (which means snake well). The town have a police station, a big church, a hospital, a tourist information, a gasoline station - and around twenty houses.
After having tested their lack of internet, we head out to a camp, three kilometres out of town. Kleine Aus Vista have internet, fancy bungalows and tent site fare away, in a awesome walleye. After a fast cup of coffee, I head for the hills. Here are some walking trails, which seems to be rarely used. I chose the Sunsettrail, which seems to be appropriate, now around four.
It leads me up the rocky hill sides, and I discover three or four Pelargoniums, three Sarcocaulon, several Euphorbias, a Tylecodon with "dollar-leaves" and probably a Tylecodon wallichii, some nice Hoodia carreii and some other succulents and other plants I never have seen before. I walk for a couple of hours, and on the last part, I seen some quite striped mice.
There are a crises in the camp when I returns: One tent is missing. Could be taken out this morning, to search for tools? That is 250 kilometres back of a road with few great entertainments.
5/12. Christmas seems a bit fare away. It is 30C when I wake up to a quire of finks, around six. After breakfast, I give my co-traveller a fast crash-course in left side driving, and send him off to find his tent 250 kilometres gravel road back. I would have used the petrol money to buy a new in Lüderitz, 100 kilometre sealed road away, and use the day to explore the surroundings.
I jump off at the reception, and walk a kilometre back to the camp. Put on boots and hat, and head out on the long Schutstroppe Trail. It leads over the mountain, and follows its foot around some ancient fortresses, build in the occurring rocks. The granite is in different states, some are fine gravel, other as hard as it gets.
The temperature increases to 40C and there are no wind at all. I see few animals, like a bush tailed rat, some striped mice, some weavers, larks, starlings, black crows, falcons, flycatchers and singers. The flies are a bit annoying, but my big hat help.
I find two small Cucurbitaceae and many of the plants from yesterday. Just before I head up over the mountain, I pass a small road with a vintage care left beside. The temperature drops to comfy 35C when I head up hill. The view from the top are breathtaking. The giant Lüderitz plain and remote mountain.
On the other side, temperature raises again, and the sun gain momentum. It is a long but interesting walk back the gorge. I hit the base-camp after four hours, and swap the boots thongs. An other kilometre to the restaurant, and I deserve a cupertino!
Start to sort photos and write text to the photos on this diary (should work, if you hover over each photo). Feel I ought to buy something, while I sit in the restaurant, and order a Oryx-pie with fries. And an other cupertino... Even though the weather is nice, I feel I have done enough walking for one day.
After several cupertinos and some Fantas, I got my photos back-upped, uploaded this diary and watched the striped mice, mousebirds, sunbirds and all the other wildlife that lives in the garden underneath the porch I am sitting on. For 45 minutes of internet, four cupertinos, two Fantas and a oryx pie with fries, I pay 150N$. Might be expensive here, but it is so much cheaper than Denmark.
There are an fantastic view from the porch I'm sitting on. The whole building are a rustic, but real nice design. Huge timber makes up the main constructions while the rest is nature materials, but spotless.
The designated driver for the day comes back after a ten hours road trip - empty handed. I use a long time talking him into driving to Lüderitz tomorrow to buy a new tent. Accordantly to the waiter, it can be purchased for as little as 200-250 N$ - less than half the amount he have spend on gas today. He complained about sleeping without a tent, and we are eventually going to Lüderitz anyway.
Read more in Diary 5