From Diary 7
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.
21/12. Slow start on the day, and a big bill: 120 N$ per person. We head out C22 to reach Wattenberg. There is a small and a big table mountain, and the small reminds somehow of Masada in Israel. The greater mountain is accessed through the Wattenberg Plateau Park. On the way, we passes a termite mount in the middle of a newly renovated gravel road. They most be fast builders!
A small and rough track leads from the well-build bungalows up the hill side. It gets steeper and steeper, and through a ravine, it leads to the top.
The vegetation is lush, and seems to remain green throughout the year. No succulents, but some interesting insects, like the huge dung beetles. I shoot a lot of photos, and finally get one with it's wings spread out. They seems clumsy on the ground, but they are surprisingly good flyers.
I walk back to the car to sort out some photos. I keep one copy on me and one in the car, either on the PC or on a stick. I brought around 35 GB external memory on top of the little 15 GB on the PC, and it seems to be slightly too little. Have to take the 4 GB MP3 player in use as well. The photos are 3072x2304 pixels, and average 3,3 MB. After two hours, I make coffee, and just sit and relax.
The rest of the day, we just drive south-west with any plan. Makes a few stops when I see some interesting bulbs, or my co-explorer wants to check out a mountain - which always seems to lush and with no "interesting plants". We passes Omaruru, Karibib by the small roads and ends up in Usakos by B1.
At one point in the afternoon, we end up in a private game farm. There is a sign warning about rhinos, but we only find a group of six giraffes. Out the same way we came in, and while dark clouds gather, we see some interesting mountains, which have to wait until tomorrow. 50 kilometres down B1 to find a "right" campsite; Namib Wüste Farmstal, which we end up at in pitch black, half pass eight. It looks like rain, and I put up my tent under a roof to the toilets: Let it rain!
Once again, we are real close to the major road, but at least not on a steep decent. Then again; at least it have open. We are alone, although we have tried some camp sites this afternoon which had closed. Low season and Christmas, I guess.
22/12. Once again, we have been lucky with the weather, we wake up in dry tents. Back through Karibib and out C33 again, 40 kilometres back to where we left yesterday. Along the road, on a dry field, I see a common stork. The first little hill we explorer, is a loos sandstone gravel hill. Here are big column Aloes, a tiny little bulb with white flowers, a turtle (this time on the fields), and as a new feature, a single stem Euphorbia.
We walk to the next hill which contains of grey marble, which have been sandblasted. In a flowering bush, numerous colourful beetles are eating the flowers. On the hill are some real fat Malvaceae trees, two kind of Commiphoras and two Cucurbitaceaes. Right next to this hill, a massive hill build of different coloured marble blocks host some of the same plants.
We drive a kilometre, and this time we find a sandstone hill with a lot of Moringas, but nothing else of interest. Back through Karibib and out D1992, which leads to a giant granite hill. Here are some medium sized Cyphostemma currori, and a lot of bushes like Acacia and Commiphora and a few Moringas. This is a slightly dryer area than we have explored the last couple of days, and it even looks like it is drying out now.
Back through Karibib again, and out D1952. It gets even dryer, but without any succulents except a few Hoodias, we have seen before. Into the blind but long D1914, and now it is almost desert. The fields are still fenced, but there are a significant distance between the straws of grass. Unfortunately, the gabs in-between have not been filled with succulents. A marble quarry cuts deep inside some hills, but it seems to be of little value due to cracks.
We are on the backside of Naukluft National Park, and not more than a hundred kilometres from Welwitschia Drive, but here are just nothing interesting. We even try a F road, leading 25 kilometres to a single farm. One defiantly highlight for me is a large monitor. It try to sneak away on its belly, and when that fails, it stay put.
At half pass four, my co-driver is tired, and we call it a day. Back to the same camp in Usakos, which we know are open. I'm a bit bored, and decides to treat my selves with an early Christmas dinner. I think the gemsboks looks marvellous, and then they must taste great too, right? Unfortunately they are out, and I have to be satisfied with a chicken gordon bleu. Not bad at all. The co-driver saves his money; It is after all two days of bought drinking water, of which I pay half. I still only drinking the local water, never mind where we are, and I haven't had any problems yet.
23/12. My co-driver insists on going back to Windhoek already now, although we have three more full days to explore. We take the scenic C32 and C28 through Khomas Hochland and Bosva Pass. Here are too fertile for succulents, except some Hoodias and in the pass; Cyphostemma currori. We are among enormous hills with green grass and flowering bushes. We only make a few photo stops, but the 300 kilometre tour takes until two o'clock. I find two "new" bulbs, of which one is interesting.
The usual official office and then British Airways to check the luggage limitations. I have it on my ticket, but he was told something else in the airport on his way out. Then I drive him to a supermarket, and do a little safety shopping my selves. Guess I got enough, but I'll hate to be short on coffee the last day!
Then it is time for internet. I didn't plan to up-load, but might as well do it, while I am waiting. Only takes half an hour, and I go back to watch the car and write a bit of diary. I would have loved to see the botanical garden, but it is six o'clock when he is finish at the internet cafe, and it apparently had to be done first, even though they first close around nine or ten.
I have found a camping site nearby, in Kleine Windhoek, the originally settlement, which should be quiet. I need that, my defect air madras is not comfortable at all! I sleep on my fleece jacket, but it is fare from the same as eight centimetres of air. Well, it is not going to be there. Apparently, they only have room for roof tents?!
The next campsite in Windhoek is supposed to be in the industrial quarter, but we don't find it anyway. We are running out of options, and ends up between the highway and the airport once again. Good thing is, there is a thick grass lawn to sleep on. It is the low season, and the few places which normally should be found around here, are closed for renovation or just season in general.
Security seems to be taken serious. Well uniformed guards are stationed and patrolling the premises, and there are a lot of them. Either this means is is safe, or that they have a serious problem around here. In bigger towns, there are a guard stationed in front of every ATM, some stores and closed companies. Guess they come cheap in those areas with 70% unemployment.
24/12. A real windy night interrupt the sleep even more than the airport and the highway. That causes a bit slow start on the day, and we only reaches the National Botanical Garden half pass nine. It is next to the National Botanical Research Institute, rather central in the capital.
The garden contains of a very well composed and maintained shadow house with desert plants and a 12 hectare garden. The garden is made up with undisturbed sections and more cultivated areas. We start with the succulents in the shadow house, getting names on those we have seen and not been sure of the right identity for.
I'm a faster photographer, and take the long stalk in the garden. Here, I find a few more names, before I ask for a capacity on Welwitschia at the institute. Unfortunately, they don't have anyone on that subject, but I get a interesting chat with one of the employees.
We are interrupted by my co-photographer, wanting the key for the car. I wish them a nice Christmas, and after two hours, am through with the botanical garden. No one at the car, and I get to wait an hour for him to pop up. Then he makes coffee - twice - while playing with his phone, before I can drive him around town.
At half pass one, we starts the search for a less noisy campsite. The one I have right out side town turns out to be closed, but an other one - five kilometres nearer to the B1 highway - have open, The Stop Over. Can't lure my co-explorer out the camp in the afternoon, and waste yet an other half day.
While he refill his drinking bottle, I discover what looks like snow flakes in it. It also occurs in his big, bought container, and I'm glad I don't drink it. I have been happy with the tap water all the way, although it is a bit chloride in Windhoek.
At four, we drive out to find some nature, but due to the late time of day, it is more the suborns we explorer. We give up, and returns to base-camp. I start servicing the car and do some clean-up in our stuff. We have bought a few things we didn't need, but in general, only the emergency stuff are unused.
It is, after Danish custom, Christmas eve, and while the co-explorer makes bananas fried in Calvados, I treat my selves with an extra cup of coffee. Here are even a Christmas tree, standing on the porch of the camp owner. At half pass eight, it is still 34C, and with the fleece on (to protect against the mosquitoes) I can't complain.
25/12. Some noise from the road, but the peacock, roasters, geese and goats are able to drown it. My completely flat madras on top, and I get a short nights sleep! My co-explorer wants to visit a succulent passionate in Windhoek, but won't call before ten. That gives me three hours to sit around in the cam.
We head into town at half pass ten, and quite easy find this lovely lady and her truly fantastic garden. It is literally stuffed with cacti and other succulents. Some of the local plants, some from the rest of the world. She have a great knowledge about what she have and how to treat is, and it is really a pleasure to have meet her. I take a series of photos, and will eventually make a page with her collection.
After a couple of interesting hours, we drive back through the nice and rather green townships. It is too late to head out for some interesting areas, and everything is closed due to boxing day. We find The Stop Over once again, and spend the rest of the day relaxing and getting things sorted.
We have been driving 10371 kilometres throughout this magnificent country, and seen some of it's natural wonders and fascinating and unique plants. I have taken 8900 photos, of which 5000 have made it through the first quality scan. I have a huge work in front of me, sorting and naming them, but eventually, they should appear on the Photo page, and some on my Caudiciform page.
The weather have been on our side, we have had a bit of rain, but never during the night, and I appreciate that, sleeping in a single layer, cheap tent! There are still a lot to be seen and experienced, and this is one of the few countries, I would like to return to.
Back at base-camp, I spend half an hour packing my gear for flight handling, and the rest of the evening at the PC. Make sure I have two copies of all, one in the carry-on bag, one in the large luggage. Make a few pages with photos from The National Botanical Garden and one with photos from Inge's lovely garden.
26/12. The day of departure. I'm kind of looking forward to a good nights sleep in the flight. These nights on a deflated air madras, surrounded with with noisy people and animals are starting to wear me down.
I clean our kitchen gear and sort out the trunk. Some stuff to hand over to the car owner, some in the bin. Cleaning the frizz once again along with table and gas stow. Get my electrical inventions removed, and servicing the car once again. Meanwhile, my co-driver try to get his gear packed in it's bags. Shower and coffee for me, and then downtown at ten to buy some postcards. Pretty much all is closed, but he finally find the wanted motives, and we hand in the car for inspection at eleven at Kalahari Car Rental, which I truly can recommend.
My co-pilot had negotiated the price to 14700 N$, and that sticks. The car have not suffered in any way, and was indeed in god conditions. Considered how much we have driven, and in which terrain, I'm pleased! Within the last six years, I have been driving 65.000 kilometres in left side, 10.000 in right. I'm pretty sure I will head for the passenger side next time I'm going to drive in Denmark....
We get driven out to the airport right away, and that leaves me three and a half hour to wait, and him time enough to get around 100 N$ refunded in tax. My big bag weight 22,8 kilos, but that is with big boots, flees and the lot. Bit close to the maximum on 23 kilos, but I'm not going to carry it for more than 150 metres. I send my neighbour a mail: Please turn up the heat in my home!
It is a quiet airport this time of year, only seven flights today. Two hours, and we land in Johannesburg, where I'm have to find use for the last 100 Rand bill: Coffee and candy. Four and a half hour, and then off to London. Three hours more, and next destination is Copenhagen. Morten waits in the airport, and he drops me off at home, arrivaling slightly used after 30 hours on the move, in a dark and cold part of the world.
The price for so