23rd November 2013 Left Cape Town and headed north to the Namaqua National Park. I thought I must have missed the last left turn and ended up at Oodnadatta. It was a bit basic on first impression, however after settling in had a nice braai in front of a rural panorama.
24th November 2013 In the morning we took the back road to the town of Springbok and practiced our orienteering in the remote parts of Namaqua, which has a sparse beauty. This was practice for Mongolia. We reached Namibia mid afternoon with brief formalities. Small anecdote coming up. We had received our visa and had the Carnet stamped and were informed that we had to pay a road levy. Small problem. No money. “That’s OK,” said the customs man, “I will come with you to the garage down the road to an ATM”. He wanted to get his lunch and so we drove to the garage to find the ATM. “Out of order” on the screen. No money available at the checkout and the cashier informed me that the nearest ATM was 300 kilometres away. “Oh no”. My customs man stepped in and it turned out that the aforementioned ATM was in fact 300 metres away. Got the money. He got his lunch.
We and continued to Ai-Ais National Park. The temperature was 50 degrees centigrade outside but by 8.30pm had decreased to a cool 36 degrees. Judy fainted into my arms in the restaurant from heat exhaustion, but came around quickly just as I was about to clear her airway, recovered, and we continued the meal as if nothing had happened.
Approaching Ai-Ais was stunning. Firstly 80K,s of desert, excellent dirt road, and then huge rock formations that resembled gigantic gravel quarries, very not of this planet.
29th November 2013 I am now sitting looking out across the desert of the Skeleton Coast. We arrived at the gates of the Skeleton Coast National Park half an hour after they closed for the day, 3pm. The officer who mans this outpost has allowed us to camp here, thanks to Judy’s powers of persuasion, next to his house overnight, until the gates open tomorrow at 7.30am.
Namibia has been 99% desert so far and I mean desert. Very little grows here, not like the Simpson Garden back in Oz.
Backtracking now just a little. We have been to the Fish River Canyon, which was spectacular, being the second biggest canyon in the world, I always thought it was Glen Davis near Newnes back in NSW.
We stopped at Sossusvlei and saw huge dunes at sunrise with unbelievable colours. The big one was as big as a sixty-storey skyscraper, which we climbed not. We did climb a smaller one though, named Deadvlei (vlei means marsh).
Limped into Walvis Bay having experienced a really bad stretch of 800 Ks. One tyre almost bald at 6000 K’s of its life and a flat on the other side. The basic wage here is 5 Nabimian dollars per hour or 50 cents in our money, so to fix a puncture and change another wheel cost me 55 cents.
Onwards to Swakopmund, a top tourist destination of Namibia, with luxury to be seen everywhere. Our campsite had it’s own on suite, even had grass.
The last 230 K’s to get up here to the Skeleton coast has been sand and a grey, green Atlantic ocean with a constant haze which sometimes makes it hard to discern the horizon, and, it is only about 20 degrees. Surprising to me, as we are quite a way north of the Tropic of Capricorn. This stretch is bleak and I can imagine a shipwreck survivor would have had no chance. There are many shipwrecks here.
We came upon a colony of seals at Cape Cross during birthing season with lots of young already flopping about. You could walk along a fenced boardwalk where the seals were all around, literally at our feet. There was even a seal on the boardwalk but I think it was dead, didn’t want to get too close to it though, in case it woke up. In fact there were quite a few dead ones amongst the 100,000 or more of them. The stench was stupendous and I could only take it for a few minutes. Sitting here in the warm afternoon sun has turned into quite a chill now at 6pm: that’s a desert for you.