Cape Town to Swakopmund
12.02.2011 - 19.02.2011 40 °C
On Saturday evening (12th Feb) we met up with Bjorn, our guide for the next 3 weeks, and the group we are travelling with. We were pleased to discover that there are only 7 of us on a truck for 24 people.
We left Cape Town early on Sunday morning and headed for the Cederberg Mountains where we spent the first night camped in a winery. Our tent is dome shaped and very easy to put up as there are no tent pegs! The first night, we discovered that one section of the roof is netting instead of canvas, so we lay in our sleeping bags looking at the stars and spotting the Southern Cross.
Monday, we drove 600km and crossed the border into Namibia. We camped on the banks of the Orange River looking across at South Africa opposite us. The temperature was around 40 degrees, and our group congregated in and around the pool during the evening, drinking G&T to keep away the mosquitoes (there's something in the tonic they don't like - honestly!) and trying to cool down sufficiently to sleep. Thankfully, we haven't had another day as hot so far.
On Tuesday, we saw our first wildlife, and since then, spotting zebras, springboks, oryxes and ostriches from the truck has become a regular occurrence. In the evening, we watched the sun set over Fish River Canyon, a beautiful setting which rivals the Grand Canyon in scale - 160km in length, 27km wide in places, and 550m in depth.
Most of the way we have been travelling on unmade dirt roads. Because the country is so dry, 90% of the roads have not been tarred. When there is heavy rain (as there has been recently) the water washes over the roads which are not passable in places until a digger comes by to 'rebuild' them. Driving along is fairly comfortable but every now and then, we are all thrown through the air as the truck finds a way through a place where there is water damage.
We had a very early start on Wednesday as there were rumours that the road we needed to take wasn't passable, and the only alternative was a 300km detour! We did manage to get through the 'short' way although at one point we were diverted to drive across the top of a dam because a concrete bridge had collapsed in the rain! That afternoon, we arrived in Sesriem on the edge of the Namib Desert.
Thursday morning found us climbing Dune 45, one of the large red sand dunes in the area, in the dark, ready to watch the sunrise. From there, we drove to the oasis at Sossusvlei and switched to 4x4s for the final 5km. Because of the rain, there was water in the oasis for the first time in 6 years and we saw shrimp and catfish whose eggs lie dormant in the mud for years until the rain brings them to life. Learning about the geology of how an oasis forms and dies when the dunes join together and cut off the water supply was very interesting, and we enjoyed a very hot walk, visiting a deadvlei (a dried up oasis)
After a night in Solitaire, the smallest town in Namibia with 22 inhabitants (you have to have a petrol station, store, post office and accommodation to be classed as a town - that was all there was!) we drove to Swakopmund, the adrenaline centre of Southern Africa! We're enjoying a rest and sleeping in a proper bed, but we could be busy skydiving, quad biking or sandboarding if the mood took us.
We are really enjoying overlanding so far. We are with a nice group of people and although we're all quite different we seem to be getting on well so far. Honore, the cook, seems to magic tasty meals out of nowhere, so we're eating better than we expected!
The adventure resumes on Monday and we will blog again when we can.