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Namibia 2017: Two Cats on a hot Tin Roof


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michael-ibk

A great start, Alex! Very clever title, and the rainbow shots are just spectacular. Green Namibia is beautiful, just wow! That first lodge looks very posh indeed, must have been quite a change getting on top of the car just one night after. Glad you all seem to have had a splendid time. :)

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There is one saying that we have used to describe our family travels: "The three of us are the best couple!". The three of us meant Zvezda, me and our daughter Tanja. That was a perfect traveling team

To describe the beauty of Deadvlei in early morning light, one has to be much better writer (or poet) than I am. So from here on only photos with captions :   Half in shade half in sun   Black

Day 1 - Chasing the Rainbows     Our Qatar flights were both on time, and it was only 90 minutes on Doha airport, so barely time to get from arrival to departure gate. The DOH is very new and very

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xelas

Hello @@michael-ibk ! How was birding in Burgenland?

 

Barchan Dune Retreat does look nice and upscale but it price does not show it; in fact for what one gets, and dinners on both occassions were delicious, it is an affordable option to break the long drive between Windhoek and Sesriem.

Sleeping on top of the car was always a special treat (but I am sure Zvezda will add her comments when we will meet again ;) ). You have it right, we all have had a splendid time together, again :wub: .

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Towlersonsafari

hurrah! @@xelas another Namibia trip report, looking forward to reading of your adventures.Our only trip to Namibia as mentioned elsewhere was in a front wheel drive honda and we encountered a very very slowly flooding river I think about the same place that you did. Not being in a 4 x 4 I persuaded Jane to get out and walk across the river as we had no idea how deep it was! I did kindly lend her my monopod so she could check for depth as she went along!

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xelas

Welcome, @@Towlersonsafari ! One time that it is good to be a sole driver in the car is when the depth of the river has to be checked :lol::lol: ! This one was shallow, but in Namibia, for most of the visitors (and maybe also for us) wet crossing of a river is a "once in a lifetime" experience :) .

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xelas

A moment to welcome those fellow members and travellers that are also following us: @@MR1980 , @@AndMic , @@inyathi , @@Kavita , @@douglaswise . Thank you very much for your likes (I know majority of them goes to Zvezda).

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MR1980

Love reading this report @@xelas!! Brings back lots of great memories of our trip in 2014, also booked with Gemma and Advanced. Beautiful photography as well... :)

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

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xelas

Good memories fades slow, isn't it so, Michel?! And, do I know that dune you (?) are standing on??

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xelas

Day 3 (part 1): Into the Dunes (the hard way)

 

Booking a place at NWR run Sesriem campsite follow only one idea: to be among the dunes (and at Deadvlei) as soon as possible, best if before sunrise. There are two gates that leads into Sossusvlei: the outer and the inner gate; in between is Sesriem campsite (and other buildings for official use). The outer gate opens at sunrise time, and the inner gate 1 hour before. 24th of April, sunrise is scheduled at 06:15, and the inner gate opening time was set at 05:00. That would be enough time to allow those using the campsite to drive all the way to the 4x2 parking lot, which is 65 km away. The speed is limited to 60 km/h although the road has perfect tar surface.

 

To be ready at 05:00 one should get out of the tent (or precisely, get out and down from the tent) at around 04:15, 04:30 latest. That is when I have set my phone to woke me up. But looking outside I have seen nothing but darkness, and have decided to wait a while for at least some pre-dusk light to appear. Also packing the tent for the first time we were not among the fastest in the camp, and although we have skipped any breakfast or coffee, it was already 05:30 when we passed through the inner gates. Without any stops, and trying to keep the speed within legal limits the sun was already starting to rise when we reached Dune 45.

 

Sun is rising

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Dune 45 in the sunrise light

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15 minutes later we have reached the 4x2 parking lot. There are several vleis in that vicinity, one of them being Hidden Vlei. This is the only direction there is for this vlei; not a surprise it is called Hidden :) as it is quite difficult to find it among the dunes. There were several vehicles already parked here, most of them big 4x4 models. That makes a significant dent in my self-driving confidence; there was also a local driver which would took us to 4x4 parking lot for 80,00 NAD per person (I have not asked him if this price is one-way or return). Anyway, I have gathered all the mental power and decided it is no way having a Hilux and not driving those merger 5 kilometres.

 

Hidden Vlei (somewhere) that way

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First one has to deflate the tires; recommended pressure is 1.4 bar. I did deflate all four tires "over the them" (and later when at gas station in Usakos, they were all at 1.8 bar !!). Then i engaged the 4L gear, squeezed the wheel tightly, and show my best confident face to my ladies! Drive started easily, tracks were not deep at all. Yet quickly everything changes, the sand becoming softer and the tracks deeper. "Momentum is the key, momentum is the key, momentum is the key, ..." was the mantra going on in my head. Soon enough we have arrived at the first stranded car; a young fella looked really miserably while the local rescue team was already working hard to get the car out of deep sand. After first 2 kilometres and after crossing some seriously deep sand my confidence slowly returns, and the grip on the wheel loosen. There were still a couple of hairy moments but after about 15 minutes we have all arrived at the destination.

 

Deflating tires

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Sand tracks at the beginning

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Once at the 4x4 parking lot, the journey is not yet finished. There is at least 20-30 minutes walking till Deadvlei, or more if one is willing to climb Big Daddy. The prize of arriving early is the perfect light and not too many people inside and among trees in Deadvlei.

 

Start of the walk to Deadvlei

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Another vlei which must have had water recently

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Left to Big Daddy, right to Deadvlei

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The Heart of the Desert

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Early bird

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(to be continued)

Edited by xelas
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xelas

To describe the beauty of Deadvlei in early morning light, one has to be much better writer (or poet) than I am. So from here on only photos with captions :) :

 

Half in shade half in sun

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Black on red

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Waiting for Godot?

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Pretty in blue

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Job well done

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Curves

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Shadow selfie

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Exploratores

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Ants climbing on dune

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On our way out we have counted 6 more vehicles being dug deep into the soft sand. Some people have decided to leave the car and to walk towards Deadvlei while others were waiting to be rescued. It must be a lucrative business, towing those unlucky guys back to the firm land. I did not asked how much does it costs, also because it could break my lucky driving charm :lol: . When back on tar road, I have received accolades and congratulations and high fives by my passengers ... and I think I have fully deserved them ^_^ .

Edited by xelas
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janzin

wow, just stunning photos! Zvezda outdid herself :) I really love "Pretty in Blue".

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All I can say, wow! Bravo, Zvezda!

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Atravelynn

It is not only your passengers that are high fiving you, everyone who sees your beautiful photos will too. You even made the "stay on the road" sign look good.

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Peter Connan

Magnificent photos of Deadvlei and the surrounding areas, and well done on getting through the sand in one go Alex!

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xelas

Day 3 (part 2): Meeting with friends

 

 

When Peter Connan announced that Dragocena's first voyage will be through Namibia, it was our goal to meet somewhere along the route. We crossed our paths on the dreadful (for me anyway) C14, his party coming from Swakopmund and my party going to Swakopmund. As it is a barren land most of the time, meeting point was obvious: Solitaire.

 

I have to congratulate both drivers (Peter and me :D ) for being very punctual. Meeting time was set at 11:00 and we both were there within 15 minutes of set time.

 

My task was to take photos of their arrival (as we were there a bit earlier); instead of I took a (shaky and short) video so all I can post are several captures from that video, and a photo of the trailer. I was way too excited too meet&greet Connan's family again, as they are such sweet persons, and the to listen about their adventures, and you can read in his TR that there were many adventures on their trip. Apple crumbles were ordered and eaten, hands shaken and hugs exchanged, and we were on our ways again.

 

 

An Apple Crumble with a Smile

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Adventurers are here!

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post-47185-0-29564600-1496206951_thumb.jpg

 

Famous trailer

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Off they go

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I am so sorry no group photo was taken; however that is a good excuse to meet Peter and his family again, maybe even joining them on one of next adventures :) !

 

 

(to be continued)

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xelas

C14 between Solitaire and Walvis Bay has two faces; while the part between Solitaire and Kuiseb river (and a few kilometres afterward) is scenic enough to keep passengers and driver's attention, second half must be the most boring tract of any road in Namibia, and maybe even in the world. As most used direction is south to north, driving it in the afternoon is a nightmare! Sun is shining right into driver's eyes, unveiling all the damage small rocks has done to the windshield, passengers are mostly sleeping, and driver, is mostly suffering! If not for other reason, this is why next time I will drive from north to south!

 

It started with some nice scenic views, enhanced by those puffy white clouds

 

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Kuiseb river had flowing water

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And this is how the boring part looks like

 

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We did arrived at Swakopmund on time, 4 hrs after starting from Solitaire. After so much driving, I will took a short break in my trip report, and will follow with great interest what other adventures @@Peter Connan and his party have had on the last segment of their trip, reported here: http://safaritalk.net/topic/17384-central-namibia-self-drive-beauty-in-a-harsh-land/page-6 .

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MR1980

Good memories fades slow, isn't it so, Michel?! And, do I know that dune you (?) are standing on??

 

Very slow @@xelas... It's also the place I proposed to my wife so Namibia will always be extra special to me and my wife. You probably know the dune, it's the one next to Ostrich Vlei right before you go up to Big Daddy... :)

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xelas

Proposal in Namibia?! A perfect way to visit the country many times! Those memories will never fade away :wub: !

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Chakra

This "rescue" business of recovering stranded vehicles was doing a booming business when I was there. You definitely deserved a high five. I chickened out and went with NWR trip. I'm impressed that you appear to have done the return trip quite casually. I felt with the sun heating up the sand and making it looser the driving was ten times more difficult. I have never felt more satisfied after taking a photo when I watched the sun spreading across Deadvlei. Even after many yeas it is still the screensaver of my PC.

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Hi Alex and Zvezda,

 

I am enjoying your TR very much and the pics of the dunes are absolutely stunning. Been to Sossusvlei myself 24 years ago but missed out on Dead Vlei - maybe time for a return?

 

Looking forward to the rest of you trip.

 

Andreas

Edited by AndMic
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xelas

This "rescue" business of recovering stranded vehicles was doing a booming business when I was there. You definitely deserved a high five. I chickened out and went with NWR trip. I'm impressed that you appear to have done the return trip quite casually. I felt with the sun heating up the sand and making it looser the driving was ten times more difficult. I have never felt more satisfied after taking a photo when I watched the sun spreading across Deadvlei. Even after many yeas it is still the screensaver of my PC.

 

 

"Even after many years ..." to me it looks like it is time to start planning another visit to Namibia, @@Chakra !

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xelas

Hi Alex and Zvezda,

 

I am enjoying your TR very much and the pics of the dunes are absolutely stunning. Been to Sossusvlei myself 24 years ago but missed out on Dead Vlei - maybe time for a return?

 

Looking forward to the rest of you trip.

 

Andreas

 

" ... - maybe time for a return?" absolutely, and if you are looking for an experienced driver ...

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Peter Connan

@@xelas, I wish I knew how you manage to make landscapes this good in the middle of the day!

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xelas

It was not me, @@Peter Connan ... it was Mother Nature with a little help by Zvezda ... and a moderate use of CP-L filter :D !

 

Light is harsh midday but scenery in no less beautiful. Colours and shapes are there just waiting to be captured.

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MR1980

Proposal in Namibia?! A perfect way to visit the country many times! Those memories will never fade away :wub: !

 

Yes @@xelas I had arranged a 2 night stay at Hoodia Desert Lodge (close to Sossuvlei), but my wife thought we were going camping where you have camped, so that was already a suprise for her. At the first evening the two of us were driven to a hill with an incredible view, where a table was ready with some snacks, drinks, champagne etc. After installing us the driver left and we had the most amazing sunset all to ourselves... And she still didn't expect anything... That was the moment I had been waiting for and I proposed... :) After I had arranged all this she couldn't say no anymore of course... ;)

 

So definitively a reason to come back some day...

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xelas

@@MR1980 , that is another fairy tale; Hoodia Lodge is known for its mesmerising views and sundowners. There must be an anniversary close, to celebrate it in Namibia :wub: !

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