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A Journey deep into the Namib Desert


Ritsgaai

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Ritsgaai

Hello dear ST friends. 

 

In April we have been on a  trip as a family to traverse through the Namib Desert from the east until we reached the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The purpose was not only to discover the beauty of the desert, but to also enjoy time in a very unique and special environment with our loved ones, which included our children and grandchildren. Visiting a desert with four children aged between two and seven years might sound like madness to a lot of people, but this was not our first time doing this - so we knew the freedom and joy they would discover.  :D

 

So, that said, I realize that this trip report will not be for everybody on the forum  and even more so because wild live was scarce. :( Namibia is currently experiencing their eighth year of drought and is extremely dry. 

 

However, should you enjoy beautiful landscapes and lots of adrenaline (dune driving :o:lol:), you are most welcome to join me as I take you along into a breathtaking environment with lots of action.

 

The group...our family in front of the 3 vehicles to the right.

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A peep into some of the action. 

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Magnificent views from one of the overnight camps.

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I hope this was enough to wet your appetite for more. B)

 

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Hello dear ST friends.    In April we have been on a  trip as a family to traverse through the Namib Desert from the east until we reached the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The purpose was not

Thank you for your interest, @Caracal, @Treepol and @Atravelynn.    Since the time we did a similar tour three years ago, my husband dreamed of doing this tour with our three sons and their f

With about 220 kilometers left to Solitaire, we had enough time on hand to admire the beautiful landscape as we traveled from Betta and later through the Namibrand Nature Reserve.     

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Treepol

@Ritsgaai fabulous start and looking forward to more!

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Atravelynn
On 5/18/2019 at 6:36 PM, Caracal said:

It's wetted my appetite @Ritsgaai!

ha ha

 

What a family adventure!

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Ritsgaai

Thank you for your interest, @Caracal, @Treepol and @Atravelynn:)

 

Since the time we did a similar tour three years ago, my husband dreamed of doing this tour with our three sons and their families some time in the future. So, in May 2018 the trip was booked with Live the Journey - who holds a concession in the Namib Naukluft Park - for their "Faces of the Namib" tour. A few months later our youngest son and his wife learnt that she was pregnant, :D which meant that they couldn't go anymore. As the deposit was paid, the rest of the family decided to still do it. It was sad to leave them behind but their new baby girl is due in about 2 weeks time! :wub:

 

This was the second time that we undertook this adventure with Live the Journey. On the previous occasion our experience was excellent and we can only commend them again. They included the following in their tour package: 

An experienced guide team consisting of three guides in two vehicles with recovery equipment for on-site recovery.

Two-way communication radios for all the participating vehicles.

Breakfast and dinner.

Communal kitchen, camp showers and chemical toilets.

Accommodation for the first night (camping) and the last night (chalet) in Walvis Bay.

 

Due to business commitments the focus of the trip was solely on the desert excursion with no extra days available apart from the road trip to get there and straight back home at the end. The meeting point for the tour was at Solitaire and the shortest way there from Johannesburg is through Botswana taking the Kalahari Highway - just under 1 600 kilometers. :blink: However, taking into consideration that we will have to drive that boring stretch of road twice, we decided to approach Solitaire from the south via Upington, which was about 200 kilometers further, but with the advantage of seeing the Fish River Canyon en-route.

 

Another BIG consideration that determined the dynamics of our planning, was having small children with us who needed regular stops and play

time. We allowed three days to get there and three days for the return trip. Some of the days was still a bit long for the kiddies, but all in all they did very well and enjoyed it tremendously. 

 

Our itinerary looked as follows:

30/3/19 Upington - 760 km

31/3/19 Bethanie - 650 km

01/4/19 Solitaire -  430 km

2 - 6/4/19 Namib Tour  - 550 km 

07/4/19 Gobabis - 580 km

08/4/19 Kang - 530 km

09/4/19 Johannesburg - 640 km

 

Time for introductions... as you are going to see and hear a lot from all of us. B)

 

The Kiddies 

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The Parents

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The Grandparents

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The Work Horses

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Peter Connan

Die lyk lekker!

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Ritsgaai

I suppose that I also need to mention which items we needed to pack for the desert section of the trip apart from personal luggage, toiletries, first aid kit, snacks for lunch, cold drinks, drinking water and some toys for the children.

 

We had to sleep in our own tent for 5 nights. So that meant a tent (as small as possible), sleeping bags and pillows needed packing.

 

Each car had to carry a tyre pressure gauge, air compressor and all kinds of spares; drive belts; oils; fuses; fire extinguisher;  two spare wheels and jerry cans for the required amount of fuel for the duration of the desert trip. We filled up in Solitaire and the next fuel stop was at Walvis Bay five days later. We carried 140 litres total in our vehicle.

 

60 Litres of water per vehicle of which 20 litres was donated to the guide-team for use in the kitchen and the remainder was for personal shower water.

 

4 Bags of firewood per vehicle for the communal campfire.

 

We had to take all garbage out with us.

 

This said, keep in mind that our aim still was to keep the vehicles as light as possible to make dune driving lots of fun in stead of one big  nightmare. :unsure:

 

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Ritsgaai
11 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Die lyk lekker!

Kan dit defnitief aanbeveel. :)

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Treepol

@Ritsgaai congratulations on the imminent arrival of your grand-daughter. This trip looks to be a fun family time, despite some very long days.

 

Thanks for the itinerary, something to think about for 2021, especially the N10/B3 link. Live the journey booked part of our 2014 safari and we were very pleased with the organisation, I'm off to look at their website for organised departure ideas as I didn't know they had a concession in Namib Naukluft Park. Can't wait to see the work horses getting into the trip!

 

 

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xelas

You have me in the back seat already, @Ritsgaai! Don't spare with details ... and with more info about the organiser. I know for a person in South Africa that has a very good 4x4, but this vehicle prefers arid conditions, after its last journey :D! If more would be interested, like @Treepol then we could arrange for a pure ST group in 2021 :huh:?

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Ritsgaai
11 hours ago, Treepol said:

@Ritsgaai congratulations on the imminent arrival of your grand-daughter. This trip looks to be a fun family time, despite some very long days.

 

Thanks for the itinerary, something to think about for 2021, especially the N10/B3 link. Live the journey booked part of our 2014 safari and we were very pleased with the organisation, I'm off to look at their website for organised departure ideas as I didn't know they had a concession in Namib Naukluft Park. Can't wait to see the work horses getting into the trip!

 

 

Thank you! The due date is in 15 days time. :)

 

It certainly was a lot of fun and even during the long days on the road we chatted a lot between cars over the 2-way radios. Sometimes the kids used the 2-way radio to play a silly little guess game where they give the first letter of an object they see and the rest of the group must guess what it is. That certainly helped to keep them occupied for long stretches of road.

 

It is very interesting to hear about your previous experience with Live the Journey, @Treepol. Apart from our own experience, we have also received good reports from other people. 

Are you still planning to do a Namaqualand trip?

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Ritsgaai
16 hours ago, xelas said:

You have me in the back seat already, @Ritsgaai! Don't spare with details ... and with more info about the organiser. I know for a person in South Africa that has a very good 4x4, but this vehicle prefers arid conditions, after its last journey :D! If more would be interested, like @Treepol then we could arrange for a pure ST group in 2021 :huh:?

 

@xelas, with all the off-road experience you have, dune driving will be easy peasy for you! :D

And arid it is for sure... so no excuses. :rolleyes:

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Atravelynn

Your kids look ready for some adventure.

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Treepol

@Ritsgaai the 2021 safari is my friend's retirement safari so she has the final decision on the itinerary which is primarily to be spent in Namibia (Swakop, Kaokoland, Kunene, Caprivi, Etosha, Sossusvlei, D707, Luderitz, Fish River Canyon). There are a couple of South African destinations included and we are currently planning 2-3 days at West Coast NP followed by 3 nights at Papkuilsfontein - thanks for the recommendation. I am also thinking about overlanding from Fish River Canyon on the B3 and N10 to KTP (another great idea, thanks) and then the N10 all the way to Mountain Zebra NP.

 

Unfortunately, we won't be self-driving however, one day I would really like to be a passenger in a ST trip in southern Africa.

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Ritsgaai

Wow! 

It sounds like an epic trip you are planning for 2021, @Treepol! Enjoy the planning...to  me it is such a pleasurable part as well. 

 

By the sounds of it there seems to be quite a bit of interest in a self-drive ST trip through Southern Africa... and a very possible one too! We would love to be part of it. :D

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Ritsgaai

Day 1 - Johannesburg to Upington. (760 km; 10 hours)

 

The plan was to depart at 07h00, but unfortunately we had to take a detour to do some drop-offs at  a friend's farm. The result was that we only really got going at 09h30.

 

We passed through these beautiful sunflower fields on the way.

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There was a lot of bantering on the 2-way radios between vehicles and the kilometers flew past. We had a number of pit-stops along the way and we realized once again - the bigger the convoy, the longer the pit-stop. ;) 

 

We planned to stop at Red Sands Country Lodge (10 kilometers outside of Kuruman) for lunch. They have a good restaurant and playground. We knew beforehand that their kitchen would close at 14h00 on Saturdays to prepare the buffet for the evening. We realized that we were running late and phoned them about an hour before our expected arrival and asked if they would be able to serve us lunch later. They were very accommodating and took our food order over the phone. A table was waiting for us on arrival and lunch was served soon thereafter. The kiddies had a ball running around, before we tackled the last 3 hour stretch of road to Upington.

 

The striking mosaic emblem of Red Sands Country Lodge seen inside the restaurant.

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We filled up at Kathu. The kids were impressed by the monster-sized mining trucks next to the filling station.

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Teamwork is required to transfer diesel from the Cruiser roof rack to the tank.

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Always very happy to see each other again at every stop!!! :lol::lol:

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Our first  sleep-over: Libby's Lodge, Upington.

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xelas

Always nice to see young kids being so excited! Drive from Jo'burg to Upington, with all stops, how many hours?

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Ritsgaai
11 minutes ago, xelas said:

Drive from Jo'burg to Upington, with all stops, how many hours?

 

It was 10 hours all in all. We arrived 18h30 at the B&B.

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Ritsgaai

Day 2 - Upington to Bethanie (650 km; 10 hours) 

 

It was another long day lying ahead and we were back on the road straight after breakfast.

 

The last stretch before reaching the Namibian border.

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We reached border control at Nakop around 10h00 and as it was not busy, we cleared both sides within about 40 minutes.

 

The square of green lawn at the border.IMG_0502.JPG.4606d6e635663a793f3e8ca11558a99d.JPG

 

It felt good to be back in Namibia - land of big, open spaces, wide, blue skies and long stretches of good gravel roads. :D It took us around 3 hours to reach Canyon Road House were we had a fairly long and relaxed lunch break. There is a lot to see if you like old things and automobiles and the food is very good.

 

Entrance to Canyon Roadhouse, a familiar landmark in southern Namibia.

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What is this?!!

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I better do a thorough inspection...

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Hads

Looks like a little mechanic in the making @Ritsgaai - lovely your report so far.

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Ritsgaai

Thank you for the kind comment, @Hads.

 

One would not expect it, but the children spent quite a lot of time to inspect the old vehicles and It was amazing to see their interest. 

 

Herewith a few more photos...just for fun. :)

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Ritsgaai

About 15 minutes down the road from The Canyon Roadhouse we entered the gates to the Fish River Canyon, the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. We only had a few precious minutes (about 90) to enjoy the magnificent views and not at the best time of day as well. With our previous visit we viewed the canyon with sunset and sunrise, and the shift of the shadows presented the most amazing contrasts. Still, it was breathtakingly beautiful!

 

The second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa.

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Ritsgaai

An already long day was getting even longer as our journey for the day was not yet done. Another 200 kilometers would bring us to the Bethanie Hotel and Guesthouse for our second sleep-over.

 

The C12 made a fork and we unfortunately chose to go past the Seeheim Hotel, which was a major mistake,  as the road deteriorated badly and we could only average a speed of about 30 km/h. Using this road added another 45 minutes to our travel time. :huh: :o

Later we learned from the hotel owner that this section of the road is not being maintained any more. :(

 

Just checking that everything is still securely tied on the roof rack.

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A spectacular Namibian sunset!

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Arriving much later than expected, our friendly hosts welcomed us warmly and a lovely supper was waiting for us. 

Edited by Ritsgaai
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xelas

Namibia has such fantastic sunsets! and sunrises are not far behind also. Unmaintained gravel road ... what a nightmare that one can be. 

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Ritsgaai

I totally agree with both statements, @xelas.

But wait for the next nightmare I'm about to post!!! :ph34r:

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