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A Journey deep into the Namib Desert


Ritsgaai

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Ritsgaai
13 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

Those pictures  of the cars against  the massive dunes  are spectacular  @Ritsgaai

 

Thank you.

Writing about this and going through the photos makes me feel excited all over again. :D

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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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Peter Connan

Those dunes are MASSIVE!

 

Stunning photos.

 

Where is Olifantsbad? I only know of the one in Etosha, and it doesn't look like that!

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xelas

Wow, your vehicles looks like child toys in the sandbox! Those were some excellent places to do sandboarding. 

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Ritsgaai
On 7/19/2019 at 6:12 PM, Peter Connan said:

 

Where is Olifantsbad? I only know of the one in Etosha, and it doesn't look like that!

 

Thank you! 

 

Yes, the name is similar to the one in Etosha, but this is a semi-permanent camp erected for the exclusive use of Live the Journey on this tour. Apparently somebody once remarked that a herd of elephant would enjoy taking a dust bath here.  :lol:

 

With the "Faces of the Namib" tour they use the camp for 2 nights. For a change, we enjoyed staying at the same camp site for two nights in a row.

The shadow netting round the kitchen area provided great comfort as a windbreaker. This campsite is not far from the ocean and the breeze can be quite cool. There are also two toilet structures and two shower cubicles - both a luxury considering the location!!!! ;)

 

 

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Ritsgaai
On 7/23/2019 at 3:30 PM, xelas said:

Those were some excellent places to do sandboarding. 

 

Your are so right, but sadly we did not pack any. :wacko:

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Ritsgaai

Day 7 - From Olifantsbad Camp to the Atlantic Ocean and back

 

A totally different and very interesting day was waiting to unfold. There was no need to break camp as we would return for another night at Olifantsbad. The guides advised us to get rid of any unnecessary weight on the vehicles. They had something up their sleeves. 

 

Before departure, the kids had fun with the resident jackals.

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This one slipped into our tent during breakfast. Thank heavens he did not leave more than hair on our bedding!!!

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The first glimpse of the Atlantic and time to pose for a group photo.

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Impressive dunes provided us with plenty of opportunities to play and test driving skills learned over the past three days. 

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A sequence of photos showing the Fortuner flying through a massive hole...  Down and up and coming back again. Heeee-haaaa!!!! B)

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Ritsgaai

We were thrilled by the ever-changing scenery and beautiful landscapes.

 

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Soon we found the first signs of the historic diamond rush more than a century ago.6.jpg.703e3f57ab063f97f0058c8314548a93.jpg

 

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One extremely rusted Lister engine!

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The boys made some other interesting discoveries.

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A minute museum erected by The Windhoek Underwater Club, containing items found in the abandoned mining area. 

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Ritsgaai

We visited the abandoned mining settlements of Charlottenfelder, Holsatia and Grillenberger situated in the area between Conception Bay and Meob Bay. 

 

The eerie-looking landscape of the ghost mining settlement

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The settlements were established during the early 1900s. They had no engine-driven transportation to bring supplies and mining equipment during the first fifteen years. Equipment was shipped from Swakopmund to Sandwich Harbour, Conception and Meob Bay. Oxwagon fitted with special wide iron bands was the only transportation available in the sandy desert conditions. A light railway line and an 80-kilometer pipeline linking the settlements were constructed in 1913. In November 1914 all people were requested to stop operations as an invasion of Allied  troops was expected.  During 1920 four companies  started up again, but the average diamond found here was much smaller than those south of Luderitz Bay. In 1932 the price of diamonds dropped dramatically and these settlements were left to sun, wind and sand.

 

Hand-operated sieve jigs 

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Crossing a section of the 80-kilometer long pipeline.

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Buildings being reclaimed by the desert.

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At some places the sand is reaching to roof structure level.

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I was amazed to see how long timber lasts in the harsh environment. 

 

Leaving history behind...towards more history...

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...but first it was time for lunch...

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... and there was always time to play. :lol:

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Treepol

@Ritsgaai your TR really showcases the isolation and grandeur of coastal Namibia, those 4WDs look like ants against the dunes! How fascinating to wander around the early diamond mines of this area - the photos look as though your family are the first visitors in a long time.

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Ritsgaai

Hi @Treepol.

 

Yes, it was really amazing to explore these remote regions. We realize that only a few people get the opportunity to enjoy such an amazing experience and are grateful for the privilege.

 

I believe that there are regular  - once or twice per month -  groups visiting the area through the tour operator, but with the constant wind in the desert, one is guaranteed a desolate looking environment every time.

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Ritsgaai

The Skeleton Coast is a strip of desolate, unforgiving earth with heavy fog that spills off the land most mornings and has several thousand shipwrecked vessels strewn across the vast coastline, of which most has been completely destroyed by the harsh sun, constant wind and battering waters - one might say a ship graveyard of sorts.

 

Our next stop was at the Eduard Bohlen, perhaps one of the most well known shipwrecks in Namibia, largely  as a result of its strange location.

 

Strangely, far from the shoreline, this victim of the Skeleton Coast appeared like it was plopped in the middle of the desert.

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The Eduard Bohlen was due to offload equipment for the diamond diggers near Conception Bay on her voyage from Swakopmund to Table Bay. 


On 5 September 1909,  trapped within a veil of heavy fog, the Eduard Bohlen ran aground on a sandbank about 100 meters from the beach, close to Conception Bay. Fortunately nobody drowned when she stranded. Some of the cargo and equipment was unloaded and a marine vessel called Otavi, attempted to tow the Eduard Bohlen from the sandbank without success. 

 

Over the next ten days so much sand settled around the Eduard Bohlen that it was possible to walk from the beach to the stranded ship at low tide. Slowly but surely the ship became landlocked, as the sand of the Namib crept into the sea. 

 

The story continues, as the local diamond miners decided that she was ideally located and perfect for a hotel. The manager of the mine was even allocated the captain's quarters. When mining operations ceased the Eduard Bohlen was finally abandoned to the sands.

 

The 94-meter-long cargo ship now lies partially buried beneath the sand.

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It appears to be stranded in the middle of the desert. Years after the ship ran aground, the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert.

 

Black-backed jackal and brown hyena occasionally hole up inside the shipwreck to escape from the sun and wind.


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Wind-whipped waves of sand have replaced the ocean water that once lapped at its rusting remains.

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 Today the Eduard Bohlen lies several hunderd meters inland - proof of the expansion of the Namib into the sea.

 

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Ritsgaai

After the visit to the shipwreck, we headed straight to the beach...lovely! It was pure pleasure to drive next to the breaking waves! :D

 

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A couple of black-backed jackal enjoyed the afternoon on the beach. B)

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Others blended in perfectly. ;)

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All to soon it was time to start heading back into the dunes towards the camp.

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A spectacular view where desert and ocean meets. 

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What a great trip you are all having @Ritsgaai thanks so much for sharing.

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xelas

"Others" is a Chestnut-banded Plover. The shipwreck of Eduard Bohlen is a true Skeleton Coast landmark. Wondering if Zelia shipwreck will follow its "steps".

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Ritsgaai
On 8/1/2019 at 9:49 AM, mopsy said:

What a great trip you are all having @Ritsgaai thanks so much for sharing.

 

You are welcome. It is my pleasure to share our great experience and lovely memories.

 

11 hours ago, xelas said:

"Others" is a Chestnut-banded Plover. 

 

Thank you, @xelas:)

 

I can't comment on the future of the Zelia as we have not yet seen her. 

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Ritsgaai

Heading back to camp for our last night in the desert, we had the pleasure of driving up and over some massive dunes once again.

 

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Looking down the crest of an extremely high dune, never cease to evoke mixed emotions of excitement :o, thrill :lol:, and terror. :blink:

 

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Back in camp we were deeply aware that we only had a precious few hours left in this special place. While the team prepared a feast for supper, we seized the opportunity to once again play on the nearby dune...sliding down...running down...'swimming' down...rolling down...:lol::lol: and afterwards trying to wash all the sand out of hair, ears, noses, etc. :huh: before dinner. 

 

After supper we lingered around the campfire, trying to stretch an amazing day as long as possible.

 

 

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Ritsgaai

Day 8 - From Olifantsbad camp to Walvis Bay

 

We woke up to a cold and overcast morning with moisture rolling in from the sea. Soon after breakfast we left and found ourselves back on the beach, heading northwards towards Walvis Bay.

 

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A thrilling stretch of beach is called  "Langewand" where the massive dunes end in the sea and can only  be negotiated during low tide. Our timing was perfect and we enjoyed the thrill of driving, feeling wedged in between sea and sand. :wub:

 

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The next stop was at the shipwreck of the Shawnee. I have seen some photos where she is almost buried under the sand but this time she was largely uncovered.

 

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Apparently, it is believed this Chinese fishing trawler was run aground deliberately as part of an insurance claim in 1976.

 

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The overcast weather seemed to highlight the rich colors on the ship. 

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Evidence of the death of a whale in the treacherous waters along the Skeleton Coast.

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Very few of us had the guts to test the water. :unsure:

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It was much more fun to throw pebbles. :D

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Peter Connan

This looks like an incredible adventure!

Your photos are, as always, wonderfully judged. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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Ritsgaai

Thank you for the kind comments, Peter.

I take great pleasure in reliving those beautiful memories.

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Ritsgaai

The very last stretch to Walvis Bay.

 

We encountered a few isolated, as well as a large colony of seals.

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The seals were closely watched by the jackals from the top of the dune.

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The boys enjoyed a chasing game  before we headed back into the dunes.

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Grand finale...

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A final tug on the crest of a dune.

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An interesting looking plant.

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It was time to head back to the beach.

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Evidence of abundant bird life.

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If you look closely you will see Walvis Bay harbor in the background.

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At the end of an incredible 5-day journey it was time to get the tyre  pressure back to normal.

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Unfortunately the flamingos of Walvis Bay could not show off their brilliant colors in the misty weather.

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We booked into chalets and it was heaven to enjoy the luxury of a proper bath and bed again. The evening, over a lovely dinner, we said goodbye to new friends and amazing guides, as we were about to head back home the next morning.

 

Everybody lingered around to share and reflect on the amazing days we had in an exceptional environment with many faces - solitude, emptiness, desolation, open blue skies, a seemingly never ending sea of sand, containing impressive (and scary) dunes, amazingly bright starry nights, stunningly beautiful landscapes, a treacherous and unforgiving ocean with monuments of survival that dotted its coastline, abandoned dreams...moments and memories that will live in our hearts forever.

 

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Treepol

@Ritsgaai thanks so much for a wonderful report that captured the essence of coastal Namibia for me. 

 

The endless, rolling, empty dunes, jackals, seals, seabirds and deserted beaches as far as the eye can see have me yearning for a return to Namibia (but I have to wait until 2021 :)). I hope all your family enjoyed this magical time together, I can see the carefree joy of your grandchildren in the photos. 

 

Where to next for you?

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Atravelynn

It certainly is deep into the desert.  You incorporated cars, kids, and cars plus kids into your photos very well.  Not to mention aging timber and shipwrecks, quite stark ominous looking.  Where but Namibia would you find that?  What an experience for your children!  It really looks like some of the vehicles could get swallowed up by the dunes.

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xelas

What an adventure you have had! With all that sand, one would think it is impossible to navigate and to drive through the "dunesland". Yet you have shown us that where there is a will there is also the way. Thanks!

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Peter Connan

What a lovely trip. Thanks for an excellent and enjoyable report with great photos.

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Ritsgaai
On 8/21/2019 at 12:09 AM, Treepol said:

 

Where to next for you?

 

We are booked for a trip to Kgalagadi next year.

 

Thank you for following the TR and your kind comments, @Treepol@Atravelynn, @xelas and @Peter Connan

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