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Namibia . In the green season of March 2022. postponed twice due to Covid plague.


Galana
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Namibia report March 2022.

I don’t often do trip reports but thought I should in view of my participation in the last one to Uganda in 2020 B.C

 

Having postponed in stages since 2019 to see Namibia in March after the rain made green grass plans took firm hold in October 2021 for March 2022 when we committed to tickets. ET fly from Manchester thrice weekly via ADD to WDH and their local Manchester staff were very helpful.

 

A word about my equipment carried may be appropriate at this stage as various events came into play because of or in spite of what we did or did not carry. I abhor all the clutter that I see other people struggling out with and see no need to spoil a good holiday with a pile of electronics. I have pared down my needs to match this. Definitely NO mobile phone. I see no need for one at home. We were persuaded that for safety reasons we should buy one for the car ‘just in case’! Mistake. It steals my units when the need for use does not arise in 90 days and currently lies in the desk draw for topping up when in touring in UK. It does NOT go long haul.

Some years ago I lost some photos so invested in a back up device. I bought at enormous expense a ‘Net book’ where I can load and store photos. Adequate memory until Bill Gates upgraded his Windows to use most of the memory of the Netbook before a single byt of mine was allowed in. So I invested in a 32GB micro/sd to absorb my pictures on a separate folder. That works fine. The rest of the Lenova was made to facilitate access to the Interweb thingy at the suggestion of a ‘friend. I can therefore access the web and get eMails. Oh joy of joys. Not! Who needs this stuff? Not me.

So add one charger of course and two more PIA in airport security.

 

So Minox 10x 42 Bins and a Camera of course. I am not going for wildlife photographer of the year so over the years my old Kodak has morphed into a Minolta with 300mm to Fuji Finepix and on to my current toy of Nikkon Bridge Coolpix P1000. And that adds another bloody Charger to the kit of course. I like taking a trail camera to see what may wander by our bed at night. Which means a sackfull of AA batteries too with which to irritate Airport Security. NO tripod if you have not guessed already. Apart from a re-chargeable torch I am good to go.

 

So here we are in about November 2021 ‘Have tickets, will travel’. A rough outline itinerary outbound from IOM on 1st March 2022 and back 29th March. Provisional bookings of car and lodgings. Fully vaccinated and boosted. PCR test booked for 28th February. Job done?

Well, not quite. Along came Covid Omicron and Namibia decided that they would only accept Test certs not older than 72 hours AND registered with some outfit called Panabios/Global Haven, Eh? Who they? Research indicated this needed an email device. OK. Luck had it that my Netbook could do that and I was taking it. BUT the 72 hour cut off made it impossible to achieve with the existing bookings. So a major re-write was called for. Bring forward flight IOM-MAN to 28th Feb, pay change fee £80, Kerching, get test at Randox on airport with 3 hour turnaround, Kerching, and result mailed to my email device. Book Hotel on Manchester for 28th. Kerching. Kerching. So far so good and I have not even left home yet. Some trip report this is turning out to be.

 

And so it came to pass. IOM-MAN on time. Thanks Loganair. Straight to Randox in Terminal 2. Early but absolutely no problem. The nice lady even registered us on the system as we waited. No idea what that meant but it sounded nice. Nurse chappie made me sit while he shoved sticks in my mouth and up my nostrils. He seemed happy so why should I not be? Results promised by 17.35 to my email thingy. Got free transfer to Claytons Hotel settled in, advised reception of vital email traffic requiring use of printer and advised ‘all part of the service’. Out of fairness to Claytons I will not refer to the chaos at dinner as remedied on the spot. Back in room replete from grilled Sea Bass I logged on to find the two emails had arrived and we were both negative. An ever helpful lady called Kat helped this old techno phobe print the Certificates out and also save them to my ‘folder’. Then with some form of electronic sleight of hand we uploaded them to Panabios for our envisaged use in Windhoek on Wednesday 2nd March. To bed for tomorrow we fly! Or is it really that simple?

 

Spoiler alert. The answer is ‘Not Yes!’

 

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Oh dear! What went wrong?

You need to re-visit the phone Fred. So many benefits but you'd need a smart phone, not the one you have with the dial on the front:rolleyes:.

 

Anyway, looking forward to the next instalment,

Happy holiday

Dave

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4 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

You need to re-visit the phone Fred.

No. The phone people need to revisit me! Provide what we require and not what they think we need. We have many wants but few needs and they should learn to service them or quit the field for others.:angry:

 

Nothing went WRONG. It just was done with the paying customer as an unecessary burden to 'the system'.

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I feel like the opening post is one of the best I've read on this site in a while, and you haven't even really started your trip. Looking forward to more updates on your trials and tribulations! 

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Well here comes part two which may or may not assuage some pain. Thanks for the encouragement @Zubbie15and I hope part two will end my rants and we can progress to the good bits.

 

Part two. Day two.

In planning a trip there are several stages to pass before one can progress to the next. Some may be more stressful than others so it is nice to pass one pitfall/pinch point and progress along the line towards actually getting there as planned.

Such benchmarks as,

1, Will bad weather prevent us from getting off the island for our international flights?

2. Will we get our PCR test?

3. Will it be negative?

4. Will the weather be OK in UK?

5. Will we be allowed to board the next flight?

6. Will it leave on time so we make a short (75 minute ) connection?

7. Will our luggage make it on the same flight?

8. Will Nambian Immigration stamp our Passports?

9. Will we be met on time at Windhoek?

10. Will the car be as promised?

 

Well after Eunice and the next one  we were worried, but we had reasonable weather on the day. The Pilot could see where he was going and we got there as stated above. PCR tested negative so that was 1-3 out of the way.

4. after a peaceful night in Claytons we awoke to blue skies. Hey, don’t forget this IS Manchester, England.

So having not much to do today but wait for our18.55 flight we had a nice easy morning before taking the courtesy shuttle to Terminal 2. at 11.30 ish. We indulged in a nice slow Coffee and Ciabatta at the excellent Cafe Nero, spun it out a bit and then had a hot chocolate and Tiramisu or Belgian chocolate cake before wandering along to seek the check in Counter at 15.00 as ET had suggested that four hours would be better than three and we were happy to oblige. We had NOT done On line check in as we could not print our Boarding cards and anyway ‘why should we use our stationary?’

And that is when we hit “5” above on the nose. Medical checks? Pass on. BUT manual check in only for those paying J class. Us mortals had Bag drop only as check in online was mandatory? Eh?

We could not do that and had not be warned it may be necessary?

ET. “But surely you can do it by phone?” Me. “Er, what phone is that please?” ET. “your mobile phone of course!” Me. “ we don’t have one!”. ET. “well in that case please go to the kiosks outside Qatars office and do it there!”

After trailing back ‘there’ and back again I grab the attention of the lovely chap and say “They are bloody closed and the kiosks are not working! What next please?”

ET ‘they cannot be!’       Moi “well go and look for yourself!”

Later… He is back. “Hmmm. You are correct.” Me. “I often am! Now what?”

Get passed to lovely girl who goes off and sorts matters with another desk. ET lady. “Sorry about that. Here are your boarding cards right through to WDH. Please drop your bags at the priority desk over there.”

Me. “Thank you so much for helping us.”

We check in and get our pre booked seats 11A and 11B all the way to WDH. BUT we now have to find the gate and this means passing the notorious hard men of Manchester Security. These guys trained as paper boys at Strangeways Prison in their school holidays. Nothing gets past them.

Now things are a bit quiet but they still manage to make us queue. And after the full monty body scan it is no surprise to see our modest hand luggage come through the scanner and get switched to the ‘examination’ track. In the course of waiting, poor Lady G gets subjected to the ‘F’ word by an irate lady traveller who has just had two bottles of perfume confiscated as being unwrapped. The security chap takes pity on Lady G and hands her her bag without even looking inside. What a nice man!

No such luck for me. He had the lot out for a dusting. He never found what he was looking for but he got top marks for effort. He found my stash of cash, well I need readies on arrival for such purcashes as fuel and booze! He found my Pack of 12 Duracell AAs and the Trail Camera. He maybe even found the toffee paper from a trip years ago but he never found what he felt I had and he never told me what it was. A sweep for drugs came up clean as it would and we were free to go to our gate.

 

And that was when retribution was served on the F word lady. ET gate agents wanted all hand luggage weighing and as the Q reshuffled I managed to block the lady from passing the inspection. She got pulled over and her luggage surcharged.

So we boarded and flew on time. We have passed stage 5 and indeed we made our short connection with ease and having arrived in WDH on time we were well pleased.There was a slight hiccough when Namibian Immigration could not read our machine readable passports but we got the requisite stamp enabling our stay for the next month or so.

Best of all our luggage was riding the carousel as we entered the hall. AND our meet and greet from

Advanced, who I had met last trip in 2019, was waiting for us outside. From landing to leaving was at most 45 minutes. We are looking at stage 10 now.

The car had two spare wheels in the back and a working fridge so after some lengthy paperwork we were good to go. Well after having had to fill with Diesel despite promises that it would be full. No matter we were on our way.

After 30km of B2 tar we reached the turn off for our first stay, Dusternbruk Farm Lodge. A minor diversion for a flooded river was no problem and after sigtings of Giraffe, Impala and Wildbeeste etc., plus some lovely birds, we arrived at about 16.30.

 

We checked in to be advised that due to a staffing issue, the chef had not returned from leave, they could not feed us at our booked cottage, ‘Point of View’, so we could eat dinner with them and drive 11km of track in the dark. Nah.

After discussions with ‘the boss’ Johan, who I knew quite well, a compromise was reached and we did it my way. A cool box was prepared with sandwiches and a bottle of Red wine (we are low maintenance) and we would sleep in Point of View and then return to the farm for breakfast and further discussions in the morning. Job done. We set off armed with a handrawn map of the farm to find our first bed in Namibia just as the sun was setting. And what a sunset it was. We ate and slipped into a comfy bed quite easily. Tomorrow was another day and surely things were on the up at last? Left home Monday and now Wednesday evening.

 

Stages 1-11 complete. Today is the tomorrow that we worried about yesterday and all is well.

And so we watch our first of many African sunsets to come.

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Really good to hear you made it Fred. I told you you needed to revisit the mobile!!! Didn't take long to find out did it!!

I'm envious that you are now firmly in place in Namibia and that you are away from the troubles of Europe.Looking forward to your next instalment as and when that happens.

Go safely.

Dave

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wonderful! you're all settled in and ready for day after day after day of wildlife, birdlife, sunrises and sunsets, and good food and of course the glass of wine or whatever choice of alcohol in one hand.

 

Looking forward to more! 

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I enjoy reading your trip report, and look forward to the rest. Have a wonderful trip!

This brings back memories to our road trip in Namibia in 2011.

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Thanks to all who troubled to read so far.

Here is page three...

WITH PicturesI hope.

 

So far this trip has produced three Dawns for us, all different;

First of course was the surprising blue skies at Manchester Airport on Tuesday and

this was followed somewhere over Africa hurtling along at 540 mph at 38,000 feet in a 787 Dreamliner. I just don’t remember any dreams so must remember to take my Lariam pill soon.

 

Then the best Dawn of all has come to our small Cottage at Point of View where we awoke after our first night in Namibia. And we even got a Dawn Chorus even though the breeding season peak has long past here. So what? It was real enough with Red-billed Spurfowl letting the world know they had survived another night and shortly joined by multiple booms of Speckled Pigeons on the roof whilst not to be out done a Black-chested Prinia gave forth his bit from the bush outside our bedroom window.

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Well it is not for us to lie abed when Africa wakes and we do have an 11km drive back to the Farmhouse for our breakfast. We were expected at ‘about 08.30’ so a knowing Lady G suggested we better not delay if we would be stopping as often for birds on the way as we had on the way here. (It was only 07.00 for Petes sake!! However the lady has put up with me for far too many years now not to have some experience of my driving habits. But what birder could honestly swear hand on heart that they would NOT stop for a sighting of Black Cuckoo, let alone a family of Double-banded Sandgrouse? So we had breakfast a little later at around 09.15! There was still some left!

We had full day here and really enjoyed it as we knew we would.

The Farm property extends for many miles and whilst they do offer activities such as game drives and horse riding as well as organised ‘big cat’ experiences with feeding of Leopard and Cheetah living in huge enclosures, we preferred to do our own thing which involved exploring the vast property. I remember when staying here on my first visit way back in 2001 I asked Johan, owner, ‘how far am I allowed to walk?’ He replied with a wry smile for which he is known “Well I should stop when you reach the ocean if I were you”

The property is home to many of the usual plains mammals and as birds are not to everyone’s taste I shall not pepper this tale with birdy photos but just show a couple of the mammals encountered which are more family friendly. There are some White Rhino out there and I did pick up spoor but not a glimpse did we see.

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All in all we highly commend Dustenbrook as a good place to start or finish any trip for being truly wild and yet only 50km out of Windhoek. There is a good selection of various accommodation from camping by the river through basc cottages, nice rooms in the farmhouse and now the excellent and more remote ‘Points of view’ cottages, only 3 of them and normally fully catered but in our case adequately catered with spacious cool box that held an excellent chef prepared Chicken Salad (our choice) wine and glasses and even room for a few bottles of Windhoek just in case. No pun intended.

Our home from home at Point of View.

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It is good to be back.

 

For anyone who may feel deprived of a few bird photos, there are lots, they can be accessed on my Big Year 2022 thread,

 

Footnote to this section. I am writing at the last Wiffy availability so likely to go silent shortly.(Sounds of hearty cheers.)

 

 

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@Galanagreat "live" TR so far. Dustenbrook looks like a very worthwhile place to start or finish a Namibian safari. I'm very sorry to hear that the wiffy is about to disappear!

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I look forward to the restoration of wifi

The cottage looks really nice 

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A thoroughly enjoyable read! Should the WiFi restrict the posting of photos, don’t let it stop you writing. Your words conjure up as many images of Namibia as your photos, however much I enjoy those, too! 

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What a pleasure to read your TR is, Fred! I hope there will be wifi in Swakop. 

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Pleased that folks are liking this and with distinctly iffy Wiffy here goes with part four after a morning in pursit of phantom footprints. The ellies were mocking us from the tamarinds.

 

Pt 4.

 

Dust to the Sea and Desert.

 

So we settled our account with Johan and left Dustenbruk by the same track as we gained entry to join the tar of the road to Okahandja and on to Swakopmund. On a point of order we had originally been booked in to Etusi Lodge much further on in our driving. However they messed up our booking and only confirmed one night not two which was no good. So we switched to Dusternbruk and won two plusses. One you have read about, a lovely renewal of earlier stays, and the second was we had less to drive after getting off the plane. This was a real boon as to be honest I now feel Etusi would have been a drive too long. So as we passed the Etusi turnoff on our drive today I said a silent thanks for the mess up. As it was it made a much longer drive today but we had at least got some rest, and quite few birds too. I had never driven to Swakopmund on this road and to say it was boring would be very near the mark. Km after km of boring tar with little of meaningful scenery for entertainment. We relied on dodging the occasional wide load for excitement where the escorts simply forced us over on to the grass. It broke the journey!!! Eventually we made the approaches to Swakopmund and whilst noticing the huge amount of development since my last visit I pulled over for the favourite bit of marsh where the C24 back road to Walvis left the main now multi lane highway. Instead of a simple turn the road was now a mass of link roads, western bypass etc.., and I guessed we may be in trouble here. But my Garmin steered her cheerful way through the mess and a helpful looking “Bird Reserve” sign still stood. But it was the only thing that did. Gone was even the old road bridge where I have spent a happy hour or so in years gone by. All gone! Birds are quite tenacious but this proved too much even for them. Of course the river still flowed and there were pools but a lone Three-banded Plover was holding a private wake and I even missed that photo in my shocked daze. So back to our booked lodge which we left last visit ‘intacta’ and free of city encroachment. What a lot of difference four years makes. Garmin still showed us driving ‘cross country’ but we were actually in Estate housing extremis. Happily our destination still stood at the end of the road(s) and nobody can rob them of the views over the sand dunes and mature bed of the Swakop river as it nears the sea. A warm welcome as always and as they only do B&B they kindly booked us in at “The Tug” restaurant for our evening meal. Our normal favourite “The Jetty” had been pre booked from home for our next night so it would enable us to try the “Competition”. Our room was to the expected high standard and we settled in for a quick rest and freshen up before we had the short drive into town for our evening meal, the first hot one since that we had at Claytons in Manchester on Monday and it was now Friday. The Calamari starter was good and I had a fish with a strange name similar to Kinkajou and I do hope it was fish and not the primate of the similar name. Overall the ambience was a bit robust for our taste but this is not a gourmet recommendation thread so lets get on with the trip. We are here for the birds.

And birds there were in plenty. Not so much in the grounds of the B&B a lot of which has been built upon or ‘landscaped’. So no Alexandrine Parakeet or Budgies as the tree has ‘gone.’ But our first excursion to Walvis Lagoon gained us a few favourites as always. This is not a bird report so let me just say both species of Flamingo and several waders were a welcome sight as were flocks of Black-necked Grebes.

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Greater Flamingo.

 

 

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Lesser Flamingo.

 

So we had a pleasant morning despite the increased property development that has taken place everywhere. Sadly a trip to the salt lagoons was another victim of progress and yielded very little. We then drove north back to Swakopmund in the hope of a finding that those lagoons had not gone the same way. Not quite but nearly. The Saltworks lagoons were inaccessible and barren so we pressed on north to the Guano processing factory where despite closed roads and warning signs we did manage a few more birds and parked up for a while but access to the coast was gone for good. It is a retirement village!!

So back to the Desert Breeze for a freshener before our date with our car minder, Mateus, whilst dining in ‘The Jetty’. Along the jetty were more Bank Cormorants roosting than we had seen all day. The meal was excellent and I sampled the trio of Oysters for my starter and an excellent Springbok loin for mains, washed down with a nice Shiraz and we had still room for Cape Malva as dessert. As the Bill came to less than N$200 than The Tug the previous night “The Jetty” gets my vote on ambience alone but it is close.

Another excellent sleep and breakfast and it was time to leave for Cape Cross, one of our shorter segments to drive.

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Views from our room of the desert and the recently fowing Swakop river.

Internals follow..

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All in all this is an attractive and quiet stopover when the brightlights of Swakopmund fade.

 

Desert Breeze was good despite the ongoing ‘development’ so highly likely we will be back. Shame about the Parakeets.

 

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And there was wifi in Swakop! Lovely dunes, excellent Flamingos but your words about development ... I might skip this location on my next visit.

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Interesting re the developments...when was your last visit save me looking again? Maybe like Alex, I'd think twice before a visit again, there again we did enjoy our 4 day or was it 5 day stay last time despite being advised it was a mistake to stay that long.

Having been there and done that the question would be what more is worth a visit besides a good choice of eating places?

 

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Wow - the development around Swakop sounds quite serious, seems as though things have moved on quite a bit since my last visit in 2014. Good to see Desert Breeze again, not so good to hear of encroaching suburbia on the edge of the desert. Is Margaret still the Manager there?

 

Look forward to hearing about Cape Cross when you have wiffy and time.

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Great following your trip in „real time“ – your first stop at the farm looks very nice, I‘m noting that down for whenever I will finally visit Namibia. A shame for so many of your favourite haunts having disappeared!

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15 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

when was your last visit save me looking again?

2017 so not that long ago. I would not decry the developents as the town centre is almost unchanged since the Germans left. Undoubtedly the 'planners' have had a field day right down the coast to Walvis but a short stay does not go amiss for some gastronomic enjoyment now and again. After all it is a long way down to Solitaire and Apple Pie, the ladies deserve a treat with shops attached and there is/are interesting tours into the desert and on the ocean to take the pain away.

Just don't plan on too long a stay I would suggest.

8 hours ago, Treepol said:

Look forward to hearing about Cape Cross when you have wiffy and time.

I have the wiffy and the time. Too darn hot to venture out in the mid day sun, despite my English ancestry .Coming right up! 

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3 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

I will finally visit Namibia. A shame

A play on your words Michael. Well overdue!

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As promised part 5.

My idea to break the report into 'destinations' or travel segments is working but it does mean that text suffers if there is nothing much to report so I will keep that in mind when compilation occurs.

 

Cross at the Cape.

 

A easy ride is promised today for our next sector up towards the Skeleton Coast for an overnight at Cape Cross Lodge with a courtesy call at the infamous Fur Seal colony. Famous for the historic connection being where Portugese navigators first landed and marked the cape with a large cross, infamous for the reported offensive smell of the 90,000 Fur Seals that call the place home. It honestly does pong a bit but not really as breathcatchingly offensive that some allege. The large colony also suffers a cull now and then as the fishermen feel there are too many for sustainable fishing

stocks. OK. How about catch quotas or does the market for seal fur come into play? Answers on a post card please but not to me.

The road up has of course been modernised, perhaps to help speed the fish lorries to market?? Smooth tar to Henties Bay with parking lots at intervals to accommodate sport fishing as well as to view the wreck of 'Zeila of Hangana' lying just off the beach and now home to a large colony of seabirds.

Follow the signs here until GPS maps are updated for the new road layout until passed the turn off for Uis and inland. Our road was eventually good gravel as before if a little tedious but easy to drive and the kms racked up. We took the turn off to the NWR NP that protects the seal colony, Nam$350.

After a few minutes we dropped back to the clean picnic site just to watch birds for a while as it may have been too early to access our booked room at the nearby Lodge.

 

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What is photobombig what here?

 

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White-fronted Plover chicks under foot on walks.

 

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And Swallows gathering to head north to Isle of Man. I issued guidence where asked.:P

 

There is not much else up here on the coast but the accommodation is fairly priced and it does provide a handy stopover if taking the coast road into the far north west via the Skeleton Coast NP.

All rooms have a sea view and balcony and the wine list at dinner is quite commendable.

 

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After check in was completed we took a leisurely stroll along the beach tracks keeping a look out for Jackals and shorebirds of which there are several.

Dinner was a quiet as there were only two other diners tonight. Monday. The menu was thick pea soup followed by chicken schnitzel. I had ‘marine steak’ which I imagined would be er, marine? Wrong, it was beef topped by calamari. One lives and learns by travelling. The wine was an excellent Shiraz.

All in all it was an enjoyable stopover and did not disappoint as a worthy stopover involving a gentle drive of just over 100.km. Tomorrow would be another day and as we now re-enter the Wiffy blackhole you may have to be patient for a full account on ‘taking the rough with the smooth'.

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When back to wiffy, please share with us a couple of photos of your Chelsea tractor. Thanks!

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Tractors all look alike to me and this is just a Hiluxe 2.6 double cab with more noisy buttons than good for it.

 

If I rember to take its photo I will.  Here under

 

6. Taking the rough with the smooth.

 

First of all an apology for not being able to include small maplets of each days drive embedded in the contemporaneous report. Partly my fault but mainly Bill Gates’. Microsofts last ‘update’, the one that gobbled up all the original 32GB purchased memory on this device as mentioned in part one also blew out my ‘Mapsource’. I had not noticed of course until needed but am now unable to remedy this whilst abroad. I will append a small map of the whole trip here and leave it for now at that but there will no doubt be some interesting diversions coming along that could illustrate a drive better. (Don’t forget that I am writing this stuff in arrears with a fair modicum of ‘hindsight’.

 

 

 

Today’s drive was to be quite long at just under 400km and observers may have noticed we had not refuelled the beast since topping off in Windhoek prior to leaving for the trip. So perhaps a word here about how we plan logistics such as fuel. Not to be to everyone’s taste or plan but it works for us. We hire a Toyota Hi Luxe diesel with two connected fuel tanks. They may both be 80litres each or perhaps 80 & 60, I forget, and it does vary between vehicle models. Either way it matters not, our plan would be the same. The fuel guage will register ‘full’ until the first tank is drained when it will slowly drop by recording the assumed contents of the 2nd tank. So what we do is keep the 2nd tank as our reserve and fill up once the guage starts to move. A lifelong distrust of anything to do with auto electrics and guages and needles in particular has habituated me to do mental calculations of consumption figures and use the electrical gizmo to simply confirm my guestimate. As these Hi luxe seem to do around 12km per litre, or so it has seemed after a few hires, my figure work tells me the first tank will empty at about 960km and start the needle on its downward journey. Simples! Just zero the ‘trip’ at each top up and start looking for fuel when the trip reads 900km OR the needle twitches which ever is the sooner. We will go with that and it works well for me even though it goes against ‘wise’ advice in Namibia to never pass a fuel station.

So today’s run of 400km with the trip on around 600km says we will easily reach Palmwag some 300 km distant. And so it does turn out as we will see.

(Too much technical stuff here, get on with the tale!)

Now to the drive itself with our route continuing up the Skeleton Coast almost to Terrance Bay before turning east for 100km with another 150 or so km to run.

This coastal road is not ‘gravel’ or tar but very smooth ‘salt’ , which when wet can be a bit tricky but it rarely rains up here. So the driving is delightful, smooth and quiet and if only Advanced had not fitted a roof rack and created annoying wind noise the trip would be even quieter. We stopped at the famous ‘skull and crossbones’ gates to Skeleton Coast National Park for our transit permit, free, as the only halt to the drive. Both the Ugab and Huab mouths had suffered in the floods reaching the sea and care was needed here but that apart our drive was as good as it gets. We even detoured to the Huabmond lagoon as it is sometimes a good spot for lion but all we found was a nice blue lagoon, itself a rarity, populated by a pair of White-breasted Cormorant.

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So on we went until turning off the salt smooth road to head east on the C39 and the road became decidedly rougher. After some jarring moments we eventually arrived at the exit gate of Springbokwasser and checked out of the NP, now over a deteriorating road. National Roads authority really have their work cut out with all the damage the otherwise much welcome heavy rains have caused throughout the country. Some of the drainage dips were more than just a slight hollow and needed real care and sharp eyes to prevent a very rough ride. It did not get any better as we turned north onto the C43 when as if planned the fuel gauge came to life once more. 80 litres gone with 40km to run. The road continued much the same but now we started to see wildlife, such as Giraffe, Zebra and Springbok up here as we border the Palmwag Conservancy. Turning through the Vet fence at Palmwag the fuel station is just on our left where we uploaded 84 litres for a distance run of 1122km. My light right foot had worked well.

Now all that remained of our drive was the last 83km up to our night stop at the excellent Khowarib Lodge but not before spotting a magnificent Kudu bull just off the road to our right and he posed for a photo too.

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We know Khowarib Lodge quite well and were made welcome with a cold drink and towel and shown to our tent by the infant Hoanib river for our one night stay. Dinner was good and taken under the stars although I do wonder why chefs take the trouble to feast one’s eyes but then the wait staff make you eat it in the bloody dark??

 

I will do a full report (groans) later as we return here for a long stay after the next chapter which may well get the name ‘the road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, but where do all the unpaved gravel ones go?

 

Back soon, or not as the case and wiffy permit.

 

 

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@Galanathanks for your latest instalment, useful info about fuel consumption and the drive north from Cape Cross. Look forward to more when you have time and wiffy.

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The unpaved roads to nowhere.

We had a delicious dinner and retired to our “Tent” no. 3 for a good nights rest prior to our drive to Purros. I had done this before and was relatively confident of the road.

After a good breakfast we loaded the truck and were on the road by 09.00 with a relatively short, 120km or so, drive along the road to Sesfontein, the back of beyond, and onward to Purros, a small village on the banks of the ephemeral river Hoarusib. I am minded of the saying about ‘posh’ riverside houses that in summer the river is at the bottom of the garden and in winter the garden is at the bottom of the river. More or less the reverse for Purros except they don’t have gardens hereabouts and the seasons are reversed. But you get the idea?

The road to Sesfontein was good and Gladys Garmin announced that Purros was ‘only’ just over 100km hence. So after clearing the sprawl of Sesfontein we continued along the D3707 and slowly picked our way inland as the road swung away from the Hoanib valley to climb the range over to a tributary of the Hoarusib named we believe ‘Gannamud, later Gannadam. All was well although the road was badly broken up and not what I had remembered at all. No matter there were no turn offs and despite being slow going the way was clear enough on the ground and we did have “Gladys” to cheer us along. It was just that the scenery was not what I had rembered. There were rough bits and rougher bits but nothing that the HiLuxe could not cope with. Sometimes rocky and sometimes smooth packed sand as we rolled along and over quite beautiful smooth uplands. There were even herds of Springbok to watch us roll by. We saw nor passed a single other vehicle and at one point were heartened by a sign board advertising our next stop as 58km to go. Nice indeed.

Now this is where I really need the ‘snail trail’ to show our actual route taken on the ground but sadly that will have to wait my return home to access the programme. I have saved the GPX files from Gladys so it should be OK. I do hope so as it must make fascinating reading. At about half way point we ran into a problem. The tracks was so braided by others it was hard going knowing which was the correct track. We followed several only to find them reversing back from a large dry river bed. No doubt the Gannadam but where the heck did the road go? Gladys kept yelling such helpful words as ‘make a U turn now’ (as if I was going to plunge down a steep river bank of soft looking sand) or ‘take a sharp turn right to regain the D3707’ when the turn simply did not exist or disappeared just as promptly. There simply was not a clear track. After about 20 minutes of toing and froing I returned to a few small huts I had passed just as this debacle commenced. After some chat to a young man that neither of us really understood he agreed to get in the car, show us the next five kms provided I would then return him to where we were now. And so we did. Hard left round his house onto a feint mark in the sand, left a bit, right a bit, left again around that rock/tree or whatever ‘landmark’ existed, into this smaller riverbed and straight across and out the other side. Up a steep track, rutted brown soil so looks good to remember when solo, and eventually we were on a made up gravel track when my savious, Pia?, said we can stop. He then set me the memory test to regain his house. He said I was almost right but I know I got 101% as I did find his house again. A well earned tip changed hands Elizabeth regained the front pax seat and was told to follow the snail trail Garmin had so thoughtfully painted on screen. I deleted the track to Purros for clarity for the purposes of regaining our route. And so with a little help from Elizabeth and Gladys we got back on our route once more and headed for Purros again. Pia had told me the village was Tomakos which I had heard about from Dr.Flip Standers ‘desert Lion’ Blog. I never thought I would have further cause to remember it.

And once again we headed for Purros where after further bumpy but clear tracks I saw the village in the distance before me. Past the school I stopped to check which may be the better track over the happily almost dry Hoarsusib to our Lodge when a Land Cruiser drew next to me and said “Okahingo Elephant Lodge?”Follow me. I think I could have done this bit as I know the village, when dry, but it was a great gesture by the Lodge management nevertheless. So after a few weaves and swerves we crossed the sandy river bed and eventually arrived at our destination for the next three nights.

Settled into our room after signing ‘indemnities’ etc.., and indulging a nice cold drink.

I will review our stay here as a separate ‘chapter’ next time as game drives are involved, wit abit of birding of course but here are a couple of photos from our ‘balcony’ to brighten this bald and dry narrative a bit.

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