Week 2: Trip report: Namibia: Sesriem to Hias Ra (Khorixas)
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
This is the second weekly trip reports to try and give an overview and a glimpse on where we’re at and how we got there…
So again first the stats:
· Total days travelled: 14
· Total distance from Cape Town: 3,056km
· Total borders crossed: 1
And then the Aardvark stats for Week 2:
· Best drink: A couple of Urbock drafts at the Brauhaus in Swakopmund
· Best food: We had the “best ever” most amazing calamari at “Anchors at the Jetty” restaurant in WalvisBay! A close second was the Brauhaus’ roasted pork with red cabbage and spaetzle (a type of german egg noodle dumplings).
· Best view: An eerie blood-orange sunset over the pier at Swakopmund.
Week 2 started with a bit of a shock to the system – after the wide open spaces that we woke up to at Namtib reserve, we drove to the mayhem of NWR’s Sesriem campsite. The idea was to sleep at the official Sesriem campsite, as only residents of the official campsite could access Sossusvlei and the surrounding reserve for an hour after sunset, as well as an hour before sunrise (else the gate open at sunrise / close at sunset). We still have mixed feelings about our decision, as we drove past numerous incredible desert lodges on the way there, all enticing us to stay for a while, rather than continuing on the very corrugated road to Sesriem. But we were committed to the day’s plan, so drove to Sesriem, got the last available campsite (#25), and found out why all the reviews are so horrible ☹ Our campsite was inbetween all the overlanding trucks (we are calling them “kots-koetse”…go figure), filled with incredible rude and obnoxious tourists. We got the idea that they would cram as many people as possible into the campsite, with no thought to ablutions or other available facilities…all just a money making exercise!
However, the beauty of Sossusvlei and the Dead Valley (once we realized we had to walk over a couple of dunes to get there 😊) made up for all the camping chaos…a spectacular sunset, coupled with some of the incredible Moreson Chardonnay that was still left over from our wedding…and the day was saved! However, in the middle of the night the wind started blowing with full force, whipping up a sandstorm of epic proportions! Our good intentions of going up Dune 45 for sunrise got swept away in the red sand, and we ended up drinking coffee and watching the sunrise through the red sand clouds, curtesy of our Agrimark weedeater goggles – best buy ever!!
And yet again we were reminded that things will always work out the way they are supposed to…we had a picture perfect afternoon and sunset in the Sossusvlei valley, and if we didn’t stay in the awful campsite, we would’ve had to explore the valley the next day in the midst of the sandstorm…not a great plan!
Day 9 thus saw us leave Sesriem fairly early, and we took the road to Swakop for a couple of days of “regrouping”. As any traveler along that road would know, a stop at Solitaire for home made apple pie (for Irene) and a game pie (for me) is a must…even thought the sand storm was still raging! The wind was enough motivation to drive straight through to WalvisBay, and we discovered the most amazing seafood spot at the WalvisBay waterfront, after driving right through the town. “Anchors at the Jetty” restaurant will definitely see us again for the calamari, views and ice-cold rose! From there the wind took us through to Swakopmund, where we booked into Alta Brucke Holiday Resort for the next 3 nights – and it felt like holiday 😊 Green grass to camp on, our own little bathroom, and reprieve out of the wind…small things that are making us happy! First order of business was to get Aardvark all cleaned up – a powerwash outside / inside / underneath and under-the-hood later, Aardvark was gleaming like a brand-new piggy! And then we had to sort out two nasty little windscreen chips that we picked up that morning whilst driving in the sandstorm…all in a day’s work 😊 Oh and did I mention we had a couple of beers at the Brauhaus already at that point?
Day 10 was a day for sorting out all the little niggles that we picked up over the past 9 days. We decided before the trip that we will use the Namibian leg of our journey to fine tune our Aardvark setup, and the corrugated roads on the way to Sesriem also helped to shake out any potential issues. We spent the morning at Opposite Lock in Swakop, and was again amazed by their service, friendliness and “anything is possible” attitude – an attitude that we are experiencing more and more frequently as we progress on our journey – as if the universe is conspiring to make sure that we continue with our journey in the easiest possible way! By the afternoon, Aardvark was sporting a second spare BFG casing on the roof, new LED headlights, and a couple of other bits and bobs…and was now REALLY ready for action! We decided to spoil ourselves with sundowners at Tiger’s reef, got rewarded with an eerie blood-orange sunset over the pier, and a humongous dinner at the Brauhaus (we had leftover lunches for the next 2 days!). Swakop is a special little town…
For Day 11 we had a day of exploring the dunes and surrounds planned….but the wind again interfered, blowing away our good intentions! So we ended up re-stocking Aardvark, and packing / re-packing / un-packing / generally just faffing around…again along with exploring the little town, and finding SAREL…our new pet rubber snake 😊 Between Sarel and Maya The Bee (Irene’s kettie), we are now ready to chase away any and all baboons that dare venture close to Aardvark! Small things 😊 We found some fresh fish to braai that night, and for the first time felt as if we were truly rested, settled and prepared for the road ahead!
On our way to Brandberg the next day, we decided to drive past HentiesBay (did we mention the wind was still blowing(!!) for some leftover german pork brunch sandwiches), and then decided to explore the curiously named “Dead Sea Pool” about 30km north of Henties along the coastal road into Damaraland. Well, after driving around salt pans for c.15km on an old tin mine’s grounds, we eventually found the pool…in the middle of nowhere! But, as per the stories, the water in the old mining quarry is as salty and mineral rich as the Dead Sea…and burning just as much after a skinny dipping session 😊 luckily Aardvark was well stocked, and could provide a nice cold clean shower afterwards!
We spent the night at the Brandberg White Lady Lodge and Camp Grounds – what a lovely oasis in the middle of the heat and rocks and dust! Green grass around the pools, ice-cold drafts, and spacious campsites underneath massive trees…what more can one ask for?! Irene even got to watch the Springbok rugby with a couple of other die-hard fans on someone’s phone! Oh and did I mention that on the way there we saw the unofficial “wild donkies of Uis”, not to be confused with the wild horses of Aus 😊
Day 13 started with a 5km roundtrip hike to the famous “White Lady” of Brandberg – who actually is not a lady but a Shaman with white dust on his legs from all the dancing! Brandberg, apart from being the highest mountain in Namibia at over 2,600m, at places looking as if someone emptied a bag of charcoal onto it, and being super hot (as the rocks retain the sun’s heat, similar to the Paarl mountain, and then radiating it back during the afternoon), also had an incredible energy surrounding it – almost pulsating with the tens of thousands of years’ memories and experiences of its inhabitants…a truly remarkable, yet unnerving, place.
After our hike, the rest of the day was taken to recover from the heat – the joys of a ice-cold pool in the middle of the barren countryside can not be emphasized enough! Irene the dog-whisperer also decided to temporarily adopt the camp puppy, named him Chester, and tried to teach him manners...which ended in him accidentally playfully biting/scratching her (and now we're thankful for the tetanus and rabies shots beforehand!) and then rewarding us by sleeping in front of Aardvark for the rest of the night...guarding us from all the night noises!
After Brandberg, we took off for the Twyfelfontein / Khorixas area.
As I’m writing this blog, I’m sitting in the shade of a rock overhang, right next to our fire (made with what we think might just be the hardest wood in the world…seeing that we are right next to the Petrified Forrest!), having just had a swim at Hais Ra’s pool to cool down...again with only openness around us. I’m finishing this week’s entry so that we can head off to go up a little hill to watch the sunset…and to reflect on how truly blessed we are.
Till next week.