A recent addition to the concessions up the coast of Namibia is a tour operated by Volker of Desert Magic Tours. R 8900.00 pp – catered. Click 4 website Desert Magic Tours This runs from Swakopmund and goes up the coastroad past Cape Cross, Terrace Bay into the Skeleton Park and then to Mowe Bay; from here it was all new territory for us.The first beach camp is just on a bit from Mowe bay. The tour takes you along the coast past the Hoarusib River Mouth & the remains of the Ventura Bomber that tried to help rescue the people from the Duneden Star disaster 1942. You then travel past rocky point, the Khumib & Hoanib river mouths to Angra Fria for a 2nd beach camp. On the 3rd day one travels further north and once passed Bosluis Bay you arrive at the Mouth of the Cunene River. A dune camp is set up out of the wind, in from the coast.
Beach driving thus over you then head into the dunes for your 4th camp in a wonderful secluded kloof with bathing access in water pools of the Cunene River – No Crocs here ! The tour then goes into the Hartmans Valley, The Marienfuss, and heads for Red Drum, Marble Camp (5th Camp) and ends at Puros Camp (6th camp). So its quite a varied trip.
We decided that we would like to undertake this trip, which we did with good friends, as it is the only stretch of the coastline from CT to The Congo River at Soya that we had not done. Whilst enjoyable we still think that The Faces of the Namib Tour is the best desert trip on offer so far.
We left Cape Town early and to avoid the roadworks on the N7 decided to rather travel up the R27 to Vredenburg, Elands Bay, Lamberts Bay, Vredendal and then to join the N7 at Vanrynsdorp. The going was easy with little traffic. Once back on the N7 we promptly came acrosss 3 sets of roadworks with time delays – you just can’t win ! – in any event we were soon past this and headed down to Port Nollith for our night stopover at Bedrock Lodge.Click 4 website Bedrock Lodge There is not much one can say about Port Nollith but on this occasion it was a picture postcard day – clear & sunny but with a chill wind. We had supper at the local “Italian” Restaurant (Vespetti) and the B&B, which was adequate, was R 750 pp.
The next morning normal service was resumed – thick mist, freezing cold and wet. We set off for Alexander Bay and Oranjemund and then took the Mine Road to Rosh Pinah & Aus, where we were glad to outrun the weather.
Our first stop in Namibia was at our usual favorite – Klein Aus Vista – Click 4 website Klein Aus Vista and Piet welcomed us back like old friends – this place just gets better & better. With a Gondwana card – R100 each – once off payment – you get a 20% discount on accomodation and they now have many lodges all over Namibia. Really good value for money.
The next day we travelled up the C19 and on Deon Kotzes advice stopped off at Tirool – just before the turn off to the D707 to buy some Gemsbok borewors – it seems that one Mr Kotze cleaned them out of steaks Grrrrrrr 🙁
The D707 is in a shocking state – not graded for quite some time – so whilst the usual beautiful drive it was rather like being in the Transkaglagadi – lousy corrugations. We came out south of Sesreim and continued to our next stop-over at Solitaire Guest farm – Simone – camping – R120pp pn. Click 4 website Solitaire Guest Farm The weather was fine so whilst a little cold all was good.
We pushed off early the next day and travelled the road via the Gaub pass and then up through the permit routes to join the road into Swakopmund. May in Swakopmund; what can you expect ? It was cold, wet & misty – thank goodness we were not camping here, we took a chalet for two nights. The first night we ate at Kuckis –Click 4 website Kuckis and on the 2nd with our friends from Jhb – Roger & Claire & the “Babes” Ken & Jean who had also arrived, so we all went for supper at The Tug, on the pier.Click 4 website The Tug
Personally I always enjoy being back in Swakop, its like coming home; you arrive, park your car at Alte Brucke and then just walk everywhere, even at night. Alte Brucke was its usual good value for money, alterations taking place and more facilities being constructed and whilst cold & damp it was still good to be there. Basically R 500.00 pp pn B&B.Click 4 website Alte Brucke
We met up with the group the next morning on RSA time (why ???) one hour earlier – at the Shell Petrol Station on the far North side of town. Mostly a Toyota affair but with one Landrover. A group of friends from Stellenbosch (8), us 6 friends, a couple from the E Cape in an FJ. John Aspinall & Hermine (members here); a Prado from Live the Journey, Volker & a support car; so 12 vehicles in total. A good sized group.
Everyone slotted in well and it was a relief not to have any overseas tourists new to the desert or 4×4 travel.
The journey up the coast was uneventful but that said Volker is an excellent guide. He is easy to get on with, funny and really knowledgable – imparting useful info as we travelled along, happy in both taals. We all filled up at a rather run down petrol/diesel pump at Terrace Bay and were glad to pitch camp just north of Mowe Bay – howling wind and rather cold. The Catering was good and we all gathered around a roaring fire.
2nd day off up early to Rocky Point where Volker filled us in on what happened here with the De Klerk & Mandela meeting – unbelievable when you see the place – and we pitched camp near Angra Fria in the dunes so we were a bit more sheltered from the cold & relentless wind.
3rd day: past what is left of the shelter that the passengers from the Duneden Star built for themselves whilst they waited for rescue – unbelievable to think what they must have endured – there is still a lot of debris here and Volker on his last trip found a florin coin (two shillings) in the sand – must be a lot more still to be uncovered here I think. We finally arrived at the Cunene River Mouth, which is rather like getting to Soya on the Congo River in Angola – you sort of wonder why you bothered – been there, ticked off – but well at least you’ve done the journey. Very cold and a mighty blast of wind to go with it. However unlike soya which is over-run, the Cunene Mouth is clean with jumping fish, flamingoes, terrapins, seagulls & no one in sight. We were very glad to turn from here though and go over some dunes and a huge rise in temperature to get some shelter from the howling wind.
Towards The River – Photo Claire Scott
Photo Claire Scott
Day 4 was over the dunes near the Cunene and camp was into a kloof which was very pleasant and a short walk took us down to some pools – croc free – where we could all bathe. It was a beautiful, warm, full moon filled night. This is more like it from my point of view.
On the 5th day we started doing some more dune and slip face driving across towards the Hartmans Valley & The Marienfuss but following the Cunene River as much as we could. Everyone did really well with only the occasional help being required. What a change from some of these desert trips that we have been on. The scenary was stunning but my, what a difference to when we were here three years ago. The drought has really taken hold here and everything looked very parched. Our camp this night was at the Marble Camp –Click 4 website Marble Camp The marble works were another failed Namibian venture – it is incongruous to see the mountain opened up and “marble type rock” being exposed thus. We were now at an organised camp site so proper loos and shower facilities were available which was rather nice. It is a nice campsite.
Day 6 was down a really bad rutted and corrugated road towards Puros – I managed to write off a tyre here Grrrr (Maxxi big Horn) – the group had done quite well in this respect; a few minor punctures, but John Aspinall had a bad run with his BFGs and was a little exercised about this – shit happens ! The road to Puros is quite beautiful and we visited a Himba settlement and travelled the no name Garnet mine pass which must rate as a V Zyls mark 2 route, very beautiful all the same. The camp at Puros is very nice and we could all spead out. One thing about this trip, we encountered very few other travellers, Namibia is quite quiet at the present time. So this was our last group night and the food was as good as ever and in the morning everyone went off on their separate ways. We decided to stay another day at Puros Click 4 website Puros Camp $100 pp $30 for wood and spent a quiet relaxing day all on our own but going out down the river bed in search of Desert Elephants which proved to be rather elusive on this trip.However we were glad to be on our own again.
As I said earlier, the trip was most enjoyable but I do think that The Faces of the Namib Trip is by far the best of the desert tours to take – that said Volker is a real plasuire to be with and I can certainly recommend him without reservation. He undertakes other desert trips as well.
Having had a restful day we then travelled on further south on a even worse rutted, corrugated road to Sesfontein where we put some diesel in – we had done quite well wih my 270 litre tank and in fact did not need to fill up so we just put in a little. Sesfontein is under new management but it still seems to be the same old same old – such a pity, this oasis could be turned into something quite special with a bit more effort. Coffee at the hotel still a rip off at $15 per ! and a poor selection on offer – which we declined – for lunch.
Arriving at Palmwag, Click 4 website Palmwag Camp also under new management – we were really surprised to find it virtually deserted – R 120 pp pn camping. They are also undergoing renovations, but I have never seen this place so quiet before. We stayed here also for two nights and were glad of the chill time. It was also nice and warm so we got to relax. We had a Spotted Genet visit us at night, not at all worried about us.
Finally it was time to think about heading home, so with a heavy heart, for the cold weather we knew we would encounter, we headed south again and set off for Swakopmund and Alte Brucke. Arriving there it was a good day but the next was cold and misty again.
We decided that we would stay at the Gondwana Desert Lodge near Sesriem on the C19 – Click 4 website Namib Desert Lodge as we had never been there before and didn’t feel like camping in the cold and with the 20% discount this made an affordable stop-over. The hills and the petrified sandstone mountains around here are stunningly beautiful but is was SERIOULY cold. Food was good but served on cold plates !!
Thence we travelled back down the C19 to Klein Aus Vista through more cold & wet – it was a miserable journey but we did manage to buy 7 kgs worth of Gemsbok Steaks at Tiroll – tnx Deon for the tip – and Klein Aus Vista was equally as cold – they even handed out heaters for the rooms 🙂 In any event it was great to be amongst friends and Piet made us feel welcome as usual – I really do love this place, regardless of the weather.
Next day was a little better but bitterly cold; we went via Rosh Pinah to Oranjemund via the Mine Road again and stopped over in a freezingly cold Sprinkbok – at Klein Plasie – not a bad place at all.Click 4 website Klein Plasie Springbok
Up early the next day we again decided to take the R27 back to Cape Town – all well and good – however we forgot the 50KM on dirt road – now deep mud 🙁 from Vredendal to Lamberts Bay ) – Oh well, the car was far too clean for the end of the trip – said mud is now staining the road outside our house 🙂
So just over 5,500KMs travelled – no real problems except one trashed (new) tyre. My new ARB rear diff lock – Thanks Cris – R&D Offroad Brakenfell — proved its worth and I only got stuck once in a deep hole that had been churned up by others first – so a definite advantage over previous trips I think.
Back to a very cold a miserable cape town – must we unpack ?? 🙂
More photos at:Click 4 website PICASA PHOTO ALBUM