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Cape Town to Sesriem

February 22, 2016
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Saldanha Bay

I guess one starts close to where it all began. Saldhana Bay is still in South Africa and at this time we were trying to get used to our camping vehicles.  We had two trucks between six people. It was perfect.

The two trucks had one tent each on the roof and the third tent was a ground tent.

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No wonder it took us a month to cover Namibia

Oh, I guess this was the wrong picture.

At times though it felt like we were going at this pace as miles after miles of desert does tend to make it all feel like one is at a standstill.

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Two Toyota Hi-Lux trucks with storage compartments in the back and 1 tent each on the roof per truck

The camping configurations proved perfect.  South African/Namibia weather is perfect for camping. (Rentals were from a company called Bushlore – can highly recommend) In 4 weeks we had only one day of rain even though it was the rainy season.  The downside of this is that all the rivers were dry, animals were dying of thirst and crops are failing. This is the third year of drought for Southern Africa with Mozambique probably the one country currently suffering the most.

Starting our journey in Cape Town we headed north trying to get into Namibia as quickly as possible. One of our first stops was a viewpoint overlooking Saldanha Bay in South Africa’s West Coast National Park.

Saldhana Bay screenshot

Saldanha Bay

From a sailing viewpoint this is a significant historical landmark having been a harbour used by sealers for many years but it was also a harbour entered by numerous very early explores from both the eastern and western hemispheres  .To see the print on the plaque open photo in a separate window and all history will be revealed.

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Fascinating

It’s a very shallow bay but provides excellent protection in all weathers.  It was also the location of a fresh water spring, vital to sailing ships of previous centuries.

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Coming down to Saldanha Bay

Onwards to the border we crossed into Namibia with no problems. Our first stop being Fish River Canyon with anecdotal information stating this is the next largest canyon to the Grand Canyon in the United States. We camped in Ais-Ais as rumour had it there were hot springs! Yes, who wants hot springs when the daytime temperatures rise over 32C? We arrived but the pools were empty for maintenance.

Maintenance? Yes, we were travelling in the wet and slow season. Wet it wasn’t but slow it was.  All campsites were very quiet with only 4-5 other campers in an area that, on average, held 30 campers. It was heaven.

We spent a little time in the Fish River Canyon exploring.  There was a great viewing site overlooking the canyon and here are a few pics from the main viewpoint which again had only 2 other tourists looking out at the view.

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Thelma and Louise. Oops, no, it’s Rob and Sierd overlooking the Fish River Canyon

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Fish River Canyon panorama view

From Fish River Canyon it was on to Helmeringhausen but not without stopping at Canon Roadhouse.  Here, out in the middle of nowhere is this amazing coffee/coach stop/camping spot.  The Roadhouse is part of a large conglomerate of tourist related businesses with interests in the South African and Namibia tourist trade.  However I have to say they have done this amazing job of building a rest stop that is a must stop if you are travelling this way.  The camping was also very comfortable complete with a pool to cool off in.

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Interior and exterior of Canon Roadhouse

But what was most spectacular while we were camped there was a storm that moved in creating huge clouds of billowing sand and incredible colours in the sky complete with a rainbow.

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That’s sand moving our way. Luckily the wind moved it off in another direction

Canon Roadhouse sky panorama

Canon Roadhouse storm sky

Time to move on and move on we did to Helmeringhausen and a visit with Moki. Funny, looking back on the trip one would have thought we would have been bored by the landscape with much of the trip being through desert like territory.  However, I don’t think any of us got bored.  At least speaking for myself I never tired of the landscape as it always changed in some minute way. It wasn’t a quick change but one that came slowly and suddenly one found themselves in a completely different environment.

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Yes, it’s flat but never boring. Always watching for animals and small changes

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Stunning landscapes

Finally we arrived in Moki’s home town, Helmeringhausen.  A quiet little village of a few hundred people. It included a lovely little hotel with a very small, about 15, campsites.  We were the only ones there and it included a great ablutions block, water at each site, a braai, picnic table with a roof overhead.

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Helmeringhausen camp-site

We settled in nicely and had some time to ourselves catching up on various items.

What are we all doing

Clockwise from upper left – Sania enjoying life as usual. Connie and Rob trying to figure out how to use the tire gauge, Elsbie hard at work writing postcards and Sierd, well, what does everyone do these days? On his cell phone!

I’ve mentioned Moki.  Here is a picture of Moki

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Moki – the pest

Yes, Moki is a springbok. He was rescued by the cook at the hotel after his mother was killed on the road just on the edge of town.  Moki has grown up as the centre of attention at the hotel and tends to be extremely friendly.  However, Moki is reaching puberty, or should I say past puberty.  Now he’s a pest and believe it or not, in the campground, made a nuisance of himself trying to hump everyone in site.  Now, it’s no easy matter taking a springbok by the horns and dragging him away but that’s what we would have to do.  That worked a few times and he stayed away for a while but would always return. When he wasn’t happy he could use his horns in a very effective way and that drew the line at which time the hotel was called and Moki ended up in Moki jail i.e. a pen

Helmeringhausen to Sesriem route map

 

So much for Moki and his antics.  On to Sesriem, a stunningly unusual place. I won’t say much here as the pictures tell most of the story.  The photos begin with the approach to Sesriem in which the dunes can be seen from afar as though pillowy clouds.

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Approaching the Sesriem area

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In the middle of the Namib desert a road leading to where?  Too enticing….

These dunes stretch over an incredible distance with a width of close to 200 miles and Sesriem is the entrance to Nakluft National Park and is the main tourist entrance to Soussesvlei . Soussesvlei is a salt pan surrounded by dunes and further along is Deadvlei, a salt pan with the remains of acacia trees.

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Namib Sand Sea

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Get up at 0430hrs, drive 45 km then climb the dune. Umm, it’s worth it

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Getting there

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On top of Dune 45 and off to the left would be Deadvlei

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Dune 45

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Deadvlei lying to the right

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There’s a fast way down to the shade

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Rob, Sania, Sierd, Tony Elsbie and Connie in Deadvlei

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Relaxing after getting stuck twice in the sand on the way out from Deadvlei

 

This was definitely one of the highlights of our camping trip. It’s a place that will remain in my memory for a long time.

I’ll continue this in a sequel but to give you and teaser to get you to look at chapter 2 I will leave you with one picture to ponder:

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Rob doesn’t look too happy!

 

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anne Boldt permalink
    February 23, 2016 12:43

    OMG Tony,
    You have done it again!
    what an amazing travelogue!
    Keep them coming!!!
    Annie B.

  2. February 23, 2016 13:20

    WOW!

  3. Anne Boldt permalink
    February 23, 2016 15:33

    What a fantastic trip and experience. Great photos, great narrative, Lorne

  4. Wayno permalink
    February 23, 2016 19:55

    Damn sand gets in everywhere! You guys this was terrific. I love deserts.. having recently done the Judean and Negev not to mentioned outback Oz repeatedly. Beautiful photos! What could you possibly present next?!!

  5. Sammy permalink
    February 23, 2016 20:43

    Thanks for sharing Tony! Brought back some wonderful memories of when Petko and I were there. Looking forward to more photos and hope our paths cross again soon!

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