Monday, June 9, 2008

South Africa by Truck: Cape Town, Swakopmund, Etosha and Chobe National Park, Harare (Week 2)

Day 8: Sesriem, Sossusvlei

After an very quiet night, except for some snoring human's, we left the valley at Duwisib Castle to go to our next campsite in Sesriem. Along the way the big sand dunes of the Namib Naukluft park already came in sight. Close by our campsite in Sesriem we went to visit the Sesriem Canyon. This is a small shallow canyon, at one side very narrow and at the other side more wide, where a tree manages to survive the dry climate. From the top of the 300 meters high sand dune After walking and climbing around the small canyon we went to the campsite to set up our tents and to have lunch. Between the campsite and the Atlantic Ocean all there was between is a sand beach of about 140 kilometers wide. That's what I call a large beach. After lunch we went to Sossusvlei, a 70 km drive westwards along the rough riverbed of the Tsauchab. Sossusvlei itself is a salt lake based at the enormous sand dunes with a height of about 300 meters. On arrival we started to climb the highest sand dune of the world. It was about 1 o'clock in the afternoon which was not the smartest time of day to climb the hill. But we did it anyway, taking only a small photo camera and a bottle of water with us. It was quite strenuous to climb the hill because of the shifting sand. One step forward resulted in a half step backwards. But we were not in a hurry so we managed to reach the top. The reward of our effort was a magnificent view of the Namib desert. Going down the sand dune was the easier part. It was very enjoyable to run down the hill taking big steps. In no time we reached the foot of the sand dune. Back at the truck the first thing I did was drinking a nice cool beer and taking off my shoos to remove all the sand. We had diner before we went back to our campsite in Sesriem.

Day 9: Namib Naukluft Park

View from Sesriem camp site. In the morning, after a last look to the sand dunes, we left the Sesriem camp site towards the northern part of the Namib Naukluft Park. Slowly the sandy landscape changed into a more rocky landscape. It even got more dry and warmer. The first stop was at 'Kuiseb Canyon', where you could take some pictures. Via 'Ganab' we went on to the next stop which was 'Bloedkoppie', 'Bloedkoppie' in Naukluft Park.where we had our lunch. 'Bloedkoppie' is a small hill consisting of big smooth rocks which you can climb very easily. If you translate 'Bloedkoppie', which is dutch, into english you got something like Bloodhead. Why they called it like that I don't know. Maybe to indicate what you will get if you ever fall down the hill ;-) ?

After lunch we continued our journey to the Welwitschia Plains. Here you can find a concentration of the Welwitschia Mirabilis, a special plant which can reach a age of 2000 years. It get its water from the inland drifting fog. It is a very ugly plant but that's mayby the reason it can reach such an age. There was one specimen around that was about 2000 years old which was surrounded by a fence to protect it from curious tourists like us. We didn't need to drive a long time to reach our next camp site because it was close by. It was called Bushcamp Namib Desert. Again, it was a very basic campsite with only a chemical toilet present. When we arived at this place we saw a group of baboons running away and we didn't see them again.

Day 10: Swakopmund

Today we left the Namib Naukluft park behind us and went westwards with the destination the sea resort Swakopmund. This city along the Atlantic Ocean is a popular destination in the summer when the people are looking for a cool place to be to escape from the heat.
The temperature is relatively low because of the cold water stream coming from the Antartic. When we approached the area around Swakopmund the weather was breaking completely. Coming from warm and dry desert we drove straight into the cool and humid coastal area. The blue sky was replaced by a cloudy one. This time we were not going to a campsite but to a holiday park inside Swakopmund for two nights. What a luxury, not sleeping in a tent but in a cottage. First we did some shopping and walking around the main street. Nearby the holiday park there was a launderette where we could wash our clothes. During the waiting for the washing machines to finish we played some pool biljart. In the evening we went for diner to the Kuecki's pub in the center of Swakopmund where I ate ostrich for the first time in my life.

Day 11: Swakopmund

In the early morning we went northwards to visit the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. At this Seal breeding place hundreds of Seals were just lying around along the sea shore.Cape Cross Seal colony They were making a lot of noice and they gave off a unpleasant smell but it was an impressive sight. After some looking around we went back to Swakopmund where we arrived just in time for lunch. For the afternoon we booked a Quad bike trip through the sand dunes around Swakopmund. Those Quad bike were quite powerful and could reach a speed of at least 80 km/hour. It was a very exciting trip which I enjoyed very much. Especially when we drove up, down and through the high sand dunes. The only annoying thing was the sand which got in your eyes when you drove behind somebody else. Before it was getting dark we went back to Swakopmund. The first thing we did when we came back to our cottages was taking a shower to get rid of all the sand. The evening we went for diner in Swakopmund where I ate Kudu meat. A Kudu is a kind of antelope and is one of Namibia's most common animals.

Day 12: Brandberg

At the luxury time of 10:00 am we left Swakopmund, so there was still some time left to do some tourist shopping. We drove northwards along the coast for about 2 or 3 hours. Just before entering Skeleton Coast Park we went inland towards Brandberg valley, where we were going to visit the "White Lady" rock paintings. To get close to the rock paintings we had to walk for a about 45 minutes. The paintings were carefully protected by a fence so nobody could touch them. After this visit we went to our next camp site were we arrived just before dark. At this campsite there was also a primitive bar where they had cold beers. Well, there wasn't anything else to do...

Day 13: Twyfelfontein, Outjo

Campsite building with restaurant, bar and swimming pool.Today we went further northwards to visit more rock paintings at Twyfelfontein. A few kilometers further we visited a place called 'Petrified Forest'. At this place old trees of a primeval forest of thousands years ago are found which are completely turned into stone. Somewhere along the road we had some lunch before we entered our next campsite called the 'Setenghi Camping Place' near the city of Outjo. Here we could relax near the bar and swimming pool. In the evening we had diner where we could eat as much as we liked.

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