Saturday, February 5, 2011

Road Trippin (part 2 of 2)

Tuesday 1 February
4:25 wake up and we were on our way before 5. 45km we were at Dune 45 which we started to climb in the dark. Climbing giant sand dunes is really hard work, especially when you end up at the front and there are no pre compressed steps to walk in.

We and the dutch guys (who happened to be there at the same time) were the only ones to make it to the top but it was worth it.

After a cup of very strong coffee we were on our way again to Sossussvlei and a short walk to Deadvlei.

Back at the vehicle we had a quick drive around the vlei before heading out to find that the water had once again arrived at Sossussvlei. This only happens every 4 or 5 years so we were quite lucky to witness it pouring in (and that we didn't come down in the Combi because we would have been stuck!)

We found a mechanic who came to our site and started the car first try and it drove fine. Annoying. Still don't know what happened, possibly heat or something else - it was a rough day for the poor old combi, but it pulled through.

We lazed about the rest of the day, swimming, eating and sleeping before (successfully) making it to the canyon for sunset. We couldn't walk in the canyon very much as it was now full of water!

Wednesday 2 February
We headed out at first light, aiming initially for Keetmanshoop. We took a longer road than we came in on, but a much better road - less stress and would rather get there slowly than get stuck! It was a beautiful drive regardless!

Arriving at Keetmanshoop, we did a Spar shop and decided to push on to Grunau. We arrived, but the camp site was a bit of a dive, so we decided to try the next big town. We arrived to find no campsite whatsoever, so decided to aim for the border. No camp site there either. We crossed the border back into SA (after a watermelon break in the no mans land) and finally made it to Upington where we camped on the shores of the flooded Orange river. Long day...

Thursday 3 February
Woke up on the banks of the swollen Orange River - an interesting start, but the facilities were good and we were soon on our way (after being towed out of the drive as it was too steep).

Steers for brunch, for me anyway and we were on our way to Augrabies - our host for the night told us of the alternative route on the other side of the river, not affected by the flooding. The road wasn't terrible and we were soon there.

The falls were truly spectacular in full flood, I will let the pictures do it justice (hopefully!). The spray was rather drenching and a lot of the park was closed off due to flooding.

Friday 4 February
Up early again - off to look at the waterfalls one last time before heading off.

We decided to call it quits and head for home - all a bit tired an lacking the enthusiasm for three ore big days of driving, so decided to do the garden route another time as part of the Stellenbosch/Franschoek/Hermanus bits, with a bit of a break in between.

Wrap up:

All in all, the Combi went well, only really letting us down once (the other times were human error or excusable after a rough days driving). We pulled out of the camp site in Upington, managing after three tries to reverse up onto the drive, only to find that it was far too steep (it was not that steep) for the combi to handle.

Namibia is beautiful and everyone should go there. The landscape changes so often and suddenly, but ideally you would be in a 4wd car I think, just to make life that little bit less stressful.

I think the fact that we went at the wrong time of the year made it all the better, you remember these trips for the challenges and the rewards, and both were great.

The butterflies were immense in number - the front of the combi would literally be plastered with butterfly (and occasionally dragonfly, large beetle and other) remains, which incidentally are made up almost entirely of a runny liquid (though with enough force I'm sure anything would turn into a runny liquid).

We lost the front numberplate on the first few days, not sure how. As we were heading south out of Namibia we got pulled over by a cop who didn't seem all that keen to talk to the ladies. I managed to get us off with an infringement notice though, and not the $500 fine (equivalent to R500 or about NZ$100). At the border to SA we had similar issues, but once they saw the inside of the combi they were much friendlier and sent us on our way.

Wildlife spotted:
Vervet Monkeys
[Other deer]
Warhogs (though not by me)
Monitor lizard?
Yellow scorpions (two came out from under my tent at Sossussvlei)
Insects attracted to light
Blue Crane (maybe)
Social Weaver birds
Wild horses
Not wild horses