left for Sossusvlei.
The route was very scenic with some nice (small) mountainpasses.
Meanwhile i am used to the gravel roads, but constant attention is
needed because the surface changes all the time.
In Solitaire i had a short stop and had apfelstrudel from the famous bakery.
When i arrived in Sesriem the weather had changed to cloudy and windy.
Sesriem is nothing more then a fuelstation and some accomodation for
tourists. The Sossusvlei is the main attraction in Namibia for its dunes
and scenery. The Sesriem campsite needs reservation because its fully
booked sometimes months in advance. Since i never booked anything in
advance, it appeared to be fully booked. Luckily they have an 'overflow'
campsite. So i could stay over at Sesriem which is within the national
park, meaning you get to go to the dunes as soon as sunrise. All i had
to do is find a lift, because bikes arent allowed in the park. At the
campsite next to me a guy in a car pulled up. He appeared to be Peter,
from Australia, and had no objection in me tagging along. He wanted to
be at the gate before it opened, so at 5:20 i had to be present. That
evening the wind picked up a bit more and it started to rain.
Luckily that morning it didnt rain, but it was cloudy. Peter and i
arrived second at the gate and they let us in at 5:30. From there it is
a 'race' to the first dune accessible for the public, Dune 45. That is
because it's 45km from the gate. Arriving at the dune it didnt seem that
high, so we started enthusiastic. Because of the rain, the top layer was
moist and packed sand, making the way up a bit easier, but still it was
a heavy hike. On the top we could see other people starting the hike up
and cars riding into the park in the distance. The view from the dune on
the landscape is spectacular. Most fun was the run down the dune though.
You can run full speed without falling, the sand breaks your steps.
Next stop was dead valley. You can only get there by 4x4, or walk, as we
did. The walk is scenic and worthwhile, but most people take 4x4 taxis
or drive themselves. Peter and i climbed another, higher dune. Measured
with GPS it was about 300m high. The hike up took 40 minutes. The run
down the 50/45 degree slope took 3:16. I filmed the run down holding the
camera in one hand. Sometimes i forgot to hold it and aim, to keep my
balance. Hopefully soon i can post it on Youtube.
Sossusvlei isnt the prime tourist attraction for nothing, the place is
one of the most beautiful i've ever seen!
Also with Peter i had good company.
The next day i left for Aus. The weather was a lot better riding south
from Sossusvlei. Very windy, warm and powerful sun during the day. I
stayed at a scenic and quiet campsite at Klein Aus Vista. At sundown i
climbed a nearby rock to have a view on the surroundings. The food at
the restaurant is very good at Klein Aus. In the morning i left very
early to do a boat tour at Lüderitz, a small harbour on the coast. The
tour is 2 hours and most of the time there's not much to see. It was
cold and windy. I did see some dolphins, penguins and silhouettes of
seals. Not everything can be spectacular in Namibia i guess.
The day after i rode through the Naukluft park, with a very scenic road.
Stopping for taking pictures wasnt fun though, because of some very
small flies swarming me. I stayed over at Noordoewer along the Orange
river at the border with South Africa. The next day i went to the FIsh
River canyon. Another wonder of the Namibian landscape. Being some 160km
long and hundreds of meters deep it's not nearly as big as the Grand
Canyon as i was pointed out by some Americans, but nonetheless it's
stunning in my book. The gravel roads in the park were in spots very
rocky or had some bad corrugations, making the ride less then comfortable.
At midday i arrived at the Canyon Roadhouse, a popular stopover because
of it's atmospheric bar. Dressed up with old cars and trucks, with a
kind of Route 66 feel. I had planned to stay over at the Roadhouse, but
found it too early to stop. There wasnt much to do there either. So i
rode on hoping to find some accomodation close to the border. But the
only campsite i found was fully booked. Getting close to sundown i
passed a car with two men waving. I stopped and they explained to be out
of gas. Since i'm happy when people help me out whenever i need it, i
decided to help them out. I gave one of the guys a ride on the back to
the nearest fuel station close to the border with South Africa. It was
an uncomfortable 30km. Short before the sun had set i had crossed the
border into South Africa. I planned to go as far as Upington, being the
first town across the border. Crossing the border the clock i skipped
into another timezone and by the time i arrived in Upington it was well
dark and about 20:00.
I found a nice place called Libby's lodge costing way more then i
usually pay for camping, but it was worth it. I needed a good warm
shower and comfortable bed after a long days ride (8:00-20:00).
It felt good to be back in South Africa. I was going to Pretoria to stay
at 1322 backpackers, a place i really enjoyed before. Also the bike was
in dire need of some maintenance, which could be done at Off Road Cycles
in Pretoria aswell. I wanted the bike to be in top shape again by the
third of september, as i had to pick my girl from the airport.