- Cape to Kunene - 2012
- Day 1 - Getting to Pofadder
- Day 2 - Crossing the Gariep
- Day 5 - On to Spreetshoogte
- Day 6 - Solitaire to Swakopmund
- Day 8 - Spitzkoppe
- Day 9 - White Elephant Ameib Ranch
- Day 9 - White Lady (cont..)
- Day 10 - Twyfelfontein
- Day 11 - Warm Quelle Kowarib
- Day 12 - Sesfontein and Puros
- Day 13 - On to Opuwo via Orupembe
- Day 14 - Epupa Falls and the Kunene
- Day 15 - Ruacana
- Day 16 - On to Okahandja
- Day 17/18 - Okahandja to the RSA border
- Day 19 - We're coming home.
- Last Words
- All Pages
|Cape to Cunene 2012 - 1 Hilux, 2 people, 6500km, 19 days, countless awesome experiences!!|
By : Thys and Elismari from Cape Town, South Africa with a Hilux called the Broodblik!
Once a year we do a "private" trip outside the borders of the RSA to scout new destinations or to revisit some of our old favourites This year we decided to visit Epupa Falls in Namibia. The tour lasted 19 days, kicked off on 12 April 2012 and saw us back in Cape Town on 1 May 2012. Here is the story of how this went down. Please check back regularly because this is an ongoing story, and is still a work in progress.
Day 1 - 12 April 2012
We left Cape Town about 2 hours later than anticipated. A long drive to Pofadder via Kliprand to get the Vigo accustomed to dirt roads and to get as close to the Onseepkans/Velloorsdrif border post as possible. It was a pretty uneventful drive, but we only reached Pofadder after dark, end tucked into the Pofadder Hotel's Thursday Nite Buffet Dinner Special. We booked onto a room at Kleinplasie just outside of town. Pofadder was also the last place in RSA where we could get 50ppm diesel at exorbitant SA prices.
Day 2 - 13 April 2012
Crossing the border of Friday the 13th!! Whoo-hooo scary thought. The crossing went without a hitch. We were the only car and it took us approx 3 minutes to get our passports stamped, the SAPS official gave the Broodblik a cursory glance and opened the gate. No hassles on the RSA side then. Once we crossed the bridge on the Namibian side it took a few minutes longer, but only because we had to pay the Road Tax at a second counter. Off we went into the Namibian countryside. Our destination was Koës, and we drove via Karasburg and some D roads to get into Koës via the Koës Pan. We spent the weekend with family on a farm outside Koës, just to acclimatise and to experience some awesome Kalahari thunderstorms.
Road to Onseepkans - For Steve
Crossing the Gariep
Along some D-roads you see amazing things
Day 5 - 16 April
No we didnt go into a time warp, we spend 2 delightful days on the farm, relaxing with family and getting used to the Namibian diet. As part of our trip we wanted to stock up in Swakopmund, and we decided to take the scenic route via Spreetshoogte Pass, Solitaire and Walvis Bay. As this would have been a very long drive we decided to make an overnight stop at the top of Spreetshoogte at Namib Grens camp site. Our route for the day took us over Gochas, Stampriet to Mariental where we did a little bit of supplies-shopping at the Spar. Lamb is R48/kg there. I also stopped in at the hardware store for a kettle plug, as I forgot the mains-plug for the Engel at home! We left the B1 just after Kalkrand, en route to Nauchas.
Namib Grens turned out to be a wise decision. We experienced our last thunder shower of the trip that afternoon. Luckily we didnt have to use our own camping equipment, as Namib Grens is a "tented" camp, with pre-pitched army tents. This meant we just had to make a bed for the night. The campsite is really neat en tidy and had hot (donkey) and cold water showers. Each camp site has its own ablutions setup, neatly built in between the existing boulders, taste-fully blending in with nature.
Day 6 - 17 April
We woke up early with a lot of bird singing and with perfect sunny weather. After a quick breakfast of rusks and coffee we packed up and left Namib Grens to travel down the Spreetshoogte pass. Although the road is in the process of being paved (cemented) it still is quite a spectacular drive. Steep downhills and tight hairpin bends.
The view from the top is spectacular. Once we reached the bottom we drove to the Solitaire/Walvis Bay t-junction and decided to turn left to Solitaire (10km) for some of Moose's world famous apple tart. As in the past we were not disappointed. We also used the opportunity to fill up with diesel. Once we had our fill of the sweet treats and coffee we drove to Walvis Bay.
Moose's Apple Tart
Nosy little bugger
Follow that imaginary line.....
Water in the Kuiseb
The veld is very green after good summer rains. Once we reached the Tropic of Capricorn we did the touristy thing, stopped and took some photographs. (we do that every time!) Then we hit a bit of bad luck as our camera battery went "flat", and once we reached the Kuiseb river it refused to take any more pictures. Darn..!! We stopped at the bottom of Dune 7 for lunch, contemplated climbing up the dune and after some deliberation that lasted no more than 3 seconds decided that is not going to happen. That was mainly because the camera battery was flat, and if we told you guys we did climb all the way to the top you wouldnt have believed us anyway, as we dont have pictures... From Dune 7 we drove along the quieter dunes route, where there were decidedly fewer suicidal self-drive German tourists coming to grips with driving right-hand drive rental overlanding vehicles on the left hand side of the road. We prefer the odd mining truck coming from the front as they tend to stick to their side of the road. We made Swakopmund at about 2pm, booked into the municipal camp and started our shopping spree. To ensure charged camera batteries, I visited Cymot and bought a small 200W inverter vir R160. We were also looking for a syphon pipe (the one with the little marble) but could find any in the entire town. No worries, we ended up not needing it anyway. That night we cooked up a storm, pasta and veggies, and had an early night. We also spent Day 7 in Swakop, doing laundry, buying some fresh supplies, meat, beer and cold drinks. For the rest of the day we just sat around in coffee shops, on the beach, and bummed around a bit. We ended up eating in Ocean Basket that night, a real treat.
The pic my dad asked me to take
Day 8 - 19 April
With all the batteries charged thanks to the trusty Benton BX2, and the meat in the fridge deeply frozen thanks to the mains power of the Swakopmund Municipal Camp, we filled up with diesel and left for unknown territories. Swakopmund is expanding at an alarming rate with new development happening way past Mile 8. On our way to Henties Bay we stopped at a shipwrecked fishing vessel and took some pictures. Once we arrived in Henties Bay we stopped for a very good filling breakfast and coffee and a bit of a browse around the curio shops where all sorts of klippertjies and goetertjies are being sold.
On the way to Spitzkoppe
Was the tree or the trunk planted here?
Spitzkoppe on the horizon
We took the road towards Usakos via the desert, as our destination for the night was the Erongo Mountains. On our way, we visited the spectacular Spitzkoppe, where we spent a lot of time driving, walking and taking in the awesome scenery of the granite boulders. We also came across a tour group where a very Afrikaans tour guide was telling a very German tour group about the history of some rock art in very bad English. We listened and tried to figure out exactly what he was saying and needless to say, we had a few very good giggles in the following days with some of the broken phrases we picked up. Anyway, it looked like the tourists were having a good time, and they probably understood a lot more than we did.
Very strange painting... perhaps it is an alien?
There are some camp sites between the boulders, with very basic amenities like long drop toilets and braai spots. Being alone in those "Koppe" at night must be fantastic. This is a must see if you are in the area. Once again we were left wanting at the end of our drive through Spitzkoppe though, as there is no information available on the history, peoples who inhabited the area, plant and animal life, etc etc. We asked the people at the gate, but they didnt have anything. We had similar experiences on previous tours to Namibia. It is a pity though, because we would like to know a bit more about an area we visit, and it is not always possible to do online research about everything beforehand. In the town of Usakos we filled up with fuel again and headed out to Ameib Ranch about 20km out of town, direction Uis. Ameib Ranch is a game ranch in the Erongo Mountains, and offers well kept camping sites as well as up market lodging. Being cheap-skate from Brackenfell we opted for a camp site.
Working at the "Boskantoor"
Ameib Ranch Camp site
Day 9 - 20 April
This was the day I almost died...... twice....
Pieter, you would have been proud of me, and many wont believe that I actually did it... but here goes... Ameib Ranch is actually quite a nice place. On the farm they have hiking routes, a game drive and some interesting rock formations. Also on the farm is Phillip's Cave, with some well preserved rock art, and especially a painting of a white elephant. Once we broke up camp and left the camp site we drove round the tracks on the farm looking for some wild life, and came across a couple of giraffe and a few warthogs. Then we saw a signpost pointing towards Phillips Cave. Out came the brochure the owners gave us and we read about the white elephant. Let's go and have a look!! We drove along the track and came to a shady parking area and a big sign telling us that we need to follow a path on foor for about 25 minutes. "Light climbing might be required", it said.. It was still early and the Nam/RSA time difference was in our favour, being only 8:00 RSA time, it gave us that psychological edge. We changed into hiking boots, got the hats, and set off on our 25 minutes walk. Whoever said it only took 25 minutes had a broken watch!! After climbing over a hill, boulder hopping like crazy and crossing a valley we started up the next mini mountain following the white arrows painted on the rocks.. Waaaayyy at the top there was a sign saying "Hou Moet, Amper Daar". From ther eit took almost 25 minutes of leopard crawling to make it to the cave! I felt like I was going to have a tripple heart attack! Sopnat gesweet and huffing and puffing I dragged my tired bones into Phillip's Cave only to discover that the old bugger wasn't even there to make us a cup of coffee of give us something cold to drink! We stood around a bit catching our breath and studied the rock paintings and the fantastic view from the cave. Awesome! It was really worth the walk, even though it felt like we should be close to Piketberg about now. After catching our breath, and taking some pictures we decided to start the long trek back. This time it felt a little bit closer, but we ended up back at the Hilux all huffing and puffing again. Thing is with this part of the world... after 9:00 it gets VERY hot... never mind whether you are on RSA time or Nam time! After a couple of liters of cold water we drove off tired but satisifed. Next stop the Elephant's Head rock formation, and then the Bull's Party. We saw the Elephant's head, but the Bull's Party was over, and it seems like they lost the game because there were rocks strewn all over the place. An awesome place none the less, and definitely worth the time and effort to get there. This was our visit to Ameib Ranch, and it was pretty exciting!!
Phillips Cave entrance
2 White Elephants
View from the cave
Hou Moet, just follow the arrows
Thats the cave up at the top there under the bald rock
Day 9 - 20 April
This turned out to be one of the busiest days we had on tour, but also one of the best in terms of time well spent, nice experiences and seeing amazing things. After my near death experience in the Erongo Mountains, we headed out for Twyfelfontein via Uis. Water, Coke and some nicotine rich vegetarian substance rolled in a paper wrapper revived me enough to get going again. Once we reached Uis we stopped at the local supermarket mega-mall and stocked up on drinking water, energade, Bar Ones (for 25 hour days) and a packet of locally produced boerewors, which we unceremoniously dubbed "donkiewors". After a quick look around the town we took off past Brandberg towards Twyfelfontein. Suddenly this "White Lady" sign post jumped out in front of us, and in a flash we decided that this is not to be missed. It was somewhere in our travel plans, but seeing as we were there, we changed our plans on the spot. Arriving at the gate we were welcomed by a guide, Daniel, and some of his friends. It was late, after 13:00 (Nam time) already, and it was hot. Daniel recommended extra water, and well tied shoe-laces. O and it was about 2.5km walk into the Brandberg, no real climbing required. By this time my travel companion was seriously worried about my health. I never felt better. So we pay and we get to play. Daniel set off at a brisk pace, with the 2 of us following. E is a helova lot fitter than me, and copes with the sandy path a lot better, but I went into "machine" mode. Putting one foot in front of the other, keeping a steady rythm, heart rate and breathing steady. After what seems like for ever Daniel called for a rest stop. We were 250m into the hike. This was going to be a long day, and the temperature approached the 40's! We walked and stopped and walked and stopped and all the time Daniel is telling us about the rock formations, the Brandberg, and plants in the area. At last we reached the White Lady. Amazing! It was worth the sweat. Daniel really knows his stuff and for about 45 minutes he told us about the explorers who first discovered the rock paintings, the myths that surround it and a lot about the Bushman culture, lifestyle and the history of the area. The hike back was not as bad, and once we reached the gate we thanked him and we were on our way. Now to get to Aba Huab Campsite at Twyfelfontein! It was 16:00 Nam time! Needless to say we arrived at Aba Huab after dark, set up camp in a hurry and chowed down on some left overs from the night before, as we were both too tired to prepare a meal. For the first time the RTT was opened, and after a grillerige shower we settled in for the night, dog-tired, but satisfied that we had a fantastic day! I cannot remember when last I hiked so much in one day, and the last time I had 2 near death experiences in one day was in the Army!!
Daniel the guide
The White Lady from Brandberg
Some more rock art
Brandberg the highest peak in Namibia in the background
En route to Twyfelfontein
Day 10 - 21 April
We woke up to a fantastic sunrise!
Our plans for the day included the Orrelpype, Petrified Forest, Verbrande Berg and lots of R&R under a tree with some cold liquid refreshments. But first of all we needed to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings, as we arrived after dark we felt a bit disorientated. A quick look around the campsite revealed that Aba Huab is a bit of a dump. Not as far as the actual camp site is concerned, but the ablution facilities are really neglected and dirty. I would much rather shower under a tree with cold water from a jerry can, than having to use a shower stall that is grimey and slippery and where you dont know exactly what those grey/green slimey spots on the walls really are. The missus feels the same. So first things first, we broke up camp, and went on our way looking for alternative accommodation. We stopped in at the Organ Pipes.
We stopped at the Burnt Out Mountain
We drove past the Twyfelfontein Lodge, but the Brackenfell in me decided it was waaayyyy to larney for us. Then we drove back past Aba Huab, hunting for some ice, and braai wood. The lady behind the counter either had a hearing problem or I didnt speak clearly but when I asked for braai wood, she responded that they had baaaie wood.... I said no, not baaaie wood, vuurmaakhout, and she said vier kruiwaens vol hout would cost us R80. We all had a good laugh and said good bye. There are some nice lodges in the area, but the only alternative camp site we could find was Aabadi. Facilities are a bit primitive, but at least it is clean and we were the only people in the camp site. Price was the same as Aba Huab, so in that respect it was a no brainer. We booked in and set up camp. Once we had our site secured we drove off to go visit the Petrified Forest.
There are a few sites where you can view this, and we shopped around a bit until we got to the "biggest one, the BEST one", or at least that is what it said on the hand painted sign! Jan Damara the guide assured us that they have the best "petrified forest" in the area, and that we can go and have a look and then only pay afterwards if we are satisfied. We also got a guide to accompany us on the 45 minute hike. The best explanation we got from the guide was "Meneer, dis die klep, hy lyk net soos die hout!" And we looked and we saw the kleppe what look just like the hout! Lots of them, even long logs that were pertrified by being submerged in mineral rich water for centuries. Amazing, and after the previous day's hikes it was a walk in the park.
Termite workings in the petrified wood
The day was still young, and we realised we were running low on cash, and diesel, so we decided to drive 50km to Khorixas to fill up and to draw some cash. We were headed out into Kaokoland, and we knew credit card machines are very few and far between, and that many places preferred cash. It was late afternoon when we arrived at our campsite and we noticed that we had company. A young couple from Witbank travelling in a LC bakkie set up camp on the other side of the camp site. That night we braaied the "donkiewors" and once we tasted it we regretted buying only 1 packet!! It was really lekker! We should have bought more!! But we heard about the Veterinary Cordon Fence near Palmwag, and we had to make plans with the meat we had on board already.
Day 11 - 22 April
Our stay at Twyfelfontein came to an end, and after a brekkie of koffie en beskuit we headed north towards Palmwag. On the way we saw some elephant dung in the road, and some of those suicidal German self drive tourists in a Hilux Vigo D/C. I explained in my best German to them that elephant dung in the road means that there were elephants in the vicinity some time ago. We did spot a few giraffes though. One of them stood so still for about 10 minutes that I was convinced he was carved from wood or something... eventually he moved his head... and I said "I wonder how they did that??"... Only once this guy walked off did I believe that he was real... The elephants eluded us though...
The mechanical giraffe
We stopped at the Veterinary Cordon Fence checkpoint near Palmwag, and when the guard started to write down my details his pen was not working. I gave him a brand new Hilux4x4 Club pen. He was seriously impressed, and asked me to convey his sincerest thanks to the Hilux4x4 Club for their contribution to enable him to do his work properly. He let us through without even asking about any meat we were carrying with us. The coutryside changed remarkably after the Vet's Line. Wildlife all around in abundance, with herds of springbok, mountain quaggas, giraffe and lots more, right next to the road. The road surface was not too bad, and the going was good, except for the "driffies" that were exceptionally deep, and I needed to slow down to 2nd gear for some of them. This gave the suspension a good work-out. We came across a few driffies with some water in them, but nothing spectacular.
We had 2 options for our overnight stay so when we arrived at Warm Quelle we had a look at Ogongo Gorge. A very nice campsite, with a rockpool under a waterfall with crystal clear river water. Unfortunately we had already seen a better campsite about 10 km back, at Kowarib Lodge, next to the river, with lots more shade, and working electric points, and decided to stay there. After a short drive through the village we headed back to our chosen campsite, and pitched camp. It was still quite early, about 15:00, when we were settled in so we went for a stroll in the river. The water was about ankle deep.
Later in the afternoon I heard a BIG commorion at the Hilux, and went to investigate. 2 Hornbills decided that the guys in the side mirror must come out and play!! They sat on the side mirror pecking away at their own reflection in the mirrors, and I was afraid that they might break it. I decided tp drape my hat over the one mirror and tied a shopping bag over the other one. This did not deter them one little bit, because they found more rivals in their reflection in the side windows! Okay, then we open the windows, and there wont be a reflection... Bad idea, because the one hornbill flew in and sat on the steering wheel. Chased them out, closed the windows, and covered the outsides of the windows up with dirty t-shirts. No more hornbills for about 5 minutes. Then they saw that there were more imposters in the windscreen and started tearing at the window wipers! Out came some plastic coke bottles and cans, and they were packed on the wipers, which we had to reset a few times, but at least the cans and bottles falling over startled them and caused them to fly away. We had lots of fun with these 2 outjies, and by sunset, they went home for dinner, a bedtime story and a good night's sleep. They were back just before sunrise!!
Day 12 - 23 April
With the hornbills back, we had an early start, breaking up camp and packing up hoping that all the activity will keep them away from the vehicle. As we started a big troop of baboons came charging past in the riverbed, with the papa-baboon shouting and hooting at the younger ones that fall behind. Once all was packed up and we had our customary koffie en beskuit we took off for Fort Sesfontein and beyond.
At Sesfontein we filled up with diesel, and had a cup of coffee at the Fort. Looks idyllic in there! Service was great, even though the coffee left much to be desired.
We headed out of Sesfontein, direction Puros. That was our overnight stop. With our eyes wide open for elephants we drove on the slightly corrugated road, and once we got to the Giribes Plains we stopped to check out the fairy circles. The road was really badly corrugated and in some places you have a 3 or more tracks to choose from running parralel to the road.
Still we checked the riverbeds and surroundings for a glimpse of an Ellie, but to no avail. And then we arrived in Puros, drove around a bit trying to figure out the confusing sign posts to the camp site, and eventually found it quite by accident, after almost getting stuck in the fine dust in the riverbed, that was not supposed to be drivable! But we got through albeit in a HUGE cloud of stifling dust. .
After setting up camp we took a walk about the campsite, and then settled in for some bird watching and a few icy cold refreshing beverages. Big signs everywhere informed us that elephants roam freely throughout the campsite, and to not be silly and attempt to get all cosy with them, and to keep fruit and food packed well away. We were hoping for an elephant encounter that night, but still no luck. Needless to say I slept with one eye open.
Day 13 - 24 April
Day 13. And this would be one of the unlucky ones. Strange because I am not supersticious, and 13 always was a good number for me, hey I live in Nr 13! Anyway, I digress. After a night's light sleep, we woke early to the sound of 100 000 patryse screetching in the bushes. Coffee and beskuit later, with the camp packed up, we left Puros for Opuwo via Orupembe. This was going to be a hard day's drive according to the trip advisor who suggested the route. Not because of distance, but because of the road conditions, hence we decided to get an early start. Out here in the desert, the temperatures stil go up to 40 and beyond during the day despite it being late April. The landscapes are amazing with nothing but gravel and rocks as far as the eye can see. We love it!
Gate to Okahirongo Elephant Lodge
We stopped at the very busy Puros Airport to look at the planes, but it seemed they were all delayed elsewhere due to foul weather conditions, because conditions at Puros were perfect! Soon we saw what was meant by bad roads. Steve, i reckon this beats the road from Pofadder to Onseepkans. The corrugations are so widely spaced, that there is no "comfortable" speed to drive on them. It is slow and bumpy going, because anything over about 30km/h feels like the steering wheel and the dashboard is going to end up on my lap. In most places there are tweespoor tracks alongaside the "main" road, made by people looking for a more comfortable ride. Corrugations?
At one stage we pulled off road to have a break and then disaster struck. Left rear inner sidewall cut badly by a rock. One of those sharp ones, that are everywhere around! Within minutes the the tyre was completely flat. Luckily we were in the process of stopping anyway, so we didnt damage anything else. Out came the laundy bag, and my cleanest dirty shirt. Then the gloves. I am the guy who tells everybody to wear them, so I need to lead by example! I am very happy with the placement of my toolbox and the accessibility of my stuff, so getting to the jack, spanners and all the stuff I needed for this operation was a breeze. The standard Toyota Hilux jack leaves a lot to be desired though.
Blowing out rapidly
Dressed for success
On closer inspection of the wheel I saw that the spot where we stopped was right on top of an ant nest, with these big black buggers already climbing on my feet and biting like crazy, so I asked E to put the vehicle in L1 and move it forward about 30m to get to a "cleaner" spot. At that time I didnt know the extent of the damage yet, and every turn of the wheel made me feel sick as the rim was rolling on the tyre. But rather that than allowing some of those ants access to my touserlegs when I lie down to jack the car up! It was about 11:00 (Nam or RSA time does not matter it was HOT) I had to crawl in under the car to position the jack, there was limited space, off came the gloves!! Eventually after a long struggle I got the wheel off the gound, but not enough to fit a fully inflated wheel. So the rocket scientis in my head decided it is a good idea to dig the gravel out from under the tyre to make space... BAD IDEA! Short story: Gravel = unstable surface. Digging gravel disturbs the surface. Jack on disturbed surface slides into newly created hole, despite the fact that it was on a wooden block!. Car falls off the jack!!! Shortcuts dont work! Do it properly or dont do it at all. Luckily the rim with the flat tyre was still on the car, otherwise we would have had serious problems. This was really a stupid move, and I dont know why I even thought it would work in the first place. We took some time to re-assess the situation. There was no damage to equipment, tools, vehicle or people, so we were lucky. Moved the vehicle forward, out of the hole and onto stable ground. Reset jack, jack up but this time all the way! Very gently, and carefully I replaced the damaged tyre with the spare, and quickly tightened the nuts. A big Mercedes lorry carrying supplies to Puros stopped and asked if we were okay. We thanked them for stopping and said all is fine now, we'll be on our way soon. About 10 minutes later another vehicle stopped to offer assistance. Peak hour traffic!! This time a LHD Land Rover Defender with a German couple who came through the Marienfluss. Once again we thanked them for stopping, and they were on their way. My command of the german language was growing day by day, I now knew 4 words... I checked the damaged tyre to see if I could fix it, but not even a BIG mushroom plug would have saved this one. We also lost about an hour of traveling time, and we were never going to make that up, not on these roads.
What a sight!
E made sure I had a road-side bath out of a jerry can to rid me of dust, gravel and sweat before I was allowed back into the car. She insists that there must be a little bit of civilisation in the wild, and the cab of the Hilux will be it... I also changed back into my Sunday best, and with all the gear and the destroyed tyre secured we headed off into the wilderness. Needless to say I was edgy now that we were down to 1 spare wheel, and checking on the left rear tyre every now and then. That day we had lots of smoke breaks. We made it to Orupembe about halfway through the day, and decided to invest Nam$17.50 in the local economy by buying 2 cans of Fanta at the local shop. The terrain changed dramatically from the gravel/sand plains we crossed, to lots of rocky hills and valleys and river crossings with palm trees as we travelled in an easterly direction. There were also lots of cattle and goats on the road and Himba villages all over the place. Spectacular views, and nice countryside to drive through. Once we got to Kaoko-Otavi the road conditions improved and we made good time to Opuwo. It was about 18:00 when we reached Opuwo, and our accommodation hunt commenced. Not wanting to have a repeat of the Aba Huab episode, we checked out Mopani Tented Camp, got a quote and decided that we were very willing to pay the discounted SADC-rate of R403 pppn including buffet breakfast. We also opted for the buffet dinner, meaning we only had to unpack our clothes bags and have a relaxing evening. We deserved that after the long hard day. Dinner consisted of a 3 course braai and a couple of cold beverages in a very nice lapa.
Hand Pump according to T4A you can drink this water. We didnt try..
Hier moet jy stadig ry of mamma gaan dun lippies kry...
Day 14 - 25 April
We had a very relaxing night at Mopane Tented Camp, a superb breakfast of bacon, eggs, wors, toast and all the trimmings. We make a point of having one night of relative luxury on tour, and this was it. After stocking up on supplies at the OK in Opuwo, filling up with diesel and only just avoiding a police and army roadblock we were on our way to Epupa Falls. Mark (0000MS) told my by SMS that we should stay in the second campsite in Epupa, it has a bar and a pool. About 10km outside Opuwo we stopped under a tree in the shade to pack our supplies in the fridge and E asked what makes that hissing sound. I said no way, it must be a sonbesie or something, but it wasnt. It was the left rear (the spare) that was blowing out fast!! So, out came the laundry bag, I stripped to my jocks on the side of the road and got dressed for the occasion. Opened the toolbox, and got the jack under the car as soon as possible. This time things went smoother (practice makes perfect) and once the wheel was off, we traced the leak, luckily on the tread, so I could plug it with a snotplug. I dug a big old dirty shard of beerbottle glass out of the tread, but luckily the damage was not too severe. Plugged it and after checking for leaks replaced the wheel. Had another roadside "bath" and changed back into clean clothes. At one stage we had about 3 young bullocks who came to investigate what was going on, but they could give me any meaningful advice, so i politely asked them to bugger off.
After about 30 minutes we were mobile again, and slowly we krept up on Epupa. It was after all only about 180km's and we had all day to get there. Nothing much to report on the way there except the Zebra mountains, and frequent stops to check on the wheel. Once we arrived at Epupa we checked out both camp sites and opted for the second one with the swimming pool and the bar, Omarunga Lodge. Thanks for the recommendation Mark. We didnt opt for a campsite on the bank, as there was no shady spots available, and it was quite crowded with a whole bunch of people from Witbank. We stayed at Campsite nr 6, a HUGE site, with lots of shade. As we were going to be there for 2 days we set up a proper camp, with gazebo and all the trimmings to make life comfortable. For the rest of the day we chilled in the shade and listened to the waterfalls and later in the afternoon we went for a swim.
Before dawn the next morning the bunch of Witbankers packed up to leave, and promptly 2 of them bumped their cars into the palm trees, with some damage to the cars. Maybe they were still asleep. Once the sun came out, we contemplated moving camp to the bank of the river, but decided against it. We took our chairs and went and sat in the shade on the bank watching the Kenene flow past. This is life man! We were hooked on this place, so calm and relaxing under the Makalane Palms! There was some drama during the day when a helicopter landed just outside the lodge, and one tannie thought it was an emergency landing.
Only much later during the day did we go and see the falls from the lookout on top of the hill. This was very spectacular, and the river was only half full!! I cant say much more, you have to see it to appreciate it fully. Even the pics we took does not do it justice.
Just before sunset we went to the bar to have a drink and pick Gielie's (the manager) brains on the route we were planning on taking the next day. The helicopter landing was not an emergency landing. It was 2 crocodile monitors guys, who heard about a problem croc in the area, and came to investigate. Apparently this croc took 2 people and a dog in the last couple of months from the bank of the river. We were very happy with campsite nr 6 thanks!! Gielie and Cindy chatted on and on like we have known each other forever!! We felt very welcome!! Turns out the route along the river from Epupa to Swartbooisdrift was blocked by a vehicle that got stuck and was not recovered yet. Apparently a section of the road was erorded underneath by the rived, and collapsed when the vehicle travelled over it. Gielie recommended we gave it a miss, unless we were prepared to spend at least 2 days on this trail building roads to get past the stricken vehicle. The fact that we also only had 1 spare wheel counted against us. We decided this was not going to happen at all and after checking out the sunset from the bar we went back to our camp and had a lekker braai!
Day 15 - 27 April
After a day of lounging around Epupa Falls, relaxing and taking in the sights, we were packing up again and heading east. If we could we would have stayed another 3 days here, but time constraints forced us to move on. Destination Ruacana. After thanking our hosts, and exchanging email adresses, we were on our way. Once again I had a recommendation for a campsite from Mark, Kunene Island Campsite. We head back Opuwo and take the turnoff to Swartbooisdrift to get back to the Kunene. We heeded Gielie's warning not to try and drive on the track along the Kunene due to the obstacles in the way, so it was boring (if you can ever call it that) dirt roads.
At Swartbooisdrift we visit the Dorslandtrek Memorial, and head off along the river towards Ruacana. The road is not too bad an before we know it we arrive at the turn off to Kunene Island. Unfortunately we find the camp site deserted except for 2 guys filling the swimming pool with water from the river. It seems that Wynand (the owner) was not there, and the camp has been flooded recently. This is about as much information as we could get from the 2 guys, as we didnt understand each other's brand of english and my command of the local language is non existent. I think I know 1 word.
Choose your lane now!
How to eat a blue egg
Okay, no problem, the day is still very young so we push on. As we were about to descend towards the Ruacana Falls an SFA with CA registration is struggling up the steep hill. We stop at the top to give the driver all the road he needs to make it up. He stops and we strike up a conversation, firstly about Hiluxes (of course!) and then about our respective destinations. They were on their way to Epupa Falls, the Marienfluss and then down south. We exchanged some tips on road conditions and off they went. They recommended we sleep over at Eha Lodge in town. Luxury, with lawns, ice and cold drinks, they said. Sounds like fun! We went hunting for the Ruacana Falls, but unfortunately NAMPower closed the sluices of the dam and was generating electricity, so we were faced with a black rock face. Pretty disappointing, but we couldnt find the guys who operate the sluices to open them up for us. Bummer, we'll have to come back again some other time. Eha Lodge lived up to it's reputation and we chilled out under the trees on the lawn for the rest of the day. We had the whole place to ourselves again, as we were the only people in the campsite that night. Eha Lodge campsite
Day 16 - 28 April
When I closed the rooftop tent this morning I saw that look in E's eyes. That look that a horse on and outride gets when you turn it around and it smells its stable. We were 2500km from home and this holiday was coming to an end. As much as we didnt want it to end we both knew that from here on in it was 3 full days of hard driving to get back to Cape Town. We left Ruacana and headed south towards Outjo. After a long time on dirt roads, all of a sudden we were back on black-top. Cows crossing - they do it where the signs says its safe!
Toyota donkey cart
We turned in to the new gate at Etosha, just for a pitstop and in Kamajab we had a cup of coffee at a coffee shop to get the rugby score. The rest of the way was pretty uneventful, and after we reached Outjo we decided to get as close to Windhoek as we could before dark. We made it to Okahandja, where we slept over at the Ombo Rest Camp, complete with giraffes, warthogs, springboks and even crocodiles! We had Omajovas for dinner... Etosha Gate
Arriving in Kamajab
Coffee in Kamanjab
A sight for sore eyes..
On our way out
Ombo rest Camp
Day 17 - 29 April
We had breakfast in Okahandja at a coffee shop, and were quite disappointed when we realised that Piet se Biltongplek will be closed because it was Sunday! We have sort of lost track of time somewhere along the way. Luckily the waitress at the coffee shop told us of the Kiosk just up the Highway. Without any further ado we turned out of town, and went hunting for billies. We spent the best part of an hour there, placing orders, and having them vacuum packed. O ja, and we were allowed a tasting as well!! Needless to say we bought quite a bit of billies. The rest of the day was spent with family in Windhoek, where we also spent the night.
Day 18 - 30 April
We are on our way home now. As we left Windhoek this realisation sunk in. No more sudden impulsive detours, no more new adventures, just this long boring B1 highway home. In Mariental we stopped at the Spar and bought some of the nice lamb, that went up from R48/kg to R52/kg, must be the drought. Round about Grunau we encountered very strong westerly winds over the plains, and it became quite a job to keep the Hilux on the road. We made Noordoewer at about 4 pm and I was tired, and we decided not to even attempt to cross the border. We booked in to the Noordoewer gastehuis, grabbed a Wimpy burger for dinner and by 8:30 we were in bed sleeping. Leaving the tropics
We passed him a few times.
Day 19 - 1 May
Mayday Mayday! We woke up to grey misty skies and after a breakfast at the Noordoewer Gastehuis we tackled the border post. Right into a traffic jam. We forgot it was the end of a 5 day long weekend! besides the hour we lost due to the time-zones, we also lost 45 minutes crossing the border. Luckily this early in the morning nobody was in the mood for unpacking stuff, so the Broodblik returned to RSA the way it went into Namibia, unopened. From Vioolsdrif we started getting convoys of overlanders who came out of the Richtersveld, and before long we found ourselves at the back end of a convoy of 4 vehicles, and I was very happy hanging in the back there. We managed to get to Klawer without refuelling, but it was a mess to get into the Engen garage, so we pushed through to Clanwilliam. Weather picking up
We are almost home
Closing the circle
The roadworks on Piekenierskloof didnt take a lot of our time, and once we reached Piketberg, we were home. It was cold, miserable and threatening to rain! To think 3 days ago we were enjoying 42degree days! And so it came to an end. Piketberg....
Thanks for driving with us, we hope you guys enjoyed it as much as we did!!
We enjoyed this tour immensely, and can not wait for the next one. Driving 6500km in 19 days is a big ask, and can be very tiring, especially with kids, or even in a group, but we were lucky we were alone, and could adjust our plans as and when required in an instant. Cash is still king in the smaller places and make sure to carry small denominations as well, as change is not always avaialble. The weather was perfect with warm days and cool nights. Even the rain we experienced in the southern part of Namibia was welcome. Although route planning is important, it is also important to have a flexible itenary. We were stuck with a destination and a return-by date, and we didnt have much space for manouevering around our itenary, but we managed. There are some places that we would have loved to enjoy for longer, but that only gives us an excuse to go back again later. I also need to find a way of managing my batteries and power better. At Epupa Falls in the heat, the fridge killed both spare batteries in less than 36 hours. Granted, these were normal cranking batteries, and they are not new either. I really need to investigate and invest in some solar/water/treadmill/wind chargers to keep the fridge going during hot days like that. We are very strict with our fridge-etiquette, and we only opened it once a day to change the ice-packs, but even that was enough to drain the power. No worries, the meat we had stayed frozen all the time, so we didnt suffer any damage. Luckily we have a year to worry about that.
Vehicle and equipment used
Toyota Hilux 3.0 D4D D/C 4x4 fitted with GOMAD Aluminium Canopy and roof rack Rooftop tent on the cab Spare wheel and tool box on top of the canopy Rear seat removed and 40l Engel fridge and 45l Coleman cooler mounted in the place there-of. Dual-dual battery system. Yes 2 spare batteries.
Garmin Nuvi 500 T4A latest version Map Studio Southern Africa Touring Atlas (19voetsek version) Old but still useful Sahara Notebook with Mapsource
We set our Vodacom cell phones to International SMS roaming. We got cell phone reception at every place we got to, even in the remotest areas. Bought a NTC sim card with air time for emergency phone calls.
Observations, realisations, revelations
We realised that on a tour such as this where we break up camp vitually every day, some sort of drawer system will have its benefits. We also had a great opportunity to evaluate our "kit" list, and there are some items that enjoyed their last tour with us as they never get used. We also identified the need for a few things we didnt have before, either because we thought they werent necessary, or because we never knew we needed it. Because die Broodblik is a relatively new vehicle only bought about 3 months prior to this tour, it wasnt possible to fit everything. Some of the modifications are non negotiable (NN), and some are nice-to-haves (N2H).
1) Hi lift jack points (NN)
2) Roofrack tie-down points (NN)
3) Insulating cover for the fridge and cooler box (N2H)
4) Window tinting (NN)
5) Some sort of drawer system and loading deck (N2H)
6) Airbag Suspension Helpers (N2H)
7) Solar power (N2H)
8) Up to date paper maps (N2H)
9) MORE TIME!! (NN)
We stayed in a variety of campsites, ranging from very comfortable to very basic.
Pofadder - Klein Plasie
We booked a room, but they have 2 bedroom units available too. The rooms are comfortable, 2 beds, kettle and a bathroom. No kitchen facilities, but as we ate at the Pofadder Hotel we didnt need any. Watch for mossies, they are big and they come hungry!
Spreetshoogte - Namib Grens
Very nice campsite, highly recommended. The tents makes life a lot easier.
Swakopmund - Municipal Camp
We stayed in a 1 bedroom bungalow. Basic facilities, but we only needed a bed and lock-up facilities for 2 nights.
Erongo Mountains - Ameib Ranch
Fantastic campsite. Cement slabs to pitch your tent on, and each campsite has its own "picnic table" . There is a pool and you can have meals in a very nice lapa-restaurant and they have a bar! Also bungalows available.
Aba Huab - Very basic, with grimey shower stalls and toilets. Camp site is clean and tidy though. if they clean out the showers it will be a nice place. Bar and ice available. The local ladies like to lie on the pool tables after dark, and there was much spinning of tyres and loud music late at night from the locals. . Aabadi - A step up from Aba Huab. Bar but no ice.
Warm Quelle - Kowarib Lodge Campsite
Very nice campsite. Bathrooms are fantastic. Electricity is available at each site.
Puros - Puros Campsite
Bit dusty, and the facilities are pretty bush, but not too bad. Big trees, lots of shade.
Opuwo - Mopani Tented Camp
Cheap (well relatively) lodge accommodation. Good food, friendly staff, tents are neat and tidy.
Epupa Falls - Omarunga Lodge
Campsite very clean, the whole setting is just idyllic. There is a pool, and I think Mark mentioned something about a bar...
Ruacana - Eha Lodge Campsite
Grass under trees. A new experience for us. Nice, but not fantastic
Okahandja - Ombo Rest Camp
Small bungalow with 2 beds and a bathroom. Clean and tidy. We had dinner at the restaurant, the food was good value for money.
Noordoewer - Noordoewer Gastehuis
Just a room, double bed and bathroom. For a quick night's stay this is not too bad. They serve meals, and we had breakfast there.
Some other points
We asked Gideon van Zyl to bring us 2 tubes of Heavy Duty BushMan's Insect Repellent from Australia. This stuff works! Our neighbours were bitten raw by all the mossies that couldnt get close to us. It was expensive at R80 a tube, but 1 tube lasted us for the duration of the tour, and we have some left over. Also after the first night I was pretty glad we invested R80/tube because it works so well. Cape Union Mart used to sell it but they dont any more. If anybody knows where we can get hold of it in RSA please drop me an email.
Once again, as before I made a point of greeting every single overlander that I encountered on the road. Mostly my greetings were returned enthusiastically, but sadly I have to report that most of those drivers who didnt bother were driving Hiluxes! Hey guys, I am driving a Hilux too!! Or should I just use the Ford next time! I understand that most of the Hiluxes running around in Namibia are rentals driven by suicidal European LHD tourists, but even they were greeting back with vigour just before driving off the wrong side of the road... Make a difference, lift a finger, and smile!!
A word of gratitute to the following people are in order
Thinus Blaauw from CrissCross Namibia Safaris for assisting us with route planning. He shared a lot of his intimate knowledge of the terrains and Namibia in general and with his help we went to places we would normally not have gone alone. (http://www.crisscross.com.na) Dirk Theron (Hodge Travel) and Anton Ferreira (The4x4Co) for their input and tips as well as some nice campsite recommendations, as well as moral support and constant motivation to do this tour in the first place. All those overlanders who waved back, and to those who stopped to ask if we were okay when we were stranded in the desert! And last but not least, the friendly people of Namibia!!!! Everybody, from the customs officials to the little Himba kids waving on the side of the road!! You guys are great, and you made this a very special adventure!
This is Thys and Elismari signing off until next time!!