At immigration the employee gave me a card to be filled then stamped my passport and directed me towards the case to pay (NA$ 295) the entry duty and to drive on the roads,…, and the ground tracks. The customs officer asked me how much alcohol bottles I had, any. Arrived at 8:30 at the station of South Africa I leave the post of Namibia at 9:30.
My road plan lays down to visit Fish River Canyon. I passed by Aussenkehr, wine-producing area, then I avoided Ai Ais to arrive around 13:00 at Fish River Canyon. Lonely Planet warns the tourists that the season to see it in its splendor is from March to April, at the time of high waters. I was thus off-season. Its dimensions are impressive but the sight does not give from there an account, 160 km length, 27 km broad and 550 m depth. Of course it is far from being measured with the Grand Canyon in the west of the United States of America. The landscape after having crossed the Oranje river, border between South Africa and Namibia, is more desert. I got a point of bivouac on iOverlander. Alas after a work one hour on my website a car of the close spring came to expel me off this private property. “Welcome to Namibia”. I took again the road to go further on to find a bivouac at 23 km before Holoog beside the railway line.
After one peaceful night I arrived on Friday, May 25 around 12:00 in Keetmanshoop to bivouac at Quivertree Forest Camp. While crossing the city I noticed the closed stores; by consulting Lonely Planet I learned that May 25th is Africa Day. The downtown area presents a remarkable building of the Germanic style of 1910, Kaiserliches Postamt. The interest of Quivertree camp is to see two curiosities. Initially in Giant's Playground where in a field of giant rocks, grow the quivertree, kokerboom also called Aloe Dichotoma. A plant with the smooth trunk of which the thickness can reach 1 meter, with a 9 meters height and a lifetime ranging between 200 and 300 years. Then around 17:00 tourists attend the meal of the cheetahs.
On Saturday, May 26 I left Quivertree at daybreak to traverse the most 340 km from Keetmanshoop to Lüderitz on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The tarred road, full west, goes up on a plate to +1500 meters high with a low-angled light on the ocher color mountains. Then it traverses a desert bleached by the light for finished on arrival at Lüderitz by a lunar landscape. Lüderitz and the Kolmanskop ghost town are inseparable from the history of the German colonization of Namibia as well as that of the diamond purchased by the world trust De Beers. Felsenkirche built on the mountain of diamond dominates the city since 1911 and, not far Goerke Haus from 1910 as well as Knapps Hotel testify to German art before the First World War. I found a bivouac while following Diaz street to Radford Bay.
On Sunday morning May 27th in spite of a thick fog I arrived at 8:30 to discover Kolmanskop, a ghost town. It is neither an West American ghost town where John Wayne saunters his hand on his revolver swaying on its cowboy boots, Hello Guy, nor Dawson of the gold rush, but the village of the rush of diamond with its German organization and its concrete of the years 1910. I was alone, the horde of tourists was not yet there. I strolled between the buildings in ruin in a surrealist atmosphere of an interstellar landscape, it isn't Star War. The main street is bordered with a casino, a theater and of course a German bowling, without the odor of beer of Oktober-Fest, invaded by the sand dunes. In the museum pictures of time recall the epopee with comments. I noted two still existing sketches of two buildings, the Goerke house and the Knapps hotel of Bavarian style. Little by little the horde arrived and at 10:00 a guided tour made the visit of the installations with in South-African English comments. At 12:00 I turned over to my bivouac of the day before.
|August Stauch||E. Oppenheimer, De Beers CEO|
On Monday, May 28 I turned over to Lüderitz to buy a Sim card to publish the pages of my website. Then I went as far as Aus to take the track to Sesriem which is driving but by place corrugated iron makes its appearance. The colors of the landscape are very varied. I saw my first animals as far. At 417 km away from Lüderitz of which 300 km of track, I saw a picnic tree which tightened me its branches by inviting me to stop to bivouac, I did not hesitate.
Le lundi 28 mai je retournais à Lüderitz pour acheter une carte Sim pour publier les pages de mon site Internet. Ensuite j’allais jusqu’à Aus pour prendre la piste de Sesriem qui est roulante mais par endroit la tôle ondulée fait son apparition. Les couleurs du paysage sont très variées. J’aperçus mes premiers animaux au loin. A 417 km de Lüderitz dont 300 km de piste, j’avisais un picnic tree qui me tendait ses branches en m’invitant à m’arrêter pour bivouaquer, je n’hésitais pas.
The highlight of the Tuesday, May 29 was to admire the dunes of Sossusvlei at the rising sun under a low-angled light. I had thus taken my measures for this event. I arrived at the main gate of the park little before 7:30, opening hour. There was already a file about ten vehicles especially of tours operators. When I got out of my car to revive me the legs, I noticed, with my great astonishment, that the left rear wheel was almost flat, a puncture! The devil had appeared. Fortunately there is a gas station where the pump assistants told me that the repairer will be at 8:00 there. If I have as many punctures as in Central America, Welcome to Southern Africa. Consequence no sunrise on the dunes. The puncture was caused by a stone, a flint, which notched the tread between two sculptures; whereas in Central America they were nails. After repair promptly carried out I traversed the 60 km of tarred road to go to the car park of the dunes and beyond making the last 3 km for the 4x4 only where I stationed at the pic nic area to have lunch. These dunes owe their strangeness with their localization in a desert of broken stones. According to the geologists they were work during million years ago by the Orange river which brought the red sand from Kalahari. At the back I made a detour to see Sesriem Canyon. It is not Fish River Canyon. It is about a narrow and deep crack in which it is possible to go down, dug by Tsauchab river in a compacted sand and stone conglomerate. I decided to bivouac at the camp-ground of the gas station Sossusvlei Oasis campsite where I was in country of knowledge since the morning 7:30.
On Wednesday morning before leaving I checked the pressure of the left rear wheel whose tire had been repaired the day before for a puncture. I noted that the pressure had lost 0.2 bar. I decided to make it check by the repairer. He arrived as the day before at 8:00. He dismounted the wheel and plunged it in a vat filled with water. he did not detect any anomaly. I was septic, but he went up the wheel. I left towards Spreetshoogte Pass away from 200 km on a track sometimes badly corrugated. The luminosity crushed the landscape and its colors. Spreetshoogte Pass is at 1707 meters high given by GPS. The 2 km ultimate rise in laces is paved up to the top. The birds-eye view is impressive in spite of the sun at its zenith. Few visitors I decided to bivouac on the picnic spot.
After having taken two pictures with a light more interesting than the day before I gave up Spreetshoogte Pass to go to Gamsberg Pass at 1870 meters high by GPS at the bottom of eponymous top culminating at 2347 meters high. On the way I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn announced by a panel on the picture of which I wrote its geodetic coordinates given by GPS on the track. As often the electric and telephone poles are used as place of lodging by birds. As far I saw quadrupeds which I identified as impalas, without certainty. The slightly misty sky made the pictures dull. I bivouacked on a hill overhanging the track
Before leaving I took again pictures with a morning light. The track is badly corrugated. Abruptly I downwards saw a group of mammal in the trees. The male carries twisted horns and close to it some females. After a fast descent in laces the track traverses rectilinear long distances in a flat landscape sown with dark mountains. The iOverlander site gives a bush camp in Kuiseb river, but in the park whose access requires a permit that I do not have. I found a bivouac before on a platform.
On Saturday, June 2 I left the platform as of the point of day to arrive early at Walvis Bay. On the way I profited from a morning light highlighting the state of the corrugated track. While arriving I was going to inform me at the travel agency "Sandwich Harbour 4x4" of the tour to visit the port of Sandwich Harbour. Of course the person met strongly misadvised to me being gone alone in this adventure without possible assistance in the event of incident. Consequently I bought the four hour package return ticket on Monday, June 4 from 12:00 to 16:00. I decided to bivouac on the lagoon to see pink flamingos in organized band seeking their food in the mud at base tide.
On Sunday, June 3, I waited until 11:00 for the mist to rise to visit the surroundings. In the meantime I did not satiate to take flamingos in photos in the dense fog, it did not matter to them to get their breakfast. Then I left to explore the peninsula to Pelican Pointe where is the lighthouse. I passed along salt marshes that supply 90% of South Africa's salt. I was going to the junction of the track for the Pelican Point. But in front of the state of the track in deep ruts of soft sand, I gave up not wishing to "garden" in solo or to stay "to plant" all the Sunday knowing that on Monday I went in cohort to Sandwich Harbour. I retraced my steps to visit Walvis Bay, which offers nothing exciting. The 1880 church, manufactured in Hamburg, was relocated to build the port. For the rest the city is recent unattractive consisting of low houses type suburban without garden but surrounded by high wall. The waterfront includes restaurants and travel agencies of which Sandwich Harbour 4x4. Three pelicans took up residence on the roof of the cabin of a catamaran. I returned to my bivouac in front of the lagoon, home sweet home of flamingos.
On Monday morning at 12:00 I was at the agency Sandwich Harbor 4x4 for the circuit in the dunes. A Dutch-speaking Belgian couple spared the vehicle during the four-hours visiting. Our driver was very voluble in rocky English. The vehicle was a Toyota Land Cruiser V6 petrol of almost 300 horses-power whose tires were at the 1-bar pressure. The first part proceeded on the full southwards beach at the speed of approximately 100 km/h with photo stops. Then it was a tour in the dunes in search of wild animals of which foxes, flights of pelicans and an antelope. Moreover at the lunch pause, always to the same spot according to our guide, two foxes invited themselves to spare the remainders of the collation accompanied by a very well sparkling wine. The return was carried out by the beach as the trace by GPS etrex Garmin shows it. Admittedly the circuit can be made into individual since there are two cars per safety.
P.-S. Having acquired a SIM card, it turns out that the shadow areas antennas are very large so much, to a lesser degree, for communications with smartphone than, especially, for the Internet. I tried my luck at each bivouac unsuccessfully outside the agglomerations like Lüderitz and Walvis Bay.