Day 10 – L: Oh no, now no water in the bathrooms – really, we do not recommend Sesriem Camp to anyone, what a disappointment. We were up early and out of there, or so we thought!! The man at the gate said that we needed another permit of R130 as we had stayed a second night. We had thought that we would need to pay again and were quite prepared to do that…..Well, he went off at us saying that we were trying to cheat them. It was a real run-around trying to find the person who sells the permits so early in the morning. By that time, the official at the gate had told the whole car that we were scoundrels. We were so happy to see the back of Sesriem camp……
We stopped to fill up and had a take-away coffee at the garage – all this before 6.30am (Namibian time).
Put all that behind us and move on, not going to let one person spoil our Namibian experience.
After about 80 kms of gravel road, we reached Solitaire. We had been before, but we’re not going to miss out on the “world famous” Apple Tart from Moose McGregors Desert Cafe. It was yummy, but we could not believe the increase in price. A small cup of filter coffee for N$15 and a (big) slice of apple tart for N$30. I had taken some Ultramel custard with as it is dry without cream or custard. We met Tammy (from Drifters) again and she said that there had been a N$10 increase in a year!
It was a far drive to Walvis Bay on a gravel 6 lane highway, no markings, but a well-graded wide road. We saw the sign for The Tropic of Capricorn and stopped to take a photo. At the same time, one of the many people we see travelling through Africa on a bicycle had stopped to take a picture too. We had a long chat with Yves from Leon in France about his many adventures, took his pic for him and he took a photo of the two of us as well. We wished him well…….He has previously ridden from France to Cameroon, but had been flown back home for 3 months to recover from a very bad bout of malaria. After that he had started with his ride again in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania and gone to South Africa where he spent 3 months and was now on his way back home (to France) – what a life. While we were in Solitiare, a couple rode in on bicycles as well. The previous day, we passed two guys on bicycles going the other way. It seems to be the fashion nowadays. Yves was telling us that it is the best way to see a country, slowly. We know what he means as we generally average about 50km/h in our travels and see so much.
We left him and Tammy (Drifters) in our dust, literally as the road is all reddish sand and climbed the many hills of the Gaub Pass. It is beautiful with what looks like a 100 0000 hills and nothing else. It is so stark as there are hardly any road signs, no telephone poles or anything. It is also so unusual not to have any signs to say how many kilometers to the next town. I was thinking this will be a pattern as we travel north, thank goodness for the GPS and maps……
One of the few signboards said Kuiseb Canyon so we think that is the name of the deepest part between all those many hills.
We eventually came to Walvis Bay (where Steve had spent 3 months when he first started with Transnet, 30 years ago). I had come up for 2 weeks then to visit too so it was interesting to see so much change. It is really big and spread out. We found a quaint little coffee shop called Dolphins Coffee Shop and really enjoyed a scrumptious meal of hake and chips and some coldrinks. When we settled the bill, the cashier said “see you tomorrow” – we explained that it would be many “tomorrows” before we would be back……..
On to Swakopmund, which both Steve and I had visited on the trip 30 years ago too……Also greatly changed with many luxury beachfront apartment buildings dotting the shoreline, oh and a shipwreck – The Winston, I believe.
S: I had done a bit of research as to campsites and rates in Swakopmund, but tried the closest one – Tiger Reef and we got lucky. By now the wind was bad and after our 358kms on gravel roads, we wanted a place to call “home”. The manager, CJ, showed me around and to a wind-free-ish site so we booked and paid for 2 nights at N$200 per night. It also includes free Wi-Fi.
We set up camp and went back in to town to find parts, yet again, to fix the switches for all the pumps – don’t ask. We also did 2 loads of washing at the laundry and Lesley had a coffee while she waited. L: I was shocked when I asked the waitress there for a cappuccino that she never had a clue what that was! …..so no chance of getting the best one here.
L: Back to camp to blog and catch up. That done, we could have a nice braai of chops, baked potatoes and onions with sweet corn for a sauce. I decided to start my Mefliam tablets (one a week) for the protection against malaria. This is the old Larium drug, but improved. I have had an experimental course of 4 weeks to check for side-effects like hallucinations etc and was good to go. Steve only needs to take his Doxycycline a couple of days before the malaria- affected areas, but I have to have a week in advance. I am allergic to a drug called Tetracycline which is in the Doxycycline and (for some useless information) also fed to pigs and chickens in SA to prevent flu infections in the animals therefore I cannot eat anything made from these animals.
S: Swakopmund is colder in the late afternoon when the wind blows in off the sea. Last night was also a bit chilly and it was misty this morning so we put on long pants and hoodies for our sojourn into town. Today was going to be a day of relaxation and internal battery charging.
Before we went in though I set about fixing the switches in the rear of the bakkie. (For the technical people, I had a domestic, four switch, light switch box, that was used to switch on the canopy light, compressor, water pump and UV light water filter. The compressor switch had packed up earlier and I had replaced that at Lapa Lange. I had thought it was due to the too large current drawn through the switch but when the LED light switch also started giving trouble and then the other two as well I knew they were just not up to the dust or vibration. So I bought three new switches yesterday and fitted them this morning. Now everything is working again. And so is the reverse camera. I think it vibrated itself back to working condition. L : I just switched it on and it works 🙂 )
S: We were hoping for a nice coffee shop for some early morning breakfast but we were looking in the wrong places as, for a while, we could not find anything open. Most restaurants here only open at 12H00 including the more well known ones like The Tug and Jetty 1905, which is on the jetty. We did take the mandatory walk to the end of the jetty though. When I was here 30 years ago as well as 16 years ago the jetty was just a ruin and was still waiting to be rebuilt. It was nice to see that it has been done now.
What we did find was a meat market selling game at rock bottom prices. So we stocked up with Oryx(Gemsbok) and Springbok meat as well as game sausage. Our little freezer is now full for our trek up north though I am sure we will find some more bargains as we go.
We found a little coffee shop in a large supermarket centre where you have a self service choice of strong or normal filter coffee. And it was hot as well. A good start to the morning. By the way, we are still having trouble with this 1 hour behind thing as our internal clocks are still waking us up at 07H00 in the morning when it is actually still 06H00 here.
We did a long walk around town checking out some of the old German colonial buildings and taking some photos for our friend Elizabeth to paint.(See if you can spot the leopard) We popped in at PEP to buy another long sleeved white top for me. It was displayed in the window and is the colour to wear to not attract mosquitoes.
Then it was back down to the beach to do the touristy thing. A nice amble through the museum which was extremely interesting, especially the portable dentist’s chair and foot propelled drill with huge hypodermic needles that two travelling dentists used to use in the early 1900s in Namibia. The stuff nightmares are made of.
Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have grown considerably in the last few decades and I kind of miss the small town feel that they used to have. A little like Hermanus in the Western Cape.
We had lunch at the Strand Cafe, next to the museum, and Lesley had couscous and mushrooms, this time the right stuff followed by a cappucino.
We want to attend a church service tomorrow and stay another day so we went to find the local Baptist church. It is only 6km from our camp so we will be going there tomorrow morning.
Then it was back to our camp and a walk along the beach where Lesley had a great time photographing cormorants, terns, flamingos and a sole pelican at the river mouth. There are large concrete supports across the river mouth that are the remains of a railway bridge for a railway line that used to run along the beach front from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay. The sea started washing away the line and it was eventually abandoned and a new line built further inland.
L: We spent the evening writing our blog and when it got really cold and drizzly we made ourselves some cuppa noodles and a few slices of bread with jam. I was thinking that in over 10 days we have had a lot of cold evenings, but only a spot of drizzle now and the quick storm when we arrived at Kgalagadi.
Day 12 – L: I was cold again last night in the ground tent so we will make a better plan for tonight……. S: She does not snuggle enough ….
L: We were up early again, as is our pattern – early to bed and early to rise. Tiger Reef is a really good campsite and we are so enjoying Swakop that we may stay again tonight.
We went to the Swakopmund Baptist Church and everyone was very welcoming. It was a lovely service with communion too and we did not feel like strangers. A lovely hot cup of coffee afterwards and we were on our way. We stopped at the Spar for wood and a few other bits and bobs.
We decided to go back down onto the beach at Tiger Reef and had a lovely lunch in the huge open-plan restaurant with a fire in the grate. Because we were nice and warm (drizzly still outside), we stayed to get the pics and the blog done so that we could post for the whole weekend spent in Swakopmund. It really has been great to stay in one place for a while so that we will be ready to get back on the road for the next stint………