Some sections of the road from Walvis Bay toward Sesriem were perfectly smooth, while others were hopelessly corrugated. Nevertheless, it offered stunning views over the desert and across canyons and mountains. Crossing Kuiseb canyon and pass was especially exciting. Not only because of the scenery but especially because of the extraordinary adventures of two German geologists and their dog, who found shelter from the madness of the second world war in this area for almost three years. Heno Martin’s book “The Sheltering Desert” is still one of my favorite books about Africa and I’ve read it again during this trip.
We made an obligatory stop for an apple pie and a drink at Solitaire. The place was bustling with tourists. It was there that I noticed, that corrugated road has taken its toll on our vehicle: one of the clamps, that were holding the canopy to the vehicle’s chassis has gotten loose and fell off somewhere around Gaub canyon. This was nothing critical for the vehicle, but it still made me nervous and for the next two days I tried my very best to drive as gently and smoothly as possible on rough roads.
We camped for two nights at Sossus Oasis Campsite in Sesriem. The campsite is very nice, considering the desert conditions in the area. Certainly looks much better than NWR campsite, although we would prefer that one, as in the morning you can start your drive to Sossusvlei an hour earlier from there. But it was already fully booked six months in advance, when I wanted to make a reservation.
In the morning, there was a very long queue of vehicles in front of the park gates before they opened them, but since the 60 km road to Sossusvlei is tarred all the way, and there is something interesting to photograph every few kilometers, there was no congestion on the road. At the parking area before the Sossusvlei, we decided, that due to the missing clamp, we will not take the risk of driving the last few bumpy and sandy kilometers right to the Sossusvlei – we have rather used the shuttle bus.
Sossusvlei, Deadvlei, Hiddenvlei, dead trees, Big Daddy, Big Mama, and countless other dunes make this area really unearthly. Glowing colors and dark shades offer fantastic photographic opportunities. Being a prime tourist spot, it feels quite crowded at moments, but I guess it nevertheless leaves a profound and enthusiastic feelings in every visitor.
After another magic night in the Sossus Oasis camp in the middle of the desert, it was time for our return to Windhoek. Because of the missing clamp we wanted to avoid bad corrugations on the road to Solitare, so we opted for the route via Bullsport, Rietoog and Rehoboth back to Windhoek. There was hardly any traffic on those seldomly used gravel roads and they were all in excellent condition.
After returning the car, we have spent Sunday afternoon walking around the almost deserted center of Windhoek. In the evening we had our farewell dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse, and next morning we flew back home.
Namibia left a very deep impression on us. This time not primarily by wildlife sightings (we all know those are always the luck of the draw), but by its fantastic landscapes. The country is very easy going, and organizing a self-drive trip there is probably the easiest in whole Africa. We will return, that’s for sure.