In for a long day, today! Two flights, first from Cape Town to Johannesburg (about 1.5hrs) then Johannesburg to Sydney, Australia (about 13hrs).
The Cape Town flight was delayed by about 2 hrs, which basically ate up our layover time in Jo’burg. Luckily there was a major thunderstorm, so all flights were delayed there as well. Still it was a mad rush to get to our flight, so we had to be bused direct to our next flight. No cover on the ground so everyone is wet from the storm.
In the end the Sydney flight was delayed again, so we had about 10 mins to sit around.
The flight home was the most uncomfortable flight David had ever had. There is next to no legroom, and the person in front of David decided to lay his seat back to the maximum position, even when the meals were served! David literally had his table against his face…. Not happy… but the guy in front didn’t care!
David was so crammed in, he didn’t get any sleep, at all, and by the time we got to Sydney he was exhausted!
We were a few hours late, into Sydney, but our Sydney pickup had seen the delay, and came back to get us. Very relieved, as I dont think David was in any mood for anything to go wrong 😉
Fifty One days away, and even though we could have easily stayed another fifty, it was good to be home!
Now, let’s have a look at the computer and plan how we can go back!
Zoom in to see where we went ….. and want to go back!
The first post for this trip is at http://aussiesoverlanding.com/?p=884
We have an early morning today, so we can reach the canyon before the sun starts to heat up too much. It is about a 10km trip to the main view point of the canyon. Fish River Canyon is the second largest in the world next to the Grand Canyon in the USA. It is very impressive, the colours spectacular.
We stand around soaking up the sights and contemplate how long the canyon took to be created… originally it had glaciers! There are a few different view points, dotted along the rim and we drive along so we can get a different prospective. Some of the spots you need to walk to. On our last stop we checked with a guide parked next to us- it was a 500m walk, but be careful not to touch the cactus as they were poison… just another confirmation for David that every plant in Africa is deadly!
Its 10.40 and already 36 degrees, we get back to the campsite and make a beeline for the pool. We meet an Aussie and his Thai wife who have lived in London for the last 20 years. They are on a gap year, travelling the world, before relocating back to Australia. Before long a tour bus pulls in and the pool is inundated – you couldn’t get a foot in! A storm came thru with cold rain and wind – this was a surprise to everyone – it really cooled things down.
We had dinner at the restaurant – while there we met a South African couple who we discussed wages, house loans, schooling etc. They advised that most people carry guns – even when shopping. They live in a gated community – has 2 fences, security guards and cctv on all streets!
Brendan and I have a shot of Jägermeister- yuck – has a spicy liquorice taste… as the bar closes- more shots for David and Brendan.
We are happy to head off to bed, so the South African couple invite Brendan to party on into the night for New Year’s Eve.
Happy New Year, 2019!
Continuing our way south, today. On the way we kept an eye out for the wild horses, but alas- no luck in spotting them.
There wasn’t much on the way, until just out of Seehein, where the terrain changes- it is now lush and green, and grape vines cris-cross the valley. There is a large dam and we cross a reed lined water causeway. The green doesn’t last long though and soon we are back to desolate, dry, rocky landscape.
We spot a few lonesome ostrich and oryx wandering along in the hot sun.
We reached Hobas campsite and have our pick of sites, we end us choosing number 11, it is quite large and will have spots in a shaded area all day long, due to the large trees. While eating lunch, we see a few baboons venture in to the next campsite and head toward the bins to see what other campers have left, they are very noisy and quite big- I wouldn’t want to have to confront one.
It is really hot this afternoon so we decide to settle in by the pool and have a few drinks while cooling off in the water. The pool has about 1m of grass around the edge – the rest is dirt and dust- it looks out of place. while relaxing on the recliners in the shade after a refreshing dip, David notices a large whirly whirly- its dust spout reaches 100 meters into the air like a rainbow, it moves quickly towards us, but luckily dissipates before it gets too near.
Somehow, we have miscalculated with the meals and haven’t bought enough meat, tonight will be the last time I cook for a while- oh what a shame, eating at the restaurant tonight!
The campsite is full tonight, but is quiet.
Due to the expected wind, today, we abandoned plans to go to the ghost town, Kolmanskop. Couldn’t bear another sand blown day! We thought about going to see if we could find the wild horses of Aus, at sunrise, but decided to have a much needed sleep-in instead.
So after a slow start, to the day, I decided to catch up on some laundry. Unfortunately, we set up the clothesline next to the wooden windbreak, which was very dirty from the dust. So I had to redo half the laundry again!
After lunch we went up to the bar, which is 2 km from the campsite, to use the wifi, and have some refreshments.
This turned out to be quite entertaining, as our Namibian bar tender, Eve, has never flown before, or had much concept of the distances to be traveled from Australia to Namibia. Eve thought there would be sign posts to help the pilots fly from country to country. It’s amazing how some of the things, and concepts, that we take for granted, are so alien to them even now.
Four and half hours of entertaining conversation, 7 stein glasses of Hanus Beer, 2 Rum & cokes, a coke and a Fanta. All for the grand total of $26. A good afternoon.
We then, decided, to try and find the wild horses. There is supposed to be a herd of, between 80 & 200, wild horses, that have been in the Aus area for a hundred years or so. Eve had mentioned that they can usually be seen, at sunset, near a waterhole at Garub, as it’s the only permanent water they can access in the region. We drove the 20 km’s or so, and cooked our dinner on a rise above the waterhole. We waited until nearly an hour after sunset, but unfortunately, they didn’t show. We had a lovely sunset, though!
The wind played havoc all night and was still howling this morning. There is sand everywhere.
The oryx (who apparently is the only animal to have 4 colours) said a final goodbye, by crossing in front of the car on the way out – (David is sure all the animals in Africa have secret suicide tendencies- they keep going in front of the car instead of away from it, this one even ran 100m, so, it could run in front of us!)
Looks like we aren’t getting away from the sand and wind – there are road signs everywhere with warning. Oh joy!
We are in the middle of a sand storm – the sky looks like a dark haze, but is in fact sand. You can see the sand being blown across the road surface.
Finally, out of the sand and into the rocky mountain and yellowish grassy, spinifex type, plains.
We take a detour to Duwisib castle. The castle was built in 1909 for a German nobleman and has been restored with much of the original furnishings. This was an interesting stop, but probably wouldn’t do it again, as it was more a family home than a castle.
We reach the small town of Aus- finally some decent tarred road – gee we have missed you! Back up to 120kph. Well actually that’s not true, as David has been doing that on a lot of the dirt roads as well!
Decide on another detour- going into Luderitz, we need to find a bank to do a currency exchange- we only have 180 rand- approx. $18.00 and nowhere is taking card at the moment or the lines are down.
Luderitz is an old town founded in 1883 and has a natural harbour for boats. The wind has picked up again and sand is blowing everywhere, at one point it felt like we were at Perrisher, but instead of huge snow banks built up along the road side it was banks of sand. There are local workers trying to push it back off the road surface.
Woo hoo we have some money – only after going to 3 different banks in town! Lunch is at the “Cosy Corner Coffee Café”, which promised free wifi, but as usual it wasn’t working! Burgers all round. Much to Brendan’s disgust, we grab a few things from the local Sparr & Topps stores. We’re not sure where he thinks all the junk food comes from, but he complains whenever we have to do more shopping. We don’t have a lot of room in the fridge/freezer or storage for other things, so we are continuously topping up, when we reach a large enough town.
About 10km, on the way out of town, is the famous Kolmanskop- an abandoned ghost town (used to be a diamond mine town) the buildings had been abandoned when the mining became unproductive , over the years the sand has started to reclaim them, filling some rooms. Unfortunately the wind is still bowing and we decide not to go in – would wreck the camera’s and be very unpleasant for us, we stop on the side of the road and snap a few pics.
We arrive at the reception for the campsite and have a drink at the bar, Natalie, the bar attendant, advises that the winds should ease tonight. There is a small amount of internet here, so David and Brendan catch up with what is happening in the world.
The reception is about 2km of dirt tracks from our campsite. There are only 10 sites ours is number 7. All of the sites have a windbreak and are nestled around large camelthorn trees. They are not very private and are very close to each other. We have gotten used to private campsites, and when there are other campers within 50m-100m from us, it feels cramped!
After dinner, which took forever, due to the wind, we packed up for an early night- really so we could escape, the dreaded breeze! Unfortunately, the South Africans in the adjacent camp site, have decided to play their music, and laugh, loudly around their fire. We’ve gotten used to secluded, and quiet, campsites so this is irritates David, immensely
Ballooning this morning, which means an exceptionally early morning start. Up at 3.30am to pack the car- the only problem with having your home on your back! We travel for around 70km, which wouldnt be so bad if it wasnt for, the abysmal headlights on the Ford Ranger, the extremely corrugated roads & the very real danger of running into an oryx! We meet our pick up/ escort, and then, follow him for another 25km to the “Le Mirage Resort” – wish we had stayed here – looks like an old castle in the middle of the desert. After signing the indemnity forms, we are loaded into their transfer vehicle and driven to the launch site. You can see the balloons being filled in the distance. This is a first, for all of us – how cool. There are 3 balloons in total today, each one has 16 passengers.
Once the balloons are filled, we can load, 4 people per each compartment. There are, two, foot holes for you to use to leverage yourself in, as the basket would stand about chest height. They fill the balloons with more extremely hot air- would be nice in winter, and we start to slowly ascend into the clouds. We rise to around 850m above ground level with our lives in the hands of our 2 Belgian pilots – Denis and Lenny.
We are gently floating towards the Sesriem canyon, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – we were only there yesterday. The view of the sunrise over the vast lands is spectacular, and one I don’t think I will ever forget.
All too soon we are landing – it was very precise, coming down just metres above the canyon opening and settling on the road just a few metres past the lip. No drama’s or excitement, though we had been warned that if the wind picked up when we were landing, it could become a “very exciting” landing .
The balloon is deflated quickly and the staff pack it all away in no time. We are driven, a little further along, the edge of the canyon, where a champagne breakfast is laid out on beautiful white and silver linen table cloths.
There is a variety of food to choose from. Both Brendan and I try the smoked zebra, at first David refuses, but as Brendan goes back for seconds he relents and tries a small mouthful… We are given “Ballooning Survival” certificates and asked to donate to a school project if possible, which we do. There are also recycled balloon material shopping bags for sale – I purchase one, as well.
Once back at the campsite we all take a long nap – it is hot but the wind is blowing so this cools us down a bit. The wind gets stronger…
Andrew our ranger/ manager comes by at 5pm to take us for a guided drive thru the park. Apparently, we had been booked in for a 4×4 self-drive permit- we didn’t know anything about this and have nothing in our paperwork. We decided to change to a guided tour so David doesn’t have to drive anymore & we don’t have to pack up again. We had to pay the difference in US dollars as no credit card facilities and we are just about out of local currency. David sits in the front – a smart move as it is exceptionally windy in the back. We only see oryx and a few different species of birds. Towards the back of the park Andrew points out the fairy circles- they still do not know how or why they are formed. The water supply is one of the best in the area – they had to dig 93m down, to get it.
Finally, some sand boarding. We have to climb more dunes! Andrew laughs at the competitiveness between Brendan and David, they both mark lines in the sand for their longest ride… I agree, after much encouragement from David, to do one ride – you have to sit crossed legged on the board and pull back. Wooosh, off I go, and of course go the furthest – gold medal to me! Sandboarding champion of the
World, Namibia, Namin-Rand Game Reserve!
We had to have dinner in the bathroom enclosure again, and even then, had gritty bits in it.
The wind picks up even more – early night for us.