Day – 15 18/08/2017 Henties Bay to Sossusvlei
The next morning Henties Bay was covered in low lying mist. We asked Jaceq if he could show us the beach before we left. He took us for a short brisk walk to the closest beach which was really close to where we were staying. Although we could hear the sound of the ocean it wasn’t visible. Walked through the streets, interesting to see the different architecture. The roads are not tarred. The air was really crisp and hopefully as the mist lifts it will reveal a beautiful day. After a quick look, a few photos we headed back to pack the car.
The road leading to the ocean in Henties Bay
Crisp morning air at the Henties Bay beach
As we had another early start, Jaceq packed a lovely breakfast for. We left Henties Bay at 7:08am and proceeded south towards Walvis Bay.
Once again we hit the road works and a very corrugated detour. We had to pass a truck which was spraying the road surface with salt water. The surface would then be rolled and compacted to harden it. Most of the roads in this area are prepared the same way. Unfortunately there was quite an overspray from the watering truck which splattered our car, especially the back window. This salt spray stuck to the car like glue.
Jaceq warned us to be extremely cautious on this particular stretch of road at this time of the day as the mist made the surface like glass and the car could go into a slide very easily. I was happy David was driving as this road was not at all safe and he proceeded with caution. In no time at all our silver car transformed into a chocolate colour.
We passed the deserted village again between Henties Bay and Swakopmund. This time we saw one person! With the low lying mist it looked really spooky!
As the mist lifted we spotted a wreck lolling about in the ocean. We turned off the road to go and have a closer look. It was the fishing trawler Zeila with birds draped all over her. She looked spectacular as the sun shone on her against a dark sky. Zeila was sold as scrap metal to an Indian company and got stranded after it came loose from its towing line on 25 August 2008.
The Zeila wreck
On the beach someone rearranged some bones in the shape of a skeleton. The bones must have been from the carcass of an animal or large bird? It looked quite ominous with the shipwreck in the background rolling about in the waves.
We passed through Swakopmund and onto Walvis Bay Lagoon to see if we could spot the pink flamingos.
We were not disappointed! Saw 1000’s of them. This was indeed a highlight for both of us and our cameras didn’t stop. We were among other keen photographers all furiously clicking away. These birds are so incredibly graceful and appear to glide along in unison. When a group of them took flight you could see the vivid pinky red underwing plumage which looked spectacular .
Pink flamingos at Walvis Bay
After spending some time with the flamingos we popped into the Walvis Bay Sailing Club for David to have a chat and for me to take photos. We left Walvis at about 10:45am and headed further south to Sossasvlei passing through Sessriem and Solitaire.
Sossusvlei turn off
The terrain was at first mostly sand but gradually changed with short scrub bushes and sparse trees. The first 64 kms of road was sealed and then we hit gravel and the speed limit varied from 30-60kms. The road on this stretch of gravel was not good and in places another track had been formed and is clearly visible in the photo below.
This part of the road was so bad another track had been worn
Sparse trees in a sandy landscape
When we arrived at Solitaire we took the wrong turn and only realised about 10 kms down the track before turning back. Found the correct road and arrived at the entry point to the park at 3:30pm. Sossusvlei is located in the southern part of the Namib Desert in the Namib Naukluft National Park. It is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes.
Seeing these dunes is something that has been on my bucket list for a long time. Couldn’t quite believe I was actually going to this magical place.
After purchasing the permit we made haste for the dunes as there wasn’t much time left. We were keen to see as much as we could within the time we had left. Fortunately the road to the dunes was tarred and very good. As the dunes were only accessible with a four wheel drive, once we arrived at the carpark we had to book a tour. We approached one of the guides and found out it was going to cost us another 300 Rand each. Together with a couple of Austrian tourists we set off in a modified land cruiser, 2 series. The guide drove at breakneck speed like a maniac through extremely thick sand and bumps. We were more airborne than on the seat. The two Austrians turned out to be extremely obnoxious, selfish and a real pain! We ditched them as soon as we could and climbed onto another vehicle full of Asian tourists. Heading back to the carpark these tourists were very friendly and welcoming.
One of the scenes I have always dreamed of seeing is an oryx/gemsbok standing silhouetted against the red dunes at sunset. That day I wasn’t disappointed, nature provided and took my breath away. It was spectacular! A picture perfect photo op, I feel another painting coming on!
Sossusvlei sand dunes
A beautiful lone Oryx/Gemsbok
On the way back to the parking area the driver also drove at breakneck speed. As he hit a huge dip we all went flying and Davids camera crashed to the floor of the vehicle. Luckily he had a filter on as this got chipped. Otherwise it would have been the lense! BUGGER!
We had to race to get back to the gate in time arriving at 5:15pm, with fifteen minutes to spare. Although there was a relatively short queue it took absolutely ages to get through. The lady on duty seemed to be moving in slow motion! Actually I think maybe she was in reverse.
The entrance point to Sossusvlei
Soon after leaving we passed a mountain range that was glowing in the afternoon light surrounded by wispy cloud formations.
Glowing mountain range
Our accommodation was somewhere on the route back to Solitaire. Should have been pretty simple. Only one problem ‘Lady Jane’ could not recognise any of the roads and it was already starting to get dark. This area is very isolated with only the occasional lodge or campsite.
Once the sun set it was a very dark night and visibility was really poor! We couldn’t see any sign boards. Was starting to think this time for sure we would have to sleep in the car. The first gated entrance we saw we decided to go in and ask for directions. It was a lovely looking lodge. As I walked into the reception area these wonderful aromas wafted through my nostrils from the dining room and made me so hungry. The lady on duty was very helpful and said the camp we were looking for was about another 5 kms on the left just after we passed in between two mountains.
Finally at about 6:30pm we found the side road leading to the Naukluft Lodge where we would find directions to the Campsite.
The receptionist at the main building was extremely unfriendly and unhelpful which didn’t help. She gave us a map to guide us to the camp but it wasn’t at all clear and we inadvertently landed up back at the main road. We had to drive back up the long driveway towards the main building where we found the correct road and followed it around a mountain.
The tented camp was clean although there was a bit of a sewerage smell outside. Not again! There was a definite pattern forming!
For dinner we shared some left over fish and soggy salad from the restaurant the previous night at Henties Bay. Some leftover red wine for David and a gin and tonic for me. For dessert a few squares of chocolate which luckily hadn’t melted.
I hit the shower with great haste, the hot water felt great! With all the dust washed away, feeling tired but clean I fell into bed. Unfortunately I had a really uncomfortable nobbly pillow, and the tent sides flapped vigorously in the wind. However sleep eventually came and I nodded off.