Sunday, 24 July 2011

Namibia Holiday Part 2 - the North

En route to Henties Bay we passed by Wlotzkasbaken.  Hennie’s childhood memories of this bohemian town proof to be a bit inaccurate, or maybe they moderated over time.  The Wlotzkasbaken settlement was established during the early 1930’s when local fishermen started erecting temporary housing structures.  The settlement still mirrors these unique temporary houses each with its own water tank (colour coded to match the house) and power source.  The houses are colourful and quirky built from all manner of materials.  It would seem that the current 110 homeowners are locked in a legal battle with the local authorities with regard to the nature of the settlement and freehold titles. 

Shortly after Cape Cross (to be avoided if you have a sensitive stomach or keen sense of smell) we turned off at a very feint twee-spoor tract westwards.  Again lots of drainage ditches and some corrugation the closer we go to Messum Crater.  The crater is massive and from the outside it is quite difficult to visualise.  However, once inside (and obviously your brain now knows you are inside a crater), you can actually recognise the rim.  The inside comprised massive grassland with some rock formations in the centre of the crater.  There are bushmen signs and the remnants of an ancient Damara settlement in the form of rock circles.  The flats are scattered with gigantic welwitchia plants, many eons old.  Then we entered the Messum River bed.

Finally, just when we thought we may not make it to the Ugab River before nightfall, we turn onto a “main” road (dirt road) that took us to within 10km of the Ugab River.  There is a river camp run by the Save the Rhino Trust in collaboration with the local community.  Camp sites are neatly demarcated with a reed fence, and there are long drops and donkey powered showers at each camp site.  The rocks next to our camp site were turned a bright golden colour by the setting sun, and we marvelled at the mountain chats flirting about.  At a measly 45 Namibian Dollar per person per night, this was real value for money, and is worth supporting. 

Sunrise at Ugab River Camp
We stayed on the road after this warning

Gem stone route - mining town

The next day we travelled anti clockwise around the Brandberg, through Uis and then slept at the north eastern side of the Brandberg.  We had quite a nice campsite and it was the first night that we did not sleep in our tent.  The next morning we did the hike up into the mountain to see the famous White Lady bushmen paintings.  The walk there was an absolute delight and is highly recommended.  The Birders among us managed to identify quite a few novel birds and a "lifer" or two.

Ruppel's korhaan
camp site at White Lady Lodge
Running repairs
En route to bushmen paintings - river crossing

"White Lady"

The next day we departed for Spitzkoppe.  Our planned route was closed due to river damage, and we had to take a slight detour.  It was amazing to see the majestic Spitskoppe raise from the surrounding plains from quite a distance.  There is a community camp at Spitskoppe, but I have to admit that it was not a very nice campsite.  There are no ablution blocks, and apparently the available long drop was to be avoided.

We decided to go for a sundowner on a few rocks at Spitskoppe.  Before we even started climbing I stepped on a loose rock and managed to hurt my foot.  It was terribly painful, but everyone was so good back at camp looking after me that it made it more bearable.  Hoping it was just a bad sprain I went to bed with the firm hope (but not the belief) that all will be fine in the morning.  The night was quite arduous and the next morning Hennie and I travelled to Swakopmund to see if it can be fixed with a proper bandaging.  We first went to the hospital - not to be recommended.  It took a while to be helped, and then to hear that there is no doctor available at ER, we went to town to find a doctor.  As we walked into the doctor's room the first question was whether this was a quad bike accident.  Apparently they see lots of those.  The doctor was very nice, and told me that I have torn some ligaments, muscles and soft tissue and that I must stay off the foot for the next 4 weeks.  He then put on a cast that I could take off to shower and handed me some crutches.  Not what I wanted to hear.

We then drove on to Sossusvlei, where we met up with the other two vehicles.

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