Camping in the desert

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Another travel day today as we head to Sossusvlei. The landscape along the way changes from something similar to the photos I’ve seen taken by the Mars rovers, after which it changes to a scenery more reminiscent of the Utah near Green River. The long trip was only interrupted for a stop at Solitaire, an odd way station in the middle of the desert where you could get fuel, admire the old vehicles rusting away at the side if the road, or buy cakes and bread at a German bakery. We end up at our camp site called Sossusvlei Oasis, near the entrance to Namib Naukluft NP, the gateway to the Sossusvlei Dunes. Here we pitch our tents that will be used for the next two nights, and use the rest of the afternoon to relax and swim. In the early evening Jaco has dinner ready and afterwards we can roast marshmallows in the campfire.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The following morning we all pour into the bus to get in line to enter the park. A long line of cars is already waiting but for reasons beyond my comprehension we were allowed to enter immediately. We then travel about 45 km to our first destination: Dune 45. Our group exits the bus and heads up the ridge of the dune to ascend to the top. My bum knee prevents me from going too far up, and I am also experiencing some rumbling inside, so I return to the bus. I’ll withhold the details, but Gepke will need to write the experiences of the remainder of the day, as I remain behind to hitch a ride back to the camp site.

As she tells me, after leaving me behind they drive on through the Sossusvlei to an area where they board smaller trucks that take them to the Dead Vlei, a salt pan famous for the many photographs taken here of the eery surroundings. Their last stop is at the Sesriem Canyon, a small canyon where a river runs thru every five to ten years.

In the meantime I am camping out near the smelly toilets for two reasons, the first one is pretty obvious, the other reason being it’s the only spot with some shade and the sun is beginning to shine down hard on me. There are very few vehicles heading back in the direction of the camp and walking back the 45 km would not be an option even if I felt better than I did at that time. The few vehicles that do pass by are either packed to the roof with people and gear or ignore my waving and one even tries to run me over. Finally a car stops with two South African couples in it, and I find a spot in the back on top of their camping gear. They are also camping at the same site as us, so they give me a lift all the way to the campsite.

Less than an hour later the rest of the group also returns and we spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing again at the small pool. In the evening Jaco prepares a braai of beef on the barbeque, and we all speak of how happy we are this being the last night of camping on this trip. Only lodges and hotels from this point forward, no more freezing nights in the Namibe Desert.

Next: Seeheim

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