Friday, 12 May 2017
Tents are torn down for the last time and after a quick breakfast we all board the bus to head to the Seeheim Hotel, a stop along our long trip to Fish River Canyon. The landscape remains desolate along the way, and most toilet breaks along the way are either at gas stations or in the bushes at the side of the road. Around lunch time we stop in a larger settlement where we can buy snacks and other necessities in a relatively large shopping mall. Some people have lunch at a fast food restaurant here, but we limit ourselves to some fruit and water purchased at the supermarket before continuing again.
Later in the afternoon we arrive at Seeheim Hotel, a quaint place that is a hybrid between a German castle and a bushman’s hut. The place was built in the early 1900’s, and it shows it’s age. There is hardly any water pressure, the shower sprays in all directions and the toilet doesn’t flush. But after the tent camp of the last two days, it feels like sheer luxury to us. We walk around in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, and follow the railroad tracks to an old bridge that crosses the river. The bridge feels wobbly and it cracks and groans as the metal it’s made of contracts in the cooling afternoon breeze. The view from the bridge is worth the walk and the imagined danger of collapse, and we take pictures and balance on the narrow pathway along side the rails.
Back at the hotel we try using the WiFi, but the bandwidth is too little to be useful; a returning story these last few days, and I assume people back home have given up on us… Dinner however later in the evening is surprisingly good, with a buffet that offers fish and Oryx meat. The meat is very tender, lean and tastes really good. After dinner and conversations we retire to our rooms and smoothly slide between real sheets and a comfortable mattress. It feels good to leave tents and sleeping bags behind. The mosquito net above us protects us as we float off to dreamland.
Saturday, 13 May 2017
I get refreshed by dancing around in the shower, trying to catch the water sprays that fly randomly in all directions from the clogged shower head. But it’s a private shower, and I don’t need to share it with 16 other people, so I enjoy it much. We pack our stuff and head out to the common area for breakfast, after which we play with the dogs and the parrot that also live here. There are many animals near the hotel; an Oryx shares a pen with chickens and turkeys, two young calfs roam the front yard and can be petted by the guests and down the road baby pigs run around.
We board our bus again for the second phase of our long trip along Fish River Canyon to the Namibia / South African border near the Orange River. The bus drops us off at a point overlooking the Fish River Canyon, and just like the Grand Canyon back home, photos and description cannot do it justice, it’s a view you have to see for yourself to appreciate it. We walk a distance along the canyon rim to admire the different views. At some angles it reminds me a lot of the view of the Green River in Utah, looking at it from Dead Horse Point. But it has a character all of it’s own due to the total lack of vegetation. Only a poisonous succulent plant grows here that occasionally takes the life of an ignorant hiker that uses it to build the fire to cook his meal; the smoke penetrates the food and is also deadly poisonous.
After our short hike we continue to our hotel for the day, the Norotshama, where we arrive about 2 hours later. We are welcomed with Orange Juice and Sherry, to me an odd combination and so I stick to just Orange Juice. The rooms are a step up from the Seeheim Hotel, and there is air conditioning! We are slowly being weened off our camping life.
Sunday, 14 May 2017
Another very early departure at 5:30 AM, as we have a long trip ahead to Cape Town with only one stopover in Lambert’s Bay. The scenery slowly changes from dry rocky dessert to more rock outcroppings with grass and here and there a lost small tree. It’s still very dry here in the Northern Cape, which is really the most southern part of the Namibian Dessert. Just before we go to our overnight stop, we stop at Bird Island, a short pier that ends in a bird sanctuary. We can watch Gannets here, a type of seagull, that are at the end of the breeding season and getting their young ready to leave the nest. In the early afternoon we arrive in Lambert’s Bay, where we are staying the night in a guesthouse: Sir Lambert’s. It’s a cozy place that looks more like a large living room, with the occasional side door leading to the individual guest bedrooms. The bedrooms are very roomy with individual bathrooms and air conditioning. But after such a long period of isolation, the most important feature here is a well working WiFi connection with internet. It allows me to upload the blogs from the past week and some photos, so people back home can be informed of our progress. A small dog runs around in the place and plays with the guests, but mostly with Jaco whom he appears to remember from previous visits.
In the evening we all file into the bus again and head out for dinner at the Muisbosskerm, a small eatery, built out of Fynbos bushes found in the surroundings. It’s mostly out in the open right next to the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. From here we watch the sun set in the ocean as the staff prepares dinner. There is no menu, the food is brought out in small portions and you just eat what you like. I fill up on corn on the cob, potato yeast bread, sweet potatoes, angle fish, hake and snoeck; there is however much more to choose from and we all end up eating way too much. It was all very good though, and with our tummies stretched to capacity we return to the guesthouse.
Next: Cape Town