Shaken and Stirred

Well, we’ve made it down as far as Luderitz!  What a week it’s been – shake, rattle (and no roll thankfully) as well as dust, dust and more dust!  Corrugations! OMG!

Funny how you can forget these things isn’t it?  Despite having driven across the Sahara desert, over the worst corrugations possible in Mauritania and through a dust storm in Libya we were somehow still a bit taken by surprise when we hit our first set of corrugations just south of Walvis Bay, en route to Mirabeb, a small camping spot in the middle of nowhere in the Namib Naukluft Park.  Luckily for us, when the bumper fell off Buster, Bruce somehow heard the sound above the noise of the rattling and shaking!  Also, weirdly, it was only when we stopped the vehicle that the bolt conveniently chose that moment to fall out of the exhaust!  Sadly though, one of the cupboards was unsecured (remember the exploding wine bottle scenario on our last sailing trip, T, J, S & G?) Well, it turns out that my prized break resistant Corelle vitrelle china can’t quite cope with being violently hurled from a height onto a hard floor!

Nevertheless, fabulous to be back on the road (or off it) again!  I must say, Bruce’s skill when it comes to driving on-road, off-road, through soft sand, over rocky ground, avoiding holes (massive great badger-sett sized holes dotted around) and other hazards (such as small ravines!) is par excellence!

What  an amazing landscape! From flat and bleak looking, to Dartmoor-like huge boulder outcrops, to rolling Scottish-like hills, to long escarpments, to towering sand dunes.  The colours are extraordinary (especially through polarizing sunglasses!)  My camera just can’t do it justice unfortunately, I should have got a polarizing filter!

We have already seen some fabulous wildlife including Zebra, Oryx, Wildebeest, Ostrich, Springbok and Vultures. There are amazing Weaver bird colonies in the trees or at the top of telegraph poles along the route, there were Kestrels on the rocks above Mirabeb and for our second night on the road we were treated to the fantastic sight of a herd of Zebra coming down to drink from a watering hole right in front of us at the campsite.

On Thursday we reached Sesrium, from where it is possible to drive to Sossusvlei to see the vast red sand dunes. However, before setting off to Sossusvlei we were on a mission to get our gas tank filled. Back in UK Bruce had contacted the Ballooning company at Sesrium to ask if they would supply us with gas which they agreed to do.  It is just about the only place we can get gas because of the compatibility of fittings so we were relying on them. Luckily it all worked well (after a bit of fiddling around with pipes, fittings, valves etc etc – all gobbledygook stuff to me).

The 60-odd km from Sesrium to Sossusvlei (barring the final 4 km) is tarmac.  I cannot tell you how blissful it was, after being shaken to pieces over the last couple of days, to drive smoothly, able to hear other than the sound of rattling!  I even had a go at driving myself, which worked out absolutely fine until we got to the end of the tarmac and I drove straight into soft sand!  Once we’d swapped drivers, dear old Betty Buster managed to chug along a fair way in 4WD, and I am sure we’d have reached the end if an official hadn’t come along and advised us to go back as we are too heavy to manage the worsening sand!  Bruce was very tempted to carry on but erred on the side of caution.

We have been spending heavily over-budget during our first couple of weeks so wherever possible we wild camp, which isn’t a problem when away from towns.  We would prefer to get away from the road but the route so far has been bordered by fencing (is this for cattle or game?  Not sure what exactly is being kept in or out because despite the fencing there are plenty of Oryx and other animals wandering about on the road).  On a couple of nights we have parked up just by the side of the road, it’s not like there is any traffic anyway!  Once it is dark not one vehicle has gone past.

After Sesrium we had one more day of dirt road to drive before reaching black top at Aus.  But this was the sort of dirt road it’s great to drive on – newly lain and mostly smooth! Joy!  We were on our way to the campsite at Aus when we spotted a nice dry riverbed area where a culvert runs under the railway so decided to save some more pennies.  Very decently, Eva Braun waited until the morning before turfing us off her land (named Eagles’ Nest – get it?)

From Aus it is a 100km drive to Luderitz, along dead straight tarmac road with nothing but the occasional picnic spot (a table under a shade).  After about 80 km we passed a man hiking along purposefully in the opposite direction, pulling a four-wheeled trolley with his belongings. That is quite a feat of endurance!

We are now at the very pleasant campsite on Shark Island, a promontory attached to Luderitz where we are spending a few days of essential maintenance, ie getting rid of as much of the dust as possible from inside the van, and screwing various bits back on which have fallen off or loosened up while rattling over those bloomin’ corrugations!

Anyone familiar with Bruce and his prediliction for “bits of wood” will appreciate it when I tell you he got up super early this morning in order to go and half-inch a couple of choice morsels (off-cuts) from a building site just outside our camp!

Till the next time!

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