Driving Namibia

2014-12-12 10:05 - Wallace du Plessis
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The best way to see Namibia is slowly and by road. You can stick to the major tar roads, the B roads. In this case B is for Boring.  Or you can travel on gravel and really see and smell Namibia.

Vioolsdrif (the border post on the SA/Namibia border) to Windhoek is an easy day’s drive on the B1.

I am suggesting you rather do a four day journey on the C14 which runs to the west of the highway along the edge of the Namib. This is a trip you can do with a normal car, but is not recommended for a city car with small 14” wheels unless you stick to the C roads. The D roads are often not the best for small wheels. 

I used a Land Rover Freelander, and while any decent car is OK for the C roads, avoid if you're travelling in a Picanto or i10 type city cars.

The real way to see Namibia is on the C roads, with short excursions on the D routes - which has some interesting bits, especially in or just after the rainy season.

The C roads are excellent gravel roads which are continuously maintained and normally in excellent condition. Make the journey your holiday and forget about destinations, except as way points.

In other words driving Namibia is about the journey, the trip.

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Let’s visit the C14 which runs from Walvis Bay to Goageb on the Lüderits road. The route goes past Gobabeb research station, Mirabib hill and the Kuiseb Canyon.

You can also drive it from Windhoek, which I did. You take the Daan Viljoen Game Reserve road, the C28 and head for the Spreetshoogte Pass for brunch. It is an awesome place, between the Khomas Hochland which is almost bushveld and the Namib desert.

The Sun Kaross at Daan Viljoen is a lovely spot to stay, just outside Windhoek. 

After brunch at the top of the pass you descend to the desert floor and head south for Solitaire and refreshments at the Solitaire Moose Macgregor Bakery. You could even overnight here. There is a lodge and camping available.

The next leg is down to Sesriem, your jumping off point for Sossus Vlei.

Just outside the gate to Sossus Vlei at the Engen garage is the Sossus Oasis Camp Site  or alternatively you can stay at the NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) camp.

We stayed at Betesda Lodge 40km from Sossusvlei on the way to Naukluft. We had excellent service, peace and quiet. You could spend two nights there and explore Sossus one day and Naukluft the next.

On your Sossusvlei day you have to get up before dawn to be at the dunes as early as possible, so a very early morning is essential. Take a picnic basket with and plenty of water, especially if you are going to climb a dune. Remember sunblock and a hat.

The small but dramatic Sesriem canyon is fascinating and unfortunately often overlooked. A great book circa WWII describes how two men survived for two years in this area, its well worth a read. The Sheltering Desert by Henno Martin is available as a download.

While in the area a visit to the Naukluft section of the greater Namib-Naukluft park is well worth it. There are around 200 bird species as well as steenbok, springbok, oryx, kudu, mountain zebra, dassie rat, chacma baboon, rock dassie and klipspringer. The vegetation is also interesting as it at the edge between two regions. The Naukluft also has a NWR campsite.

From Sesriem you can actually take the C27, which runs parallel to the C14, to Helmeringhausen. This village has a garage/ service station, a country hotel, and a private agricultural museum. Under the trees in the garden of the hotel is the ideal spot for lunch. The beers are cold and the apple crumble pie is worth the drive to get there; well, almost.

Duwisib Castle is an interesting little side trip. It was built by ‘Baron’ Captain Hans Heinrich von Wolf in 1908. To get there you head west from Betta (service station and campsite) on the D286 for 20km. It is about 170km from Sesriem. This is just one of those idiosyncratic interesting places which will become a talking point in your life. Think of it almost as a Namibian Taj Mahal. A beautiful, tragic love story, overtaken by history.

The route ends near the Seeheim Hotel on the B4, which is a good jumping off point for the fish River Canyon and Lüderits. It’s a very friendly place and takes one back to a bygone era.

Southern Namibia is well worth exploring and it isn’t quite as far to get to for SA. This route (C14) covers the north western quadrant of the area.

In the far south other routes take you to the Fish River Canyon, Lüderits and Kolmanskop, Richtersveld and to the east Hardap Dam, and the sheep farming area leading to the Kalahari and the Kgalagadi.

Useful links to check out if you plan on going:

www.farmduwisib.com: Entry N$55 for SADC. Rates are N$90 pp camping, around N$1 000 for a self catering unit and N$700pp dinner, bed and breakfast.

www.nwr.com.naNaukluft - N$132 per campsite, Sesriem Camp Site charges N$154 pp

www.betesdalodge.com: They charge N$80 pp camping and N$795 bed and breakfast in the lodge pp.

www.sunkarros.com: They charge N$160 for a campsite. Their B&B rate in a chalet is N$650. Well worth it.

www.seeheimhotel: Rates are around N$600 pp B&B.

www.solitairecountrylodge.com:  Rates N$700pp D, B&B, N$100pp camping.

www.sossus-oasis.comSossus Oasis Camp Site charge N$175pp, but the campsite is included.

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