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Published: November 30th 2008
We had set our alarms to go off at 4.30 am and we had packed up the whole camp except for our tents of course. We planned to be at the park entrance at 5.00 am so as to be at Sossusvlei
to see the first rays of the rising sun hit the dunes.
We were all awake at 3.00 am and up before any alarm went off! Disaster - Ian’s car had a flat tyre! So we set about changing the wheel with all rapidity in the dark. A filthy dusty job and the last thing we needed today. But it was done speedily and we set off as fast as we decently could to find that the 40 miles to Sossusvlei was a tarred road! We made good time and were in position to start climbing the dunes as the sun came up.
Climbing huge sand dunes is hard work and a matter of 2 steps up to one step back. Chris decided that it was not her scene and the three of us made it to the top in reverse age order! But it was worth it. The views of the dunes around, and their stunning colours, were as striking as all the publicity proclaimed. Sadly we had only a short blast of sun as there was a layer of cloud blocking everything for about an hour. Butit was great fun watching a group of young Aussies fooling about at the top of the dune, sliding down and throwing themselves off the top. There were also some young children there as well, sliding down the side of the dune on plastic mats. We eventually walked straight down, which was great, and were rewarded at the bottom by the sun returning from behind the clouds to illuminate the whole dune scenery. It was hard to stop pressing the camera button!
We had breakfast under the dune then set off back to the campsite. On arrival Ian and I had a look at the punctured tyre where we fortunately saw the offending nail straight away. In fact we mended the puncture without taking the wheel off the rear door - job done in half an hour. Then showers before we set of southwards at about 11 am.
The gravel road was as good as any we have been on and we just feasted our eyes on the scenery, the colours and shades as beautiful as we have now come to expect in this country. In the camp last night we met two RSA registered safari vehicles, one of which was a Landrover twin cab pickup with a fantastic camping conversion done on it. We discovered that this family of four, Mum Dad and 2 daughters aged about 8 or 10, had been on the road for 8 months driving up to Ethiopia and back. They had really enjoyed Kenya and when I mentioned that my daughter, whose birthday it is today, lived in Kericho, he said they had stayed with friends of theirs in Kericho and it turned out to be one of the new Finlay managers! Small world!
They kindly gave us a lot of advice about where to go to get things done in Capetown, which is most useful. We drove on into mid afternoon when the tiredness hit us all after our early start but we were unable to find anywhere to free camp - all the roads here are fenced and bush camping is somewhat frowned upon. Nevertheless we found a commercial campsite with all the goodies. It wasn’t the best of campsites, especially when a car load of 4 Afrikaners pitched their setup right next to us.
Then there were the tame guinea fowl and last - and by far worst - there were half a dozen peacock. They yelled and screamed much of the night and were a general pain!
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