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Published: January 17th 2016
The first stop on our self drive adventure is Kulala Desert Lodge in Sossusvlei (vlei means pan or dry river bed). The Lodge is situated near the highest sand dunes in the world that look like a mountain range from a distance. The changing sun also creates a different colour gradations but their primary colour is red. Nestled among the dunes are a number of dried up river beds, the largest being Sossusvlei which contains a collection of dead trees that are still standing. Of course the lack of moisture prevents them from rotting so they are left black and lifeless.
There are 3 main dunes in which you can climb, Dune 45, Big Daddy Dune and Big Momma Dune. Big Daddy is the tallest at 300 m and of course it's the one we choose to climb. We tried to get there early enough to avoid the heat but even at 7:30 a.m. it felt close to 35 degrees. After giving it an all out effort, we had to admit defeat, only being able to climb about 3/4 of the way up. I think Debra would have been able to make it, but probably didn't want to embarass me
so she retreated with me. I keep forgetting that age 30 was a long time ago. I hope Debra isn't considering trading me in for a new, more technologically advanced model!!!
Kulala Desert Lodge was very comfortable although it was 14 km off the main gravel road, so quite isolated. The staff in particular were fabulous and extremely helpful. The views were spectacular as were the clear skies at night with the widest array of stars this side of New Brunswick.
After a couple of days, we are on the road again to Swakopmund/Walvis Bay. It was about a 6 hour drive through the desert so at times reminded me of driving through Texas, only dryer. We did manage to stop in Soltaire which is an Oasis in the middle of nowhere that is reputed to have the best Apple pie in Africa. Needless to say, we had to try a piece but I must say, it was good but not up to the standards that we're accustomed to with my sister's and now her daughter Victoria's creations.
Swakopmund and Walvis Bay is on the West Coast of Namibia on the Atlantic Ocean. What a difference in
temperature!! It was more like a warm summer day in Canada. The area is a big sand dune and there are a lot of beeches etc. Walvis Bay is a deep water harbor that's being expanded and will become the largest and main harbour in all sub-saharan Africa. The area is very well developed with a lot of building and construction activity. Swakopmund, where we stayed at a very pleasant Guest House (Corner Stone), is about 30 km from Walvis Bay. It's very much a tourist town with many foreigner visitors but also a destination of choice for many from Windhoek and surrounding area.
Activities on the second day included a relaxing catamaran tour of Sandwich Harbour in Walvis Bay. We were able to get close to a massive oil drilling platform that was moored into the harbour. It was a fascinating structure and was moved from Angola where it was drilling but stopped when the price of oil collapsed. The tour ended with champagne, world famous Namibian Oysters along with a variety of finger food.
The afternoon was spent on a quided tour of the dunes. The area is miles and miles of white sand that reminded
us very much of the Sahara Desert(although we've only seen pictures). Tollo, our guide and driver was absolutely a lunatic, but in a nice way. We were in 4x4 Land Rover that he drove like a dune buggy. He was very experienced and knew the area well so even though he gave the impression of being out of control, he knew exactly was he was doing. This was a very entertaining afternoon and like the boat cruise, capped off with champagne and oysters.
It would be remiss not to talk of Namibia Oysters. There are some very large farms in and around Walvis Bay and they export to Asia and other countries. Although they are good, in my view, Canadian Oysters from Caraquet Coast of New Brunswick, Malpeque Oysters from PEI and some Oysters out of BC are far superior. It is probably a personal taste, but the Namibian Oyster is more dense with a creamier tecture. The locals claim it's the type of water and the Asia prefer the Namibian product.
The next leg of our journey is in Damaraland which is heading North.
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