Namaqualand National Park – Part 5

Sunday, 7 April

To Lambertsbaai

After two nights at Varswaterbaai we had to pack up. Now we are heading for Malkopbaai, Lambertsbaai.

Past Kwassebaai is another stretch of pretty thick sand. At places the tracks have become fairly deep, to the extent that it would be difficult to just hop out of the spoor should there be traffic approaching. Fortunately there is a double set of tracks for some of these places, which would ease things a bit in the event of two way traffic.

Those towing trailers need a bit more speed and momentum to keep going. Of course! So that would be the reason why, by the time we were through these sandy patches, I had to give some gas just to catch up with those in front of me. Not towing anything I could quietly trundle along, minding my own business at a rather leisurely pace.

Where we have a choice, Martin opts for the spoor closest to the sea. At one spot we have to negotiate quite thick sand with severe cross-axle movement. We take turns so that the vehicles can go through one at a time. You don’t want the front guy to get bogged down with the next vehicle right on his tail.

It looks very impressive watching a vehicle with a trailer going over that spot, with the vehicle and the trailer heaving and bobbing in opposite directions.

Martin’s initial planning was for us to swing west from the Groenrivier and head for the tar road. His idea was to take the fastest, albeit not the shortest, route so that we can get to Lambertsbaai not too late in the afternoon. Fortunately by the time we arrived at Groenriver, that plan was canned in favour of one to stick to the sand tracks for as long as we can.

The rain definitely made the sandy parts easier to drive, but caused some mud pools. Nothing serious, just enough to make your vehicle look very impressive to the neighbours back home.

Just before the Groenrivier we leave the Park at its Southern gate.

At the Groenriviermond we do the been-there-dunnit pictures, and follow the spoor past the Groenrivier light house, heading south.

And what a nice drive! Eisj! What were you thinking, Martin! We nearly missed all this.

My understanding is that the roads that we now travel on used to belong to the mine, but that the land was offered to the Parks. Whether they have taken it over is not clear. It is in any event unlikely that they would have the money to develop the area.

This is probably the reason why people can camp at various places next to the beach. A bit of a free for all, where all shapes and sizes of abode seem to go.

Before we reach Brand-se-Baai we stop for lunch.

Pieter decides to inflate his tyres with his electrical pump. This attempt blows a fuse on the bakkie, ending the inflating exercise. So I decide to show Pieter how things should work, making use of basic technology – such as a foot pump. I get my foot pump out and start working (pumping just does not sound right) my tyre.

However, after a short while I decide that, as there will only be 28km’s tar road to go, I can just as well leave my tyres as they are and have it inflated at the Lutzville fuel station. I could then sommer also discretely look for a bin to chuck my now dysfunctional foot pump into.

My friend Alwyn, whom I see about once in a decade, comes driving past with his family. This, of course, increases our statistical average of meeting each other substantially.

Eventually we hit the tar road again and travel slowly on the road to Lutzville. My bakkie does not pass a fuel station by easily, and I have to fill up. And inflate my tyres, mos.

Just outside Lutzville, heading for Strandfontein, the wind spectacularly removes Martin’s camping table from the roof of his Land Rover. If it was not for the fact that he was driving like a maniac at that time, I could have been hit by the table. Fortunately I was still playing catch-up some distance behind him.

After a cursory inspection of the table Martin decides to rather leave it there for the needy.

From Strandfontein we take the gravel toll road to Lamberts Bay. The road is in brilliant condition. We arrive at Malkopbaai late afternoon.

The camp site is right opposite the Muisbosskerm. It has proper ablution and grass. Some parts of it sports West coast roll on lawn in the form of anchovy net, but I assume that to be temporary.

Strange how, after only three days of longdrops, one can go ape at the sight of flush toilets, running water, electricity and grass to camp on .

Pieter & Hanneke and her parents (Oupa & Ouma) are in charge of the food. Pieter made prior arrangements to have yellow tail and witstompneus fish delivered for the braai. Some friendly neighbours offer us cooked crayfish that they took out at the Groenrivier, they said. It tastes marvellous. The red tide clearly did not affect these crayfish. Not that surviving the red tide helped them much. What you win on the swing, you lose on the roundabout, huh?

The fish tastes wonderful, complemented by just as nice salads.

Marienka has recovered from her lack-of-cake-bin syndrome and prepared soetkluitjies for desert, collecting pots and pans for this purpose from her fellow travellers. Food (quality and quantity) is surely the last thing that anyone can complain about on this tour!

Monday, 8 April

The long road back home

Today the tour ends. The weather is nice, but we had some rain during the night, and it takes to about 11h00 before most of the tents are sufficiently dry for us to pack it up.

We have a nice time sitting around, chatting, having coffee, and in between doing bits of packing.

After a group photo (you have no idea how long that took) the group starts to disperse, with us being the first to leave.

Nou daai was ‘n lekker toertjie gewees!


On the route

[Source: Imagery ©2014 TerraMetrics, Map data ©2012 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

On 4×4-ing in general

I’m no true blue off-road enthusiast. At least not with my own vehicle. To be really honest, I should probably not even own a 4×4. Kindly put, I could probably be described as the over cautious traveller. And that is the reason why I enjoyed the two trips that we have done to the Namakwaland National Park (and the Richtersveld for that matter) so much.

Yes you have bits that require 4×4. And on our previous trip we also found that one can do most of it with a 2×4, but you would be pushing it a bit doing that without the back-up of 4×4 vehicles, and a bit of muscle power to do the pushing.

One is truly in nature, without being so far away from civilisation that you fear falling off the edge of the earth.

On technique

On my first outing to the caves I initially did some battle in the sand. At one stage I realised that I had the steering wheel at 180 degrees, with no idea where my front wheels were pointing. It is probably fair to assume that they were at an awkward angle to the track, serving as a perfect anchor in the thick sand. I eventually simply let go of the steering wheel to see where it goes, only to find the wheels stuck neatly to the tracks. The tracks were so deep, it could not go anywhere else, really. Immediately the engine stopped labouring, as the braking effect of my front wheels disappeared.

On vehicles

My bakkie was the only petrol driven vehicle in the convoy. Although not endowed with any sporting characteristics, simply putting it in first gear high range gives you a rather wide power band to play with, which rarely required an up change to second gear.

Also, with the 3.4 litre big six’s laid back power you seldom require more power than what first gear high range can offer you. Combined with the correct tyre pressure the bakkie can therefore do fairly well in spite of my efforts.

On trailers

Of the seven vehicles, 4 towed trailers. Koos put the finishing touches on his custom made canopy with doors and slides that can cause the envy of your neighbours. So that is probably as close as you can get to having a trailer without towing one.

In spite of the perceived swiftness in pitching and un-pitching your trailer rig, I am not convinced that it is any quicker for the trailer towing guys to make camp or break up camp. There is no doubt, though, that their comfort levels are streets ahead in comparison to those working with loose standing tents and camping in an out of the back of their bakkies.

Vehicles that went along:
– Land Rover Defender Td5 + trailer
– Land Rover Discovery A/T Td5 + trailer
– Fortuner D-4D + trailer
– Fortuner D-4D
– Toyota DC D-4D with custom canopy
– Jeep Cherokee 2,5 td + trailer
– Mazda Magnum B3.4 DC

Camps and Distances


More information:

Nights out: 4
Pitched tent: 3x

Distance travelled: 1095km
On tar: 805km 7,2km/l
Gravel and 4×4: 290km 5,2km/l
Average fuel consumption: 6,5km/l
(For Mazda Magnum 3.4 DC 4X4 (petrol))
Fuel: 168 liter @ R11.88 per liter = R1995,84