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Namaqualand National Park – Part 3

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012

Leaving Boulderbaai

Departing from the caves we still short one member of our group.  Thomas has not arrived.  Maybe we have to get used to not travelling along with Thomas.  It sounds a bit like that song of the chap that had to get used to not living next door to Alice anymore.

[Thomas!  Where the heck is Thomas?] 

A short distance away from the caves on the road back there is cell phone reception for probably about 200 meters.  From there Pieter manages to get hold of Thomas on his phone.  Thomas and his wife are at Garies already.  So they can be here within the next hour or so.

Knowing that Thomas is underway we head for Varswaterbaai.

Along the road to Varswaterbaai there are indeed spots that have fresh water fountains.

 

We follow Martin on the two spoor tracks, keeping as close to the see as we can.  (Some places offer more than one road.)

 

We come to one of the two more challenging parts of the route.  The board gives a good indication where the trouble may start.

The first part is thick sand, but everyone gets through without a problem.  Then we get to a hard patch.  From there you need to negotiate the twee spoor track over a dune in an “S” before getting to more even sand, but still thick.

This is the exact spot where Thomas got bogged down last year with his 2×4 Colt.  He now has a 4×4 Jeep Cherokee, but this time he has Pieter’s trailer to contend with.  While awaiting his turn, Koos finds his Crocs from last year that he left there while we were doing battle extracting Thomas from the sand!

[Thomas!  Where the heck is Thomas?]

After two unsuccessful attempts Martin suggests that we let our tyres down from 1,5 bar to 1 bar or lower.  I take mine town to 1,2 bar.  Then Martin speeds off with quite a commotion.  After a while it becomes quiet.  Martin has radio contact with three of the vehicles.  As we hear nothing from him we assume him to have been successful.

One at a time we tackle the stretch of sand.

Thereafter it is easy going.  Along the way we see a colony of seals.

We also spot a beautiful Blue Crane bird.

Varswaterbaai

It is cold and overcast when we arrive at Varswaterbaai.

Tonight is Koos and his family, and our turn to make the food.  We pitch our tents rather hurriedly.  Two pot breads need to be mixed and given time raise in the sun, and the sun is going down fast and with it the required heat.

Eventually the fires are burning, with the sun setting.  And still no sign of Thomas and Marienka.

[Thomas!  Where the heck is Thomas?]

There is no signal to make a call.  So apart from being concerned about them, there is nothing much we can do about it.

The chicken wings and kebabs are coming on nicely.  The two breads did prove a bit but not much, but they are being baked.  The chocolate cake for desert is doing its thing it the pot.

Then we see the headlights of three oncoming vehicles.  We all watch in suspense to see whether it is Thomas.

The first vehicle that pulls up is a double cab Land Rover with a trailer.

“Hey, that’s my dad’s trailer,” says Pieter’s son.

The second vehicle is also a double cab Land Rover.

“Hey, that’s my friend Nekkies,” says Martin.

The third vehicle that pulls up is a white Jeep Cherokee.

“Hey, that’s Thomas!” everyone exclaim.

OK, at least now we know where Thomas is!

The short version is that Thomas became stuck and that the guys with the Land Rovers came to his assistance.  One of these guys happened to be Nekkies of Getaway Off-road Centre in Wellington who regularly services Martin’s Land …

Namaqualand National Park – Part 4

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012

Thomas’ story

By the time we get to the coffee we got Thomas and Marienka to give us a more detailed version of their story. Thomas made it to “Soft Sand 4×4 Only”. The first part went fine.

Then he got to the second part where we let our tyres down. At that time Thomas still had his tyres on 2,2bar.

Immediately upon entering the thick sand, he got bogged down. This is also the part where he got bogged down last year. He managed to unhitch the trailer and push it back and out of the way. He then decided to rather go and look for us and get another vehicle to tow the trailer. Just as an aside, inside the trailer was also Pieter rubber dinghy. But whatever they had in mind for the dinghy, it never materialised.

So Thomas and Marienka set off in the Jeep, leaving the trailer there. However, only a few hundred meters further on the Jeep ran out of ground clearance and got bogged down.

Two hours later there were two mountains of sand next to the road as they tried to dig the Jeep out. Some people really have all the fun, huh?

I did not get the impression that they quite enjoyed playing in the sand, though. One aspect that seems to drive home this fact is Marienka’s broken plastic cake bin. This was used in the digging process. However, it was not the digging that led to the demise of the cake bin. No, it was a well aimed (or maybe a badly aimed?) throw of a stone that went right through the bin, rendering it unfit for further use.

Eventually Thomas decided that the writing is on the wall. This Jeep is not going anywhere soon. So, as is required from a diligens paterfamilias he stuffed a few things in a bag. They are going to set out on foot.

Not so, said Marienka. Those wild Struthio camelus that they have seen shortly before getting bogged down may chase them. Ostriches mos do that.

They won’t, Thomas assured her.

Ja, you also said the Jeep can get through here. But in any case, we can’t leave the car here, reckoned Marienka. The next guy coming past may just bump into it.

Well, for the past two hours nobody came past, countered Thomas, so what are the chances?

Before the matter could escalate into a domestic difference, the two Land Rovers arrived on the scene. And the rest is history.

When we eventually went to bed my wife suggested that we rather turn around with our heads away from the sea. It’s rather noisy. Surf’s up, you know. So we turned the other way.  I can’t say that the drone of the sea was any less intrusive, but it was more comfortable sleeping uphill, rather than downhill.

Saturday, 7 April

It’s a rainy day. Nice. For hours we just hang around in our tents. Or coffee crawl from trailer tent to trailer tent. The kids play on their PSP players, or listen to the music in the cars.

We have a tent with a view.

The kids play touch rugby on the beach.

During the course of the morning Nekkies and the rest of the rescue team of yesterday come driving past and pay us a visit. Someone mention in passing that Rinus’ Discovery is leaking sufficient oil to make an Arab smile.

Nekkies immediately offers to check the problem out. He is a Land Rover mechanic at Gateway Offroad Centre in Wellington. A few minutes later the problem is fixed. It seemed to have been an oil filter that was not properly tightened.

Orange is not quite my colour, but I must say, on Nekkies’ Land Rover it does seem to add a touch of class.

Today we’re not going anywhere. By early afternoon the rain stops. Rinus and …