Namaqua National Park – Part 4

By PG Jonker

[Continued from Part 3]

Groen rivier

The next morning we took our time to get uncamped again.  We made sure that we took everything with us that we brought in, and by 09h45 we were on our way again.

The temperature remained some 21 degrees.  With the fog of the previous evening, the thick sand was now much easier to negotiate.  It still was a very impressive sight to see Thomas in his Colt flying off, after giving the vehicle in front of him some space, never to get stuck in spite of long stretches of very thick sand.

At one point, though, there was a sharp bend in the road, with rocks in the sand.  Obviously you do not want to do that with speed, as such a rock can do some damage to your vehicle.  So as a precaution the Colt was hitched to one of the vehicles to enable him to negotiate this bend at a more sedate speed.

The problem with getting involved in the action is that you tend to forget about pictures.  By the time we realised that we should actually take a few pictures of the Colt in full cry, most of the thick sand parts were behind us.  However, at the next stretch my wife made a point of taking pictures.  But this happens on the move.  The result is a picture of the blue sky, one of the bakkie’s bonnet, another of the sand tracks in front of us, all blurry.  So we were not as successful as we would have wished to be in getting evidence of Thomas’ feat.

The sand tracks run right next to the sea.  Various basic areas of ablution had been set up by the Parks authority, offering you a long drop and some rocky walls that give shelter against wind. 

Just before noon we reached the Groen river mouth (S30°49.751’; E017°34.950’).  It’s actually an estuary that is only occasionally opened by wave action, when sea water would flood the estuary.  As the water evaporates, it leaves the salt behind, making it one of the saltiest on the South African coast. 

It was nevertheless a good time to do lunch.

We left, taking the road past the Groen river light house. 

There were still a few sandy stretches left, but none of those appeared daunting any more.  By about 15h00 we hit the tar road again, heading for Lutzville.

We were driving slowly, as our tyres were still under-inflated for the sand.  About 40 km’s before Lutzville Koos’ patched up tyre blew out its last wind, necessitating a stop to change wheels.  It was then that Koos realised that, following a recent rear end bump, he never checked whether he could reach the spare wheel underneath his Hilux.  It turned out that he could.  Not that it would have made much of a difference – between the remaining vehicles (three of us remained with Koos) we had sufficient spare wheels to help him out).


After filling up at Lutzville and inflating our tyres we headed for nearby Strandfontein.  And what an amazing place it turned out to be.

We were allocated camp sites in the ‘horse shoe’ part of the Municipal camping site.  Before our arrival there was only one vehicle there.  The lower camp site overlooking the sea, though, appeared to be fully occupied.

The weather was absolutely perfect.  Slightly overcast, windless, quiet (save for us, that is).

We ended the weekend with a potjiekos competition.  The options to choose from were sheep, chicken,  bread (two variants) and chocolate cake (true).  After much deliberation we decided it was a draw. 

A perfect end to a wonderful weekend.

In the groove, babe

Now, there is a malicious rumour going around that I don’t have the balls to do heavy 4×4 stuff.  So let me be clear on this.  This rumour is absolutely true.  But this tour, I would say, falls squarely within what I find extremely palatable.   

So maybe one can say I’ve got my groove….




Day 1:    Cape Town to Kamieskroon                        481km’s

Day 2:    Kamieskroon to West Coast                        180km’s

Day 3:    From overnight to Strandfontein              198km’s

Day 4:    Strandfontein to home                                 339km’s               (via St Helena Bay)

Total distance travelled:                                              1 198km’s

Distance on gravel and 4×4:                                         290km’s

Fuel consumption – best:                                             7,4km/l

Fuel consumption – worst:                                          5,2km/l

Fuel consumption – average:                                     6,3km/l

To consider before my next trip

Get the starting problem on the bakkie fixed – nope:  been there, done that, no cure – that in itself is another story

Consider a fixed fan instead of a viscous one – nope:  been advised that this is not a good plan;  noisy, uneconomical, and apparently causes uneven temperature in engine

Check whether the diff lock is in fact working – now there’s a good idea.

Get some balls.  The kids love playing with balls.

To read:

Booklet:  Caracal Eco Route – Namaqua National Park



6 Responses to “Namaqua National Park – Part 4”

  • Colin commented as follows:

    Hi PJ
    Just rear with interest your Namaqua trip

    By now you will have had it fixed I am sure, but your starter problems sound like one of two possibilities. 1) starter Bendix slipping, or 2) ring gear wearing and the teeth don’t mesh.

    Checking diff lock is as easy as switching it on and driving in a circle. If it works the car will get a intermittent little jump as you circle and there will be a sound of scrubbing tires, even worse than when in 4×4 only. also steering will pull straight with a greater vengeance. Diff locks need wheel speed differential to engage(very little), and if the speed differential is too high they will not engage, only grate like a bad gear shift and in some cases just destroy themselves.

    Making the viscous fan solid will only make a lot of irritating noise (and improve low speed cooling) but will not cause uneven engine temp….. that is controlled in the engine by design, and the overall temp by the thermostat. A better electric fan may help, and as well as cool the motor better , a strong air flow at low speed will make the aircon work better. As a side thought. Never trust the temp gauge for accuracy…hot is 100-110deg and above in real numbers. most gauges amplify the hot section to scare you, so 95 could be 3/4 and 100 the red line. A engine will boil at 120 (nominal) and do damage at 130.



  • Colin

    Thanks for the response. You prompted me to to a follow up on the tale of the starter motor (

    I have also since read that the fixed fan is not a good idea. Apart from being noisy, it also apparently causes uneven cooling.

    Given the inaccuracy of my fuel gauge, maybe I shshould just accept that the temperature gauge is also over enthusiastic, and just ignore the red line!


  • And yes, with regard to the diff lock I should probably have made sure it was properly engaged before hitching the Colt.


  • Colin wrote

    Hi PG

    One day when the stater is out (and if you can look inside) do a check on the edge of the teeth on the flywheel ring gear, on the face that faces the starter you will find the teeth are round, (predominately in two areas around the flywheel) and they need to be shamfered to allow the to gears to mesh.
    Changing the bendix will hide or change the problem for a while, but it comes back,
    At worst if you stop the engine on the clutch , the engine stops in a different point as a rule and the noise should not happen, but it is a bit like Russian roulette. very hit and miss


  • OK, so what you’re saying is, the problem is actually on the flywheel (ring gear), not on the bendix. Makes sense. So every time I start it, and if the rounded gear is then in position, it basically slips. But just enough so that, at the next attempt, there is a proper tooth in position to take a grip.


  • Colin wrote:

    pretty much thats what happens…..if the starter bendix manages to line up and engage before it starts turning then no noise. Happens mostly on high milage cars, but I’ve seen it on lower mileage cars. On some cars to help the guy if the part is very expensive I have removed the ring gear and turned it 90deg while doing a clutch job, and as the engine has two favored points of rest it normally takes the problem away.

    Of course I may be wrong, but you seem to have exhausted all other options, and some that are so far removed from the problem you may as well have fitted new tires to cure the problem.