Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 6 (final)

 Day 12

Heading home, Grunau

We got up, motivated to get going, now heading for home.  This was a great tour, but I was keen on starting with the journey home.

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Toit and Christine headed for Windhoek, we said our goodbyes to Georg and Sabine, and left for Grunau in our two vehicle convoy.

From Solitaire the road was extremely good.   At times we did 110km/h on the road.  I kept my vehicle in 4×4 though, for the safety of the four wheel traction.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

Twenty kilometers before the end of our gravel roads, I heard and felt the wroep-wroepe-wroep of a rear tyre disintegrating.  At that time we were going uphill and not very fast, and I could bring the bakkie to a standstill.  There was a moment when the nose headed precariously in the direction of a donga next to the road, but at that time I was slow enough to apply the brakes without fear of losing control.

Johnie was ahead, and at that point there was no signal.  Marga then walked to a nearby hill until she got a signal to call Johnie to come back.  In the meantime, I got going on changing the tyre.

The outside sidewall of the tyre was virtually cut off from the tyre.  The spare wheel is underneath the bakkie, locked with a Solex lock.  I recently checked that it was still working.  And indeed, the key turned, but the lock would not unlock.  After a bit of under my breath encouragement, the lock relented, much to my relief.   I started jacking down the wheel, but after one turn, the crank handle would not move any further.  By then, the spare wheel has dropped only about an inch and was solidly stuck.  And so was I.

Eventually I got under the wheel and lifted it as high as it would go.  I managed to pry the stopper that kept the feel from falling to the ground through the centre hole of the wheel, and had the wheel come down on top of me.  I was rather relieved and remained in that position for a bit.  It was very refreshing.  The rest of the crowd thought I was dead.  But I was not.  Better luck next time.

Eventually I made it out from under the wheel and the vehicle.  As I put the wheel down on the ground without watching where I was going, I managed to split a finger nail when the full weight of the wheel squashed my finger on a rock that was substantially higher than where I expected the ground to be.  I duly noted a protest.

To my surprise this spare wheel,  that had not been inflated in the past 10 years, still had 1.8kpa of pressure in it.  Johnie took the wheel that came off into his Freelander, and off we went.

At Maltehohe we filled up, and attended to the tyre sales and repair outfit.  They did not have the size tyre that I required.  In the 17 years that I have been driving the bakkie, I have never had a puncture.  So given that the 112 km’s to Mariental was now tar, we decided to try our luck at Mariental.  The gentleman at the Maltehohe outfit was kind enough to remove my stuffed up tyre from the rim.  He could also pinpoint the cause of the flat tyre.  A small object on the centre of the tyre caused a similar leak to the one that was repaired at Solitaire.

At Trentyre in Mariental I was assisted by a friendly and helpful George. They stocked Goodyear tyres, but no Firestones, but at least I could get the correct size from him.  The tyre cost what the night in the Ritz would have cost us, so I guess one can say I broke even.  In the meantime the rest of the party trooped over to the restaurant right across the road where they had something to eat and drink.  After also having a bit to eat and drink at the restaurant, we headed out.

I ended up driving in front, and had to do my best to stay ahead of Johnie.  We travelled to Keetmanshoop at a spirited tempo, working on GPS speed rather than the speedometer.  This 221km stretch seems similar to the Laingsburg to Beaufort West road in South Africa.   After yet again taking on fuel (and now also adding a bit of oil to sooth my noble steed’s internal organs), we hit the road for the last stretch to Grunau, with Johnie in the lead.

Darkness fell soon thereafter.  Trucks, hills, and above all, the prevalence of road signs warning about kudu’s, prompted me to go slower than Johnie would have hoped for. Afterwards I enquired whether the kudu signs did not bother him, but he said he did not see it.  Eisj,  Willeboer!

Grunau Country Lodge had reserved for us a 5 bedroom luxury room and two budget rooms, each with two beds, the occupants of which had to use the seperate albution block.  It should only have been two rooms, but there had been a misunderstanding, and we left it at that.  Grunau sits on the main routes to both Noordoewer and Nakop. the hotel was fully booked for the night.

Dinner hour was already past, so we ordered food from the menu. The girl taking the order advised us to sit in the lounge on the soft chairs, and to not be nervous or in a hurry for the food.  We did wait a while for the food, but it was certainly worth the wait. The splendid bottle of Shiraz also assisted in keeping everyone nice and calm.

At Grunau we had by far the coldest night of our holiday.


Day 13

Home, James, home, and don’t spare the horses

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

With first light we said goodbye to Johnie and Rosie, and left for Noordoewer.  They would be heading for Pretoria through the Nakop border post.

At Noordoewer I took on the last of Namibia’s cheap fuel, and headed for the border post.  At the border post we ran into Lizette and Adriaan again.  Having finalised the funeral and other incidentals, they were heading back into Namibia to finish the rest of their pre-booked holiday.  We could only wish for happier circumstances for them.

After a day trip of 810km’s, we arrived home just before seven o’clock.

Und sollte man uns fragen:
Was hält euch denn hier fest?
Wir könnten nur sagen:
Wir lieben Südwest!                                 -Das Sudwesterlied


Man, dit was nou ‘n lekker toertjie gewees!


Namibia must be a geologist’s dream.  The variation in stones, mountains, veld and vegetation is astonishing.

In the south there is the more rocky terrain, to the west the Namib desert.  East of Sesriem the veld reminds one of the karoo in terms of the mountains and vegetation.  North of Solitaire there are grass plains.

Road surfaces of the non-tarred roads would appear to be dictated by the type of soil / rocks there are at that time.  I guess there is preciously little you can do about that the road surface other than to put asphalt on it.  But as a result we found some of the D-roads to be in better condition that some C-roads.

For winter, the nights were surprisingly hot.  My preperations for cold weather was unnecessary, with the coldest probably some 10 degrees.

Not once did I feel unsafe.  I might not necessarily want to camp alone on some of the sites where we had been, but simply because I have become too accustomed to houses near me.  It sound’s better than to say I get spooked by the dark, I guess.

The four vehicles’ occupants got along splendidly.  I would suggest that, doing a tour like this, would require choosing compatible people as your travel companions.  We seem to have had exactly that.

It was seldom that we did not have mobile phone reception for long stretches of time. We obtained MTC sim cards, but wi-fi were available at various places where we could still use our RSA sim carded phones for WhatsApp and internet.

Namibia is big.  About twice the size of Germany, and the same size as South Africa.  It is easy to misjudge your distances, and it is better to count on speeds of 60km/h on the gravel roads.  Some places you can go faster, other places even slower.


Days out 14

Nights     13

Camping nights 7

Made camp 4 times

Total kilometers travelled: 3 843 km

Thereof 2 350 km on tar

And 1 493 km on gravel

Used 554 liters fuel

Consumption average 6.9 km/l

Oil used: 5 pints (2,5 liter) – only slightly higher than normal

With Mazda Magnum 1998 3.4 DC 4×4 (petrol)

Fuel price variation differs from R1,66 – R2,40 cheaper in Namibia than in South Africa.

Car trouble:  one puncture repaired, one tyre lost, rear number plate recovered and fixed with cable ties.





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