Posts tagged with “Sendelingsdrift”

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 1

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Gate crashing a tour

When I met up with my cousin Lizette earlier this year, first on a funeral and the next day on a birthday (the birthday was the happier of the two affairs) she told me about their planned trip to Namibia in July.  Due to a combination of over eagerness, loud family interaction and a slight hearing problem, I understood her to invite us to join the tour  – something she afterwards denied having done.   We are still, however, on speaking terms, chiefly due to Lizette’s innate kindness.

But this is how it came about that on the morning of Saturday July 1st, we departed from Durbanville heading north, with my Mazda bakkie’s odometer indicating 310 001 km’s.  In between these two dates, of course, a lot happened, such as satisfying burocrats at Home Affairs, getting my twenty year old noble steed properly serviced, and acquiring some necessary camping equipment.  Mine was a party of four, which included my wife Marga and our 15 year old son, and a friend, Mariki.  We would join a convoy totalling four vehicles, us included.

The route would roughly cover the area as on the map:

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

Each made it on their own time to our first rendezvous point at Vioolsdrift.  As we stopped at roadworks just before Klawer, the vehicle that pulled up right behind me happened to be Lizette and Adriaan’s Colt double cab.  We travelled further in convoy to Oewerbos, some 13 kilometers north-west of the Vioolsdrift border post, but on the South African side.  About a half-an-hour later, Toit and Christine arrived with their Toyota double cab.  Then we were three cars.

It was a busy day at Oewerbos, with rugby on the big screen, and lots of people in the bar.  Apparently there had been an annual church bazaar, Neville behind the bar counter explained.  And the following day a church group would be moving in, he said.  I could not help but wonder when Neville would find the time to restock the bar for the church group of the next day, but it was evident that nothing could seriously unsettle Neville.  Not even a number of his guests absconding after ordering off a tab.

We had a drink on the river bank, watching the sun set.  There was a cano available, and I quite liked the idea of rowing to the middle of the river just to get a feel of Namibia.  That is now assuming the international border to be in the middle of the river.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

We then retreated to the two-bed bungalows where we were staying.  Wors braai and two minute noodles with mince got our field kitchen started.  Not having to set up camp would give us an early head start the next morning.  Brother Johnie and his wife Rose were waiting at Ai-Ais, where he already had a puncture.  They would meet us the following morning where the C37 from Ai-Ais meets the C13 that runs along the Orange river to Rosh Pinah.  But there was no South African cell phone reception at Oewerbos, so we had to leave the final arrangements for the next morning.


Day one in Namibia

Sendelingsdrift, Rosh Pinah, Aus, Luderitz

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

We made an early start the next morning, and were the first travellers at the border post.  Formalities were swift and painless.  At the first garage just across the border we filled up with Namibia’s substantially cheaper fuel, and bought MTC sim cards. We could then make contact with my brother Johnie to arrange for the rendezvous.  Him and his wife Rosie were now the outstanding parties.  They were at Ai-Ais already, and we had pretty much the same distance to travel from our respective points of departure.  We arranged that we would wait for them where the C37 from Ai-Ais meets the C13 running alongside the Orange river to Rosh Pinah.  The bit of waiting for them set the mood for an unhurried trip – with Adriaan always happy to stop for a picture or food or just because.  I found this refreshing, as I am one of those guys who, once I started driving, I want to keep going until I reach my destination, rather than to stop next to the road.

After meeting Johnie & Rosie with his Land Rover Freelander at the junction, we now had the full convoy complement.

It is a lovely gravel road running along the Orange river.  The scenery is much the same as on the South African side of the Richtersveld.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

Six kilometers upstream of Sendelingsdrift we stopped at the Sendelingsdrift weir gauge.  The weir gauge is intended to determine flow rates and water volumes over time. It made a beautiful sight, watching the water flow.

[Picture:  Mariki Stassen]

At the t-junction a short distance on, Adriaan aimed to the left instead of to Rosh Pinah.  It turned out that, apart from being the lead vehicle, Adriaan would also be the chief negotiator.  He arranged for permission at the border post for us to drive down to the pont station to see what it looks like.

From there we headed to Rosh Pinah where some of us filled up.  More often than not, I was the one doing the filling up, with the others waiting for me.  The 3.4 liter petrol engine of my Mazda is not kind to fuel stops.

If the gravel road between Sendelingsdrift and Rosh Pinah is an indication of what the road from Rosh Pinah to Aus looked like before it was tarred, we can only count our blessings for asphalt.  We stopped at Aus, 178km further.  The fuel station was extremely busy, but I am happy to report that this was one fuel stop that I managed to skip.

From Rosh Pinah to Aus I could not help but become concerned about the wellbeing of the town Montagu.  I counted no less than seven vehicles with CBR registration numbers overtaking us. Who was left to look …