10 July, Windhoek, Namibia
Sossusvlei – Swakopmund (450 km, dirt road)
We left Le Mirage Tuesday morning and our first stop was Solitaire. I love Solitaire because of the delicious apple pie and the book of Dutch writer Ton van der Lee: Solitaire. It’s a wonderful story that has put this little place with Moose on the map of Namibia. Moose is the only one that’s still there. The other characters of the book have left. Ton now lives somewhere in Ghana, escaping busy Solitaire and writing more beautiful books about Africa.
The rest of the day was pretty much planned for driving. Welwitschia Drive was high on my list. We got the permit to drive through this famous stretch of desert in Sesriem. So far the directions we got from Leading Lodges all made sense so we were looking forward to find the 1.000 year old plants. Boy, did we get lost, AGAIN! Well not really lost but we were driving and driving and we didn’t see a single soul for about 2 hours and that, even in Namibia, is very weird. We got a bit anxious. We decided to turn around and get back to the main road. Suddenly I spotted another car in the distance. It was our lucky day. It turned out to be a friendly French family and we decided to just follow them so at least we wouldn’t be driving alone. We drove through what must be the ugliest part of Namibia. There we no signs at all for many many km and finally we saw one in the distance and couldn’t wait to read it. It said: Dust free zone in 2 km. THANKS GUYS! But where on earth are we?? We had a good laugh about that sign. We passed Uranium mines. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. If you decide to do Welwitchia Drive, first get to Swakopmund and get your permit and directions. Don’t try to do it from the Kuiseb Canyon side. You will not encounter any shops, villages, petrol station for about 200 km.
In the end we found the old plants and made a few pics. We just wanted to get out of the desert and have decent shower or bath.
Swakopmund is a funny looking place. I’ve been here before but I can’t get used to it, somehow. It has a wild mix of architecture and not always the prettiest. We stayed in a place called Sam’s Giardino, a small guesthouse with 10 similar rooms. The lounge area is very nice with a library and many pictures of the beloved Einstein, a Bernese mountain dog that unfortunately passed away some time ago. The bar area is quite nice, built around a big gum tree. Sam’s is famous for his goumet cooking so we enjoyed a wonderful 4 course dinner. The theme for Tuesday night was fish. Great to have some fish after the overcooked meat we had at Le Mirage. We were so tired from all the driving that we nearly fell asleep in our soup bowl so at 20h30 we went to sleep. What a day!
Swakopmund – Windhoek (380 km, tarred road)
After some necessary time in the internet café, I found a wireless place in Swakopmund, we got on the road to Windhoek. What a pleasure! 380 km on tarred road. We flew to Windhoek! Fiona suddenly spotted a bushman on the side of the road while we were driving 140 km/h. She reversed because a picture had to be taken. Obviously this poor bushman was trying to make a living. Fiona has her picture and the bushmen has 5 Namibian Dollars. The trip went so smooth we were able to have lunch in Windhoek and found the most fabulous place in the Old Brewery which is now an Arts centre with a GREAT lunch café. Imagine kiwi smoothies and paw-paw, black forest and avo salad. Our best meal since the beginning of this trip. In Windhoek we stayed overnight in Villa Verdi, a beautiful guesthouse with lovely staff and a fabulous 4 course dinner. It was wonderful and the perfect last evening for a short but wonderful trip through Namibia.
I just got back from the airport where I’ve picked up my clients for a 21 day trip through Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. I’ve been looking forward for this since long. It will be a wonderful journey. Tonight we will have dinner again at Villa Verdi, the perfect setting for a first evening.
14 July, Weltevrede Guesthouse, Solitaire
Everything is going very smooth so far. Cori Pension in Windhoek I would not recommend. It’s cheap and that’s what you get. Next time I would start definitely at Villa Verdi. The next place we went was in the Kalahari and absolutely lovely, Bitterwasser, close to Marienthal. The Manager, Christine, was a very organized German lady that took us on a little game drive into the Kalahari dunes. Nice explanations about the Witgat tree and the Groendoring Boom. The Witgat tree is like a survival tree to the bushmen. They make coffee from the bark, use the leaves for a stomac medicine; the animals also love it because the leaves are full of protein. Bitterwasser is worldwide known for gliding. From October to February many pilots are staying here enjoying the good weather conditions and achieving new records. In Bitterwasser everything was done with German perfection and we all enjoyed that very much.
The next day we had a long way to go to the Fish River Canyon. We stayed in another beautiful place, Cañon Lodge where we were welcomed by Victor, a Dutch trainee from Hotelschool The Hague. How convenient! We were accommodated in lovely little cottages between huge boulders and dinner was served in the cozy dining area with 4 fires. The next morning, guide John took us on a rather strenuous hike. After sitting in the bus for so long it was lovely to have a bit of exercise although I was a bit worried once in a while if the elderly would all be fine. Cañon Lodge is also offering a new product: A hike in to the Fish River Canyon with pack donkeys. So it’s the kind of hike where you don’t need to carry your own pack, only your day pack with some water and lunch. When you finish hiking for the day a cool Gin & Tonic will be waiting for you. How fabulous is that!
After Cañon Lodge we stayed in Seeheim Hotel. Now there’s a place that you just want to forget as soon as possible. These people have no clue about hospitality and nothing in this place works. Terrible! Skip it if you can. Only go there if absolutely necessary and don’t book more than 1 night.
Today we arrived at Weltevrede Guesthouse. We haven’t experienced much yet but at least we had hot water. I had a lovely shower which was very very necessary. The weather also got a bit better now so we’re enjoying some nice warmth. Hopefully tomorrow as well.