Friday, March 30, 2012

South into the Cape Province

Swakopmund lighthouse

And still the road drew us on. Windhoek, with its history and curio shops. Time went by as we browsed the art market, but then we were on the go again, into the mountains and onto the Khomas Hochland, and down towards Swakopmund.

Colours to dream of
It was fascinating watching the vegetation change, from lush grassland to mountains, to hard rocky grassland, to gravel plains, to sandy plains. A compulsory stop was to meet with that disoasaur of plants, the Welwitchia Mirabilis. And then the holiday town of Swakopmund and its German gemutlichkeit.

Meeting a dinosaur! The Welwichia in an ancient plant

And after two days of rest, on, on towards the Namib. The Cruiser struggled with the heat, because we had the aircon going most of the time, and also did not notice that we were in a steady climb all day, ending a full kilometer higher than where we started.

Lovely gravel roads, great scenery,
what more do you want?
The next day we went on towards the Fish River canyon, and, perhaps stubborn, refused to pay what we thought were exorbitant fees to visit the lookout point. So, after a good night's rest and an expensive dinner, we took the last lap of Namibia's excellent gravel roads, and then the B1, down to Noordoewer, and a pleasant checking out of Namibia.
Saying goodbye in the Namibian fashion
And on to Springbok, over badly maintained tar. If this part of the road is not sealed soon, next year there will be serious potholes.
Now the planning starts running out, and we have some latitude to improvise before we are due in Cape Town. Watch this space!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The road goes ever on and on: Kalahari dreams

Road signs!

Oasis in the desert:Van Zylsrus hotel
 The road has called, and we must go.

Shahnaz’ mother had read our blog, and felt that she had to share our Africa. And Tante Renate had heard of the Namibian experiences, and wanted to follow up on a long-forgotten planned holiday to this ex-German colony.

Bat ear foxes
We set out, on a bright March morning, on the long road west, first to Kuruman, but due to a golf tournament there was no room at the inn or at any of the guest houses there. So we turned north, stopping for a photo opportunity at Hotazell which was rather cool, all things compared. Then we had a little argument between GPS, paper maps and road works, but by late afternoon we found the Van Zylsrus Hotel.

A pleasant oasis this turned out to be, a small town in the great Kalahari, conscious of the weight of the dryness, the ever-threatening drought. Hard land, friendly people, good food.

Peace, brothers!
Early the next morning we set out to Twee Rivieren, which my GPS insisted was in Botswana, and by late morning we had checked out of South Africa and into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park.

Fortunately we were not camping, as the easter holiday crowd had started arriving: imposing assemblies of technology, with drivers of varying degrees of expertise. Overseas tourists with rented campers and 4X4 vehicles with rooftop tents made us wonder at the likelihood that they would get stuck…. But all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

We wondered at this scene. Was the dead giraffe the
little one's mother?
And we saw lots of animals in the three days we were there. Including a cheetah that we had heard had been unsuccessful in her hunt the previous day. We met her, trotting determinedly towards a water course where we knew there was a large herd of springbok, but we could not see the chase that we knew would follow.

Then we entered Namibia, with pleasant officials at the border, passed a relaxing night at Gochas, in the Auob river lodge, and then visited Isabis, to experience the authentic hospitality of this country, and see the breathtaking scenery found there.

And on to Windhoek, for some cultural soaking, but also the National Day, so many things were closed.

Hunting cheetah

And lunch on the hoof.

Tante Renate's birthday

Verdant Namibia, despite a low rainfall. 

And where can you see a better sight?
His Majesty had had enough of tourists

And so has Her Majesty
But the courtiers could not care less