Namibia 2015 Trip Report - Pics added

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Haboob
Monster Truck
Monster Truck
Posts: 2398
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:57 pm
Town: King Williams Town
Vehicle: Hilux
Real Name: Edge
ORRA Call Sign: HC129

Tue Jul 21, 2015 3:24 pm

Namibia Thursday 2015/06/03 to Friday 2015/06/26
Viv & I were to do this trip with a friend & his wife but unfortunately they pulled out at the last minute due to the health of his spouse, but this did not deter us or dampen our spirits as we were originally going to do the trip on our own…
We are not people that go out and do 4X4 Trails for the sake of testing driver and vehicle, but the trails in Namibia are different in that they are normally shortcuts to a specific destination and not man made or designed as a test for man & vehicle. They are often the more scenic route and would weave down river courses and over mountains to get to a specified destination. These trails are also usually very secluded with very few tourists on the routes and exclusivity and open spaces are normally guaranteed.
Travelling alone we had the freedom to leave move as the mood took us, so we left a day earlier than anticipated as we had the time to cut down on the pace of the trip. We were to leave at a reasonable hour, but the expectation was at boiling point and when we found ourselves awake before the crack of dawn, we dressed and had coffee & rusks, said our goodbyes to family & pets and set off in the fully packed vehicle.
(Photo: 1)
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By the time we were supposed to leave home we had already passed Cradock, some 250 km’s from our home. The cold front had set in and we travelled through rain for the first 150 km’s, before it started clearing the further north we progressed. Our destination for the first night was Sakkie se Arkie in Upington where a fresh night was spent with a most adorable camp dog (Bow Wow) and a pot of Tikka curried chicken for the anticipated cold (The ablutions are starting to show the signs of neglect, but still a lot better than the Municipal Campsite at Die Eiland.
(Photo: 2)
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The next morning the vehicle was filled with Diesel with the anticipation of a long day on the Namibian back roads and the Border crossing went without too much incident with the exception of the officials who were looking for liquor and were perturbed to see that we had ten beers instead of the nine I had declared…
Grunau was again a fill up point before we started on the gravel for most of the next 5 500 km’s, when the Klein Karas Scenic Route on the D608 was driven to Keetmanshoop and then a maze of back roads to Maltahohe. This is where a succession of bad luck started on the trip which saw us losing two tyres in a distance of 20 km’s with a distance of 140 km’s to Maltahohe still to be covered without a spare. This was nerve wracking with the road petering out to a track and night falling.
(Photo: 3)
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The lights of Maltahohe were a welcome sight, but there was no camping accommodation to be found in town, but a farm out of town where the owners were busy starting a new campsite, but there were no facilities, so it was bush camping for our first cold night in Namibia after an eventful day in the saddle. A quick braai with potato onion and vegetables in tin foil was a good start before a wash in the back of the camper before settling in for the night. We awoke to a crisp morning with bird song from all directions and our first cuppa was a realisation that the water tank had acquired a bad taste from stagnant water which had not evaporated when last used.
(Photo: 4)
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This was to pose a problem for the rest of our trip and despite washing it out twice with jik; the problem was not solved so the water was kept for the washing machine and the dishwasher. Water for drinking and cooking was purchased in five litre containers for the rest of the trip. A tyre dealer in Maltahohe assisted in replacing the two damaged tyres which were cut on the tread and beyond recovery. Unfortunately they did not have A/T tyres so the M/T were purchased at a King’s ransom and fitted.
(Photo: 5)
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This had put a damper on the trip, so deep in thought we passed Solitaire where I was supposed to obtain permits for the Tinkas/Blutkuppe area and then the 4X4 Trail at the Jakkalswater/Adventure Wustenquell area where we were supposed to Camp. I did realise my mistake after the Kuiseb Pass, but by then the GPS was showing me that I could not even travel north from there on the roads as this was a protected area. Rather than travel all the way back to Solitaire the decision was taken to incorporate this section into the 2016 Holiday as the offices in Swakopmund would be closed on a Saturday afternoon. We took the drive slowly enjoying the scenery and saw many other tourists on this popular route.
(Photo: 6)
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After a bit of shopping in Swakop the Tiger Campsite which we had intended to use as a change from previous trips was changed to Alte Brucke Campsite where the washing & ironing was brought up to date and the protection of the campsites protective miniature Pincher type dog was enjoyed with mince & spaghetti on the menu for all present…
(Photo: 7)
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Sunday morning was again fresh and crisp, but the Khan River 4X4 Trail was planned for the day and while most of the other campers were still lying in bet we slowly crept out of the campsite and made our way north-east out of Swakop to the start of the trail which was barricaded with drums and a clearly defined track around the drums. The start was uneventful, but improved as we proceeded with the scenery improving until we reached a dead end. There was however an escape route out to the right. It was obvious that there were many people who had visited this place and the evidence of braai fires and camping was there.
(Photo: 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12)
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On closer inspection a Poort was discovered through which vehicles could pass and just around the corner is a narrow rocky area to carefully negotiate where a set of rock sliders on the vehicle would be added peace of mind with a friend to assist in guiding you through the obstacle. When in/on the obstacle you will not even be able to get out the vehicle, unless the windows are used, due to the tight fit between the rocks, but SWAMBO was able to guide me through without any problems, before we could continue along this beautiful drive down the river bed. We saw a surprising amount of game, which included Ostridges and different smaller buck species (mostly Klipspringer). (Photo: 13)
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We even found a place where a fresh kill by one of the small cat species had caught and partially eaten a Klipspringer lamb, but the guilty party was not about to expose themselves to the inquisitive intruders. After a few kilometres down the river, the ever knowledgeable GPS showed the driver the little flag showing the driver that he had reached the end of the Khan River 4X4 Trail.
A worrying factor for those that have not driven this trail before show the remaining distance to Swakopmund would be reached closer to midnight. This left much to mull over and the brain was working overtime to try and fathom out the available information and to wonder what type of terrain lay ahead to make driving times that long to cover the estimated 20 to 30 km’s to Swakop. The next night was supposed to be spent at Henties Bay, so this would put the schedule out a bit and leave no further time for emergencies…
There were no exits and there were signs of different mining activities as we continued down the River. We had already driven over a new tar (Private Road) that crossed the river which I presumed to be a mine road. When the second road was found over a bridge, the tracks in the sand showed that a number of vehicles had looked for places to exit this place, but no access points were built to exit the river here. There were a few No Entry signs that were already passed upstream, but rather than run out of time and to be running behind schedule, I was happy to not know and exit on a Private Road.
The tar road made a long curve along the river bed and a place to exit the river was found and we were on our way to the B2 Main Road between Swakop &Usakos again. The turnoff to the Maanlandskap was about 10 km’s further where the river would have been exited (A route previously travelled). I had not refuelled since Grunau so had started worrying when the route was supposed to continue until nearly midnight, so we topped up again in Swakop and went on to tour and camp in Henties. (Photo: 14, 15 &16)
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The campsite here is also neat &well-kept and we met and chatted to people from Mpumalanga while travellers from Cape Town in a Sprite Caravan and A camping trailer were fixing a bent V-bar (presumably from overloading). These people were again seen in Opuwo two weeks later. After a steak braai, salads & shower we had an early-ish night and left the next morning after toast & coffee.
A bleak drive up the West Coast saw very few vehicles on the grey windswept morning with very little sign of the sun making an appearance. The washing was hanging on the wash line in the back of the camper as it had not dried in Henties with the tumble drier not working as it should in the moist coastal conditions. The turn off to Brandberg West Mine re-introduced us to the corrugations in a big way and it was a slow tooth shattering dental filling loosening trip to a short way before the Rhino Sanctuary, where the start to the Divorce Pass was taken.
(Photo: 17)
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A wrong turn was taken, but as it was a road not previously travelled we continued until we met another corrugated road in the direction of Brandberg(Road unknown), so returned to drive Divorce Pass on the southern side of the Ugab River in the opposite direction it was last driven. The northern bank was also on the cards for this day, but as time was our worst enemy we continued down the river bed to the Rhino Sanctuary with the good intention to purchase wood, which was not available, so the Valley of Desolation was the next port-o-call.
(Photo: 18 & 19)
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We had previously driven this route under much better circumstances after a season of good rains, but this year was a particularly dry one. (Photo: 20 & 21)
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The GPS kept playing up and did not know the route and when it found the route it took us to the Lookout point on the Valley of Desolation via the south eastern route instead if the south-western route. This took us into the marsh which we exited from west to east the previous year (we had to build a new exit road) to get out and we were keen to see if it was being used. This route was not accessible as the road from this side was either through the marsh or back towards De Riet Farm near Aba Huab.
(Photo: 22)
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Whilst looking for a viable road over/through the marsh the fresh tracks of a lioness with a cub were clearly visible in the road we were trying to negotiate. The marshy conditions with the very real possibility of getting stuck and a lioness in the area of Lion Pools with her cub were not the ideal conditions for lone travellers to be negotiating on their own.
(Photo: 23 & 24)
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The decision to go around the mountain was taken to get to our intended campsite for the night against the cliffs. Due to the setting sun the possibility again arose that there may be other people at this beautiful campsite and we may again miss out on camping there. No fresh tracks had however been seen on any of the intersections passed along our route so we hastened to the place we so dearly wanted to visit, which was reached after nearly another two hours travel and with the light fading too fast for photographs of the campsite which would have to wait for morning.
(Photo: 25 & 26)
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A quick recce showed that there was also a cave at the bottom of the cliff which was used by the animals in the area as a watering hole as there was a small spring in the cave supplying water to these animals. A place amongst the rocks outside the cave had been cleared for a place to have a dust bath. This made us feel bad about using this place as a campsite as it was not ideal due to the slope of the ground and the rocky terrain, but it was by now too late to move on in the cold windy conditions.
A previous visit to this area had also shown that there were no other suitable campsites available in the area and that there were lions and marshy terrain down at the river which would also have mosquitoes due to the marsh. There was a bit of shelter behind some rocks from the wind a short distance from the cave and spring where other campers had camped so we made ourselves comfortable in front of the braai fire with drinks and a poncho’s for the cold.
Water was put on the boil for the dishes and a bath and a lovely evening was spend more than two hundred kilometres from where the last person was seen on any road or abode in the area. The next morning we awoke below the most beautiful cliffs around us and left after coffee & rusks and taking a few photographs of the area in which we had been privileged to stay.
(Photo: 27)
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We had not had the opportunity to go and see if the road we had built to get out from the lookout point in a north-easterly direction was in use by other travellers, as we again had a long day ahead of us if the terrain we had covered the previous day was to be similar for the rest of our day on roads we had not previously travelled.
(Photo: 28& 29)
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Before we reached the C43 we lost our third tyre in less than a week with a cut on the sidewall. We thus had to abandon our route in the direction of Crowther’s Campsite towards the Hoanib River and turned towards Kamanjab to look for another spare wheel over Grootberg Pass.
(Photo: 31)
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Whilst getting bread at the shop there, we came out to find that an attempt had been made to steal the camper. The left side indicator light had been removed and shorted out to disable the alarm which is allegedly on the same circuit. The indicators no longer worked and our problems were escalating.
To make matters worse the newly formed tyre business there did not have my size tyre in stock, but was awaiting stock to arrive in the next day or two. The next best place was 155 km’s further east in Outjo, so the speed cruise was set at 125 k/p/h and we set off in the hope of finding a spare there. We arrived with a half hour before closing time and were helped by a man who grew up at Willowmore about 200 km’s from where we stay. We were assisted with the rotation of the tyres fitting the two M/T tyres at the back and the new A/T Chinese tyre fitted as the second spare.
The electrical problems were sorted out by the resident auto electrician who was very doubtful about the attempt on the camper (He drives a Nissan) and shown to the Ombinda Country Lodge Campsite on the southern side of town where we again attempted to wash & jik the water tank leaving the strong jik mixture there until Kwoharib Schlutte where the tank was again rinsed out. The only point to mention would be the Grootberg Pass which has a Lodge on the top.
(Photo: 32)
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Interestingly enough we witnessed the move into the lodge in about 2005/2006 when going over the same pass. We also learned from the Police at Palmwag that the Joubert Pass between Sesfontein & Opuwo was being flattened as it was deemed to be too dangerous for the truck drivers who serviced the Opuwo Region. Why could they not use the road from Warmquella to Opuwo which has been upgraded from a track for the last two or three years at least. The other road was closed for the road works.
The Kwoharib Lodge Campsite at Kwoharib Schlutte is also a very nice campsite on the banks of the river. Here we were supposed to have Portuguese chicken, potato salad and beetroot. Just before we were going to start eating we received visitors from the adjoining campsite. The fellow was Stuart and his good wife from Somerset East way. We got to chatting and we learned that they were on their way to Etosha. He asked me about my trip plans, and when I told him he thought that I was a little on the daft side and mentioned something about big marbles doing this alone. By the time he left our supper was ruined after a good evening of chatting with a few drinks too many his trip to his campsite was a lot further than the trip to my campsite. When I went to bed he was merrily chatting to his dying campfire.
(Photo: 33)
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At Warmquella we were stopped in a road block and when asked about our intended route we informed them that we were planning to travel between Sesfontein behind the mountain from Otzombari to Kaoko Otavi. They informed us that the only road around the western side of Sesfontein was via Puros and that one was too far to Opuwo & insisted that we use the Warmquella road.
(Photo: 34)
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I was told to pull off the road as I was holding up traffic and a ma-Himba Police Officer was called. By the time the map was out and the ensuing discussion revealed that the road from where we were with the available time left in the day could not be negotiated before nightfall, so that was also put on hold for another day. On the Hill Campsite 10 km’s outside Opuwo was substandard so we continued to the Lodge Campsite on the Hill above Opuwo where we spent the night after the camp duties were performed. Tomatoes and potatoes at Opuwo were substandard so we would proceed with the food we had. The braai was enjoyed with potato salad with tomato, onion and avocado salad.
(Photo: 35)
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The D 3703 to Otjitanda was in good condition, with the exception of the two or three bridges/causeways which had been washed away and were all under construction again. After Otjitanda I was to cross the river towards Otjihaa. Often the locals will have a short cut to avoid the thicker sand, which we took. The new route was unknown to the GPS and went further and further away from the purple GPS route until it disappeared from the screen. Here the camper was driving on a blank screen, but I reassured SWAMBO that we were roughly travelling in the right direction, a south-westerly direction.
We travelled for about an hour before losing the track at a Himba kraal where the ladies could not understand our queries for the road to Otjihaa. We drove a big circle around the kraal before finding a road in a south-easterly direction which was not our intended direction of travel but the only road that was not the one we had not come in on. Fortunately after a kilo or two it again swung in our intended direction. By this time Suzy on the GPS had long since given up on recalculating the new route and remained quiet.
After another hours travel we were on a mountain pass where we again lost the track due to cattle tracks, but after exploring the two possibilities, one by SWAMBO and one by me we eventually picked my route which took us over rocks in switchbacks down the pass and some big boulders which were handled slowly in low range without too much incident.
(Photo: 36 & 37)
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The official photographer by this time was on strike as there was no way you could take photos while hanging on. We continued with a long lip until the purple road started to appear again when with big relief we were on a known route again and the photographer again started working.
We arrived at Marble Campsite with plenty of time to wash, iron, and make potjie & bread.
(Photo: 38)
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We were pleased to see that the water problems here had been sorted out.A couple from the Cape Town area in a Prado who had just done van Zyl’s Pass were the only other vehicle which arrived an took the site closest to the ablution facilities which had a damaged tap at the sink, but they did not want to park too far from the ablution facilities.
They enquired about the route we had done and then decided on the southern route back to Opuwo on the D 3707. I told them about more suitable routes and river bed 4X4 Trails to drive, but the lady was more interested in getting to Etosha. Trevor & his wife informed us that the Kunene 4X4 Trail was being scraped to the width of about four cars wide and had already been scraped for about 50 km’s towards Swartbooi’s Drift, so bad luck to those who had not yet done this route. Fortunately we have done this route in both directions.
We left the next morning with them still packing up and worked ourselves over what seems to also be known as Joubert Pass (Rooi Drom Pass)
(Photo: 39 & 40)
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and drove around the roads leading to van Zyl’s back route and then over the Marienfluss and the Fairy Circles (Photo: 43)
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(Photo: 41, 42 & 44 – Wonder who knows where Yellow Drum is situated)
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to Camp Syncro on the Kunene which is neat and clean and green after the drier interior. The Swedish couple Ryan & Sarah at Syncro were very friendly and informative and keen to assist travellers and give advice. Campsite no. 2 under lovely big trees against the river, was allocated to us and we were informed that should a bigger group arrive, that they would be allocated camp site 1 which had a Boma for a bigger gathering.
(Photo: 45)
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Later that afternoon a group of five vehicles from the East Rand and Mpumalanga arrived in camp and were given camp site 1 next to the ablution facilities with the Lapa. The group were driving in three Cruisers’, a Prado & a Hilux D/C. They were enquiring about Hartman’s short cut and advised against it, due to the deteriation of the Pass. We had the customary braai for supper with beetroot & potato salad. They were a jolly group and laughed and chatted until late, but when we retired they toned down and also started retiring to bed with one or two still sitting around the fire. These were thoughtful and considerate campers, who left around the same time as we did; the following morning.
We let them drive off together and followed in the rear. The corrugations were bad close to the Kunene and they chose a lower route to the one I was driving and I eventually passed them and when I turned off towards the Hartman’s they were again reeling me in but carried on along the normal route.
(Photo: 46)
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I kept checking the relevant turn-offs so that I would not need to return all the way to the last intersection if I decided not to drive the Pass. There are many roads that veer off the tracks, but the GPS would not show me the shortcut over Hartman’s Pass. I eventually joined the track a few kilo’s from Rooi Drom ahead of the cavalry on a nicer less corrugated road with different scenery from what we had seen the previous day as well as the bonus of driving a road not driven before. (Photo: 47)
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The cavalry lead the way to Red drum and on to the pump between red and blue drum where I waited for them to take their photos. (Photo: 48)
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I then started moving to them to pass so that I could continue with my journey and received the dirtiest glare from the Prado lady who still wanted to get a snap for her album of their adventure. When I passed their convoy, I was stopped by one of the guys who asked about the shortcut to Hartman’s. I explained to him that my GPS did not want to give me any information on Hartman’s & showed him that the gremlin still gave me no indicated routes, so I was just going to follow the road down/up from Blue Drum. He then very kindly gave me a map with GPS co-ordinates. I offered to pay for the map, but he would hear nothing of that.
The road from the pump (not working/not drawing water) to Blue drum was the same as the road to the pump, rough and un-inspiring with nothing to draw the interest. When we were approaching we saw the group approaching from behind, so took a quick picture to record the event and moved northwards towards Hartman’s. (Photo: 49)
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We travelled about seventeen kilo’s, but with nothing visible from the top of the rise for the next five kilo’s, we decided to throw the towel in and returned with a change to our itenary, to do the drum route before turning south towards Orupembe.
(Photo: 50)
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The road between Blue Drum and Orange drum was just as bad
(Photo: 51)
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and so on to Green Drum which was much the same until just a few kilos from Green Drum, when everything changed.
(Photo: 52 & 53 )
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Wow, what a difference. The scenery became picturesque with open plains with hills disappearing into the distance and a lot more grass than we had seen in the rest of Namibia. This was the kind of inspiration that we needed to keep returning to Namibia.
(Photo: 54, 55, 56, 57, 57, 58, 59, 60 & 61 )
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We were going to camp in the River Bed near Green Drum en, but it was early and the sun was hot, so we decided to move on south towards Orupembe. The views remained astounding until we joined the corrugated road that joined from Blue Drum. Back to un-inspiring and drab scenery with a terrible road to boot. The other group of people had chosen not to drive the Rooi Drom Pass road because of the pass, but I would happily drive three of those passes as apposed to trying to deal with these corrugations. We eventually passed Orupembe and continued on towards Opuwo.
We were hoping to find a Campsite somewhere in the Ugab River 4X4 Trail but with the bad condition of the road we did not manage to get that far and found a river bed to pull into before we went over the mountains as it was already starting to get dark.
(Photo: 62 & 63)
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Camp was quickly set up and our braai fire started before I started looking for wood for a “kuier” fire with which to boil water for the dishes and for a bath. Supper consisted of braai with baked potato & onion with a three bean salad. The area was deathly quiet with not even the sound of a jackal in the distance. There were no signs of homesteads or even stock tracks. There was small cat spoor and spoor of small buck in the river bed. We were tired from a long day so had not even taken the washing out of the washing machine and there was no power for the dryer and did not stay up too late around the fire, before retiring to bed.
The morning was fresh as can be expected from the Namibian winter and after the customary coffee & rusks we set off on our merry way. The scenery along this stretch was spoilt by the bad roads but the Ugab River 4X4 Trail looks very promising for next year. The river can be seen from a good distance meandering through the mountains and looks promising from a distance. There does seem to be a fair amount of soft sand in the river bed, so will have to find out about attempting this one on my own.
(Photo: 64 & 65)
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Getting closer to Onganga, where numerous patches of bad road and powder sand and then Kaoko Otavi saw some good stretches of red clay mixed in with the bad, but the roads improved closer to Opuwo with more regular grading. There was another roadblock at the Sesfontein intersection, so prevent motorists from trying to use that road due to the blasting and road works.
We were in Opuwo at a reasonable hour and with enough power to dry the washing and tidy and sweep the camper we enjoyed another relaxing evening around the braai with pap & sous. Here we chatted to an engineer who was trying to make up his mind as to where he should go from Opuwo as he was uncertain about road conditions. I think that he may have moved to Epupa Falls from there.
(Photo: 66 & 67)
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When we moved out he was still packing, so we proceeded northwest until the intersection to Swartbooi’s Drift, (Photo: 68)
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where the gravel road veered northwards. Up to this point all the bigger drifts were being upgraded to culverts. The road to Epupa will be brought down to about two hours for those in a hurry. The last rains must have damaged the northern road to Swartbooi’s Drift or they were also building a culvert or bridge here, as there were road works here as well with a detour further up the river to by pass the construction site.
The Dorsland Trekkers Graves were an interesting visit with plenty of time on our hands to read the inscriptions and work out the ages of the deceased’s. There was also a lot of evidence of the security forces presence in the area with plenty of rat pack tins found around and near the graves. This is a high point above Swartbooi’s Drift, so was obviously used as a lookout point by SANDF & Sons.
(Photo: 69, 70 & 71)
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Kunene River Lodge must be one of the Premier Campsites in Namibia with the peaceful setting, tall trees, shade and peace and quiet. The only thing that spoils this setting is the Monkeys that visit the campsite every afternoon to spoil the tranquillity. The main reason for this is that they are given treats by humans, so they lose their fear of us and then become pests. Supper was to be mince with smash, tomato & onion gravy and beetroot salad on the side. (Photo: 72)
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After supper I was chatting to some Namibian guys who work the area and say that they work closely with the Tracks4Africa people and are trying to get the road between Otjitanda and Okangwathi taken off the GPS as it is too dangerous and a vehicle breaker. I told him that I had done that section last year without any problems. This was also the reverse route from just before van Zyl’s Community Campsite, and if taken off the GPS it will be a no go zone, so there will be no more crossing of van Zyl’s. The guy did seem to know the one or two roots I had not done, but did not know all the roots that I had done.
Just did not sound right so I rather went to bed and pondered the situation after a lovely warm evening during which it was not even necessary to wear a light top over the shorts and T-shirt. What is happening in Namibia though is that the known 4X4 routes are being graded open to make them accessible to all vehicles, so who knows how long before van Zyl’s is also graded and tarred to make access to Camp Syncro more accessible to all holiday makers and not just the 4X4 community.
The road beckoned and we must have been the first to leave camp on our way to Ruacana Falls. The river was low at Camp Syncro and at Kunene River Lodge, so we had no great expectations for the Ruacana Falls, but to see the little tricle seeping down one small rock at the bottem of the falls was the greatest contrast from the roaring mass of water from the previous year. Well at least we had witnessed both extremes either of which is seen by very few South Africans as well as Namibians.
(Photo: 73, 74, 75, 76, & 77)
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We continued from there to Ruacana and did the honourary lap around the town, which I used to run as a youngster before turning south towards Kamanjab where we hit the first road block about 200 km’s from Ruacana for the foot & mouth epidemic being experienced there. This was further north than normal, but there was also a bigger problem than was normally being experieced there.
Between 5 & 10 kilos outside Kamanjab there is a newly opened Campsite on a game farrm on the left goint down, which was recommended to us by the Namibians, so we went to see the campsite amongst the klipkoppies. (Photo: 78)
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The guy running the campsite was being highly irritated by the Mopani flies, so I did not believe that I would fare any better than he would, so we opted to move on to Op Die Koppie Campsite in Kamanjab where we also had a very nice site and had steak, potato bake and salad for supper.
(Photo: 79)
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The next day was to be a leisurely affair so we did not leave too early and were supposed to sleep in the Sout Rivier or bush camp somewhere in the Huab or upper Huab River. The road to Khorixas was not in too bad a condition, but the road to the Sout Rivier was bad and corrugated. This started off as a little track meandering in and out of the river, which was mostly too rocky to travel in. We did manage to take a wrong turn, which took us out the river bed and towards a Lodge situated north of Khorixas on the Upper Huab, but we soon realised the error and returned to cruise in and out of the Salt River until we arrived at the junction of the Huab River.
(Photo: 80, 81, 82, 83 & 84)
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Here the sand was a little thick, but not un-manageable. We were supposed to turn up the Huab river and travel some 30 kilos up the river, but with nothing there to blow our har back, we decided to turn down the river towards the C39.
(Photo: 85)
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After a few kilos we found a road exiting the river towards the Petrified Forest, so decided to take this as it went over the mountains which looked a lot more pleasing than what we were experiencing. It was until we got over the mountains, then we had to slog the bad road until it joined the C39 and then we set off for Upper Huab Campsite. We camped one site away from our usual campsite as we were beaten to the draw and had sausage and pap with tomato gravy for supper.
(Photo: 86)
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The next morning we were ready to leave quite early as the terrain of our trail was not known to us. The intention was to do the Goantagab 4X4 Trail which the GPS explained as extreme 4X4 which was a shortcut to the White Lady Lodge Campsite. A German guy who had camped near us asked for directions and the condition of the road to Tora Bay and then down to Swakopmond. I told him about the sections that I had driven and he thanked me politely and asked where I was travelling to.
I informed him that we were going to try to get the the White Lady Lodge Campsite before nightfall and then on to Brandberg Campsite in Uis. He informed me that he had done that trip the day before and that it had taken him two hours there and two hours back, so I should manage it easily. I thanked him politely and informed him that we were taking the short cut, so it may take quite a bit longer. He looked at me as though I was nuts, so I told him that I better start moving otherwise I may not make it in time.
(Photo: 87)
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The section to Doris crater we had done before and on to Divorce Pass and the Rhino Sanctuary, but now we were to turn off on to the Goantagab 4X4 Trail before the crater and work our way towards the Brandberg mountains when they came into sight. SWAMBO said that the GPS said something about EXTREME 4X4 so I told her that that was probably applicable to the Brandberg lookout sight, but my heart gave an extra little beat wondering what we were letting ourselves in for. Travelling alone, certain little phrases were not what you wanted the GPS to confront you with early in the morning.
(Photo: 88 & 89)
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After the first bit of rough stuff in first & second gear we eventually entered the river beds which were a little easier going in the sand which had a few thick patches but were negotiated easily enough with the typical Namibian scenery thrown in for good measure. This was a better day than the Sout & Huab Rivers and the going was NOT extreme so the spirits started lifting. In the sandy roads I saw that there were strange tracks on both tracks, so I stopped to have a look and my suspicions were confirmed. Two big cats of the same size with cubs which could only be to female lions travelling together. They stayed on the tracks for two to three kilometers and were fresh. When the dissappeared I was in thick sand so consentrated on the track while SWAMBO scouted for Lioness, but no luck. They has melted into the surrounding vegetation. I asked Viv to track them from the ground, then I would follow in the camper, but she showed no interest in this idea.
We continued on harder ground whick became a valley with thick sand on the a down hill slope which was no problem in 4X2 but when it flattened out and started climbing up the other side I felt that the Hilux was starting to struggle, so I shifted her into 4X4 H-range in second gear then to first and then I ran out of power & shifted to 4X4 L-1 but just dug in the soft sand. By this time it was about 11:30 and nice and hot approaching midday so I veresed back om my tracks and started again, but had to actually look out the drivers window at the R-front wheel to detect that I was actually moving forward. I kept the revs just high enough to keep moving and as floutation began I started easing down on the excellerator until I could shift into 2nd gear. It was a slow process, but at least I did not have to camp until the sand cooled overnight, so that I could drive out the next morning.
(Photo: 90)
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Over the hill the momentum was enough to get back into high range, and I saw an easier track veering off to the left. These tracks are normally less corrugated or sandy & eventually meet up with the main track some distance down the next valley, but after four kilos it was just dissappearing into the distance, so I had to backtrack to get back onto the correct road which was also thick sand goiing down the next valley ans contoured up around the next incline as far as the eye could see. On minimising the GPS screen I saw that there was a road comming up which would veer off to the right and was just about joining up to the main road at the top of the screen, so I took it, hoping that it would only be better.
The thick sand did peter out to a slow rocky section which came to an abrupt end at a canyon abyss. I got out to see if there was a way down and was rewarded with a steep downhill with a few nasty steps which I packed a few big flat sones to assist my downward entry into the canyon floor. Therewere also tracks up the opposite sandy side of the canyod which had numerous tracks going up, but also only the first few reached the top, while the rest achieved various heights of success. I did not know if the first few became too loose thus making it neccessary to try other option to exit the canyon, but baby steps...
(Photo: 91, 92, 93, 94, 95 & 96)
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I had to first get into the canyon, before I knew if I would be able to get out the other side. I was confidant that the camper would be able to climb out this side again, if I could not get out the other side so I descended the canyon with Viv explaining exactly where I wanted the left wheel to go over which rocks or how far up any particular rock, to keep the camper as level as I could possibly keep it. A rollover would greatly multiply our problems and I did not want to make a difficult situation any worse. Going down went well as we reached the bottem without anything more than a few scrapes on the left back rim and the last easier section revealed another road continuing down the canyon floor and the sand dune on my left was just to test the power of the V6’s up the dune.
A short distance down the canyon was the exit road which was one short incline with a steep face and from there it was plain sailing until we eventually reached the White Lady Campsite on the Ugab River 20-30 kilometres later.
(Photo: 97, 98, 98, 99, 100 & 101)
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There was another canyon or two with a bit of sand and rough slow stuff, but nothing which was not easily negotiable. From there it was on to Brandberg Campsite in Uis where it was washing & ironing again before a very nice potjie for supper again with a lot of preparation time available, as well a well earned rest to get the dessert sand and canyon dust out the throat.
It was also here that we met a pommy with a jacked up and unpacted Landy. I asked him if he needed assistance, which he declined as he was tracing & fixing a diesel leak from the diesel pump. His words were, these things are always sick, but they never die... He is touring Southern Africa for 18 months and is an IT technician. He imported his vehicle to Port Elizabeth during April 2015 and will be touring as the wind blows him around until about October/November, 2016 when he will probably have to go and work again. He will be open minded and may even look for work on his travels. He works from home, so home could be where his hat is. I think that he works for a Swiss Company. I gave him some rout options which where landy friendly and he would e-mail me the difficulties of the Ugab River 4X4 Trail which he had on his schedule and which I have on my itenary for next year in 2015.
(Photo: 102)
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The holiday mode had taken us completely and we had no idea of dates & days unless checking the trip planner which showed that the next day would be ridden on GPS points which were reversed by me as they were origanally between Spitskoppe and Brandberg Campsite. This is why we had to get to this particulat campsite in Uis instead of camping on the river bed at the White Lady Lodge Campsite on the banks of the Ugab River. (Photo: 101)
The GPS took us back to the foot of the Brandberg and then around the foot of the mountain in a Westerly direction (Photo: 103)
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and back onto the C35 and then south until the Omaruru River and then southwards until the Spitzkoppe. The best part was arond the Brandberg and there after it was a long hard slow slog to the Amaruru River which was closed by the locals with chopped down trees to prevent people trying to cross the soft deep sandy river bed to the other side where the bank was washed away with no way of getting up the other side slope. I suppose that to or three vehicles could have used spades to build a ramp, but I was not prepared to do the spade work on my own. I again used my instinks and took a locals road bearing in a north easterly direction, which I presumed was aimed straight to Uis about 70-80 km’s away as the crow flew on a track which was in better condition than the one we had been negotiating. This however did mean that we were again off the GPS for nearly two hours again, which get my official photographer uptight and into strike mode. Even Suzi stopped trying to recalculating the new route.
(Photo: 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109 & 110)
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After long strained silences we eventually saw the purple road appearing on the GPS and Suzi started her recalculating verse, which placed us neatly on the road towards Usakos and then a readjustment saw us heading for Ameib Ranch a few Kilos north of Usakos.
(Photo: 111, 112 & 113)
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All I can say is Wow, what a destination, with lots of hiking trail, rock formations, caves to explore. The campsite is not very well laid out, but we were the only campers. I think that there is catered accommodation as well as self catering as well with a swimming pool at the campsite and probably also one around the ranch house, but I did not walk around there so cannot say. I would estimate that at least two or three days could be spent here, as there are numerous hiking trails which can be done at arate of one or two a day, especially if you are going to hike them from the campsite. We arrived late so would explore a little the next day before leaving for our next destination. The menu for the night was steak,smash and gravy.
The next morning we had our only official big breakfast of the tripas we did not have far to go that day.
(Photo: 114)
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There are rhino, leopard and numerous buck species from klipspringer to kudu with zebra & ostrich if I remember correctly. Spoor was everywhere but the rhino & leopard were not seen. We hiked to the cave which was two or three kilos from the car park and nicely set out with bushman paintings as well as bones and trinkets in tact around their cooking areas. The flat stones used for cooking as well as warmth around the fires was there and contained the trinkets and bone fragments from their stay.
(Photo: 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120 & 121)
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The ablution facilities are serviced by a donkey burner and solar lights and are in an acceptible standard. The only problem is that the distances of the hikes are not indicated, so you do not know what you are letting yourself in for before you leave on the hike. If this is a problem, then first make enquiries at reception. After our hike and a quick drive around we left for our next destination which was the Tsaobis Leopard & Nature Park Rest Camp on the C32 south towards the Swakop and Windhoek main gravel road.
Here the GPS informed us that this Park was closed, so decision time. Do we try to go to the Jakkalswater/Adventure Wustenquell Campsite which we were unable to get to earlier in the trip because of permits. This will mean either driving all the way back to Swakop for the permit or just back far enough to get there and playing the “sorry we did not know card”. We decided to cut the hassles and drive the gravel to Windhoek until we found a campsite after the mountain passes and spend the night there before getting to Windhoek for a look at what they had to offer in their 4X4 centres.
The Witwatersberge (Boshua Pass in the Kuiseb Ephemeral River Basin) on the C28 are worth driving before they are flattened by the Namibian authorities for the sake of safety. I wonder what tourists would go to Namibia for if the tar all their 4X4 routes and flatten the mountains over which people visit that country to do scenic drives. Not to Joe’s Bierhause which is way over priced for what you get. The décor is unusual and greatly varied for a single restaurant, but after you have seen it, it will be a case of been there and seen it, and tasted the chuck that they serve. Instead of spending some of the tourists money on some of the back roads without destroying the 4X4 tracks that we go there to drive.
(Photo: 122 & 123)
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After the Witwatersberge there is a small farm campsite called Harmonie Campsite in a valley below the road where you drop 180m in a matter of two kilos. The owner is Mike who also has self-catering for about three people or they can cater. This is a very down to earth couple, who live on the farm with their son, if my eyes were not deceiving me. They advertise electrickery, but if you do not have a very long lead to the ablutions where the only plug is situated, then your dual battery system will have to do what it is meant to do. He also says that you can carry the fridge to the ablutions and run it off the plug which cannot accommodate a hair dryer, kettle or stove. (Photo: 124)
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These people left late the afternoon that we arrived to get to Windhoek, so that they could be there when the shops opened the next morning. They have a daughter in Windhoek, where they would stay over and see the grandchild. The sun was just clearing the ring of surrounding mountains when I nudged the Hilux onto the steep gradient to the C28 situated above the farmstead.
The gravel meandered sedately around the countryside before it met the black asphalt for the final leg into Windhoek. A whisteling kettle and a collapsable funnel for the kitcken goodies was purchased way above their weight division before we made our way to Urban Campsite. There the challenger was seen for the World Solar Panel Shootout was seen on a practice run to sort out teething problems before the event takes place later this year. We were to go to the Portuguese Restuarant that night , but with no off the street parking and a howling mob of car guards the decision was quickly made to return to Joe’s Bierhaus for a second throw at their fair. It was an improvement on the previous visit but still overpriced with a good venue and safe parking.
The decision to drivedown the Eastern side of this country and then drive the red Dunes Road (D503) required an early start down the C15 where this old German Blockhaus was found close to the road.
(Photo: 126)
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Surely one of the best roads in Namibia must be the D503.
(Photo: 127 & 128)
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We stopped off at people we knew on this route, but had to move on as we were still looking to get another hour or two out of the day. By the time we had cleared the Dunes the sun was setting fast by the time we reached the C11, so we started looking for a place to camp. A likely place saw the camper making a U-turn in the last light of day when a young man and his girlfriend in a Landy slowed and asked if we had any problems. I informed them that I was looking fora place to camp. He inquired as to where my next destination was and I informed him that it was Aroab. He said that I was to follow him as they stayed half way there and that we could camp at their place.
Well, these are people that did not know us from a bar of soap, but took us in, wanted us to sleep in their spare room and shower, refused any type of payment, fed us better than Joe’s could with a supper as we have never had before with about five different meats which ended with an ice cream & liquer sweet and then would not let us leave the next morning without an excellent breakfast. Thank you to the young man, Hendrik and his parents Johan & Mabel, the appel does not fall far from the tree. We will never forget you for all the right reasons...
(Photo: 129, 130, 131, 132, 133 & 134)
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The last morning in Namibia was a slow casual drive to Aroab to use our last Namibian Dollars to get the camper as full as possible, which probably took us to about 10 litres from full. This fuel was to get us home with the reserve tank lighting up when we were about 30 km’s from home. Instead of pushinh on to Colesberg we decided to spend the second last night at Upington. We were very sad to bid farewell to Bow Wow, who I would have loved to take home with me, but we did spoil her with a tin of Bully for supper with our braai bones and another tin for breakfast. The back roads and a different route to the normal saw the camper taking a north-easterly route out of Upington, before we turned off on the R385 to Postmasburg/Papkuil/Campbell/Douglas and then on to Hopetown/Petrusville and on to the Onze Rust Campsite in Colesberg. Somewhere on this route we also passed through Orania. (Photo: 136)
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The roads along this route had been very bad and corrugated and not recommended. I have since my return seen an article on the caravan park in Douglas which looked very nice, but the route we took were not worth the drive to get there. The powers that be should make our roads acceptible to road users if they want tourism to flourish in this country. With the Rand fast on its way to the Zimbabwe Dollar, tourism could flourish if tourists were kept away from Crime and the roads were drive-able. We should be learning from Namibia about safe good roads to drive on to boost tourism...
Viv and I had long since wondered if it would be comfortable and viable to close ourselves up in the back of the camper in adverse conditions. I had specifically designed this camper with this obtion in mind, which is why it does not have a drawer system in the back, as is the design in similar campers. A cold front had set in and our driving had been through a bleak cold landscape in the teeth of the cold wind. Fortunately we had swopped our Upington mince dish for tonights braai when we became aware of the cold front and while Viv went for her shower, I started the paste for the dish which was quick before I started the muince and assortments.
Before I left for my shower, I settled her in the camper on her camping chair and the pot to look after so that she could give it the occasional stir between pouring us some sundowners and Ponchos for the cold.
(Photo: 137)
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With my showering done & dusted we just needed to settle down in the back of the camper and discuss the trip we had been on. With all the hatches buckled down we were snug and relaxed with our drinks being topped up at regular intervals until we elected to eat and retire for the night.
(Photo: 138)
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The next morning was cold and crisp, but after the coffee and rusks while folding down the camper we were ready to light the heater and move on home to see family,friends and pets. With another 100 km’s of gravel to Steynsberg which is really a beautiful area and on the to do list for the future we turned towards Molteno/Sterkstroom a very nice toasted bacon, egg & cheese roll in Queenstown at the Dagwood Roadhouse we picked up the pace to get home shortly after lunch time for the best welcome from our four legged family who told us in no uncertain terms how much they had missed us.
The trip was interrupted by misfortune which could possible be put down to overloading of the vehicle. Weight is probably the biggest contribution to breakdowns on an overlanding expedition. The places we missed are on the route which is planned for 2016, so should not pose too much of a problem. Hope you enjoy reading about our adventure as much as we enjoyed doing the route... Bon Voyage.
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RodS
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:11 am

Have you forgotten to attach the photos, or am I just clueless?

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CasKru
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:39 am

Thanks for the trip report.

Would love to see those pics
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Rieks
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:49 pm

Nice Report!! Next time you in Outjo, come say "hi"

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Haboob
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:02 pm

Have you forgotten to attach the photos, or am I just clueless?

No Rod, I am digitally challenged and will get Whiskey (Ben) to load them for me when I see him again, but don't hold your breath... How far you get with your trip planning?

Rian, thanks for the invite,but my last visit there was through neccessity, but that does not mean that this will not happen again... Nice little place you people live in.
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:23 pm

Edge, loading pics is far easier with the new format. Just resize them all (800x600) if you haven't already done so. Then you just drag and drop them into your post (the post will have to be in "edit" mode). All the dragged pics will appear in a list below the text box once they have uploaded (you will find them under "Attachments" when you open the editor again later). From there you place your cursor in the text body where you want them to appear individually and in the list of pics, next to each one, just click "Place in line". Then "Submit" once you are finished. Done.
When your road comes to an end ...... you need a HILUX!.

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Life is like a jar of Jalapeño peppers ... what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.
Don't take life too seriously ..... no-one gets out alive.
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And be yourself ..... everyone else is taken!

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Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:26 pm

I loaded the first 110 pics for you. When you "Edit" your post, you will see all the files that I have uploaded (below under "Attachments") and where I "Placed them in line".

Your post doesn't have a place reference for pic # 30, so I just included it with #'s 28 & 29

Have fun! :D:
When your road comes to an end ...... you need a HILUX!.

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Life is like a jar of Jalapeño peppers ... what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.
Don't take life too seriously ..... no-one gets out alive.
It's not about waiting for storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
And be yourself ..... everyone else is taken!

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Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:41 pm

Weldone to a great trip report.Thanks for sharing with us.You made mention that a contributing factor to your tyre problems was overloading.Next time leave some beer back at home for us locals to enjoy and you'll find a weght massive reduction in your campers mass weight.
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:34 pm

I posted the balance of your pics since you were taking too long! :twisted: ............ ;-)
When your road comes to an end ...... you need a HILUX!.

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Life is like a jar of Jalapeño peppers ... what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.
Don't take life too seriously ..... no-one gets out alive.
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And be yourself ..... everyone else is taken!

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Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:25 am

Thanx Andy, You are picture perfect...
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Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:24 am

Ai tog, those pictures.... and new we have to sit behind a desk. :cry:

Lovely pictures.
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Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:03 pm

Lekker gelees aan die verslag Edge. Thanks Andy now we can see that he actually did the trip. :lmao:

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Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:47 am

Heerlik gelees en na die pragtige prentjies gekyk.
Dankie vir die puik trip report !!! :thumbup: :clap: :wave:

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Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:56 am

Excellent trip report, Edge, thank you for all the hard work!


-F_D
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Haboob
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Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:10 am

Eric you know with my computer skills that it was twice as hard for me to do the trip report...
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JohanW
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Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:27 am

Thanks for the report... I already hear the d503 calling...

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Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:25 pm

Johan, Apparently the C11 from Karasburg to Aroab is also a scenic drive. About 80 kms N of Aroab on C11 R is turn-off to D503 which is about 80-100 kms to the C15. There are a couple of farm gates on the D503, but a lovely scenic drive over the sand dunes on a two track road.
From North to South is an easier drive than the other way round, but even a soft roader will do it. From N to S I drove mainly in 2WD, but a few years ago we even struggled with a 2.4P Hilux pulling a trailer, but only on one dune, because of a dip in the road just before the top. We eventually left SWAMBO on the top to keep a lookout for oncomming vehicles and drove over the trackson the wrong side for oncomming vehicles...
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Real Name: Kevin

Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:02 pm

Wow, what an awesome read. Thanks for the report, looked beautiful.

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