An Africa4us traveller’s experience – Sesreim Rest Camp to Dune 45, Sossusvlei and Gobabeb.
Taking leave from Canyon Roadhouse Rooms at sunrise on our fourth day, we made our way to Sesriem Rest Camp, a journey we had been warned would be a long one, we made enough stops along the way in order to stretch our legs, stock up on munchies and cool drinks, which we stored in our fridge on the truck. This was where there was much hilarity when we were introduced to the phrase ‘bushy bushy’, which in short, was the term we were to use if we needed a loo stop in the middle of nowhere, since there were going to be long stretches in some areas with no ablution facilities!
Protecting the environment was at the top of the list of priorities for our crew, and every one of us on the tour was happy to share their enthusiasm for the protection of the delicate balance of the ecology in the areas we visited.
For hundreds of kilometres on the way to Seisreim Rest Camp there was no visible life, but with the encyclopaedic knowledge of our guide, we began to understand just how well inhabited these vast stretches of arid land are by small creatures who have adapted to the conditions, both above and below the surface. When we stopped for lunch, again literally in the middle of nowhere, we sat in the shade of a tree that gave us our first introduction to the sociable weaver bird, a fascinating society of tiny birds who build giant communal and intricate nests, with a security system of thorns pointing outwards from the openings to protect the weavers from predators.
Before reaching Sesreim Rest Camp, we stopped off for a tour through the smaller but no less beautiful Sesreim Canyon, where our guide explained the clearly defined layers of rock and sand that had formed over the centuries by forces of nature and water, although the river bed is completely dry and has been for many years now.
The impressive organisational skills of our guide made yet another arrival at a new destination a breeze, bringing us into Sesreim Rest Camp early enough for us to sit around shooting the breeze and swapping stories amid gales of laughter. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the speed with which our crew of two set up camp, it took an amazing five minutes to set up each tent, and before we knew it, dinner was on the go!
Namibia is in the middle of one of the worst droughts to hit the country, and everywhere we went there were pleas to conserve water, so we got accustomed to super quick showers just to wash the dust off and cool down to do our part for water conservation. A word of warning: stock up on water at every stop or you will be in danger of dehydration very quickly! The rain we left behind in Cape Town was by now an exceptionally distant memory!
After a quick shower and divine supper, we sat around the fire shooting the breeze, before retiring to our tents, well zipped up against any small intruders like scorpions and their ilk. We slept in sheer comfort on our specially designed dual density camping mattresses and Africa4us complimentary memory foam travel pillow! One of us met a beautiful silver backed fox when nature called, while another had a larger encounter with an Oryx making its way through the camp site, but it was definitely more adventurous and exciting than it was frightening.
We were up before dawn to beat anyone else wanting to get to the top of Dune 45 for a sunrise in a million, and we did a good job of it too! There were definite moments of hilarity as some of us crawled and fell our way up the ledge of this world renowned dune, but we were all determined to reach the top, come hell or high water! The magic of sunrise from the top of this dune was more than worth the effort, with a view of the first rays moving across dunes as far as the eye could see. Once the sun was up completely, we made a fun and easy descent, to find yet another first class breakfast ready and waiting for us, and that first cup of coffee was like manna from heaven.
By the time we were sitting down to breakfast, many more tour buses had arrived with visitors from all around the world, and there we sat like visiting royalty, with the best breakfast layout and definitely the most beautiful truck in the parking area. Her name was Lepelle, and everywhere we went, other tourists took pictures of her and other drivers wanted to have a look see. To us, all the other tour buses and trucks looked cramped and uncomfortable in comparison, so I guess we did become a little possessive about her.
From sunrise on Dune 45 we took the short trip to Sossusvlei, where we transferred to special open air 4×4 trucks able to negotiate treacherously soft sand leading to the vlei. This is pristine desert at its best, with plants here and there that have adapted to desert conditions and even produce fruit that is used by various tribes for its nourishing and healing properties.
After an easy walk across the soft sand dotted with areas that are small islands of salt pans, the pure white sands of Deadvlei in the midst of the red sands of Sossusvlei is stunning, and with trees that are 900 years old and a few hundred years towards becoming fully petrified, it is a photographer’s paradise in contrasts.
After Sossusvlei we struck out for the Gobabeb Research Station, and after reaching our destination in the late afternoon, we all had time to freshen up and relax before heading off to a dinner laid out for us by the locals. Everyone had their UV lights ready for a night scorpion hunt, although not all of us were as keen as others to join in, but those that did were well satisfied with the success, which also turned up a few really beautiful lizards.
After breakfast on our 6th day, we were off on a tour of the research facility at Gobabeb, which measures everything from desert weather patterns to beetles and lizards. It was an awesome experience to visit the library containing handwritten notes dating back to the sixties of the many scientists who had done research in Gobabeb, which actually started when one man set his caravan in the middle of nowhere to become the first researcher to make Gobabeb his home.
Leaving Gobabeb we were all looking forward to a short two hour drive that would bring us to the land between the desert and the ocean for two days in Swakopmund.
Watch this space for the next instalment of our Africa4us Exquisite Cape Tour.
That’s me for now; watch this space for the next three days of our adventure from Cape Town to Namibia with the exceptional team from Africa4us.