What seemed like a shortish day according to the GPS turned out to be a long time on the road, due to numerous reasons.
We set off to Walvisbay and as we were entering Walvisbay, we saw that a huge ship was docked in the harbour.
We decided to see if we can get close but it seems like the rest of Walvisbay had the same idea. Unfortunately the pictures show the closest we could get.
Just outside Walvisbay we encountered our first real long distance gravel travelling via the C14. I have heard many good things about the gravel roads of Namibia, but even though stretches were good my guess is that 80% of the road needs some maintenance. We have heard from a person in Solitaire that there are issues with the contractors doing the maintenance.
Our first stop was at a petrified dune.
If you look closely you can see Charmain on this dune.
After travelling for a while I lost a tyre on the trailer and my cousin lost one on the motorhome. At that stage the temperature was close to 40 degrees celsius.
Travelling through the Namib Naukluft park one is constantly reminded of the harshness of this arid landscape. It is beautiful in a way that pictures and words battle to capture.
My cousin pointed out this flowering Hoodia plant. This plant has an interesting history:
Pimped from Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoodia)
‘Hoodia is traditionally used by the San people (Bushmen) of the Namib desert as an appetite suppressant as part of theirindigenous knowledge about survival in the harsh desert conditions. In a well known case of biopiracy, bioprospectors from South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research realized that the plant was marketable and patented its use as an appetite suppressant without recognizing the Sans’ traditional claims to the knowledge of the plant and its uses. The patent was later sold to Unilever who marketed hoodia products as diet supplements. In 2003 the South African San Council made an agreement with CSIR in which they would receive from 6 to 8% of the revenue from the sale of Hoodia products, money which would be deposited in a fund to purchase land for the San people who had been dispossessed from their lands by white settlers.’
After crossing the Nausgomab and Gaub river(both dry) the scenery changed to more of a grassland environment, still harsh but a different kind of beautiful.
It is just after these two ‘passes’ that we experienced one of the most memorable encounters of our trip. We still had about 80-100km to go before the next sign of civilisation, it was about 13:00 and hot as hell (approximately 40 degrees celsius) when me and my cousin both noticed a single track in the sand snaking from one side of the road to the other.
Low and behold about a kilometer further we saw a lone figure on a bicycle. Keep in mind that on this road there is no civilisation for hundreds of kilometers. We passed roughly 5 cars in a 200km stretch, and here was a guy on a bicycle.
We stopped next to a tree and decided to have some lunch. I thought this guy would appreciate a cold drink and he duly parked under the tree gulping down a cold drink with us.
Apparently he left Walvisbay two days earlier. It was a Japanese guy that spoke very broken english. After asking him in three different ways thinking he does not understand me he eventually took out his maps and confirmed what I asked in the first place.
HE HAS CYCLED FROM JAPAN.
Yes he cycled through China(apparently it was very cold) into Europe and then crossed to Africa where he cycled down the east coast crossing again over at Zambia through the Okavango down the length of Namibia on his way to Cape Town.
One of the things he did say was that Ethiopia was bad because they threw him with stones on several occasions and tried to steal his bicycle.
What makes this trip of his even more epic is the fact that he is doing it solo with some of the most basic of equipment. He had a very old mountainbike without any shocks. He had a compass and a bull horn on his handlebars and his saddlebags were filled with a small tent, sleeping bag, water, some food and other odds and ends.
He shared some lunch with us and kindly declined a lift to Solitaire(100km further) or Sesriem (200km further).
We saw him again 4 days later in Sesiem. I am pretty sure he is somewhere on the West Coast of South Africa by now heading for Cape Town.
I so wish we had more time to spend with him but the language barrier and time was not on either of our sides.
Sir I salute you and wish I had the smallest amount of courage and determination you posses.
On our way to Solitaire we just had to stop to take some pictures (whats new?)
We also crossed the Tropic of Capricorn.
We finally reached Solitaire and could not believe it when they had tyres in the sizes required to replace the two we lost.
We obviously had some apple pie and chocolate brownies while they replaced the tyres.
We were running out of time and still had about 100km to travel to get to our camping site at Sesriem.
We had little time to stop for photos and we were fortunate that the security guard let us in to our campsite.
It was a long but eventful day. The next few days will be spent between the dunes at Sesriem and Sossuvlei. Be prepared for some landscape pictures from this area from tomorrow.