The road to Springbok

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of South Africa  , Northern Cape,
Monday, May 21, 2012

Elandsbaai to Springbok

We are leaving Elandsbaai with a good feeling. Very little going on there but the atmosphere and setting is King.

Lambertsbaai and Doringbaai

Nothing to remember about it. (See photos)

Strantfontein, the self-proclaimed "jewel of the west coast". It sure has an impressive entrance. Neatly spaced “old” palms line the road on either side leading one into town.  Very neat and well organize town.  To date it certainly is the “jewel” in terms of looks.  They have 2 caravan parks, both very nice.  We still had a way to go today so we did not stay.

Papendorp, was a huge surprise, even for the west coast. We had such a giggle about this one.  On the edge of a dry riverbed (Olivantsrevier) lies Papendorp.  Complete with a holiday resort! The resort consists of about 5 small, but neat chalets. Other than that, probably 3 more houses and “that is that”. In Afrikaans there is a saying “as jy vir die hoender uitdraai ry jy die dorp mis”. Well, in no other case is this truer.  We decided to build a house for each of the kids and perhaps the in-laws and call it Quijanoville.

Lutzville on the other hand is an established “mecca” in these parts. Vineyards as far as the eye can see mostly in the riverbed. Schools, both primary and secondary, Industry, big petrol depot (the cheapest petrol in town according to Tracks for Africa), churches and shops. Farming seems to be the blood line here.  We also saw maketaan lands. A type of melon used to make jam.  In years gone by it was called “Kafferwaterlemoenkonfyt”.

Koekenaap

Soutrivier, here they have a salt pan and you can see the salt heaps. We did not turn in as there was not much more.

Groenrivier

Not even 500 m into Namaqua Coast National Park we saw spotted owls sitting motionless in the gum trees. It was lovely to see. The setup at the gate entrance looks very professional and the 2 youngsters running it are very friendly.  .    In comparison to the previous stretch of coast, a very welcome sight was that they had been doing rehabilitation of the area for years and it paid off. I told him about the terrible state of the previous stretch and he was well aware of it. Not much they can do about it.  He said that even after 2 years of rehabilitation the areas where the kelp was laid to dry, still nothing grew.  The high salt content simply prevents any growth. Driving through the park is a very pleasant experience.   The camping spots are well laid out and very neat.  Lots of bucks, birds, flowers and ostriches to see.  The chap warned us to deflate the tires as there is thick sand in the park.   After about and hours travel, it suddenly hit us.  We were chatting along and did not react soon enough.  We were already in it when we stopped to put the car into lower range.  Huge mistake we learned.  The sand was just too soft and the middle man just too high for tuna to dig his way out with Lynxi in tow.  The spare wheel was well and properly in bedded.  To top it off, in contrast to the cold wet weather we had been having this was around 12 am and the sun was out in force.  We, actually have been wearing our cowboy hats in the car. First we tried branches, our floor mats and digging. When this did not work, Carlos walked the distance of the soft sand to get an idea of what to do.  He unhitched Lynxi as its nose was too heavy.  He put a car mat and some dry wood under the trailer wheel, and 2 bags of firewood under hitch bar to support it. Two wheels spins later Tuna was out of the sand and speeding ahead so to have enough motion to take it down the long stretch of soft sand. Carlos turned around at some point and came back to fetch us (Lynx and I).  Keeping Tuna on solid ground he pulled Lynx out with a kinetic rope.  This did not happen in one shot as the little trailer wheel would get completely stuck in the sand time and again.  Digging and pulling, digging and pulling and out she came.  Yipeeee! We got out! Well done Mr. Quijano. We decided to play it safe and go back out the way we came in.  The combined weight simply would not allow us to go that way – or at least we were not willing to find out.  On the way back we saw our first chameleon! Great excitement for us as we love chameleon's and have been holding out the see one.  A lovely, spiky looking one. Sort of like a dragon.  Leaving the park we pumped the wheels to the required bar and got going on a wide dirt road.  I was so pleased with the road.  Sighing a sigh of relive.   Not for long though.  The other girl decided we did not have enough fun yet.  So she told us to take one of her famous “unpaved” roads. 

Through long stretches of nothing but karoo like vegetation and what seemed like hundreds of gates. The one question on our minds was “Why would anyone buy a farm in this arid, remote and very hard to sustain life part of the country”?  Sariesaam as Dolla had it or Sarrisam (along the dry Bitterrivier) was next.  We thought of Sarie and wondered what her new e-mail address was as we have not heard from her on the blog and guessed that our updates are not reaching her. Long stretch of road with signs that some kind of agriculture was practiced here at some point. We also noticed a couple of traps, the kind they use for foxes or jackals. One trap was big enough to catch a lion. Sarrisam turned out to be 2 houses.  One for Sarrisam’s Son and one for Sarrisam.

And there it was another gate into the park. No one manned the gate and as we already paid for today, we did not feel bad to enter.  By now it was latish and I was getting worried about a place to sleep.  The distance out of the park was definitely too long to make it out before night.  Surprise, Surprise!! The fun for the day was not over yet.  In the not so far distance just white sand dunes!  And no alternate road!!  Carlos walked a distance of the deep soft sand. Not letting on just how bad and long it was, but knowing what not to do this time, we took it head on.  In no circumstance should we lose speed, Carlos got momentum and off we went.  Left turn, right turn x 5 with Lynxi hopping and skipping along we got to what seemed like a mile long stretch of soft sand.  Shjoe! The adrenaline and the fact that we made it made us burst into laughter.  After having a good giggle at what exactly just happened, we realized it was not over yet.  I had had it.  For my sake we could camp right here on the spot in the middle of the hard piece of road.  No one was going to come pass here at this time of day anyway.  The fact that the rule of the park is that one is not allowed to camp anywhere else than at a designated camping spot, and the cowboy in Carlos made him push on.  Another hair rising stretch of sand and then it was over. The very first bit of protection by a dune we set up camp just before Boulder bay.  Rather gatvol, we set up camp leaving Lynxi hitched. We pitched three sides of the tent’s poles but left the one side un-pitched because the car was on that side.  BIG mistake.  Carlos set up the shower for us and so we were in for another surprise.  Mid way through my shower the geyser packed up.  It was Brrrrr cold and the wind was pumping.  Carlos tried what he could to get the shower to work.  I at least had half a hot shower.  He had none. A problem for another day. Today had enough of its own.  Not good to know though as we still had months of no shower camping ahead of us.

That night the wind would not stop blowing. It was the worst night of the trip! During the bits of sleep we got, we had nightmares.  Carlos dreaming that there was a rhino at the tent and I dreaming of strange looking people in uniform taking out or tent poles to remove us off site. Genade! What EVA!! Next morning we did not even brush teeth.  We just packed up and got going.

Next attraction in the park was the so called Spoegrivier grotte.  Well I could not be bothered.  Again it was a long stretch of soft sand.  My new pet hate. Carlos said that this was a “have to see”.  Seriously!  Seeing that we would come back the same way, he unhitched old Lynxi and we took the sand on our own.   Not bad at all. The caves turned out to be a definite “have to see”.  Judge for yourselves from the photos. Feeling kind of sorry for poor old Lynxi being left all alone, we went to get her.

We managed to get out of the park without any further hiccups. Dredging to explain why and where we camped unlawfully also did not materialize. At the exit gate there was no one to have to explain to.  Thank heavens. To top it off, a wide, beautiful dirt road awaited up.  Strange what one is grateful for sometimes.

Skilpadwildflower Park – no skilpads, and no flowers! By now we had our hope on Hondeklipbaai.  Carlos was convinced that the showers were going to be hot.

Hondeklipbaai disappointed totally!!  Nothing there but township and harbor.  The camp grounds were just that. Just ground.  Very sad and dilapidated. We thought of paying nights fees just to have a hot shower but not even that could happen.  NO HOT WATER. NO Anything. Just to give the place a fair chance we took a ride in the other direction toward the “Hondeklip” and the ship wreck.  No this side of “town” looked much better because all there was, was nothing. The “hondeklip” was nowhere to be seen.  The wreck however was fantastic.  It was a real WRECK! I could get real close to it and I was amazed at just how badly the metal was twisted and turned.  Talking to my dad he said that some “kwaaijongens” (naughty youngsters) blew it up with dynamite some years ago.  Or at least part of it.  So besides the wreck – Hondeklip is just for the dogs!

Koingnaas was next for Diesel.  The road to Koingnaas was for a while, as a double highway and in very good condition.  Why? Because it was in the heart of a diamond operation.  As a matter of fact, Koingnaas is just the base for the mine. We filled up and asked if we could continue along this road to Kleinsee and then to Springbok.  Yes the lady said.  OK, so it is.  Arriving at the gate to Kleinsee the guard told us that there is nothing to see at Kleinsee and that we should turn back and take the other road to Springbok. He mentioned that it was a dirt road but only 70 km from Springbok. We heard later on the news that there was an accident in one of the mines at Kleinsee and deducted that it must have been the reason for not letting us through.

The “dirt road” he warned us about was like a tarred highway. For the first time in a while we could travel at about 80km per hour. Previously it was max 15-20km per hour.

We reached Kammagas. On this trip we have had Malgas, and other gas (name) and now Kammagas.  This was a proud community.  Even though there was no water or vegetation to talk about this little township looked very organized and neat.  It must be a very hard life in Kommagas.  The road turned in to a beautiful tar road.  And I mean – beautiful!  Well maintained and pretty.  A pipeline followed the road all the way through a pass.  Unexpected scenery awaited us.  This pass name is “spectacular” and so it was.  This road would take us to Springbok and a hot shower, we hoped. 
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