Red Dunes

Trip Start Jul 13, 2012
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Trip End Aug 15, 2012


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Monday, July 16, 2012

Ok....we are woken by....the car alarm at 23:30...what the hell!!!!!! Something must be wrong with that alarm!!! We will have to have it checked in the next town...Back to sleep and woken again this time by the alarm clock...we get dressed quickly in the roof tents (very practical) and fold the tents as fast as possible (a professional folder will do it in a little less than 12 minutes..). We leave at 5:45 to be in front of the gate to Sossusvlei that will open at sunrise, which today is at 5:50..after the gates it is 45 km to Dune 45, one of the most photographed dunes in the world. It is just magnificent and beautifully red..we climb to the top (not so easy) and get up panting but just in time to see the sun coming up. The light is just incredible, the colors are so bright, the red so red, it's amazing! There is a fierce wind blowing (happy we bought hats the day before!!!) over the dunes tops, a perfect example of how the dunes move (about 2 metres a year). The SOssusvlei dunes are now 140 kilometres from the coast..so they have been on their way for a while now!!!! After getting down it is time to get to Sossusvlei ("vlei" means pan, which is a dried up lake). We get to the 2WD parking where people with no 4WD car have to hop into a shuttle. Not us, proud renters of a 4WD...the sand is pretty deep and not easy to drive in..not much in common with snow, but we get there. It is time to have breakfast. Not so easy with that wind, the gas burner take a while to heat the coffee and I have to prepare the jelly sandwiches in the car...but no one is complaining, we are all having fun! We take a walk to Sossusvlei where there is still some water left. After that we want to take a walk to the dead trees vlei, a salt pan with like petrified trees. It is incredible. By now the sky is a deep blue, the dunes are redder than red, the salt pan is white and the trees black....impossible to make bad pictures!!!! It has been a long day so at bout 15:00 we decide to drive back to the camp site....on our way back we get stuck in the sand...coooool.....so now what???? We get out the shovel (ahhh, that's what it is for!!) and Michael starts digging around the tires..they are so deep that the bottom of the card is touching the sand..before we are done digging a little shuttle comes by and offers to help. Apparently we have done it all wrong...don't dig around the wheels but put your car in reverse mode and turn the wheels until there is lots of sand in front of the wheels but not behind anymore...the put it into gear and find nice people to push the car (in this case Michael and me!!)....and yes, there it comes out...apparently we were driving too slowly so now full gas until the tar road!!!! We make a detour via the gas station to get some meat (Boereworst again because nothing else) and are happy to finally arrive at the camp site again. Dear tired but happy! The next morning we sleep in a little and have a quiet breakfast. We go for a nice walk in the Sesriem Canyon and head out to Swakopmund, a 4 1/2 hour drive. Hopefully the drive will be uneventful! It is only gravel roads and we are a little traumatized after the first tire blow up..we have a second spare one but will be more reassured when we have two spare tires. The plan is to get a new one in Swakopmund. There is one spare tire included in the rental, the extra ones are at our expenses!!! We arrive in Swakopmund around 17:00 and get the new tire, ask about the car alarm and finally end up at the Sea Breeze Guesthouse. It is a great place with lovely people. After having been farmers for many years (25km away from the next neighbour) they decided to take over a guesthouse in Swakop. They love taking their time with their guests, which is great and very interesting. We head out for diner to the Lighthouse Pub and Café where all get sea food and a nice bottle of white wine. It is all delicious but the plates are huge, almost impossible to finish. The girls are exhausted, Amélie is asleep on the table and Michael's eyes are dropping from tiredness and the wine so I have to drive the tank home...on the wrong side of the road. Well, not too bad, I even manage to park it in reverse, yay!! It is way past our bedtime (got used to be tucked in at 8:30!!!) so we all fall in and everyone is asleep within a few minutes. Tomorrow morning we have a very full day...a tour of the desert and a 2 hour scenic flight over the Namib and Sossusvlei
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