Feb 5 - Road trip

We rented a VW Polo from Hertz. It handles well and gets great gas mileage, but we were forced to turn around and abandon our plan to visit Twfelfontein because the suspension and tires on the gravel roads leading out of Swakopmond weren't up to the task. Little did we know…. a large 4 X 4 with good springs would have been a much better choice. As it was, we stayed the night at the Namib Guesthouse in Swakopmund (highly recommended; a beautiful place, reasonable prices, great food, friendly people and very convenient location; phone +264 64 407151; www.namibguesthouse.com) and left early the next morning to see the sand dunes of Sossusvlei and Sesriem. The drive to get there was amazing. First, you drive through Dorob National Park, then the Namib Naukluft Park. Gaub Pass and the surrounding terrain is worth seeing; our cameras were in constant use. We also spotted wild horses, zebras, ostrich, oryx and springbok. Along the way is a small rest stop called Solitaire; don't miss the apple cake at the café; really good stuff; fuel, an ATM, a restaurant and campground are also nearby. Continuing our drive, we ended up booking a self-catering "tent" at the Desert Camp (www.desertcamp.com; phone +27 21 930 4564). This is a nice stop, and less expensive than the resort lodges nearby (we calculated about ½ the price!). The entrance to Sossusvlei opens at 0620, and we were dutifully parked in the short line. It takes about an hour to drive a paved blacktop road to where the road ends. There, one pays N$100 (about $9USD, return included) for a 4 X 4 vehicle to transport you the remaining few kilometers to the end of the line (near Deadvlei); this is where the red sand dunes stretch out in front of you and you're transported into a true African experience. You can walk as long as you'd like, but we found that after a few hours of climbing and walking along the spines of a few dunes that we were ready to stop; it was about 1030 AM and the sun was starting to warm everything up. The shapes and colors of the dunes are difficult to describe; you really have to see them; magnificent. The sky was a clear blue without a cloud in the sky (today), and there was no sound except our own thoughts and our heartbeats. This is a unique and fabulous excursion, highly recommended. After, we ate lunch at the park restaurant and drove back to Walvis Bay.
Pic: One of the many wind sculpted dunes on our way to Sossuvlei.

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