#29 Namibian West coast

#29 Namibian West coast

« From 6th to 18th of September 2022 »

South of Damaraland

Today, many kilometers await us. We leave the region of Kunene to join the South of Damaraland. Yesterday, we drove well. In Namibia, the tarred roads are in very good condition. The large semi-desert plains pass by. Like a mirage, a mountainous formation appears in the distance. All its contours are visible. They draw a harmonious shape between the sky and the earth. Then, with the wire of the kilometers, a mountain disappears, while a new one appears.

We take the time to explore Erongoro. We are going to take advantage of a small camp-site to take a good shower, to clean Uyo and enjoy the swimming pool. The heat is hard and we take advantage of this luxury. Otherwise, we take a shower thanks to a pierced water bottle. 1,5L of water is often enough to shower. With this trip, we learn to be thrifty in water but also in electricity and in food. It is a habit that we hope to keep when we return to Europe.
It is also with pleasure that we hike to discover the rock paintings and rock formations in the surroundings. We walk until the Philips Cave, to discover its rock paintings. And some kilometers further the “bulls party”, a landscape covered with big round rocks. In the background, the mountain looks like an elephant’s head.

The mountains of the Spitzkoppe 

The next few days, we slow down the pace. We need some time to finish our next video. A wild camping near the famous Spitzkoppe offers us the calm that we looked for. The Spitzkoppe is a beautiful mountain in the middle of the desert. It is very different from the French mountain ranges, here the rock distinguishes itself from the big arid plateau in the distance. All these peaks are formed of granitic or bornhardt aged more than 700 million years. The place is famous for its arch, its hikes and the khoisan rock paintings. Of course there are tourists, but it is far from being crowded.

Swakopmund to Walvis bay

Swakopmund is a special city. The imprint of the German colonization is still very marked. Every restaurant will offer you schnitzel, sausages or apple pie. It is a city where life is good. In any case, this is the impression that the city left us. At the same time, we were lucky to have sunshine. It seems that it is not common. A thick fog covers the coast more than 200 days a year. We take advantage of the quietness of this city, and its cleanliness to sleep one night. Thanks to our interior design, no one suspects that we are sleeping in one of the parking lots on the waterfront. After a good restaurant in town, we didn’t ask for more.

Sandwich Harbour 

Sandwich harbour is a place where the desert meets the ocean. Huge sand dunes flow into the Atlantic. To get there, you have to wait for low tide. When the tide coefficient allows it, a short window opens to drive in 4×4 at the feet of the dunes. This is the way we take with the Toyota of Jean Pierre, our guide. He prefers to be called J.P., which gives G.P. to this South African English speaker. From time to time, the waves break on the beach, far enough to pass under our wheels. We do not regret our choice to have left Uyo for this adventure. Especially when J.P. tells us that one day, he lost a 4×4 stuck. The rising tide didn’t give him time to get help, and the ocean took it away. It was a carcass that he recovered a few days later when the ocean receded again.

In addition to its beauty, this road allows access to the back of the dunes. The dunes are temporary waves of sand, shaped by the wind. It is possible to cross them only in one direction, as if you were surfing a wave. The descents reach 35° to 45° of inclination. If there is one thing that the photos do not transmit it is the feeling of the wind. The icy wind of the Atlantic Ocean. We enjoy going back to the car once we have taken all our pictures.  These dunes are still young so they move. One morning after a windy night we can find a dune 7m further than the day before. When they are frozen, the inside of the dune has turned into rock. The town of Walvis Bay is strongly threatened by the advancing dunes.


Fat bike on the dunes 

The day’s activity is a little more physical than the day before but the environment doesn’t change too much. Once again, we will be surrounded by sand. We are going to go to the dunes of Swakopmund, with a fat bike and our muscles that haven’t pedaled for a few months. After a couple of kilometers in town, we arrive in a river bed. This one flows only every 8 years and sometimes only one day in the year. But it keeps the dunes at a distance and protects the city. On the other hand, the neighboring town, Walvis Bay, is beginning to be buried by the sand despite the ever higher walls that are built to protect the houses. We continue the road and start our first dune climbs. The trick is to take a lot of speed and stay on the small plateaus. By losing speed and power, we sink. Not always easy, but Valentin quickly gets the hang of it. It’s a bit more complicated for Laurène, but she doesn’t give up. The descents on the other hand are much easier. You must not brake, keep your handlebars well and let yourself be carried away by the slope

In the next few days, we will continue to evolve in the Namibe desert towards much older dunes. With time, the black magnetite that we see on the pictures oxydizes and turns red.

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