Sunday, 19 February 2017

DAY 5: Long drive through the desert to Sossusvlei

NOTE: Due to the fact that I didn't anticipate to start this blog whilst being out here in Burma for the last 5 months I sadly don't have access to all my original photos from our 2007 world tour (only the 'best of the best'). I will revert therefore in the meantime to occasionally fitting in photos of our more recent exploits. Once back in Bristol I will add the appropriate photos to each day. We especially lack pictures from our drive around Namibia as we were robbed of our camera and lost most of our photos! (see story in about a week's time).

Whilst Allie climbs the tallest mountain in Chin State (western Burma) with its 3079m tall peak, Phil explore's wintery (and -20degree cold) Mongolia.

Views from an ovo hill across the Mongolian steppe in snow 

Allie and the top of Mt Victoria in Chin State/Myanmar

ALLIE DAY 5: Monday, 19th February

Waiting for our luggage and a long drive through desert to Sossusvlei
Another sleepless night. Feeling rather trashed. We decide to wait for our luggage which is due to arrive at lunchtime. Fighting a very slow internet connection and try to stay in touch with the world. Quite surprisingly our luggage does arrive at 12.30 and we set off to drive to the south. Our route takes us 100km on a good tarmac road to Rehoboth. From there on its gravel for the remaining 300km. We hardly see another soul in this deserted half desert place and even the animals seem to hide. My only encounter with African wildlife are three monkeys, lots of donkeys, some horses, cows, goats and at last two ostriches.
Half through the journey we stop at a little deserted place called “Conny’s Restaurant”. A big elderly lady being Conny welcomes us and offers us some good coffee and home-made cookies. She has been living in this remote place for 36 years. Her husband died 3 years ago and she struggles to make a living by catering for the handful of tourists who drive through this area. We talk about the weather and she says that they had a lot of rain just a few weeks ago. Three people even got killed whilst walking in some of the dry wadis when suddenly a flush flood hit them. We leave the old lady feeling quite sorry for her rather nice but ever so desolated cafĂ© and continue our drive towards the Naukluft Mountains.
Spectacular rock formations now follow our trek. Driving is quite dangerous. Loosing control over your car in the sand or the deep wadis that suddenly appear is one of the major reasons for possibly what is the highest accident rate in the world. We were reminded of that fact when we pass a German guy sitting beside the road amongst his belongings with a dirt covered face. He just escaped a nearly fatal accident by falling asleep whilst driving and getting off-road. We offer help but his friend is already on the way.
Enjoying a rest on top of the sand dunes
Towards the evening we finally arrive at our friends house which is set infront of some of the worlds most spectacular sand dunes. Erick is Belgium born but brought up in Kongo. He was then working in Zaire and Ruanda until he finally found his African home here in Namibia. Sixteen years ago he started to set up a hot air ballooning operation in this area near the dunes of Sossusvlei. This year he employs three other pilots (his son also being a pilot) and around 16 crew. Every morning on around 300 days of the year he flies over the national park with its stunning dunes. We hope to go flying with him the next morning.

But for now we are happy to enjoy a good glass of white wine whilst the sun is setting behind the dunes creating a magic light.

PHIL: Day 5 / 19 Feb

After a morning spent chasing Air Namibia our bags arrived just in time for us to feel comfortable leaving for Sossusvlei in time to arrive before dark, and despite empty but mostly gravel roads we reached Eric Hessemans’ house at about 6.30. Set in an isolated part of his 30,000 hectare estate the stone-built Moroccan’style house was almost completely camouflaged from any distance.

Eric’s welcome included a couple of brandies and several glasses of wine with a fixed-wing pilot friend of his from Holland.After swapping ballooning tales we fell exhausted to bed only to be kept awake again not by noise, as the location is almost totally devoid of sound, but by the high residual temperature without a/c or fan.

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