We were heading out to Sossusvlei, Namibia’s spectacular salt and clay pans surrounded by red sand dunes. Based on Andy’s direction, it should have taken us 7 to 8 hours to get to our campsite in Sossusvlei. And we had to get there before sunset or the gates will be closed. You would think that we can get there before the gates closed except this assumed a level of competency and efficiency that neither of us possessed. Slow driving, stopping for animals, second guessing directions and a rogue Garmin GPS we named Jane would in the end doom us from the start.
Things started out promising enough. We got up well before sunrise (and scattered oryx once again) and headed out to the Fish River Canyon rim. We hit the three main viewing sites but it was still too early so that most of the canyon was still in shadow. The photos don’t do it justice. The main viewpoint in the Canyon is similar to oxbow bend near Page, Arizona. Still the “second biggest canyon in the world” is a way distant second to the Grand Canyon.
After spending about an hour in the canyon we headed back to the lodge for a quick breakfast. We finally set out on the long drive to Sossusvlei. Time: 9:40am. Est arrival time: 5:00pm
Kim started out the drive. She was cautious (for good reason) so we went a little slower than usual. Updated Est. Arrival time: 5:10pm
Stopped for fuel. Updated Est. Arrival time: 5:3opm. Still well before sunset
At one point we approached a junction and had a decision to make, follow Andy’s directions which uses mostly gravel roads or Jane which was a more direct route on mostly paved roads.
We decided to default to Andy ‘s directions but Jane estimated a new arrival time after 9pm and she did not like Andy’s directions as she kept trying to re-route us back to the paved road. At first we thought Jane was just acting up. However, since we weren’t sure about Andy’s route we decided to listen to Jane, even though it meant backtracking for almost an hour.
Updated Est. Arrival time: 6:40pm. Yes right about sunset
You are warned not to drive at night because of the animals and we were very close to violating that warning.
After a few mis-communications thanks to Jane, another stop for fuel and numerous unanswered calls to the campsite, we got to the gate at 7pm just as darkness set in. Fortunately the guards were still around to let us in. Unfortunately, we flew by some spectacular scenery and animals to only arrive slightly late. Relieved that we were able to still get in, we walked to the camp’s bar, got some drinks and had the best pork chops we ever.
Among the animals we encountered during the whirlwind drive were a kudu, several springboks, a giraffe, oryx, another antelope we think was a steenbok and a group of what looked like red hartebeest.
And oh yeah, African animals are only marginally less suicidal than Australian ones. They’re also much bigger and more likely to kill us if we kill them. No more fast driving in low light.
Accommodation & Eats: