Ellies


From 5 to 7 September 2022 we stayed at the White Lady Lodge at Brandberg, a famous area to spot desert elephants!

Leaving Spitzkoppe meant we had to cross back over the corrugated local road but we made good time and enjoyed the scenery. The roads and gravel tracks were in good order so it looked like we would be in the lodge quite early. We spotted some nice birds along the gravel road and stopped to take pictures when the truck wouldn’t restart. 

Troubleshooting the reason for this took a while and we found out that the main relay to switch the batteries power on and off wasn’t working. We checked and fixed some of the wiring but still no luck. Further troubleshooting showed that one of our 2 12v batteries had died and we didn’t have 24v anymore but closer to 20v. This meant the battery wasn’t working anymore nor that we had enough power to start the truck. We tried to charge the dead battery but it wouldn’t hold any charge at all.wouldn’t hold a charge and showed 16v during the charge.. 

A few tourist and local cars had stopped and we thought of the different options. The small town of Uis was about 40k’s out and our best bet for a new battery. Some nice Swiss tourists stopped in town for us and asked around for a mechanic and kept us updated via sms. 

Then an overland truck with 20 orso French pensioners stopped for us and with the battery from their fridge we jumped started the truck! Hurray!

Gerrit from the local lodge just arrived too, he had gotten our messages via the Swiss people and had come our way too. He escorted us into town and offered a few options. We decided to head for the white lady lodge as planned and make a plan there. The lodge is located in a great spot, next to the Brandberg mountains and in a river bed. The gardens were beautifully crafted and the campsites private and spacious, perfect!

We quickly settled in and spent some time with Mia and Jack, the 2 almost tame Meerkats of the lodge. Sweet little creatures that enjoyed the attention that all visitors gave them. The gardens are amazingly crafted and are fertilised with elephant poop! A sweet sight!

We had our usual appletizer and first rock shandy for the trip before heading back to the truck where we were stopped by a guide who told us that a large herd of elephants was only a few kilometres from the campsite and 2 lone bulls approaching the campsite from the other side too.

Shortly after dark we heard the elephants distinct trompeting sound but as darkness had set in we couldn’t spot them between the bushes yet.

Then all of a sudden they were all there and passing in front and behind our truck, within centimeters off our front and back bumper. Standing outside and watching them quietly pass by and head for the bins was amazing 😂. 18 elephants we counted in total that passed by our camp that evening. 

What a gift after such a bad day!!

Pointy end!

From Swakupmund it was nice to once again travel on tar for a bit. We left town after getting the usual groceries plus a stop at the ‘good food market’ there too. Stocked up with nice fruit, vegetables and some pieces of cow we headed for Spitzkoppe. We took the main tar road there instead of going via Henties Baai as the corrugations had put us slightly off traveling through Namibia. The last stretch from the tar to Spitzkoppe was corrugated enough though for us to try our Tyre inflate and deflate system and we were well impressed that the softer tires took away some of our pain. The last stretch was truly bad though but it has probably been graded many times since I post this 😂. The spitzkoppe camping area is huge and you get to pick your own spot. Lovely! We found a nice place towards the ‘herrero’ and ‘rope ladder’ area and stayed here for 3 nights.

We were a little anxious that this might be a night too many but looking back now, it was one of the best stays we have had in 🇳🇦 Namibia. We explored the immediate surrounding of our campsite, chased lizards and looked for Dassies and 🦅 eagles. Shot many images of the sun setting and rising and even found a chameleon while out exploring. The facilities on site ar perhaps a bit lacking and dated, the showers at the entrance were ‘rustic’ but good on a hot day. All in all we truly recommend anyone to stay here for a few nights! 

The old bridge

Old bridge 

Swakopmund, yet another touristy place for us… What can be said that wasn’t already said before?

I enjoyed the drive into Swakopmund I must say, the scenery changed along the road so many times and we also were happy to finally hit some tarmac too :). The scenery driving from Solitaire to Walvisbay was stunning and ever changing, from rolling hills to rocky hills and back into some kind of desert and sandy like terrain with flamingos to boot, unreal. the roads there were nice and flowing but we also crossed via the Namib Naukluft National Park, the road flowing through a gorge, up, down, in and out again, tarmac, gravel, tarmac and gravel again. On a steep hill we spotted the first and only (so far, 10-10-2022) scorpion, a giant black scorpion that tried to cross the steep road going up, with us going down. We quickly put the truck in reverse and rode a few meters back up to enjoy the critter for a little longer before making our way down.

Walvisbay also brought us large gasstations and a shopping mall too. Unfortunately we didn’t visit that mall but did spend a good week at Alte Brucke Resort in Swakopmund while Namib Campers added a few bit and pieces to our truck. Thanks Stefan and team for helping us out.

Swakopmund must have one of the best pizza places outside of Italy as well as one of the best Italian ice cream shops outside the Netherlands too, so our time in Swakopmund was well spend. Not much to be said about Swakopmund but it is a nice little town with a few good places to spend a day or two at. To stock up on food, enjoy the ‘small 5’ desert animals and perhaps fish a little of it’s coast. 

the Ritz!

Tsauchab brought us ‘back’ towards civilisation and the nice apple pies that are served at Solitaire.

Around Tsauchab there is not much asphalt to be found but the gravel and rocky stretches were really well maintained and graded so we made good progress towards the Rostock Ritz Lodge and Campsite. Along the way we stopped in Solitaire for the apple pie and enjoyed looking at all the other tourists. We ran into a nice Dutch couple admiring our truck, as we did admire their rental camper too :).

The roads leading into Solitaire from Naukluft (D854 and C14) were great but once all the tourist traffic from their C19 and Sossusvlei joined, the C14 turned into the most corrugated piece of crap we can drive the truck on.

It is really really really shitty to drive our truck (with it’s stiff axles and leaf suspension) on badly corrugated gravel. The whole truck shakes and slowly starts to fall apart. With all the money being spend by the tourist, I hope some of it is left over to grade the roads more frequently, here but also on many other local and national park roads too. 

So we slowly drove the last bit into the Rostock Ritz property and had some drinks and a few chips for Zev on their great terrace, overlooking the valley.

The lodge consists of many dome shaped buildings, the main one consisting of quite a few and they were nice and cool inside in the hot weather and beautifully decorated too, with even a few small ponds scattered around them.

We sat at the pool before driving the 5k’s back towards the campsite, not much more then a few rocky places, side by side with a braai and small cover for the sun, but with an amazing view of the surrounding hills.

There were 3 ‘pet’ Zebras on the property too but we never got to see them, we can definitely recommend the campsite for it’s view but the rest of the site was very minimal.

Tsauchab River Camp

The dunes and busyness 🙂 of Sossusvlei brought us more inland and towards the center of Namibia, only a short hop in a way to Tsauchab River Camp but one that took a while as we couldn’t get there as the crow flies, plus we had to pass by quite a lot of private land too.

So we drove around and decided to make a quick stop at a local campsite that also had a farmstall. The campsite was lovely situated across from a larger lodge and we where kindly invited in by the owners (was it the desert homestead campsite perhaps?) as well as the German couple we had met in Namtib, a few days earlier. They came rushing towards us and handed us a little surprise! The cork board we used for ‘hamertje tik’!! It must have blown away during the night at Namtib, they had found it and brought it with them in the hope to spot us along the way, what a great surprise for us all that we did!

The farmstall was small but lovely and we bought some nice game steaks plus a home made chutney and headed for Tsauchab.

The campsite is amazingly placed in the landscape, basically a large riverbed with a few campsites and chalet scattered around it, we had the first campsite, closest to the main buildings but still had to cross the road and walk about 500 meter orso to get to our actual spot. A huge and lovely place!!

Our campsite not only had private ablutions but also an extra outside shower and toilet, both with amazing views across the landscape.

During the evening we were greeted by the local African Wild Cat who scraped the last pieces from our braai grill, a lovely looking juvenile but large little cat! The staff and owner at the campsite were great, their little shop even sold marbles for Zev to play with as well as lollipops and the best (and heaviest) home made breads. We highly recommend this campsite to people with or without kids, plus people that enjoy free WiFi 🙂

Dunes

Now we were truly heading deep inland, deep inside what Nambia has to offer and we were on our way to the famous dunes area of Namibia called Sossusvlei.

Most people must have seen the famous images of the red dunes with the white sand on the ground and the contrast of the dark, black, dead trees. This is Deadvlei and arguably for most the highlight of the area.

The drive from Namtib to Sossusvlei was EPIC!!! I have never experienced the changes in scenery that we experienced that day, from the beautiful rolling and sandy hills into rugged and rocky terrain before we ’descended’ into the Sossusvleu or Sesriem area. Amazing!

Zev fells alseep on the way in and missed the wild Zebras, a beautiful small herd on top of ridge before we saw the next group in the valley below. EPIC again!

We were happy that our friends from Ultimate Routes had booked a few nights for us in a lodge, just outside the gate of the national park, so we had a proper bed and chance to get our laundry done properly too!!

The lodge was great and we enjoyed the breakfast and dinner settings too, not having to cook and try Gemsbok, Kudu and all other wild meats was nice,

The corrugations just outside the park and on the way to the Canyon were less nice as was the same for the amount of ’rooftop tent tourists’ too.

Mostly European tourists, these Hi-Lux driving, who drive 4000 kilometers in 11 days to see all the ’sights’ of Namibia and beyond were less nice, most of them were stuck up and not very social, but the National Parks do like them, as ’International’ guest pay twice what Southern Africans do in most place and THREE times was the ’locals’ do….

Gales!

From Luderitz we headed back the same way we came, back towards Aus and then turning off shortly after Aus, onto our first gravel since crossing the border when we first hit gravel. 

The morning was a little misty but we had spend some amazing days on the sea with great sunny weather, stuff you can normally only dream off on the Atlantic coast of Namibia.

Now we did get a little drizzle and had to use our wipers once or twice.

We went past Aus and turned left onto a gravel road, nice and wide only to be stuck behind a Police ‘bakkie’ who clearly was getting driving lessons from his colleague and we past them, giving them a wide berth.

We drove through beautiful country side with flowing hills and hit a bit of sand from time to time too, we were on our way to Namtib Bioreserve.

Along the way we passed some abandoned farms but also some what seemed profitable ones, some growing Dades and other still growing fruit inland too, so there must have been a lot of water around.

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We saw the odd Jackal and when we made the turn into the Namtib Bioreserve we were greeted by some Gemsbok and Springbok too. It was nice to see animals again after having passed many pastures with fences, which means animals cannot roam easily. Farm animal or wild…

The 7 orso kilometers from the main road to the lodge and campsite were hell!!

We hadn’t had any real corrugations yet but this made us cry, we had some in Kgalagadi ofcourse, but not on a main road let alone a private one like this. We could hardly go 5kph per hour without shaking to bits and these few kilometers took ages!!

We pulled up outside the main lodge building, which looked great, and were met by 3 pregnant cows, which ofcourse had a hard time to move out of our way.

The lodge and campsite looked great and there was choice of campsite for us, super! Nice ablutions and beautiful landscapes, camping just underneath the rocky outcrops of the Namtib. More campers joined us so the 5 spots were quickly filled.

That night was a night of hell, orso it seemed, the wind picked up speed during the night and around midnight it was not only blowing along the mountains but also blowing down from the mountains, and all crash landing on top of us.

The truck shook and shook as the windblows increased and around midnight we went as far as to turn the truck, having it face the wind more head on instead of sideways.

The poor Germans that put up their tent earlier that night went to bed in their car, we heard the next day.

The next morning all was fine ofcourse and we spend the day looking for animals, big and small, prepping our Braai and playing ‘hamertje tik’ with Zev.

That evening the same occurred as the previous night and we took the same action again, driving the truck around the large tree in the middle of the campsite and having it face the winds more head on.

The campsite was great but due to the winds, we were more then happy to leave and continue our journey!

Heading west!


From Aus we drove through beautiful flowing hills with small cattle farms left and right of the road. Shortly after leaving Aus we passed the entry to the national park that ‘houses’ the wild horses. There weren’t many people on the road but the ones that were, all seemed to turn off to see the horses. From afar it looked like all the horses had congregated around a building which looked like stables so we continued on our merry way.

Towards the dunes and Luderitz!

Signs of getting close to Luderitz were clear, more traffic, including bulldozers and dunes! Beautiful flowing dunes that had covered the road from time to time but also covered the rail road tracks on the side of the road. The bulldozers were clearing this and actually moving mountains, of sand. 

A few kilometers from Luderitz the ‘sperrgebiet’ starts and this is also the paid entry to the Kolmanskop village. An old settlement that was now partially covered in sand and a major tourist spot in this desolate area.

Beside the village is the entry to the ‘sperrgebiet’, a huge area, all the way from the border of South Africa to here which holds diamonds, on the surface! So no entry for anybody but the certified and verified people. 

We made the usual touristy pictures in Kolmanskop and went on our merry way, only a few kilometers to the supermarket in Luderitz and our campsite at ‘Shark Island’.

The campsite is in a way the most beautiful thing in the world, sitting on a rocky outcrop with camping sites dotted around it. The ablutions are shared but recently renewed and clean and there was electricity on some sites too. 

We found a great spotted and enjoyed tje beautiful weather while looking for sea shells and wondering if we saw a dolphin or shark fin sticking out of the water from time to time.

Our second day was just as beautiful and we went with the truck across the bay to look at the landscape and to try and spot a brown hyena.

We drove some great sandy off-road tracks and came across a group of 4 cars that we had spotted in Ai-Ais but also in Aus too. 

No brown hyenas for us in real life but we did see many signs and tracks of the animals, what a strange and wonderful feeling, to know that hyenas are around but out of sight.

Aus, Klein Vista

We left the Canyon Roadhouse in good spirits, happy to be back on the road again. Filled to the brim with diesel we left the campsite and heading out onto the gravel road and make good progress.

It wasn’t long before we ran into some Italians, that we had previously seen on the campsites, parked on the side of the road.

We pulled up next to them, asked them if they needed help and were answered: ’Giraffes!’.

Standing 20 meters orso from the road were 3 giraffes enjoying their morning’s breakfast and we had totally overlooked them, not even spotted them.

Zev was really excited, as were we ofcourse and we shot as many images and videos as we could and some might even make it onto this blog at some point 🙂

Before long we continued on our way, enjoying the good gravel roads with the odd bit of dust, passing by dade and sheep farms before hitting the main tarmac road that leads all the way to Luderitz on the Atlantic coast.

We slowly drove higher and higher, up via sloping hills and into the tiny village of Aus, we thought it might be quite big initially but after having seens signs for a deserted village earlier, we were greeted with the cutest little village so far. It had a great fuelstation/supermarket/ATM/Liquourstore/Bakery, so we filled out on groceries and sweets before making the last 4km’s to ’Klein Aus-Vista’ , a lodge/campsite from Gondwana.

The lodge has quite a few chalets, dotted around the property, out of sight between the rocky hills as well as a great campsite with super neat ablutions in another neat little valley, a good 15 or 20 minute walk from the main building.

The food in the lodge was really nice, and we enjoyed the german sausages and stuffed Zev with pasta and fries, trying to make sure he would gain some weight. His coughs had gotten worse and we know it can take more then a week for him to recover.

Poor little trooper!

We ran into a nice young English couple too, who were travelling this part of Africa, before flying to Nepal and Japan to continue their gap year, what an amazing trip that must be!

Canyon Roadhouse

We spend 2 wonderful days and 3 nights at the Canyon Roadhouse, checking up on emails, calling home and sending loads of whatsapp message and downloading many new Netflix series for our young son too.

Zev wasnt feeling himself and had his first few coughs after leaving Springbok, but now he was truly ill and feeling a little sorry for himself. As were we ofcourse!

We tried to give him as much attention, liquids and food as we could plus the well needed rest.

The Canyon Roadhouse is a true icon and a real roadhouse, taking you back years, to the 60’s with some amazing items on the walls, both indoors and outdoors!

The cafe and campsite are on the main route, coming out of the Fish River Canyon, I think #1 on the Namibia to do list, so there were plenty of people stopping over for a night or two, but as the campsites are really big and there are many ablusion blocks too, you dont notice many of the other visitors.

We didnt get the chance to visit the Canyon as Zev needed the rest but did catch up a little on our own rest (and washing 🙂 )too.