On roads that are drawn with a ruler over hundreds of kilometers we drive to Aus. There we stop for the night at the Klein Aus Vista Campground and make a beautiful hike to a viewpoint in the rocks with a view of the endless expanse of the Namib-Naukluft NP. Here there is actually still a herd of wild horses of about 100 animals that live here in this inhospitable area and have come to terms with the adverse conditions. In the sand someone has drawn a horse with stones that you can see very well from above from 600m height.
Then it goes dead straight on to Lüderitz, from 1400m down to sea level, always along the railroad tracks. First we have to get out our warm jackets because here always blows a fierce cool wind and in the evening it is very cold. The campground is a little bit outside on the Shark-Island headland and there the wind comes also still unchecked directly from the sea. In Lüderitz everything is German. This starts with the street names like Nachtigall- or Bismarckstraße and continues with the people, who often speak German without accent. Strolling through the town, one feels transported back to a German town in the middle of the last century. The restaurants are also not to be sneezed at and we can celebrate Karin's and Pit's birthday extensively in beautiful surroundings.
The cruise ship AIDA makes a stop in Lüderitz and the city is full. Therefore, we use the day for an excursion to the Lüderitz Peninsula and Diaz Point where the Portuguese Bartholomeu Diaz landed for the first time in 1487 in search of protection from the stormy sea. The round trip covers a good 40 kilometers, passing beautiful bays with flamingos and a landscape like on the moon. On the way back we refuel and take pity on the gas station attendant, who has to stand here in constant wind, and delight him with a Goretex jacket from Manfred.
Only 10km from Lüderitz, the first diamond was found in the desert sand in Kolmanskop in 1908, triggering an unprecedented diamond fever that made a few people very rich. Still today the whole area from Lüderitz to Oranjemund is a restricted area, after all an area of about 1200km coastline and almost 400km inland. Kolmanskop has been uninhabited since 1950 and is now a ghost town that is slowly but steadily being reclaimed by the desert. Well preserved is the bowling alley of the bowling club "Gut Holz" from 1927 and the gymnasium with old equipment we still know from our school days in the 60s. The remaining houses like bakery, slaughterhouse, the house of the mine manager and others are still quite respectable from the outside, but inside often "blown away by the wind". The guided tour lasts a good 2 hours and it is fun to look at the over 100 year old relics.
We now have to drive back the 100 kilometers to Aus because there is only a spur road leading to Lüderitz. The whole area to the left and right of the road is a restricted area and may only be entered with a special permit. In the Kolmanskop times the workers had to drink castor oil if they wanted to go on vacation, and then wait two days under supervision until it was clear that no diamonds were smuggled out on a not quite clean way.
Just behind Aus begins the C23 and then further the D707 which lead through the Tiras Mountains. One of the most beautiful landscapes of Namibia with huge farms that often also offer a few campsites to stay overnight. There we meet Mrs. Koch on the Tiras Farm who takes us on a very interesting tour of the farm. She is of German origin and with her 76 years a walking botany encyclopedia. We learn how the grasses protect themselves with spores on the stem, that ants climb up and get to the seeds and tree seeds settle in rock crevices and grow down from there. The farms must be so huge just because it takes 36ha of land to feed one cow for a year. The length of the fence alone is almost 100 kilometers. The campground is very nicely laid out with a viewing terrace for the best sunset.
A good 60 kilometers further comes the Namtib Lodge to which one must first drive 12 kilometers on a spur road from the main road, all on farm land of course. You will be rewarded with a beautiful environment in total solitude. Great sunsets and scattered light free starry sky guaranteed.
We continue on one of the most beautiful routes in Namibia to Kronenhof Lodge. On a farm area of 18.000h there are two campgrounds, each with its own pool and some bungalows around the restaurant. The main house is built in alpine style and there is a lot of game on the grounds and even some giraffes that curiously come to visit in the evening. In the restaurant we enjoy Oryx schnitzel and draft beer and are pleased that there is also once again the opportunity to wash clothes.
Our next stop is Sossusvlei, one of the top highlights in southern Namibia. We spend the night at the park entrance and in the morning we drive at 6 o'clock the 60 km to the parking lot. From there it is another 5 km with a four wheel drive shuttle until we reach the attraction. Sossusvlei is a dune area of gigantic dimensions and in the middle are now and then dried out salt pans (Vlei) with dead camel thorn trees protruding from the sand. With appropriate condition one can climb with more than 35 degrees and merciless sun exposure on the up to 300m high dunes. From the top there are fantastic views. We walk around until around noon, but then the sand has heated up and together with the heat from above it becomes just too hot, so that even a jackal seeks shade under our car. Shortly before the exit from the park we still look at the Sesriem Canyon, but also there it is now scorching hot and the visit is accordingly short.
After a short lunch break in Solitaire, we continue to Gecko Camp, which is run by a young German couple. On the 6000ha large area there are some campsites and several bungalow tents. The sunset view from the restaurant into the plain is fantastic and the pool very refreshing.
Only 60km away we get stuck for a day at the Rostock Ritz. The pool, which is grouped around the lodges, is just too inviting and we spend the afternoon there before we spend the night in the campground 7km away. In the wide plain we see wildebeest, zebra and oryx every now and then.
In Sesriem we already got a permit for the drive through the Naukluft NP and leave after the Kuiseb Canyon the main road to Walvis Bay and turn off to the Mirabib Campground. However, the track has not been pushed by a wheel loader for months and shakes us and the car hard until we reach the campground 30km away after a good hour. After the ordeal we need a rest and stay for two days. The sites are grouped picturesquely around a large rock with a view into the endless plain where the red dunes rise on the horizon. The rock overhang gives us shade until late afternoon and in the evening around the campfire we can well imagine how 10,000 years ago the bushmen camped here and, like us, looked up at the starry sky.
We drive back to the main road and need a good hour for the 30 km. Then we continue on a good track to the Vogelfederberg, also in the Naukluft NP. The primitive campground has several sites grouped around the rock. Except strong wind, endless desert and merciless sun there is nothing here, but we want to enjoy the loneliness once more before we go back to civilization.
With Walvis Bay we reach the third largest city in Namibia. After the sweltering heat of the past days, we are greeted by a cool wind and temperatures around 20 degrees. After we have strengthened ourselves sufficiently in a nice fish restaurant at the Waterfront we drive to the lagoon in the south of the city around us an overnight stay place to look for. The whole area is a huge bird sanctuary and countless flamingos and thousands of seabirds are constantly searching for food in the shallow water. On an area of 5000ha salt is mined since the 60's and already from far away you can see the huge salt mountains. Unfortunately, a very violent wind blows and with the overnight stay it becomes nothing. We drive back to the town and put us halfway protected from the wind on the roadside in a residential area.
In the morning we drive on to Swakopmund and set up home there at the "Old Bridge" campground for the next few days. More "German" than in Swakopmud is hardly possible in a foreign city. Strolling through the town, one feels more like being in a German town in the 70s and 80s than in southern Africa. We visit the crystal museum and the historical museum at the pier and in between we enjoy the freshly caught fish in the numerous restaurants. Thus the MOMO kitchen remains mostly cold. For a long time there is also a halfway stable Internet which is an important criterion in view of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Well, Manni's support has unfortunately also been of no use and we can now approach the further journey a little more relaxed, since the Ko round now takes place without us, as we know, and the search for a stable Internet in solitude has thus become obsolete.
We have already seen the "Big 5", but in the desert there are also the "Little 5" which are not easily seen. With a guide we go into the desert belt around Swakopmund and in the middle of nowhere he starts digging in the sand. And indeed he finds a Sidewinder snake, two lizards, a chameleon and a beetle which then has to serve as food for the chameleon. There is also a small clip of it in the video section, here. In addition, the jeep is driven up and down the dunes in rally mode. A very nice experience.
A boat tour in the lagoon of Walvis Bay may not be missing, of course. The tour starts in the harbor and immediately after departure the first pelican flies up and lands practically between us. More follow in short distance. Obviously they know exactly that at 9 o'clock the boat leaves and that there is something to eat. The pelicans are then replaced by seals that jump on the boat and pose for photographs. Further out we see whales and dolphins and a large seal colony. For lunch we have a small buffet on the boat with fresh oysters and other delicacies. An all-around successful and worthwhile excursion.
After almost two weeks we say goodbye to Swakopmund and drive out into the desert again. Our destination is the lunar landscape and indeed, as if from nowhere, mountains suddenly rise from the endless expanse of the desert and it looks indeed like on the moon. We haven't been there yet with MOMO, but that's what it looks like. In the middle of this gray stone desert lies the oasis of Goanikontes, a picturesque spot in a green river valley.
Actually we wanted to drive over the Bosua Pass to Windhoek, but it was closed because of a bicycle race. We plan without further ado and drive to Spitzkoppe where we spend the night in the middle of the great rocky landscape and admire the full moon.
The Spitzkoppe has unfortunately the disadvantage that it gets quite hot during the day at this time of year and there is no shade at all and the Christmas decoration for the third Advent is at 40 degrees.The search for something to cool down, however, turns out to be difficult. Therefore we drive to the Ameib Farm and meet there with Verena & Wolfi, with whom we have already spent some time in South Africa. There are a few small trees that provide some shade and even a pool, but everything is rather loveless and we do not really like it. At least it is enough for a nice evening with Verena & Wolfi's "wood oven pizza" of the finest. After a night we put ourselves a few kilometers further into a dried out riverbed and spend a few nice days together. In the evening we hunt spiders and scorpions which are attracted by our campfire.
For us it goes now back to Windhoek where we park our vehicle for some time and fly home. In spring 2023 we will become grandparents twice. Of course we don't want to miss that. Therefore, the home leave is a little longer than usual and we continue our journey in Africa only in mid-April 2023. Until then you have to make do with the existing travel reports, pictures and videos. In May 2023 you can look forward to Namibia part 3. We wish all our readers, friends and travel acquaintances a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.