Namibia Roadtrip Day 11
DISTANCE: Tar road 48.5km, Gravel road 317.6km – Total 366.1 in 8 Hours
Swakopmund is known for its early morning sea mist and the drive down to Walvis Bay was horrible, fog, rain and more traffic than we’d seen in a long time. All changed 60km inland, the fog disappeared and the sun was out again, so was the gravel road. Today we were heading for the Nakluft Mountains and our first stop was to be the outpost of Solitare, one of the only places to get fuel in this area and also the home of ‘Moose’ and his famous apple pie. As we pulled into Solitare we noticed the main C19 was closed due to flooding and there were lots of people standing round scratching their heads, talking floods. We decided to put in more fuel than we thought we needed as it looked like there may be some detours on the cards. We asked at the petrol station and they told us that it had rained heavily last night and so many of the roads were closed, but it shouldn’t be long before they subside. Thankfully, we weren’t heading off on the C19, but we decided to stop for apple pie anyway. Moose was just as described, a larger than life, (in body as well as mind) eccentric bloke, who was very outspoken, but just happened to be a very good cook. We enjoyed his apple pie, and then we head off again with just a little apprehension as to what we may come across. The road we were taking, the D854, had three notorious river crossings which flooded during the rainy season.
We hit the first river crossing. We had been told on no account cross rivers, so we sat looked at each other and then decided to ‘test the water’. It was just below knee height and there were a couple of very large boulders which we stood on their ends so we could at least see a clear way through. Jeff then measured the water level again on his leg and then checked to see where it might come up to on the exhaust pipe. “50/50 it’s very close.” We decided to play it safe and try another route so turned back. On our way back we met a minibus towing a trailer; we flagged them down and told them about the deep river ahead. The driver, a white Namibian, said he’d phoned ahead and the lodge owner had told him it was passable and as it was a long way round he was going to try. We wished him luck, continued…, and then turned round. What if he got stuck? Or, if he got through, perhaps so could we. We got to the river and he was nowhere to be seen, so we went for it! Out the other side we were very pleased and continued on our way, within a few minutes we reached the brow of the hill and there was the mini bus with occupants standing in mud looking at the river, oh dear! The Namibian told us the river wasn’t the problem, it was the mud in the road before you got to the river, it had made a sort of impassable barrier. He then came up with a good idea, as we had a 4x4 we could try going through first! I politely advised him that the excess on our hire car was something preventing us from trying that, he then asked if we had a spade, which we did. He dug two ruts, told everyone to stand back and put his foot down….lots of wheel spin, engine flat out in first gear, mud flying in all directions. The trailer behind this mini bus full of luggage was bouncing all over the place, as he forced his way through, but he did make it…. just. Lots of cheering and clapping from his passengers who then had to negotiate the river on foot. Needless to say our 4x4 went through very gracefully and we made it to our next camp in time for yet another celebratory beer.