Friday, 15 October 2010

3 days tour to Sossusvlei

The day before the tour, i came to the Chameleon backpackers where i had booked a room. There one of the coworkers recognized me, and told me there was another person, a French man, who booked the 18 days safari with Wild Dogs. So she introduced us while i was consuming an hour of internet.

First meal on the road
The next morning, when the tour operator came to fetch us, we saw we actually were 3 people going on the  safari. What we didn't know at the time, was that only me and Vincent  (the French guy) were to go on the 18 days combo. There was one Norwegian girl, Marianne, who will be continuing the trip with us for the 7 days safari to Etosha NP. The rest only went with us to Sossusvlei. We were not the last to be fetched, so we made another stop or two, and the went to Wild Dog/Crazy Kudu's office. There the team unloaded our bags and we waited a while and introduced ourselves to each other. There we learned that Marianne was from Norway, Caroline from Ireland, Dirk from Germany, Gerold and his son Vinzenz from Germany, Roswitha from Holland and Corne from Windhoek. Later on we were briefed on our tour and then the team loaded our bags back on another truck which was quite similar to the first one. Marcus our guide and driver introduced himself and his assistant Alphus. Our next stop was the supermarket Pick'n'Pay where we bought lots of beers to put in the cooler.

View from up Dune 45
The first day was mostly a driving day. On the way i saw my first oryx and springboks. There are quite a lot of ostriches too, but i already saw some on previous occasions. At one pm we stopped and prepared our lunch. The team unpacked a whole set of tools, chairs and a table. They then cut some vegetables and cheese and opened some cold meat packs to make sandwiches with. We were not finished preparing when we heard a car nearing our spot with dogs barking from it. An Afrikaner stepped out of the pickup truck and began shouting something about this being a private property and we should not step on his property and he would write a complaint letter to the newspaper and to the tour operator and so on. Vincent was about 10 meters away in the bush without fence (almost everywhere there are fences right next to the road). So the big Afrikaner really was not happy about us and especially Vincent. He told Marcus he's been warned before. Marcus and Alphus took all this with big smiles and just said "ok please do so". This didn't prevent us from being hungry and eating our lunch. We then drove on to our day's campsite with a few stops on the way to watch scenery or pee. When we arrived at our first campsite, we unloaded all the luggage and the tents and built up our tents. We then went into Naukluft Park to the dunes to watch the sunset. We had to climb up the dune for quite a long time (longer than what Marcus told us). Most of the people did not come up to the top. We were just 4: Gerold and his son Vinzenz, Vincent and myself. When we thought we found the top or something not far from it, we stopped and watched the sunset with a beer in hand. We then took a lot of pictures and waited until the sun was not to be seen anymore. I then wanted to wait some more because the really beautiful colors come after the sunset. But it was already 18h45 and Marcus told us he would fetch us at 19h so Gerold and Vinzenz went back down and i stayed along with Vincent. The colors were nice but not as beautiful as expected. We then began our descent hurrying because it was already past 7. What we didn't know was that the gates close at 19h30 and if we didn't get out in time Marcus would have to pay a fine. So when we got nearer to the bottom we heard the truck's horn blowing and we understood we really were late. Arriving down there we saw an angry Marcus and were told they almost went out without us. We went back to camp to shower and eat dinner. Marianne bought some chocolate marshmallows to grill on the fire, but they really are not good. We went down early because we were to be woken up at 5h30 next morning.

First campsite
I didn't sleep well at all, and kind of waited until we were to stand up from some time on, half sleeping and half awake. At 5h30 we were woken up and we went to Dune 45 without breakfast for the sunrise. Unfortunately we got there during the sunrise and had not the time to climb up the dune before it. We managed to get some beautiful pictures anyway. We climbed up, ran down and went back to the truck for breakfast. After this we went a little farther to the deadvlei for a 6km hike through the dunes. On one dune Vinzenz challenged Vincent to a race down, so they did but almost at the bottom Vinzenz stumbled and fell so Vincent won. As usual i was barefoot. The sand was beginning to get hot on the last dune to climb. Vincent and Vinzenz raced each other down this last dune like they did on a previous dune and this time Vinzenz won. Roswitha wanted to draw the dunes so i stayed a while with her so she could draw the base colors and lines to her drawing book. Some time later we went down the dune and looked out for the rest of the group, but we couldn't see them. We decided Marcus meant the parking when he said he would be waiting "there", so we made our way to the parking. The day was getting really hot and we were exhausted even though we did not really walk far or hard. When we got there we didn't see the group either so we asked ourselves where they were. But they actually were behind us because they were waiting on us to come down and when Marcus saw us pass by they followed. Thus we were the first at the parking and not the last as expected. We then went back to the truck on a shuttle and then back to camp. Once there the team prepared our lunch and we packed the tents and our stuff. After lunch we drove to a canyon which we visited. Then we went to our next camp site.

Oryxes (dinner)
There was a pool at this new campsite and with Vinzenz we didn't take long to splash into the water. We then got out a few minutes later to help build the tents again. Then we went back to the pool but this time we put on our bermudas. There are two dogs at this campsite. One of them loved to run to fetch his toy and to drop it into the pool. The water was a bit murky so with didn't see through to the bottom where the toy sank. I fetched it a few times and then began hauling the dog into the water with his toy. He didn't let go so he splashed into the pool and went out again. The next time i even managed to make him jump into it. Once he couldn't find his toy because i dropped it in the middle of the pool, so he just swam around and around at the exact spot where he last saw it. I then had to recover it and the dog just followed me wherever i swam because i had his toy. We played along like this for a while. We then went for a shower. After the shower we went up to the lodge and its bar and its terrace with sunset view. After sunset we ate braai which is BBQ with potatoes and some vegetables. We then grilled some normal marshmallows and tried to make Marcus and Alphus sing and dance. They sang us a song from their village but did not dance. So Roswitha learned us a song, and in between we listened to Shakira's Wakka Wakka on Marianne's mobile phone.

Part of the group
The next day we woke up around 7 and ate breakfast and packed the tents before 8h30. We went to Solitaire, which is no more than 3 or 4 buildings with a restaurant, a lodge and a small store. There were some old rusty and broke down cars in front of which we tried to make a good group picture. But we finally saw that Corne wasn't there so there was always someone missing...

Everyone except Alphus and Corne came to Joe's Beerhouse last evening. I
ate a Namib Bushfire, which is Ostrich, Zebra and Oryx meat with fries and some vegetables and a schnapps. All were sad at leaving time and we hugged each other.