We were up very early, well before daylight, in order to get an early start on our 9-hour drive to Windhoek, Namibia's capital city. We had a cuppa and some toast, then grabbed our gear and headed into shore to the dinghy dock. Ian was waiting for us in the Jeep. It was all gassed up and ready to go. We stowed our stuff, picked up Doris and said goodbye to Ian. David took the wheel and we were off! Doris was excited and ready to go and so were we! ROAD TRIP!
The sights for the first hour or so on the road were familiar to us … the Kolmanskoppe ghost town, blowing sand across the road, wild horses on the roadside near Aus. Then just beyond Aus, we turned off the paved B1 highway and headed onto C13, a well-used gravel road, heading north and we were in new territory.
Doris had made the trip many, many times and so was a good trip narrator. She pointed out interesting landmarks and was quick to notice springboks and gemboks, steenboks and kudu.
The landscape changed as we moved inland from the coastal areas. From coastal dunes, we drove through areas of barren, flat plains, then flat-topped escarpments came into view and the Tiras Mountains. The barren lands turned to bush and then to shrubs and trees. Farms were few and far between. Cattle, sheep and goats grazed on sparse pasturage. Windmills dotted the countryside, pumping water to the livestock.
Despite the arid climate, we saw lots of animals en route. Beyond the “boks”, we spotted lots of birds, especially goshawks that perched atop the telephone poles. Mongooses ran across the road in front of us. Ground squirrels poked their heads out of their hills and looked like our western prairie dogs until we saw their bushy little tails.
Our first stop was at Helmeringhausen, about three hours from Lüderitz, which appeared to be a sizable town on the map, but was really no more than a tiny winkel (general store) with a bottle shop (liquor store), a gas station and the Helmeringhausen Hotel and Beer Garden. It was good to stretch our legs. Doris knew the proprietor, Katja, and had a good chat. The cafe/restaurant was an enchanting place with a lovely garden, terrace-seating and “the best apple cake in Namibia”. We'd never had apple cake in Namibia, but, quite honestly, I can't imagine anything could have been better. Mookie, the resident springbok, roamed around freely nibbling most of the blooming plants and fearlessly allowing visitors to pet him. Birds flitted from tree to tree. Flowers bloomed midst interesting garden sculptures. A wonderful oasis in the middle of nowhere.
The Nama people inhabit this area. Their principle method of conveyance, other than walking, is via donkey carts and we passed several of them in our travel.
Children collected wood in the fields and by the roadside and carried the stacks back to their homes
We stopped in Maltahöhe for gas, another leg stretch, a pee break and a cold drink. The little shop there displayed an eclectic and somewhat bizarre collection of antiques and oddities … from old Singer sewing machines to baby buggies … from paper hearts to old gas cans. We continued on, intent on reaching Windhoek before dark.
The going was slow and dusty over the gravel roads, but we finally made it to the paved main road leading into Windhoek with only 200 km (120 miles) to go. This main artery was only a two-lane road which made passing slow-moving vehicles not only difficult, but pretty dangerous. We waited what seemed an eternity to pass one slow moving semi, then we spotted the sign for the Tropic of Capricorn and stopped for pictures. Back on the highway, we were once again behind the same slow semi until the he was forced to exit at a weigh station. There was a communal sigh of relief when he finally turned off.
At last, we spotted Windhoek in the distance. We stopped briefly at a traffic checkpoint, but were waved past without an ID check. We finally left the highway and headed to the Pension Cori for the evening … a long day and glad to be in Windhoek at last