Uis Travel Blog› entry 6 of 9 › view all entries
John is now based in Namibia and has been exploring the central part of the country trying to find a way to travel along a North-South axis off the mapped roads. He had already explored a few times on his own a section North of Spitzkoppe, each time a bit further along farm tracks, and saw a good opportunity in the 2 of us teaming up together to attempt going all the way from Spitzkoppe to Uis, these 2 locations being about 70km apart.
That sounded good to me. It is safer to travel with 2 vehicles, we could always go back if conditions became too difficult, and I also had a satellite phone if anything went wrong.
So on Saturday we headed North directly from the campsite.
The workers pointed us the direction we had to follow for the next section of our journey. We were surprised when they mentioned none of them had actually gone this way...
The track now wasn't so good but it was still OK. We reached a second farm and once again asked for directions. The track was now going West towards Ottmund farm next to the Omaruru river. Along the way we could see markers positioned by an Australian mining company to materialise the locations of their planned drillholes.
Gustaf finally convinced us and even offered to come with us to show the exact way across. He came in my vehicle and off we went. The river was split into 3 channels. First channel everything went fine, the sand in the river bed was quite hard. Second channel, the widest, at first everything was fine but then it got deeper and the sand softer. I could feel the 4x4 was struggling and I did not manage to keep the pace. We lost momentum and the vehicle stopped. That's the last thing you want to happen... I tried to move forward, to reverse, but the wheels were spinning in the sand and the situation was getting worse.
Gustaf was just an employee at the farm and did not have a vehicle. His boss was away in Windhoek.
I started thinking of what might happen next.
We had to do something. We reckoned the best option was to try getting the vehicle to go backwards since the sand in front of the vehicle was so much softer than in the back. We started digging around and behind the wheels but the water current kept bringing back the sand. So we started digging under the vehicle and building a dam, to try and divert the current. It wasn't an easy task because the current was also destroying our dam... Gustaf was also helping and put all his energy into this.
John took the decision he was going to try to pull me out with his Landover. He reversed into the river, tied 2 ropes together to have more length and we connected the 2 vehicles.
First attempt was unsuccessful. For the second we made sure that we better synchronised our efforts, his pulling and my reversing acceleration. This time it was successful! After a couple of hours of hard work under the Namibian sun, we were able to get the vehicle out. That was such a relief!!! As Gustaf had mentioned before we started crossing the river, God would be looking over us! And he did!
Now of course I regret not having taken a picture of the vehicle stuck in the middle of the river, next to the dam we had built.
That was yet another lesson... Even when a local person tells you that it is fine to go across, you should still assess the situation by walking through the river. Had we done this we would have realised that the sand was too soft in that particular section and we would have decided not to go through.
After buying from Gustaf some of his artwork and giving him some food, we went back and reached the gravel road between Usakos and Uis.
Our third attempt was made quite a long way east from there, in the village of Okombahe. The villagers told us there was no problem there. But this time at least we were able to observe a donkey cart going across which was an indication we could go ahead. Finally we were on the other side of the Omaruru river! What should have been a short 80km drive between Spitzkoppe and Uis turned out to be a 200km itinerary which took us the entire day to complete! Conditions in winter are definitely much easier...
We spent the night at the Brandberg Rest Camp.
On Sunday we drove along the Ugab River, first to the Ugab Camp where the Desert Elephants have done some damage not so long ago, then to the Brandberg White Lady Lodge.
Early in the afternoon, John had to leave to return home in Okahanja. I decided to stay for the night at the Lodge where I was the only guest!
The next morning I visited the White Lady Rock Paintings in the Brandberg Mountains before heading north to Twyfelfontein.