Sesriem - Sossusvlei
Sesriem Travel Blog› entry 2 of 9 › view all entries
First day, first lesson
During my previous visits to this country I had felt a very strong sense of freedom when driving along the Namibian roads, across those huge open spaces of sheer natural wonder. Even more so on this trip, as I come here with no fixed itinerary, driving a 4x4 pickup equipped for camping (with a tent on the roof of the vehicle), a GPS and a satellite telephone (rented with the car, for safety purposes).
I bought this TomTom GPS for this trip and had a couple of opportunities to try it in Perth before departing.
So here I go, I enter my destination location Sesriem in the GPS, the device gives me the distance and the time my journey should take, and I am on my way to Rehoboth. The program did ask me if I'd prefer avoiding non tarred roads, to which I replied no, since I know dirt roads are the only way to go to Sesriem. Sesriem is the gate to the Namib-Naukluft National Park and the scenic dunes of Sossusvlei. [Note: I am also running a data logging program in the background that will record the coordinates of my location either every 5 km, every 5 min or after a change of direction by more than 30 degrees (which ever event happens first - these are the parameters that I chose). The data is saved in a format which can be directly loaded into Google Earth: a great way to keep track of the itinerary, also a way to geotag the photos I will be taking...]
South of Rehoboth, the friendly female voice of the GPS tells me to turn right onto this gravel road, which I execute without questioning, and I am off on this D1262 track.
So I drove back to the "main” gravel road, gave a lift to a man who must have been walking for tens of kilometres... and dropped him at his farm. I tried the next road to the right as per this man’s instructions and the friendly voice from the GPS, drove 500m until I was stopped by a river crossing with too much water for me to even consider trying to go through.
First lesson: don’t follow blindly the friendly voice of the GPS! It just doesn’t replace a map, well not in a place like Namibia anyway. Just by looking at the map I could have seen which was the main road to Sesriem and could have avoided wasting all this time...
In Sesriem I stayed a couple of nights in Sossusvlei Lodge. I thought the 450 N$ they were going to charge at the camping site was ridiculous.
There is one advantage if you stay at the camp. You can stay longer in the National Park, leave earlier in the morning and return later in the afternoon. It is not possible to overnight inside the Park.
Second day, second lesson
The gates for the non campers opened at 6.
The road from Sesriem to Sossusvlei is a 60km section of tarred road going through a valley surrounded by massive sand dunes. It gets narrower as you head West towards the 2x4 parking. From this parking it is a 5km drive on soft sand, restricted to 4x4s. If you are in a 2x4 vehicle or do not feel safe driving in your 4x4 to Sossuvlei then you can take a shuttle vehicle which will drop you off and pick you up later, after you have explored the area and done the walk to Deadvlei as most visitors do (takes about for 20min each way).
Deadvlei is a salt pan whith dead trees supposed to be nearly 900 years of age. On the left side of the valley a few young camel thorn trees not only are surviving but seem to be doing well.
On the way to the 2x4 parking I stopped at Dune 45, one of the highest dunes in the area, to take a few pictures, but did not climb it.
Along that 5km stretch of sand to Sossusvlei I did get stuck at one point... I have driven 4x4s in the past but had never done it in soft sand. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad and after removing the sand behind the wheels with my hands, I was able to reverse to a harder spot and then start again to reach my destination.
This was a second lesson for me, not to overestimate my 4x4 driving skills.