The fence desert
The 8 weeks in Swakopmund went by quickly. I was especially happy about the visit of my mother. We had not seen each other for almost a year. Just when she visited me, the Safland Sevens Rugby tournament took place in Swakopmund for the first time. So we spent most of our time in the stadium watching rugby games all day. In the end South Africa won against Kenya in the final. The rest of the time we spent in the beautiful and for African standards very clean city.
Between Christmas and New Year Tania came to visit me from Switzerland. She has already accompanied me on this journey from Macedonia to Greece and we want to cycle together to Cape Town. She also brought me a new rear wheel, which the bike shop Leuthold had built for me. Some things had to be repaired and replaced:
new rear wheel
new chain drive
new sleeping mat
new zippers on the tent and handlebar and rear wheel bag
and a new charger for my laptop
At this point I would like to thank Sabine Beer and the Exped Team exped.com/germany as well as Tom Spahr and the bike shop Leuthold veloladen-leuthold.ch for their fantastic work. But also my mother and Tania for the delivery of all spare parts.
After we had recovered from the New Year's Eve party (too much South African red wine is definitely unhealthy) it started on January 2nd. First we cycled from Swakopmund to Gobabeb. The Gobabeb Training and Research Center is a research and education center. The station is located about 120 kilometers southeast of the city of Walvis Bay in Namibia's largest nature reserve, the Namib Naukluft Park.
Gobabeb is located at a meeting point of the Kuiseb River, the sandy desert (extending to the south) and the gravel desert (extending to the north). The main goal of Gobabeb's research is to increase knowledge about arid ecosystems and especially their diversity. The play of colors between red and almost black desert sand I found beautiful and the gravel road was amazingly easy to navigate. We also crossed the Tropic of Capricorn.
What makes Namibia so special for me is the beautiful landscape and the many wild animals. Every day zebras, springboks, dwarf and oryx antelopes, black-headed jackals and ostriches ran into each other. In addition, you can just set up a tent somewhere without being constantly harassed. From Gobabeb we went back to the C14. Here in southern Namibia, the gravel roads are pretty bad. The many tourism makes for a large volume of traffic which makes the condition of the roads even worse. In addition, the Africans are simply not able to properly entertain the streets.
On the way to Solitaire we had to cycle over the Kuiseb Pass and the Gaub River Canyon. Temperatures rise here in January (midsummer) sometimes to over 45 ° C. Thus, we were not spared to tow huge amounts of water through the area. Every day we needed almost 12 liters of water per person.
The many tourism here in the south of Namibia but also has its advantages. So you can always find accommodations and campsites where you can fill up with water. The first day of rest we indulged in Solitaire. The founder and operator of the Solitaire bakery ("Moose McGregor Desert Bakery"), Percy "Moose" McGregor, has made Solitaire famous with its apple pie. Some even refer to him as the "best apple pie in Africa". McGregor died unexpectedly on January 18, 2014.
The locals advised us to avoid the small side streets if possible. These are often much less traveled and therefore in much better condition. So we drove from Solitaire on the C14 to Büllsport then there to avoid the D854, which leads past the Naukluftbergen.
One day later we came to the C27, which leads through the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. A few days before, a thunderstorm swept through the reserve. This immediately started to grow the grass, which the animals use here to get a little change in their diet. We saw hundreds of them. However, there is also one species that got on our nerves enormously: the flies. Fortunately, we had previously been equipped with head nets and were able to keep the pest spirits reasonably at a distance.
After a day at the campsite in Betta, the last section followed the Namib Naukluft National Park. It is an ecological conservation area and is home to a number of animals adapted to this extremely dry desert. The Namib is the oldest desert in the world at about 80 million years old and one of the planet's most inhospitable places. The dryness of the Namib is due to coastal, cold ocean currents, similar to the Atacama desert in Chile. Since June 20, 2013, large parts of the Namib as Namib Sand Sea ("Namib sand sea") are UNESCO World Heritage.
The entire park is fenced off by fences. As it is in Africa, the farmers copied the concept and fenced their land immediately. It feels like being in a prison when there are only fences on either side of the street. But worst of all, I found the situation for the many wild animals. Every day we saw springboks, zebras, ostriches and antelopes that got caught in the fences or got stuck in between and were separated from their herd.
One morning we discovered an oryx antelope that had caught its horns in the fence and was hanging upside down in it, near a farm and still alive. Tania pointed this out to the farmer and asked him to free the animal. He only laughed and said he would shoot the oryx. The people of Africa simply have no awareness of the habitat they live in. Such things puke me now really!
Shortly before Aus came out to us a truck with Swiss license plate. Heidi and Max from Lugano have shipped their vehicle to South Africa and travel through Africa. They told us that the ferry across the Orange River in Sendelingsdrif is currently not sailing due to low water levels and the border with South Africa is therefore closed.
Fortunately, the owner told us from the campsite in Aus that currently just a new road from Rosh Pinah to Oranjemund is built and you can therefore pass the restricted area without a permit. Except for a 30-kilometer section we could drive from Aus to Oranjemund everything on paved road. What a treat after all the gravel roads!
The construction workers were extremely friendly and had a great time with the two funny cyclists. Probably we are the first spinners who cycle through here. About 10 kilometers before the border to Alexander Bay we stopped at a rest area. It stopped a car. Hannie and Karl live in Oranjemund and Karl is the responsible engineer for the new construction of the street. They arranged a permit for us to come to Oranjemund and we were allowed to be their guests for 3 days. So we got to know a lot about the history of Oranjemund, the restricted area and the diamond mines.
The diamond-restricted area has a total area of about 26,000 km². In the diamond-restricted area Zacharias Lewala, the assistant August Stauchs, found in April 1908 in the maintenance of the Lüderitz railway diamond. To protect against unlicensed, uncontrolled diamond mining, the entire area of Bernhard Dernburg 1908 was declared a restricted area. After the diamond mining has increasingly shifted to the Atlantic, the strong access restrictions were partially abolished and the area proclaimed a restricted area national park.
The nature and the place are really unique here. Oryx antelope walk during the day just through the village. The infrastructure is very good. For a long time, only employees were allowed to live in Oranjemund. Even the family members could not clean. This has changed in recent years and the construction of the new road is likely to be over. Hannie, Karl and her dog Tjoppie are great nature lovers and know the flora and fauna in the area enormously well. We made some excursions to the coast, into the desert and the surrounding gorges. We were even able to watch pelicans.
Overall, I spent 4 months in Namibia. The people are extremely friendly and helpful. A life in the Namib Desert is tough. Water is the most important resource on our planet. Here I have seen and learned how valuable this good can be. Without water, there is no life. Scenic, I found this the most beautiful place on my trip to Africa. With many great memories I leave this country.