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Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 20:23
by Peter Connan
15 April:

If it works, why fix it? Off to Natco again...

The lions were still around.
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Near Natco, we found a fairly big bull Elephant, but he was fairly far away.
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So we went on to Natco, where there were Zebra, as usual. On the way back, the elephant was a lot closer to the road.
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At Leeubron, we found a Yellow Hornbill
Banana Rising
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A bit later, this juvenile Goshawk was looking pritty miffed.
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Back in camp, I found some Martins collecting mud.
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For my last drive, I decided to head south.
Close to Ombika, I found the biggest Impala ram I have ever seen.
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From there, I headed in the direction of Gemsbokvlakte.
Along the way, I found some Banded Mongoose.

But while I was waiting for them to get onto the sun, a pleasant surprise: Mating Namaqua Doves.
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Then, a family herd of elephant.
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By now, it was getting late again, and I had to make haste to get to the gate in time.

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 21:10
by Peter Connan
16 April.

Destination: Palmwag. There are a couple of options to get from Okaukeujo to Palmwag. The easy route is to go south to Outjo, then west to Palmwag. This is 370km and an estimated 4 1/2 hours by tar and graded gravel. Not our route then.

The second option was To start the same way, but then turn north at Kamanjab to the Khowarib Schuscht 4x4 trail. Better, but there is a third option: Travel through the relatively-newly-opened section of Etosha, past Olifantsrus and out at Galton Gate, and then take the Khowarib Schluscht. This is only 344km, but T4A reckons it takes 10 hours.

While we had two nights booked at Palmwag, we decided that we could easily give up one of those nights for a wild camp somewhere along the way, so that's the route we picked.
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However, the western side of the park is pretty boring, and we saw very little.

The road obviously doesn't need grading very often either...
The road less travelled
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At Galton Gate, we were subjected to e pretty thorough search. This is both the exit from the Kgalagadi and a vetirinary control point for foot-and-mouth (and other) diseases.
Once more we were asked if we had photographic drones. By some chance, a Chinese couple arrived at the gate at the same time as we did. And the cops found a drone in their car. They would not let us leave untill they were satisfied we were not in the same group...

Exiting the park, we turned south on the C35. After about six km, we turned off onto an unassuming little dirt tweespoor, which soon became sandy enough to be a good excuse to fiddle with the short lever.
Paradise with a long tail
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After passing through a second vet fence (this time in a northerly direction, so no search required), we turned into the Khowarib river. Immediately, we stopped, had brunch and let the tires down to 1 bar. It was obvious that the river had flowed recently, and there had been only one traveller since then. This was actually ideal, because following in his spoor would show up any really soft spots.

This section was probably my favourite section of the whole trip, but with trailers in tow it was pretty hard going.
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Although there were plenty of elephant spoor, we never actually saw any elephant, although we did finf=d a giraffe.
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After about 35km, we exited the river (I actually got a chance to engage low range here, as the exit is a pretty steep sand-bank).

Now we were in an area called Klein Serengeti.

Shortly, we saw some Hartmann's (or Mountain) Zebra, which I believe is supposed to be the closest living relative to the extinct Quagga.

This guy overtook us at 65km/h.
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Klein Serengeti
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As we went along, the terrain became tougher and tougher. Lots of rocks in this area, the road often covered with fist-sized rounded stones. At one point,
we even went down a little rocky pass where low range was definately needed.
Klippe kou
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By the time 17h00 came along (the time apointed to start looking for a campsite), we were only about a kilometer from the main road, and we decided to push on.
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Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 07:00
by Peter Connan
Palmwag is a very nice camp. The staff are friendly, the campsites well equipped, and everything works and is well maintained.
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They offer a range of activities, such as tracking desert Rhino and Elephant, but these activities are quite expensive. Even self-driving in the concession area was more expensive than we were prepared to pay. But there are also two pools, the use of which is free. Se we made the 17th a rest day.

Those who know m well will know that lazing about a pool is not really my scene. But at one of the pools, they have a bird feeder and bath, so that's where I spent most of my day.
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Some weather again in the late afternoon, but nowhere near us.
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Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 10:12
by Rhett
Awesome report Peter, and great pictures!! Thanks for the effort, much appreciated :thumbup:

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 10:31
by Herrie
Ek is bly dat julle dit geniet het en dankie vir die fotos! :thumbup:

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 12:57
by Russ Kellermann
Still loving this thread. And appreciate the effort of the narrative. Your bird photography is VERY impressive pete. Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about photography should know how difficult that skill is to master.

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 13:09
by Peter Connan
Thanks Rhett, Kubus and Russ, i alpreciate the encouragement.

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 12 Jun 2017 05:49
by Peter Connan
18 April.
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Destination: Aba Huab. This was not a long way away, and most of it appeard to be on fairly good roads (as far as one can tell from Google Earthe anyway), only 110km and expected time of around 2 hours. So we packed up and then told the kids and girls that they could go for a goof in the pools while Gerrit and I drove down to the filling station to brim the tanks.

After we got our families back, we had to negotiate another vet fence. Bear in mind that we had 5 days to go between here and Swakop, with little opportunity to shop between. We had been told that raw red meat, pork, fruit and dairy would be confiscated, so we had planned to eat mostly chicken for this period. We also had chicken patties, ham and bully for breakfast, and a pre-cooked Spaghetti for one night.

Low and behold, when they opened our fridges, suddenly they invented an outbreak of Newcastle Disease (I say they invented it, because nobody I asked in Swakop or Walvis knew about such an outbreak), and we had to give up our chicken.

There was a small Himba craft stall next to the road. Gerrit asked if they wanted to swop meat for some keepsakes, but they were not interested, so he walked back (500m or so) to the garage and gave the chicken to the attendants.
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Headed south, we started seeing our first dune-sand.
First dune
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But there were still plenty of hilly koppies around.
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At Aba Huab campsite, we struck our first organisational glitch: I had payed at MET in Windhoek, for this as well as a number of other campsites further along. but the permit I was issued did not specify what it included. The staff at Aba Huab simply wouldn't accept that this permit included our stay there. In retrospect, we should have simply got in our cars and driven down the river-bed, but instead we promised to make a slightly reduced payment after our return, and started setting up camp.

The campsite is in a beautiful location, right next to the river-bed (which is dry, of course), but the maintenance leaves a lot to be desired, with open electric wires lying around, rubbish bins overflowing, a leaky french drain etc, and we could soon see why. The staff were having a party, and soon one of them passed out on the pool table...

Birdlife in the camp was pretty good though.
Yellow-billed Hornbill
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African Grey hornbill
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Hills of Huab
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Fortunately, the party, which had gotten quite loud, ended reasonably early.

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 12 Jun 2017 06:23
by Peter Connan
19 April.

Destination: Messum Crater. This was about 175km away, and expected to take about 4 1/2 hours.
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So we didn't rush madly to pack up, and got going around 9 Little did we know...
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We did come across some pedestrian traffic today
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River at Uis
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As we were virtually passing it, we decided to stop at Uis to see if we could replenish our food. I wasn't expecting much, as I had heard some bad things abou this town, and at first it did look a little suspect, with lots of beggars/street sellers accosting us the moment we stopped. The shop was well stocked though, and lunch at the restaurant was great, with very friendly service and excellent food at very reasonable prices.

Not too far out of town, my TPMS started screaming at me. Tire pressure in my right rear tire was dropping like a stone.
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Upon examination, there was quite a serious tear/cut through the tread. No way I was plugging that, so out with the jack and spanners, and on with the spare wheel.

After turning off the main road, the track got very bad pretty quickly. This area is extremely arid, and the road has never been maintained. It has thus deteriorated into a 20-30m wide stretch of the worst corrugations I have ever seen, as guys drive next to previous corrugations. We cut our speed down to about 30km/h, despite which I was going a lot faster than Gerrit was able to manage. At around 2pm, I got a radio call: " my car is overheating, what should I do, switch off or let it idle". I turned around and raced back, to discover that the radiator hoses were soft, so switch off immediately.

Out with the radiator, we start looking for the leak. Off course, it was at this moment that it started raining, making leak detection a lot more difficult...
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We filled the radiator with water, but couldn't find a leak. We then replaced it, filled it and re-started. It's then we found the leak, so took it out again and we did a Pratly Steel repair.

After waiting for an hour and a half, we got moving again cautiously. But when it got dark I called a halt, and we camped right there in the road.
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Welwitschia 2
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Camping under the stars
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Quality time.
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Some time during the night, a hell of a wind came up. We stripped the over-tent off Gerrit's trailer, somehow bundled it up without getting blown across the desert and stuffed it under his car. Then we discovered that his tent was in danger of collapsing, so he got his family out and into the car, and we wrestled the tent down as well...

Re: Central Namibia - Three weeks of hell (not)!

Posted: 12 Jun 2017 09:16
by offroadbiker
Baeie netjies!!!

Tussen jou en Chris is ek nou verby lus vir n trip.............