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Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

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Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Rhett » 10 Jan 2017 20:12

Hi all

Well another December done and with the crazy season over, I will quickly post a review of our December trip.

5700km total according to GPS:
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Vehicles in convoy were the 4.8 Patrol, a TD5 Defender 110, a 2.4 Defender 90, and a Suzuki SJ140 powered with a 1.2l Nissan motor.

Start of the trip began in JHB, and our first stop was at Witsand Nature Reserve. This leg of the trip also gave me the best fuel consumption @ 7.8km/l from Benoni to Klerksdorp. 7.6km/l and 7.4km/l were the following two readings and by then we had started hitting dirt roads with deep sand and terrible corrugations (Olifantshoek to Groblershoop @ 5.8km/l). Witsand was as usual, an absolute relaxing and great start to the trip.

We left for Augrabies two days later and so far all was running well. We met up with the Suzuki at this point.
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We left Augrabies and headed to Pofadder and the beginning of the Namakwa Eco Trail. We spent 4 nights on the trail, but not without issues.

Our first night on the Eco trail we stayed at a date farm (-28.913458, 19.001147) Karsten Boerdery. Another well deserved thumbs up for the farm as they made sure there were dustbins nearby, and on the first day there, a tractor dropped off two portable toilets, even though it was just the 4 vehicles and we left early the next morning.

We then set out for our next spot, and that's when we ran into our first major issue. A broken universal joint on the rear prop shaft of the TD5. We were around 130km from Pofadder, so we loaded the prop shaft up and headed to Klein Pella farm ±26km's away. Although it was Friday 23rd December, and around 1pm, the last of the farm workers sent us to their workshop and they managed to repair the universal joint for us! We were grateful that we didn't have to head to Pofadder.

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We managed to get the prop shaft back on the Landy and headed to a camping area near Kraphol Island (was as bad as the name suggests! -28.848767, 18.753922). We were bombarded by fierce winds and baboons all night long.

End of Part 1

****
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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Peter Connan » 10 Jan 2017 20:20

This sounds like an epic in the making!
Mag ons ons kenniskry met lekkerkry aanhoukry.
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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Picasso » 10 Jan 2017 20:55

Hi Rhett

Welcome back in sunny South Africa and welcome into 2017.

Thums up :thumbup: for part one !!!

Eagerly awaiting Part 2, 3, 4, 5, ....... and so on :clap:
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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Rhett » 10 Jan 2017 21:04

Our third day on the Eco Trail we headed to Groot Melkboom.

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So far, so good. We had a lekker time there, but were disappointed to find someone's old rubbish bags thrown into the hollows of the poor tree, and left over braai coals strewn all over. Some people should not be allowed out of their own yard!

Our next stop, and easily the most enjoyable drive for me, was from Groot Melkboom to Kamgab. Nice and technical in places and lots of challenging optional routes.

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Temperatures were now hitting high 30's, and all our fridges were battling. Solar panels were out as soon as we stopped. We also realized that the little alternator on the Suzuki was not charging the deep cycle fast enough, and the fridge was shutting down almost as soon as we stopped. We then had to deal with another issue. The radiator reservoir on the 'Zuki disappeared. It snapped the bracket off and got lost on the trail. We now had to improvise with a a coke bottle and lots of cable ties. It worked perfect but unfortunately I forgot to take photos. :doh:

Next leg was to Vioolsdrift border post. I filled up the Patrol again here. 109l used on the Eco Trail (starting at Pofadder) 446km. That gave me a consumption of around 4.4km/l.

We headed to Luderitz via Ai-Ais National Park and Rosh Pinah. Luckily we were staying at a self-catering chalet in Luderitz, so we didn't worry about arriving before sundown. We did spend only one night there but managed to get some washing done as well as sleep in a bed :lol: The following day we rushed to Dias Point as we had booked the Ghost Town tour at Kolmanskop for 11am.

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Dias Point
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Kolmanskop
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We left Luderitz and headed for Aus where we stayed at Klein Aus Vista. We stayed at camp site number 6, in the shade of a Sociable Weaver nest:
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Now, to all my fellow campers, a word of advice. If you ever decide that it might be a great idea to keep the tent packed away, and instead set up your stretcher underneath a Sociable Weaver nest for the night, immediately give up that idea and move far away. I woke up the following morning, painted the colour of weaver excrement. Fellow campers (including my wife) who had slept in safer areas, had a good laugh as I scrubbed myself and bedding clean the next morning.

End of Part 2

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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Rhett » 11 Jan 2017 19:49

And now the start to part 3:

On our way from Aus to Sossusvlei, we had numerous issues to deal with.

The Suzuki's rear shock brackets (left and right) sheared off the leaf-spring mount and left the vehicle jumpier than a springbok. The car was suffering badly and the only way to get the handling barely stable was to drive in 4-high for the 490km trip. But then, more disaster. We ran across a few tourists who had damaged the tyres of their 4x4 rentals. For some unknown reason, none of them (literally) had the correct jack for their vehicle. We had to stop and assist each one using a suitable jack from our convoy. This confused me to no end, knowing that 4x4 rental agencies are not even making sure their customers have the correct recovery kit in such an environment! The roads are definitely worse than we remembered and I had a few close calls with side wall killers sticking up in the middle of the gravel roads.

At one stop, we saw a caravan which had shredded a tyre. As I was about to get out of the Patrol, however, I smelt an ominous 'melting electrics' smell from inside the car. I immediately shut the car off and started searching for the smell, fearing the worst. I traced it to my Waeco. The power cord had vibrated between the toolbox and drawer system and abraded straight through. A quick repair job and we were on our way again.

We camped at Tsauchab River Camp, and immediately headed to their rustic and charming bar. The swimming pool was ice-cold, and hospitality very warm.

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Reception area
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A few hours later and the Suzuki pulled in. We had arranged to take it to Hauchabfontein farm around 13km away the following morning to use their welding expertise and get the Suzuki back up and running. Kiewiet, who runs the farm, was very helpful and we had the mounts welded up in less than an hour.

But things were not meant to go well the following day. The 110 Defender left for Sossusvlei early that morning, while the girls all went swimming. Bronson (90 Defender), Charles ('Zuki) and myself hung around the camp and nursed a few whiskey's while shooting the breeze. Then the actual breeze picked up and we noticed some heaving rain clouds heading in. I noticed some baboons behind me sprinting down the dry river bed, and I wondered what they were running from. From the corner of my eye I caught a huge dust storm about 200m away and heading straight for the camp! I had time to catch a few clothes and towels flying by when it hit us. My tent (with 2 x 10kg stretchers, our clothing bags, and all our other junk) caught the thermal wind and pulled all the pegs straight out the ground, did a few cartwheels and landed in a thorn tree. Our chairs disappeared, my telescope flew into a fig tree, and I had to pick up odds and ends all over the place. A few broken tents poles later, the gat-vol-o-meter now running at high RPM, I nursed a good few more whiskey's while cable-tying/duct-taping poles in the rain.

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Camp site
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The photo was the morning of the freak storm. We also suffered other tent injuries, but we were all working hard to fix them so that we could sleep well that night...... UNTIL...

We ran into a few of these ugly looking buggers, Parabuthus Schlechteri: (not my photo, but I saw enough of them after those rains to imprint them into my nightmares forever)

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Satan Spawn
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Our one female camping associate did not zip her tent closed during the day, and found a few inside. We found them burrowed under our tent the next morning, and the monsters ran towards us looking for shade when we least expected it. Very unnerving.


End of part 3

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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Rhett » 11 Jan 2017 21:13

Continuing Part 4:

Sossusvlei to Swakopmund. Wife and I decided to leave Tsauchab early on the 31st Dec and head to Sossusvlei for the morning, meeting the rest at Swakop that afternoon.

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Dead Vlei
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My camera battery died halfway up Dune 45, so you will have to take my word that I climbed it :lol:

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It was satisfying to see all the other '4x4's' getting stuck in the deep sand while we powered past them :thumbup:

Anyway the sand did take a toll on my fuel consumption as I again dropped below 6km/l (5.85km/l). We hit the road again through Solitaire for Swakop, and everything was going absolutely perfectly, when... :doh:

As we came through the end of Kuiseb Pass, we noticed two vehicles driving towards us: A rolled Hilux, and a Suzuki SJ140...

The two Landies had passed the Hilux a few km's after the Pass, heading the opposite direction, and all was well. The Suzuki, about 5km behind the Landies, came across the Hilux, on all four wheels, but clearly had just rolled. The single driver of the Toyota, a lady from Zambia, had lost control on one of the corners and flipped the Hilux 360 degrees, landing it on it's wheels again. It was fitted with a rooftop tent and that had obviously taken a lot of the brunt. They immediately checked the lady for injuries, but apart from a few scratches, she was ok. The vehicle had not spilled a drop of oil, and after a few calls to the insurance company, they authorised Charles to drive it to the nearest safe zone. We met them about 3km's from the scene on their way to a nearby camp.

We saw the scene on our way out of the pass and immediately deciphered what had happened. The Toyota had come around a negative camber right bend. The rear left tyre had clipped the soft outside sand and the over-correction skid marks zipped across the road to the opposite sand bank where the car had ramped into a Nitro Circus stunt deserving of an award. The scariest part was that a few more meters and the car would have rolled down into the Kuiseb Canyon!

We eventually made it through to Swakopmund, to Gecko Ridge. Being the 31st (still) and quite late in the afternoon, the few other campers at the resort were already out partying and enjoying the last few hours of 2016. We set up our tent, lit the braai, and were fast asleep by 11pm.

2017 awoke us, and we went to visit some friends in Walvis Bay for a quick morning coffee, which turned out to be lunch and a delicious braai. We got back to camp at 4pm and chilled with a few whiskey's before bed time.

On the 2nd January 2017, we went adventuring:

Quad bike riding on the dunes followed by sand boarding and go-karts,

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We then ended the afternoon with the fascinating Living Desert Tour.

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Shovel Snouted Lizard
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Sidewinder Adder
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Palmato Gecko
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Dancing White Lady Spider
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Finally we saw the horse and mule graveyard, from the early 1900's.... Over 1600 horses and 900 mules were shot and buried due to an unknown disease, which was eventually diagnosed as malnutrition. They were all shot in the skull and buried with their saddles and the rest of their gear. This is just one grave site:

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The wind had uncovered all the bones as the dunes migrated over them..

End of part 4

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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Alex Roux » 11 Jan 2017 21:24

Rhett wrote:We ran into a few of these ugly looking buggers, Parabuthus Schlechteri: (not my photo, but I saw enough of them after those rains to imprint them into my nightmares forever)


Very thick tail and very small claws, then you know, very very bad idea to try and stamp on them with bear foot.
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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Alex Roux » 11 Jan 2017 21:25

Great trip report!

The Namakwa Eco trial is now officially on my bucket list
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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Rhett » 11 Jan 2017 21:36

Hey Alex

Absolutely something that you should do. We only did the first half (to Vioolsdrift) and we loved every second of it. We need you to do the trip report for the second half :biggrin:

Regarding those scorpions, all eight of us managed to get away unscathed, but I kicked one that came too close to me (I had tekkies on) and it ran straight back to me uttering an evil war cry!
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Re: Namakwa Eco Trail to Swakopmund

Postby Picasso » 11 Jan 2017 21:50

Hi Rhett

Thank you for the well written and illustrated report...

I enjoyed reading it ! :salute:

I realized with all the various accidents and breakdowns......... the only thing which broke down temporarily on you Patrol was the fuel-consumption from 7.8 to 5.8 km / l

.... I take that ... :thumbup:
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