Across a river

Added 10 Apr 2015

We are on the road at 7.30am this morning. It looks a beautiful day, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. We’re heading south west towards the Namib Naukluft National Park, home to the world’s tallest sand dunes. Just outside Windhoek we’re obliged to stop at a weighbridge. All commercial vehicles including motorcoaches must stop and there are maximum weight limits we must not exceed. Having loaded the luggage this morning, Uanee and August are slightly worried we’ll pass the test! Fortunately it is early and the weighbridge staff has not yet opened up. We continue without being weighed.

At a small town called Rehoboth we make a brief toilet stop at a petrol station. Shortly after this we turn west and on to a gravel road for the first time. To start with it is fairly smooth. Then there are a few more bumps. We slowly get used to it. About half-an-hour before our lunch stop it starts to rain. Yes, rain! It hardly ever rains in Namibia and it is very rare to get rain as late as April. The downpour stops quite quickly and by the time we arrive at Solitaire for lunch the skies are clear again ... although we can see dark clouds in the distance.

Solitaire is a lodge, restaurant, bakery, shop and petrol station in the middle of nowhere. We enjoy Oryx stew, vegetables and salad, plus some Solitaire apple pie made famous by the original baker, Mr Moose MacGregor. Sadly Moose is no longer with us, although he is buried in the lodge car park. You think we’re joking?!

After lunch we continue our journey towards Sossusvlei Lodge. However 10 minutes down the road we can see a traffic block in the distance ahead. By traffic block we do not mean a jam on the M25, but we can see at least 10 cars. Uanee and August know immediately what the problem is. The road crosses a dry river bed, except that this afternoon it is not dry. In fact it is flowing fast and furious! Cars have no chance to cross, even a 4WD might have a challenge. A high deck truck crosses successfully but it is a very bouncy journey indeed! We decide to wait and hope the river activity subsides. In the meantime we enjoy watching people arriving and deciding whether to give it a go. An “overland” style truck full of youngsters arrives and the driver takes his vehicle across empty. His guests have to wade through deep water. They emerge covered in brown mud. Richard and Dawn decide against this plan.

Nearby there is a nice lodge that Richard inspected 6 years ago. You never know when your research comes in handy do you? We drive there and chill out while Uanee keeps an eye on the river. Tea and coffee, beer and juices are served in the lodge garden. An hour later we receive a message that it is OK to attempt a crossing. We head back to the river. As we approach an experienced truck driver gets stuck in the middle of the river. He is towed out and tries again, this time successfully. August, our driver prepares us! Seat belts on please! All loose items stowed! Ready, set, go! Naturally, August’s experience shines through. He has carefully chosen his route through the water and to be honest we hardly feel the bumps. Locals on either side of the river bed applaud and wave. We wave back as though we had no doubts whatsoever.

Quite an adventure!