We wake up at sunrise on the moon (how we dubbed the rock desert we’re surrounded by). It’s super super beautiful! Simply magnificent. The night was quiet but I really really missed the toilet. We’re warming up and enjoy a prolonged breakfast. Since the stiff breeze stopped sometime during the night it gets warm quickly.
Shortly after we drive down into the Hoanib river bed at Amspoort we see a giraffe and her cub right next to our vehicle. Right ahead three male desert elephants block the way. One of them behaves quite aggressively and it’s clear that he’s the boss around here. So we stop and wait 20min until he calms down and lets us pass. Again I’m humbled by this experience. If I had had any doubts it’s certainly clear now: we humans are guests at best and intruders at worst here and have to behave accordingly. This is animal territory. Further along in the river bed we see many more giraffes, hordes of baboons eating elephant shit and ostrich harems.
Then it’s quiet. I guess it got too hot for the animals who probably hide somewhere in the bushes. The drive drags on in the dusty river bed. Sesfontein doesn’t seem to get any closer…
The last 2-3km before Sesfontein must be sheer horror for any inexperienced off-road driver. The hard-pressed sand and dust on the track turns into what feels like brownish yellow flour. There’s no clear track anymore but about a dozen tracks that run parallel next to each other. If your vehicle gets stuck here you’re pretty much lost. I try to keep my speed up. Spin the steering wheel left and right trying to find to most promising route through that bushy flour-sand area. All my senses are alerted. Stefan and Thomas are somewhere to the left and right of me respectively. Both fully occupied finding their own way.
When we hit the solid tracks of D3707 we stop for a quick break. We all shake the dust off our cloths and hair. We spit a few times hard to get the dust off our teeth and flush the rest down with a few sips of luke-warm water. Even the tiniest chink in the car is covered with that d** flour-sand. That was a hell of a ride!
As we pull into the gas station in Sesfontein smoke escapes from the hood of Stefan’s Landy. We pop the hood and see a naked wire glowing. The isolating plastic melted already. Irony: it’s the wire for the blinker which Stefan dutifully used for the first time in several days when we pulled into the gas station.
By sheer coincidence Marga knows a guy in Sesfontein who used to work for a Land Rover shop! We send for him and wait. In the meantime we examine the truck of a mining company which is parked at the gas station. The truck in general and particularly its wires are in dire state. From the driver we learn that they drove here all the way from a drilling site in the Hartmann valley. Jesus, what a fagging that must have been for them with that vehicle.
Marga’s acquaintance will be able to repair the wiring in Stefan’s Land Rover in a rough-and-ready way but to get it fixed properly they’ll have to visit the mechanic in Palmwag. Meanwhile Thomas, Sandra, Akiko and I should head to the lodge in Palmwag and prepare our camp site. Although the C34 is a major track and in good condition the drive still takes time. It gets dark when we’re still 20km north of Palmwag. Driving at night is challenging as many riviers cross the track. It’s a constant up and down.
At 6:20pm we pull up in front of the lodge. A servant dashes towards us from the reception and hands Sandra and Akiko a welcome drink. We’re not quick enough to tell him that we only booked a camp site! When we’re done putting up our tents Stefan and Marga arrive. After todays events we’re too tired and worked up to cook and have giant delicious burgers at the lodge instead. A delight! After a super hot bush shower we settle for the night knowing that tomorrow is our day off. We won’t drive anywhere.