xelas

Namibia 2017: Two Cats on a hot Tin Roof

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@xelas wonderful report and pictures, as usual :-) The salt factories, muddy areas and lagoon in which part of Walvis Bay are ? Looking at the map it seems at the end of the village towards Sandwich Harbour. I suppose the area can be reached with the rented Toyota Hilux 4x4 without problems.

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On 6/21/2017 at 11:17 PM, xelas said:

 

You mean you are turning into a smaller but greener version of Hulk :ph34r:?! Welcome to the band :D !! I did such a transformation about twice every month, sometimes even more times (depending on influx of great trip reports from places I have not been).

 

Thanks for kind words. And yes, this time flamingos were really close to the shore.

 

@xelas I think I must have been blind because I completely missed all those seal photos. They are unbelievable! And so so so so cute. Heart explosions! 

My jealousy is at unmanageable levels now..

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Levante said:

@xelas wonderful report and pictures, as usual :-) The salt factories, muddy areas and lagoon in which part of Walvis Bay are ? Looking at the map it seems at the end of the village towards Sandwich Harbour. I suppose the area can be reached with the rented Toyota Hilux 4x4 without problems.

 

That is correct. The salt factory is at the southern end of the lagoon. The salt works and the road across the southern end of the lagoon (between the evaporation dams, which are the colourful ones you refer to), and up the breakwater to the lighthouse is passable with any car.

 

Do not venture into the area south of the salt mine unless you know what you are doing or have company, and definately 4x4 is required. Best to use a guide, there are many. Also, to venture south of the salt works, a permit is required. This can be purchased from the offices of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Edited by Peter Connan
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1 hour ago, Levante said:

@xelas wonderful report and pictures, as usual :-) The salt factories, muddy areas and lagoon in which part of Walvis Bay are ? Looking at the map it seems at the end of the village towards Sandwich Harbour. I suppose the area can be reached with the rented Toyota Hilux 4x4 without problems.

 

Yes, @Levante,  saltworks are south of the Walvis Bay. Just follow the road, and turn right before entering the compound. From there on follow the road which ends at Pelican Point (not where the hotel is, as there is only a 4x4 track going there). It is pretty obvious, just keep on what you will think is a drivable road.

 

 

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1 hour ago, monalisa said:

 

@xelas I think I must have been blind because I completely missed all those seal photos. They are unbelievable! And so so so so cute. Heart explosions! 

My jealousy is at unmanageable levels now..

 

Ah, @monalisa , trying to make Hulk turning red :o? If not him then me then ^_^. Thanks for your kind words, and there is more to come :)

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Still Day 6: Granite On Fire

 

After the coffee break, and salt licking experiment, it was time to head inland, to our first "not been there yet" stop of this year itinerary: Spitzkoope! The gravel road D1918 which turns off coastal salt road C34 right in Henries Bay showed its ugly face right away. The gravel was deep and loose, and car was dancing all over the surface as soon as the speed goes above 60 km/h. Luckily it only lasted for about 50 km, then the surface hardened and the speed reached the usual 80 km/h. It is a barn and desolate country (but not as boring as the one along the C14 toward Walvis Bay). Then there it was: the Spitzkoope group! A collection of bald granite peaks, the main one also referred to as the "Matterhorn of Namibia". Me and Zvezda loved the granite boulders at Ameib Ranch in 2014 and I have read enough praise for this camp to brave its otherwise quite basic standards.

 

Spitzkoope group in distance

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Coming closer the contours becoming more dramatic. The Spitzkoope itself is a very pointed (for Namibia anyway) and high granite mountain.

 

Sign to the campsite

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Matterhorn of Namibia

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This Black-chested Snake Eagle is able to get to the best viewing position over the magnificent mountains!

 

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Posted (edited)

There is a shortcut road that goes first to Spitzkoope Lodge and then crossing the whole camping area to reach the main reception of the community camp. IMO it is better to follow the signed approach road. After a brief drive through local community village, and local "shopping mall" there is the small reception to check in. The map of the camp is basic, and as the camp covers really huge territory with only about 15 campsites, chasing the right one is not that easy. They work on "first come first serve" basis. Some of the photos from our exploration of the camp to find the right campsite for us:

 

Reception hut

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Two iconic items of Namibia

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More granite mountains

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This one is occupied already ...

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... and this one also ...

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... maybe this one? No, there are tents ...

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Anyone sees any bears?

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The famous Rock Bridge ... also taken

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This couple obviously likes its home ...

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... so why not staying next to them?!

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Edited by xelas
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Finally we have decided for campsite #4; it has a gorgeous view over the inner amphitheater of the Spitzkoope group, it has a long drop toilet, and a braai,. What else one could ever need for camping?! While me and Tanja were busy working on the RTTs, Zvezda put some steaks on the braai, while taking many photos. Below is my feeble attempt to capture the majesty of the place using the panorama option on my little P&S camera:

 

From the ground floor ...

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... and from the balcony

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Granite itself is high on iron, thus reddish, but when the sun started to set down, and the angle of the light becomes more horizontal, the nearby rocks explodes in a fire!

 

Firefighter on duty

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Looks like lava flow

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Deep red and long shades

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Not only flamingos are pretty in pink

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The sun is already deep below horizon

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I have seen some of the @Peter Connan night sky photos when we met him in Solitaire; enough to effectively surprise any idea of trying to compete with him. That one is the only one I have done. Just for fun, with Sony RX100 MkII, in JPEG, etc. If not for its funky colour that matches the previously posted photos, it would end up in the "round bin".

 

Milky Way the wrong way

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Everything idyllic, one would though?! Not exactly! Well into the deep of the night, a strange noise woke us all up! And then the shaking of the tents, and finally, the whole car was shaking !! Nope, no elephants or buffaloes here, only a very strong wind, and our site, while having perfect views, was also perfectly exposed to it. It was quite scary as on some moments the part of the tent that is not attached to the roof was blown upper 10-20 cm. Me and Tanja's (we have shared one tent) combined weight was just enough to countermeasure the force of the wind while Zvezda has had much bigger problems. While no-one was looking at the clock, the wind died down in about 2 hours. Lesson learned: next time we should tied the tent down to the ground or to the bottom of the car.

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Scary night, @xelas, but what a magic place! Excellent photos again ( including your pano shot...)!

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Probably one of the best places to camp in the whole world !!

I hope they had ditched the plan of building a resort there. 

And once again, did you meet the adorable meerkats ? 

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Fantastic red rocks!!! 

If there was ever a plan to build  a resort there, I hope it was abandoned. This place needs to remain wild and (as much as possible) isolated.

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On 5/30/2017 at 1:09 AM, xelas said:

There are just so many photo opportunities, wherever you point your camera :o:D .

 

Well you (or Zvezda) certainly made the most of them!

Highlights for me were the sidewinder's amazing camouflage, some incredible sand dune vistas, and the flamingos. Also enjoying your general spirit of adventure (cleverness with the aggressive merchants, for example). I'm learning a lot!

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Beautiful area!

OK, lesson no. 1: You need to use the D610 and 20mm f1.8... :D

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8 hours ago, PeterHG said:

Scary night, @xelas, but what a magic place! Excellent photos again ( including your pano shot...)!

 

Hi Peter! It is easy to take pano shots with Sony, even handheld. But thank you for your words of encouragement !

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8 hours ago, Chakra said:

Probably one of the best places to camp in the whole world !!

I hope they had ditched the plan of building a resort there. 

And once again, did you meet the adorable meerkats ? 

 

It surely is, Chak, at least to our limited knowledge! There is already one resort there, Spitzkoope Lodge (will show you in next post) but is on the other side of the mountains. I have no knowledge of anything else to be built there. They do work on some improvements, like adding communal bathroom closer to the campsites, but still outside the main perimeter.

 

No meerkats/suricats spotted. Will post first one that we will encounter.

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7 hours ago, xyz99 said:

Fantastic red rocks!!! 

If there was ever a plan to build  a resort there, I hope it was abandoned. This place needs to remain wild and (as much as possible) isolated.

 

Those granite rocks really looks like they are in fire when the sun hits them at the right angle! 

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5 hours ago, Marks said:

 

Well you (or Zvezda) certainly made the most of them!

Highlights for me were the sidewinder's amazing camouflage, some incredible sand dune vistas, and the flamingos. Also enjoying your general spirit of adventure (cleverness with the aggressive merchants, for example). I'm learning a lot!

 

Thanks for liking Zvezda's photos ... and our trip report. Those vendors might be quite intimidating when they all swarm on your car ... but they just want to do some business.

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3 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Beautiful area!

OK, lesson no. 1: You need to use the D610 and 20mm f1.8... :D

 

... put them all on a sturdy tripod. Then set the camera to RAW, shutter speed 25-30 sec, exposure f/1.8, ISO 3200, WB 3500, and use the remote control :D. Next time, Peter! Until then, I will prefer to enjoy in your fabulous photos :o.

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Thanks @Peter Connan and @xelas For sure I will not venture by myself South of Walvis Bay, I will take part to a half day Sandwich Harbour tour. So the safe, drivable area is this one ?

WB.PNG

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28 minutes ago, Levante said:

Thanks @Peter Connan and @xelas For sure I will not venture by myself South of Walvis Bay, I will take part to a half day Sandwich Harbour tour. So the safe, drivable area is this one ?

WB.PNG

 

Yes; follow D1986 till the entry to saltworks, folow alonside pans, then more or less along the coast (but ocean is far away) If you switch to Satellite mode is easier to understand:

 

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The sand road continues till it ends at a little roundabout where people likes to have their picnics594ce6998cbad_WB2.thumb.JPG.59af5f38eaf1650506ff22bfa8b7a08f.JPG:

 

How far you will be able to drive depends; on our first attempt the dense fog rolled out of the ocean so we turned back about half way. In the afternoon the visibility was great and we have reached the "roundabout". Other cars on this route were mostly fishermen; you know them by long poles sticking out in front of the bonnet.

 

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Great explanation ! Thank you so much.

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That roundabout is called Paaltjies. You will see road signs leading you there @Levante

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9 hours ago, xelas said:

 

... put them all on a sturdy tripod. Then set the camera to RAW, shutter speed 25-30 sec, exposure f/1.8, ISO 3200, WB 3500, and use the remote control :D. Next time, Peter! Until then, I will prefer to enjoy in your fabulous photos :o.

 

@Xelas, with D610 i would try one or two shots like that to check the composition, then cut the ISO to 400, and later lift shadows and then exposure. This way, i get a little bit less noise, and much less sensitivity to other lights or light painting.

 

Also, the built-in interval timer is a great alternative to a remote, unless you specifically want to do a star trail stack afterwards.

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Posted (edited)

Day 7: Paradise Made of Granite

 

 

The previous night we have been stirred but not shaken! Early out of the tents, into a beautifully calm and peaceful morning. And immediately with camera ready.

 

Day started with same colours as it has ended

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Famous Rock Bridge 

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The View

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Edited by xelas
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There are at least two possible guided hikes; the one named Bushman Paradise is more demanding so we have opted for one named Little Bushman Paradise. At the reception we have paid for the guide who entered our car and guided us to the far end of the Spitzkoope area. More beautiful sights we waiting for us.

 

A herd of zebras in golden grass

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Close-up

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Paradise for rock climbers

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Spitzkoope Lodge

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Picture perfect

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A giant sleeping

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Deep rock pool filled with water

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Refreshingly clear and cold

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