Wild, Windy West Coast, Namaqua

 

Stunning sunset cloud formation

Stunning sunset cloud formation

It was a dismal morning to pack in my camping gear here on the ‘Cape of Good Hope’. Most things are still wet. I made my way through a foggy peninsula and wet Cape Town. Admittedly, they can use any drop of water falling from the sky. I followed the coastal highway north, and turned of towards Saldanha. It looked inviting on the map location wise, but a large fishing fleet covered the bay. The camping resort had just as many facilities like a bush camp.

Early get away next morning, shopping, washing and internet, before arriving in Paternoster, a bit further north/west. A tidy clean fishing village, which is doing quite well. Even the usual tin sheds were replaced with brick housing. I haven’t seen that in SA before. Lobster is obviously a profitable income, and lots and lots of vendors stalking potential customers, yelling ‘krill’. Only problem is, that the lobster fishing season starts in December, in time for the holidays. If there is any left that is. They simply don’t give a flying fish about breeding cycles. Cops pass by, and care even less. Anyone buying these illegal crays is just as responsible for the decline, as are the fishermen.

Calm morning in Tietiesbay

Calm morning in Tietiesbay

I set up camp at ‘Tietiesbay’, a cosy bay on the beach with huge boulders, 5 kms south of Paternoster.

Full moon over Tietiesbay

Full moon over Tietiesbay

The southerly wind was gusty and had a fair windchill factor, to say the least. I took a few full moon shots with my tripod, most of them turned out blurry due to the wind. Definitely an early night, into my warm sleeping bag I go. Another sunny day, still fresh and windy. After the usual morning routine, I followed the coastal road through ‘Elandsbaai’ and ‘Lamberts Bay’, I wasn’t overly impressed by the area. I drove on as far as ‘Vredenberg’, or just outside, to a campground on a vineyard. Two border collies were the first ones to greet me.

Border Collie Foerie

Border Collie Foerie

Adult male Foerie, and 2 month old girl ‘Katrine’. How cute. After a quick check in and chat with the friendly owners I set up camp, in between wine grapes and avocado trees.

Vineyards along the Ollifant River

Vineyards along the Ollifant River

They had the biggest cactus tree I have ever seen. Foerie took a liking on Zimba, spending a lot of time underneath him, carefully watching that stick, he placed in front of me. Katrine was full of beans as any puppy, so cute. I couldn’t get a decent photo of this energetic puppy. I sent for wander along the vineyard with Foerie.

Vineyards on red sand, Vredenburg

Vineyards on red sand, Vredenburg

The area is dry and dusty, yet wine and other farm produce seem to thrive, thanks to the ‘Olifants River’ running through. The wind was still howling and freezing cold. I woke up to calm and sunny morning and chilled for a while, before packing in. Foerie kept an eye out for me and Zimba overnight, sleeping under the car. A quick shop and refuel in Vredenberg, before passing Luitzville and I was on my way to a coastal 4 WD track.

Dusty track along Namaqua’s coast

Dusty track along Namaqua’s coast

Free wild camping along the west coast until you get to Namaqua Nat. Park. That sounds like fun. Zimba was happy to go in 4WD mode again as well. I didn’t drive too far and set up camp along the beach. No wind shelter anywhere, the blistering southerly was chilly.

Rocky shoreline along the Western Coast

Rocky shoreline along the Western Coast

I went for a quick dip in the literally freezing waters, coming straight from the Antarctic. Within seconds my feet were numb.

One of many colourful sunsets, Namaqua

One of many colourful sunsets, Namaqua

A few sunset shots of the wild coast, dinner and bush tv, which kept me a little warm. Clear skies and the rising moon kept me staring at the sky.

Chilly but clear skies over Namaqua National Park

Chilly but clear skies over Namaqua National Park

The wind was blowing all night and next morning. Sunny, but chilly. I had lots of time next morning. No need to rush. I wasn’t going far, just cruising a bit further north. Free camping and no one around, pure serenity.

Sunset over rough ocean, Namaqua National Park

Sunset over rough ocean, Namaqua National Park

As I drove along, a bakkie was stuck in soft sand. An old Hilux but only 2 WD, no tyre pressure down, no recovery gear, no hope, just pushing his luck. If his car doesn’t move, i can’t pass by. One of the National Park cleaning crew members was happy to see me. Time to put my new kangaroo jack and ‘Max Trax’ into action. I am always happy when I don’t use them on my own car. Eventually we got him moving with reduced tyre pressure and lots of pushing.

Sea shell mounts as far as the eye can see, Namaqua National Park

Sea shell mounts as far as the eye can see, Namaqua National Park

In some bays were shell mountains, meters deep and a good 30 meters long, well off the normal tide line. That’s when this ocean really gets wild and hammers the coast with no mercy.

Rough swell, Namaqua National Park

Rough swell, Namaqua National Park

I found a dead fur seal, who hadn’t handled this mean increasing swell. The ocean didn’t look rough, but the waves crashing over the rocks and reef were impressive. Incoming tide and strong southerlies flaring the water. No shelter for me either. I parked Zimba facing south and in to the wind, so I could hide behind him, watching another spectacular sunset with waves crushing over the reef and rocks.

Brighter then gold, Namaqua National Park

Brighter then gold, Namaqua National Park

I lit the fire a bit earlier, some warmth was needed. Another great story on tv, can’t help staring at the fire. My roof top tent and sleeping bag kept me cosy and warm.

A warming fire and bush TV

A warming fire and bush TV

Next morning, the wind had changed to a northerly, just as strong, just as cold. One could see mist, or low clouds covering the landscape. Anywhere along the east coast it would have been raining heavily. Not out here, this land is arid and dry as a nun’s cookie. Along the 4WD track I passed a few flamingos wading through a lake, which in rainy season becomes the ‘Groenriver’, the southern border to ‘Namaqua Nat. Park’.

Flamingo lake, Namaqua National Park

Flamingo lake, Namaqua National Park

I paid my entry fee and deflated my tyres, as there are some soft sand trails ahead. The previous ones were easily managed without lower tyre pressure, but this is the real deal. Smooth as always, Zimba managed the soft sand and it was fun cruising along. I drove a circle route, where I saw a flock of Ostriches, a herd of Oryx and some Springboks. They all disappeared too quick to have a photo shoot. Not the clouds though, which looked like ‘fairy floss’ at some stage.

Fairy floss clouds over dry land, Namaqua National Park

Fairy floss clouds over dry land, Namaqua National Park

I inflated my tyres in Koingass and headed inland. Originally I was going on the ‘Buffel River eco off-road trail’, but had enough of arid scene for a while. Instead I came across the worst corrugated gravel road yet. Zimba wasn’t impressed, neither was I. 40 km’s west of Springbok, I joined the off-road track again and set up camp on the foothills of the next mountain range.

Camping at the foothills of Springbok

Camping at the foothills of Springbok

Fire red sand mixed with massive boulder outcrops, add a colourful sunset, and you’re in the middle of a scenic nature display.

Sunset over the dessert, Springbok

Sunset over the dessert, Springbok

 It was still windy, but not as strong as on the coast. Dinner and a warming fire ended my coastal experience for now, gotta be happy with that.

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