Namibian Sand Monsters: Part 3 – Namibian Rock Monsters

| September 23, 2010 | Comments (1)

After our fight with the Sand Monster we took it easy, heading South now via Ongong springs to Palmwag. Ongong spring is amazing, among the rocks and desert this water pours out of the ground.

Seamus doing his washing

The road from Fort Sesfontein to Palmwag looks nice but is actually a bed of large marbles surrounded by endless rock, I love this sign. So this is where all stones come to for r & r!

In Palmwag we rested for 2 days in a campsite surrounded by game. We woke the one night with a desert elephant eating the tree about 2 metres from our piddly little tents. One of those moments when you realise what you have always wanted is not what you want just then!

We met up with my brother and his family and 2 friends at Palmwag. My brother Khonya and friend Yves are on a KTM 640 and an XT 600. Mitch is in a cruiser and trailor filled with beers (no real food we found out) and ice laden fridges.

We head off for Twyfelfontein, using as many back routes (i.e offroad tracks) as possible. We find a real sand road, the heat is beating down and for 2 hours it is just flat and empty country. First we lose the cruiser which I go and find, then our two new bikers are paying their dues in the sand. They hate it, heavy going without standing and gunning it.

Twyfelfontein lodge seemed like a mirage in the desert. Built into the surrounding rock with ancient stone art all around. We stopped for lunch and later petrol. The petrol is wonderful, you go and tell the guys at the workshop that you want fuel and a few minutes later Sipho comes cycling down the road to the bowser in the middle of nowhere and fills you up. Of course he does not take money so back to the lodge 4 k’s away!

Now we head for Dorros crater, after so much sand it’s a bit of a shock, the countryside becomes barren and rocky, no trees or grass except for the odd bush and our first welwitshias.

Along the way I have tried to video as much as possible, so I stop and film the bikes. They roar past and disappear over the rise. Shit I scramble up and chase them, I’m the only one with a GPS and the route indicates a weird turn ahead effectively a returning along our track. Too late, although Khonya has spotted the turn and waited, Seamus and Yves have shot off. Yves new to this game never looking in his mirror. We wait for almost an hour, the track is full of offshoots, they could have taken any one and so better to wait at our last point together.

Nothing, there’s no shade and we need to find a camp, so we build a roadblock on the one track and leave a note showing the direction.

We head off to the crater which is a letdown, but we are concerned about our friends. After long debate I head back with water and GPS and a 2 way radio which can link with the cruiser (at close range). The cruiser and my brother on the KTM go looking for a camping spot. Its almost 3 hours later when I find my forlorn riders, Yves cursing himself for not spotting us not following. Seamus is looking like thunder! We head back assisted by the radio, finding our campsite…..

Seamus exhausted drops his bike in front of a joyful cameraman.

The next morning we head off in search of the Valley of desolation and the Gai Ais fountains. I imagine Ongong springs, waterfalls, deep water and blissful swimming …little do we know we are heading into a moonscape, just more barren and remote than the moon! First tho we stop and fix the KTM’s exhaust with Q bond (man I love that glue).

The landscape is beautiful but as we ride the scrub disappears and the rocks seem to breed and multiply like millions of alien eggs radiating heat in waves.

A dutch couple recently got lost and ran out of water and fuel near here. He died and she was rescued close to death. It seems so silly and impossible with a modern vehicle GPS etc until you are here. Reality is waves of heat, rocks, almost invisible tracks going off in a myriad of directions before sometimes meeting and sometimes just ending. This is not where your fancy street navigator works, this is serious know your GPS country!

I come over a rise and there are suddenly hundreds of Gemsbok and some Zebra on the plain below me. I screech to a stop this is Gai Ais. No waterfall here but a patch of muddy water sustaining life, and a solitary duck can you believe it. Near the water in a little abandoned stane damara hut is also a telephone…. Great fucking joke if you stumble out the desert desperate for help!!!!!!!!

We turn around heading now for the messum crater where we plan to camp like geckos among the rocks. The track enters a valley of cut and jagged rock. When the earth was made this is where the practice round was held. Torn, ripped and mangled earth protruding from the sand, mirages shimmer with the promise of water and we crawl like feeble insects over, through and around rock, rock and more rock every shape on earth is represented here. Its easy riding tho after the thick sand of the day before and the riverbeds of Khowaris.

We emerge at Rhino Camp, a community camp, a pretty reeded area under a tree with rustic toilets and bucket showers, it has one main disadvantage which we found at all the community camps…no beer hot or cold!. We consider camping here but its as cooler moving than sitting in the shade, so we agree to move onto Messum crater.

The track to Messum crater is a riverbed…aaaaah…. But by now Seamus and I find its actually quiet easy despite our earlier trepidation. At slow speeds it’s a nightmare and Yves is going slowly and finding it hard going. We stand up and power up and soon are rocketing along at speeds up to 100km/h. The trick we find is to stand lean back and move fast. The front wheel skims the sand instead of the bucking and twisting that it does at slower speeds. Now we ride through fields of Welwitshias, some huge and probably hundreds if not thousands of years old. They are a link to a prehistoric age and as we fly along between them through the desert we feel like we are on another planet, the planet of Moertoe!


Messum crater, not much of a destination and very similar to all the rocky terrain we have driven through. The thought of the meteorite crashing in and descending down the crater sides does however give a sense of wonder.

There is no shade and we look around for any form or protection or overhang in the baking heat. We stop and refuel the XR. Mitch emerges from his air-conditioned cruiser cursing the lack of beer and recommends we head the 60 odd km’s to the coast and guaranteed beer! Yvess is not sure, he is tired and exhausted. He loved the rock, this sand tho is taking it out of him. “Oh I’ve driven the route before” claims Mitch “it’s a highway, hard and easy riding”. The guys filling the bikes drop the jerry can, we look around the pitted sandy crater, we look at Mitch, we look at each other and we start laughing. “I promise it is” he pleads, “a highway”, a dreamy look enters his eyes…. “And they’ve got beer, cases of freezing cold Tafel”

This is probably the clincher for Yves, and with the promise of beer beckoning across that soft deadly sand he slowly gets on the XT and we head for the coast.

Myl 108!!! The trailer trash heaven for trailer trash junkies. It’s a startling transition, moving from baking red rocky welwitshia filled desert to suddenly feeling the cold breeze drifting in from the Atlantic and then about 5 kms from the coast entering a cold and grey mist the temperature plummeting from around 44 to 12 degrees. We find our beers and stare unbelievingly at the campers who build tent cities in this grey windy sandblasted beach and fish away their annual 4 weeks of leave!

Category: Namibia, TRIP REPORTS

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