Entrance to Le Mirage

As the crow flies, the distance between Swakopmund and Luderitz is about 450kms but one can only go this route along the coast if part of a safari tour. We had to travel the long way around which was 800kms. We decided to do this trip over 4 days stopping at both Le Mirage Lodge near Sossuvlei/Sesriem and then at Klein-Aus-Vista.

Entrance to Le Mirage

Le Mirage Lodge

On the way to Le Mirage we again stopped at Solitaire, the little town with the restaurant which makes divine apple crumble. On the way there we crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn, another milestone of our visits to Namibia. For some reason I do not recall seeing the sign when we travelled from Fish River Canyon to Gobabis a few years earlier.

 V T having apple crumble

Eating Apple Crumble at Solitaire

Vicky Trevor at sign for Solitaire

Entrance to Solitaire which records the growing population on the little board below (97)

On the way to Le Mirage we stopped at Sossuvlei/Sesriem once again. This time we first stopped at Dune 9 and another smaller dune both of which Lyn and Trevor climbed while I explored the surrounding area. From there we went to an area known as Dead Vlei, a dry section which is covered with dead trees. In a way I was reminded of Lake Kariba where the dead trunks of trees stand out of the water but here it was bone dry. There was an eerie feel to the place but it was beautiful to see the different colours of the dunes and the vlei.

 T almost at the top

Trevor approaches the top of a dune

V T at ent to Sossusvlei

Trevor & Vicky at entrance to Deadvlei

Lyn Vicky at Deadvlei

Vicky & Lyn on a dead tree trunk in Deadvlei

We continued on to the Lodge which was quite beautiful. This is a Resort and Spa which looks like a castle architecturally and stands proud alone in the desert. It is about 20kms from the Sesriem Gate to Sossusvlei and is the only lodge accommodation in such proximity to the Vlei. The layout is quite unusual in that the rooms are in separate but connected ‘towers’ set around the swimming pool. On returning to Sossusvlei the next morning we found it flooded even more than when first visited 3 years earlier from heavy rains in the North.

Le Mirage pool area

Pool area

 During our second visit it had been bone dry so we had seen it in all possible conditions. This time we were unable to get to the far side dunes which we had climbed before. We sat under the trees for lunch and Lyn & Trevor once again enjoyed feeding the Cape Sparrows but this time they were not too keen to sit on their hands or arms.

Folding petrified dunes

Range of petrified dunes on road to Klein-Aus-Vista

The next morning saw us on the road to Klein-Aus-Vista, a truly beautiful drive and we were very relaxed totally unaware of what we to experience over the next few days. On arrival I agreed to walk to our chalets so as to be able to direct them when they brought the car around as the chalets were on a hill with winding roads. Accommodation located I waited at the corner. I waited and waited and waited!!! Finally they came around the corner and up the hill having been delayed due to having to change a flat tyre.

Our chalet up on a hill at KAV

Our chalets at Klein-Aus-Vista

We unpacked and then went out on a sunset drive not to see wildlife but to appreciate the beauty of the landscape as the sun set. We stopped and drank our sundowners on the side of a dune – very sophisticated setup with a folding pine table, a beautiful platter of finger snacks and wine, juice or other soft drink. There were just the 3 of us but there was enough for at least 10! The sunset made up for the very bumpy drive.

Sunset while having sundowners

Sunset over the dunes

Moon above the golden duneThe moon hovers over petrified dunes

Next morning we left with no idea of what lay before us. It was going to be a long day! What should have been a 2 hour drive became 6 hours to travel 128kms! It was a very exhausting day in the hot and dry desert. Our first stop on this road was a scheduled one – to see the wild desert horses, something of which I had not heard before. Their actual origin has not been confirmed but there are 2 possible theories, 

Wild horses having final drink

Wild horses at the watering hole

The first is that during WW1 the Germans made a surprise attack on the Union of South Africa troops who were stationed at Garub and the noise of the bombs frightened the horses, causing them to flee. The other, more likely, scenario is that they were bred as work horses for the Diamond Mines in the Luderitz area and when that came to an end they were released into the desert. Considering the harsh conditions with negligible grazing and water they have adapted amazingly well. They discovered where to find grazing and the watering hole where we were able to see them.

Wild horse rolls in the sand

The horses roll in the sand to dispose of the sand fleas and other insects

Besides the horses there were a number of birds, Oryx and Zebra and it was fascinating to watch how each group would wait for the others to have a drink before moving in for themselves.

Oryx witing to drink

Oryx drink wait

Oryx ostrich at watering holeOryx and Ostrich at the watering hole

Approximately an hour later we continued on the long, straight road to Luderitz but after travelling another 60kms Lyn heard a click, click in the engine and then the car lost all power. Trevor noticed that the car had overheated and so we had to stop. It was hot, it was dry and there was not another vehicle nor any residence in sight. What happened next on this long and quiet road was close to unbelievable.

Road to LuderitzThe road to Luderitz