Thursday, December 20, 2007

Travelogue > Namiba: Keetmanshoop-Lüderitz-Diaz Point-Lüderitz-Keetmanshoop

Jase and I are on a road trip in Namibia. This is his first time in Africa. I'm attempting to blog daily (thanks to a mini PC that Vye has lent to me for testing purposes) but I don't have Internet access set up so I will be backposting the entries to the correct date when I can. My digital camera died a few days ago so most of the photos on this trip have been taken with a Nokia N82, which Nokia kindly lent me for testing purposes.

Today we rolled out of bed at the ridiculous hour of 8:30, and were on the road an hour later (having made a brief stop to photograph the Keetmanshoop Museum) ... until I realised I'd forgotten to fill up the tank. After some quick calculations at 140 kilometres an hour we ascertained that we wouldn't quite make it to Lüderitz, 350 kilometres away, with what was left and weren't sure of what we might (or might not) encounter on the way there. So we turned around and headed back to Keetmanshoop. How embarrassing.

Except, actually, no one knew except us and guy on the side of the road who kept thumbing everyone for a lift, who we kept passing.

A few minutes later we were on the road again, this time better prepared. To make up time I drove a little faster than normal under the speed limit and, not counting a little dune touristy time about 15 kilometres from Lüderitz, we made it there in two and a half hours.

Unfortunately about half an hour into the trip the Nokia N82 died, because I had neglected to charge it the night before (I learnt a little lesson there), so I was left with my Pentax film camera and Jase's camera as the Official Instruments Of Documenting and therefore my picture collection for the day is a little sparse.

My main interest in visiting Lüderitz was to see the Kolmanskop ghost town 10 kilometres out of town but you need a permit because Namdeb somewhat owns the region and doesn't like people finding and taking its diamonds at random in the desert. We didn't know how to get a permit and the police station could do no better than point us to the tourist information office on Bizmarck Street, which turned out to be a curio shop with some tourist info pamphlets and a knowledgeable proprietor. (The proper Tourist Info place is at the Lüderitz Waterfront, should you wish to visit it.)

Long story short you can accompany one of the two morning guided tours (second one leaves at 10:00) for N$40 and take photos or you can buy a N$125 permit and go yourself at any other time before sunset. It being lunch time we had missed the tours and would have had to have paid a fortune so we decided against it (I am nevertheless disappointed and will now have to return and stay over at Lüderitz in order to be around in time for the tours, although next time perhaps I will remember to take a fully charged photographic device with me, to capture the colourful architecture of Lüderitz). Instead I strongarmed Jase into a visit to Diaz Point so that I could relive my standard 3 (grade 5) history classes concerning Bartholomew Diaz in some sort of pilgrimage. He didn't really care but had to accompany me as I had the car keys.

On the way there we stopped off at Lüderitz' cemetery, which, among other things, has graves of South African military personnel who died in 1914-1918 during the war. The graveyard is situated on hard layers of bedrock and we watched some cemetery workers digging new graves with jack hammers, which I found rather fascinating.

While we were there we also met a group of dodgy guys in a Citi Golf who were taking an unnatural interest in my "economical" Toyota. It just took it as it came and smiled politely until Jase reminded me that there about nine of them and two of us.

So then we jumped in the car and drove around in small circles admiring architecture we were unintentionally passing until we eventually figured out where the start of the gravel road was that leads to Diaz Point, which is part of the Diamond Coast Recreational Area, although there are still signs all over warning you to stay on the road, or else, so I don't know what's so recreational about thinly veiled threats to one's life.

Anyway, we stopped at the Second Lagoon Wetland to take photos of the flamingos and then continued on until we found Diaz Point. There's a lighthouse there, as well as a coffee shop that sells drinks, oysters, and cake. We had cake and took a breather to write postcards and not be in the car. I had a lovely chat with the proprietor who said that they have been buying the land around the coffee shop and will be building accommodation so that visitors can stay the night, either in comfortable B&B style or at the camp site.

Then it was on to the cross, and we timed it perfectly between a group of faux macho, manly tourists in a 4x4 that had been driving all over the area as if it was in the Dakar Rally and a busload of ageing European Tourists. (I definitely spotted Germans - they were wearing their Official German Tourist Outfits of safari hats, moonbags, and shorts...and they were speaking German.) The cross isn't that exciting and is covered in guano but the view of the sea from the top of the hill is magnificent and crossing the rickety bridge made out of crumbling wooden planks that are no longer securely fastened is quite an experience.

We then drove back to Lüderitz in search of an early dinner before the trek back to Keetmanshoop. We drove around a bit and began to fear that perhaps it didn't have any because we nearly passed right through the town without spotting one, but after we doubled back and peered more closely at the Lüderitz Waterfront we realised there was one there, called Ritzis Seafood Restaurant.

Jase had freaked me out about the guys at the cemetery so much that we ended up picking a table with a view of the parking lot across the road, where I had parked, rather than with a view of the harbour, as I was now fearing that everyone in Namibia wanted to hijack my car. (It is an awesome car!)

There weren't many vegetarian options on the menu so I picked a vegetarian pizza (rather than the baked potato, my other choice), and it turned out to be very good. I also experienced a moment of inappropriately animated excitement when I found out that they had Fanta Pineapple, much to the amusement of the waitress, and that was damn good too!

The sun began to set and We left just after 8pm, filled up the car, and headed back to Keetmanshoop on the B4. Sadly, as with our journey earlier in the day, we didn't see any of the famous wild horses in the desert near Lüderitz, although it got dark quite quickly so there was nothing to stare at but the glow of the radio on the dashboard and the headlight haze on the road in front of us.

When we got to Keetmanshoop we decided to stick to our pre-trip rule of staying at a different place every night, so we followed signs along dusty roads to "La Rochelle B&B". Though it was late, they happily accommodated us in their remaining room and we settled in for the night.

Stats For The Day
Distance covered: 771.05 kilometres.
Driving time: Roughly six hours.
Music tracks played: 70.

Extra Flickr Photos: [1][2][3][4]



Blogger JP.Brouard said...

Hey just popping by to say thanks for adding my page to your link list :)

Have a great Monday


Monday, February 25, 2008 8:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps all the local cars had already been hijacked, so your Toyota was "fresh meat".

Monday, February 25, 2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...

JP: Found it, like it, added it!

kyknoord: Possibly. There are only about 12 cars in Lüderitz and at least seven are Toyotas so, you know...

Monday, February 25, 2008 1:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Jolene (Open Africa) said...

I love Namibia, I grew up in a small little town called Oranjemund (closed diamond mining town). I live in Cape Town now. Just a suggestion, if you are interested in exploring more of Namibia - also check out the small town of Rosh Pinah and surrounds. It is located in a beautiful setting and has an extremely interesting history... Not a ghost town, still a mining town that is active.. but many interesting stories, things to see and learn about and it's more off the beaten track. Visit and search for 'Nama Padloper Route'. This should give you some interesting info!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...

jolelne: Ok, well, I'll ignore the fact that you're blatantly advertising on my blog :)

I went to high school and college with a number of people from Oranjemund so I know all about it, although I haven't been there yet.

I will definitely check out your site. I have three (I think) more Nambia blog posts to get up, so keep checking back if you are interested (best thing to do is sign up to one of the RSS feeds).

I have every intention of returning to Nambia to explore places I haven't yet been to, so I will look into Rosh Pinah. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous victorian inn bed and breakfast said...

This is a great destination to visit with loads of wonderful recreation attractions for the whole family and the best place for archaeological wonders for sure.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...

Ok American B&B. You're not even on the same continent (do you know that?!) so get your blatant advertising off my lawn!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010 12:06:00 PM  

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