In spite of the fact that we are 50 years into decimalisation, the reference to “miles” persists along the “West Coast Recreational Area” of Namibia, which was proclaimed the Dorob National Park in 2010. This was done to create a balance between meeting the needs of the tourism industry and conserving the environment, says Eben Delport.
Incorporated into Namibia’s newly-proclaimed Dorob National Park is the Walvis Bay lagoon area. In winter, as many as 70 000 to 100 000 birds, representing some 40 to 50 species, call this place home.
The welwitchia plant also contributes to the park’s unique attractions and the very interesting features of this area. Welwitschias are endemic to the Namib Desert, stretching into southern Angola. These peculiar plants are slow growing and can live for 2000 years.
The coastal fog and the Benguela current contribute to the coastline’s very moderate climate. The area is a prime location for rock and surf angling, and 4×4 enthusiasts who enjoy this huge playground. Unlike SA, Namibia has not banned driving on the beach, and it is not only the fishermen and beach drivers who have the fun. If you venture off-road into the Namib, you will find “miles and miles” of virtually unspoiled desert, where you can appreciate the quiet, peace and beauty of this desolate area.
In a bid to prevent indiscriminate driving over the gravel areas, various access roads have been built, leading to fishing spots, and formal 4×4 routes offer marvellous opportunities to test your 4×4’s capabilities. These include the Omaruru River and Messum Crater 4×4 routes.
Over the years the more popular fishing spots were initially named by their distance from Swakopmund, such as Mile 14, Mile 72 and Mile 108, and a very popular pub in Henties Bay is still known as Mile 50.
Some of the fishing spots have earned names like Sarah se Gat, Bennie se Rooi Lorrie and many more. These names are well known (even on Tracks4Africa) and very popular.
At the campsites at Jakkals Putz, Mile 108 and Torra Bay, one finds extensive tented set-ups during the Christmas holiday season. Campers erect virtual tent houses that include a main bedroom and various other rooms, a kitchen, diningroom and even servants’ quarters. The comfort and luxury that some of these campers create would be the envy of an Arab sheik!
On the other hand, places such as Langstrand, Swakopmund, Henties Bay and Wlotzkasbaken have become more and more popular as ideal locations for a holiday home – the proverbial huisie by die see.
Within a couple of hours’ drive you will find exciting destinations for visitors, such as the Spitzkoppe, Messum Crater and the Brandberg. To the south you have the Namib Naukluft Park and the Namib Sand Sea; to the east, Damaraland with its various 4×4 destinations – home to the desert elephant, rhinos and a variety of other wildlife. To the north is the Skeleton Coast Park and even further, to the north-east, is Kaokoland.
In the more remote areas and on 4×4 trails, it is recommended that travellers venture into the area only in well organised, guided groups of at least two or three vehicles. Breakdowns can prove fatal should you not have the necessary support.
Apart from the stretch from Walvis Bay to Sandwich Harbour, the Namib Sand Sea is out of bounds to the general public and not accessible unless visited through an organised tour group such as Uri Adventures. The “Luderitz to Walvis Bay” or “Faces of the Namib Adventures” (see Leisure Wheels 4×4 Safaris) are some of the tours available to this unique and beautiful area along the coast of Namibia.
After returning from a 4×4 trip, it is recommended that, apart from the obvious cleaning of the vehicle and the checking of filters and all camping equipment, that one should take the time to do a proper inspection. And I don’t mean just checking for possible damage to tyres and the more exposed parts such as steering rods and drive shafts. Go to the trouble of getting the vehicle jacked up so that out of the way areas can be thoroughly examined.
On my return from the Brazzaville Congo trip, this proved to be very worthwhile, since some damage had been caused to the chassis of the Patrol by the extremely bad roads. The saddle holding the coil spring at the rear had started to tear from the chassis.
In this regard, I must thank Nissan and in particular Willie Badenhorst at Pupkewitz Nissan, Walvis Bay, who have gone the “extra mile” for me and repaired the damage free of charge. We are once again “good as new” and ready to Patrol!