Overlanding in 2023: Part 6 (Etosha to Rehoboth farm)

Etosha Pan + Damaraland + Brandberg to Rehoboth bush camp via Swakopmund. This part of our journey was the section we looked forward to the most and did not disappoint us! Once again Ivan Napoleon travelled up to meet us at Gerus campsite, South of Etosha Anderson Gate, this time travelling alone. Our early drive from Gerus brought us to Okaukuejo camp, where elephant and rhino were present at the fantastic camp waterhole. We settled in to a much improved campsite, with daily game drives followed by lengthy viewing around the waterhole. The 3rd day had 41 elephants at one time, followed by 5 rhino. Good value!

Our next stop was at Kamanjab, where we made friends with quite a few travellers at this overlanders stop. Leaving there we ventured onto the outstanding Otjiheka Trail heading towards Sesfontein. A truly wonderful route which has deteriorated since being documented by Johan Snyman. The mountain pass caught us out, with loose gravel between rough rocks which needed to be shovelled out to get the trailer clear. Then the descent was extremely narrow through a rock wall and the left-hand cliff edge. However, all went well, and our first wild campsite there was super.

The next day saw us at Ongonga [previously Warmquelle], where the many visitors dipped in the warm spring pond. Then on to Sesfontein en route to the Ganamub Trail, for our next wild camp experience, after needing a tow out of thick sand. Next day we moved through this favourite route to join the Hoanib riverbed route, which offered fewer elephants than our previous 2 visits. We camped 2 nights down where the Ganias Plains route intersects, and Ivan and Viv hiked around to explore the Western point. Then moving back towards Crowthers Trail for our next wild camp, we had elephant walking right through our riverbank site without us waking up.

Crowthers is a fairly hard back route to Palmwag, and we split it by wild camping halfway, before a 5-night well-earned break. There we were able to catch up with wi-fi friends, laundry, refuelling etc., as well as belatedly celebrating Mary`s birthday the day before arrival.

Our journey from Palmwag to Swakopmund was taken from Johan Snyman`s Damaraland Route 2, and each day produced unexpected and spectacular areas which would otherwise have been missed. [Thanks to Johan, ex-club member and author]. After an unusual road to the Petrified Forest, we joined a seldom-used mountain track which took us through outstanding balancing rock formations not seen from the main gravel roads. Then on past the Burned Mountain we wild camped out of sight of the track in full-moon conditions, and warm nights. The next day we were led through a lengthy gorge of outstanding beauty, and into the Guntagab riverbed, where we stopped for another quiet and spectacular night. The next day our target was the Brandberg White Lady Campsite, and once again we were delighted with Snyman`s route through unusual gorges and riverbeds just North of our campsite. Still in hot weather on 4 – 6th July! Swimming, and once again catching up with life, we truly enjoyed the break.

Leaving there we stopped at the Orabes Falls, where Ivan and Viv hiked up the gorge, turning back after noting that the river was dry. We travelled past Elephant Rock to a desert canyon for the night, then on to Cape Cross to view the seal colony. Then for our last wild camping stop, we drove inland to the rose quartz, mica and old Strathmore tin mines before joining the new Uis Mine tar road to Swakopmund.

Alte Brucke campsite offered us all mod comms, which went some way to ease the strong East wind conditions which had started the previous day. On our outbound route through Walvis Bay, we were delayed by a sand storm, and bulldozers clearing the dune which had covered the road overnight. Then on the busy Solitaire road we experienced Sand Rain! With little wind the traffic was throwing up clouds of sand, which rained down, obscuring vision and dumping hard clouds of sand onto all vehicles. This slowed us down to a crawl, and our windscreens were sandblasted! After we turned off towards Rehoboth we were amazed at the Gamsberg Pass, which climbed up the C26.

Our destination for our final nights was John & Lana Zulch`s new game farm, where they are building a campsite. Just back from Kenya they arrived the next day to show us around the development, which is about 30 km from Rehoboth tar road. Ivan joined us on a recce of the farm, which already has giraffe, sable antelopes and more, in addition to the cattle which are being raised. The initial camp facilities will include an ablution facility and braai area, and 3 thatch bomas for tent camps. A nearby waterhole is planned within view of campsites, and this venue certainly deserves the full support of club members and friends. The five of us enjoyed a braai in the shelter of the buildings, and we bid farewell to Ivan, who as always had been a wonderful and resourceful travel companion, who had been amazed at the beauty of the special routes travelled on this trip.

We now have only 1 month of our 7 month trip before returning to Cape Town.

Viv & Mary