Destination Info: NAMIBIA A-Z
Birds & Wildlife, Climate,
Cultures, Deserts & Landscapes,
Extraordinary Experiences, Environment, Geology, Health, History, Infrastructure,
Money Matters, Museums & Galleries, National Parks - Wildlife
Peace Parks, Nature Conservation,
Regions & Towns, Self-drive,
South Atlantic Ocean,
Southern African Neighbours, Sports,
World Heritage Sites and
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Fischersbrunn, consisting of a few wind-swept wooden huts, was
erected many years ago by the Angling Club and used by the Ministry
of Fisheries. As Venus rose first as the brightest evening star next
to a sickle moon, we set up camp in the shelter of the huts.
After refuelling all our petrol tanks to the brim, we also filled up
our water canisters with fresh water provided by the well nearby. At
Fischersbrunn, the Tsauchab River finds its way through the desert
underground towards the sea. Although the water was a little murky,
it was perfectly usable for dishwashing and even coffee.
At Meob Bay, only a few kilometres away, there is also an airfield
with a runway well marked with dark rocks and a lonely wind sock. We
were delighted to see the remnants of two old surf boats, lying in
the desert sand. These boats were once used to transport passengers
and goods ashore, during the early pioneering period of diamond
mining between 1896 and 1914. These boats were in use along the
entire Atlantic Ocean coast, from Swakopmund all the way south
to the Sperrgebiet (the "Prohibited Area") and the mining
towns, as far as Bogenfels. There is a project underway to restore
these last two historic boats under the auspices of the National
Heritage Council and the Windhoek Underwater Club. Also being
restored is the last remaining prefabricated wooden hut, which
served as accommodation for the Transport Manager of the Namaqua
Diamonds Company, during the 1920s. The small ‘museum’ sports a few
artefacts of early diamond prospecting in the former Diamond Area 2.
we carried on through a barren countryside resembling a lunar
landscape, I tried to imagine the hardships endured by the early
pioneers and local inhabitants who had to brave these harsh desert
conditions. A little further along our route, we came across
remnants of a horse carriage; a strange sight in the middle of
no-where. We also noticed many heaps of basalt rocks, which used to
mark the individual mining claims. Another 77 km further north of
Meob Bay, 20 km inland from the shore, we arrived at Grillenberg,
where deteriorating items of mining activities as well as a few
ramshackle huts are still visible. Some of the artefacts provided us
with eerie photographic scenes. There was a small caterpillar, some
iron sieves, other hand operated mining equipment, a few horse
carriages and 100-year-old glass bottles, all of which slowly but
surely are being covered by desert sands.
From here, we turned north-east to travel into virgin dune landscape
again, which required skilful driving manoeuvres and good
discipline. As we negotiated dunes of a scary 150 m or so in
height, I bowed to the capability of the cars and drivers. Whenever
my thoughts started drifting towards ‘what if…’, it turned out that
we would manage yet another dicey stretch and would get over yet
another dune slip face. Although our recovery rope had to be used a
few times that day, we made good progress. We often encountered
‘roaring' dunes’ and a few petrified ones as well.
In this immense dune landscape, communication between the cars with
the help of 2-way radios is absolutely essential, as drivers need to
follow instructions from the guide in the lead vehicle as well as
often have to depend on his knowledge to navigate solely by GPS.
With tyres deflated to 0.8 and everyone on an adrenaline high, we
managed to cover a total of 141 km (including 14 km of dune
driving), before we set up camp in between dunes for a last night in
we negotiated one high dune after the other and drivers' skills were
honed to perfection, we carried on through the Namib Naukluft Park
towards the Tsondab Plains and the Elim Dune. We drove around dried
out pans and over grass covered hills, which was especially hard on
the vehicles but rewarded passengers with many sightings of oryx
antelopes, bat eared foxes and springboks. In the last afternoon
light, we arrived in the tiny settlement of Solitaire, situated
approx. 80 km north of Sesriem, on our last drops of petrol and
looking forward to our first proper shower in days. We were sad but
also in a way glad to be back in civilization safe and sound, after
a 1400 km exploration trip into pristine and uninhabited territory.
On a general note:
The Namib Desert
provides unique thrills and poses many personal challenges to any
serious all-wheel-drive enthusiast.
vehicle are getting highly stressed during such an adventurous
off-road trip and good planning is essential.
Fuel consumption will differ between vehicle types but an average of
350 litres have to be assumed on this trip, from/to Windhoek.
lead vehicle was well equipped with all kinds of recovery gear,
however, it was likewise important for participants with own 4x4's
to have come equipped with spare parts and essentials, as
advised beforehand. Each vehicles should preferably also be fitted
with front & rear tow-rope points and carry a high-lift jack.
vehicles and diesel engines are not suited for heavy dune
the list of essentials is fairly short in comparison:
Luggage should be limited to approx. 10-15 kg in a soft bag plus
camera equipment in a small extra bag (protect your camera against
sand and moisture!); your own drinks (not only alcoholic); torch &
batteries (head lamps are ideal); nibbles, your favourite coffee
mug, sun-protection items, wet-wipes come in handy, your personal
medicine, toiletries & towels. If preferred, participants are
welcome to bring their own sleeping bags, stretchers, pillows and
& Permit issues:
Ensure that your
tour operator is in possession of all necessary permits - in our
case, the operator carried the documentation required for a
concession area, for the Namib-Naukluft-Park, and for angling.
Participants should be expected to make use of a chemical toilet,
with toilet paper either to be taken home in refuse bags or to be
When you travel in such a pristine environment as the Namib Desert,
please leave only footprints behind!
information, contact the author by email: