Saturday, 22 August 2009

Swakopmund to Namib-Naukluft Park and Kulala Desert lodge.

The Desert Express moved very slowly from Windhoek towards Swakopmund, I think it pulled into a siding for the night as I slept well for most of the night, waking as the train started to move at around 05.30. The view outside of the carriage window was rather startling, thick fog. Fog is a common phenomenon in Swakopmund. This town is situated where the Namib Desert meets the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the destinations in the Namibian interior, Swakopmund usually has quite cool weather. The town has a temperate climate where the average temperature is between 15˚C and 25˚C year round. It hardly ever rains in Swakopmund, but there is often fog brought from the sea by the wind.
After breakfast, a member of the crew took us out into the desert to climb Dune 7. From the top of Dune 7 you can see the desert on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side.
The climb was easy, and possibly easier as it was not hot and the moisture from the fog made the sand very firm . We climbed to the top.
But due to the fog could not see the Ocean, we did however get a good view of the train in the desert, and coming back down the dunes was great fun. As we descended the fog was starting to clear, and by the time we pulled into Swakopmund station, 10 minutes from dune 7, it was bright sunshine.
We arrived in Swakopmund at 10.00, and it was about 15 minutes to get the car off the train, then we hit the road, heading towards the Namib- Naukluft Park. http://www.namibweb.com/naukluft.htm I had envisaged this to be a drive through the lifeless, arid desert......how wrong I was. Firstly the road was gravel, but almost as good as a tar road and with no traffic on it.The desert was amazing! It changed constantly, starting off flat with a little bit of grass growing, we soon entered the green Kuiseb Canyon, and soon after this drove over a range of limestone hills. We constantly saw Springbok and Ostrich, and very soon reached the 'town' of Solitaire. we stopped here to fill up with petrol and have some of the 'best Apfelstrudel in Africa'...it was delicious.
We drove on and the scenery just got better and better, it was one of the most stunning and colorful landscapes I have driven through, the colours ranging from Violets to Bright Oranges and Caramel Browns. My camera could not do the scenery Justice. We saw a surprising amount of wild game, mainly Springbok, but we also saw Gemsbok.
Our stop for the next two nights was The Kulala Desert lodge. I have posted photos on Trip Advisor
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g479221-d678173-Reviews-Kulala_Desert_Lodge-Namib_Naukluft_Park.html
We pulled into The Kulala Desert lodge just as the sun was starting to set, the lodge is set in such large grounds that the drive from the gate to the lodge was very long, but we made it before it got dark. The accommodation at the lodge was just like the pictures on Trip Advisor, and the view from our tent towards the world larges sand dunes was spectacular...I couldn't wait until the next day to explore the dunes.