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April 8, 2013 / samwilson60

The scenic route to Sossusvlei

After an even more beautiful drive inland, we turned onto our selected minor road south and before we were out of sight of the junction, we stumbled across the perfect camp – wonderfully picturesque, entirely free, in the shade of a giant rock. We couldn’t believe our luck and still had a good few hours of daylight in which to start the silhouettes of our recent sightings in Etosha. Thanks to the mammals of Africa book Martyn and Ellie gave us, we also worked out that we’d seen a pangolin in Gabon, but as it had been hanging like a trophy on the side of the road, it sadly doesn’t get a spot on the window (live, wild sightings only).

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That evening we watched the most beautiful thunderstorm to date, and that night it did cross our path, but the morning was dry and as relaxing as the previous evening. We set off feeling great, not really knowing what to expect of the day. The aim was simply to enjoy the scenery and make it a step closer to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. By the time we’d made camp that night, we’d covered some 300km, scaled two mountain passes, passed next to no other vehicles and seen an array of wildlife that would rival a good day in Etosha: countless springboks and oryx (neither as good at jumping fences as you’d think), a giraffe (also made a meal of the fence), a handful of hartebeest, a few wildebeest, numerous zebras and rabbits, five warthogs, a dozen or so baboons and some token horses, goats and cattle.

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We made camp in a slightly less secluded spot than the last, just the far side of our second mountain pass, still without another soul in sight. The sky was just cloudy enough to make up for the limited shade and, at around 1,500m up, the wind was refreshingly cool.

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The next day we made it to the outskirts of the Namib desert park with high hopes of an affordable camp outside the gates and an early morning dash into the dunes, before the bus tours arrived. Much to our surprise, and not before we’d almost given up and gone off to camp wild, we discovered that to camp inside the park cost about half as much as the campsites just outside, even when you take into account the park fees. Thankfully we discovered this before skipping town for the night. By camping inside, we got to do some washing (just in time for the rain), then watch the sun set from atop a small dune before heading further into the desert for sunrise the following morning.

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We were slightly dismayed when we got up at some ungodly hour, hoping to beat the crowds and have sunrise all to ourselves. The whole campsite was already a hive of activity and although we were the first at ‘our’ sunrise dune, we were not alone for long…

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We left them to it and had the roadside all to ourselves as the sun crept over the horizon…

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Once the sun was up, we drove as far as you could to find a beautiful dune overlooking some equally picturesque mud flats. It was just us and the odd oryx – perfect – but soon the sun was out in full force and we had to escape back to into the shade.

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One Comment

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  1. leelee / Apr 8 2013 8:53 pm

    a pangolin! what a shame it was dead though – i’ve never seen a live one. not even in captivity (have seen a few taxidermied ones though…) Awesome! The name of the company we launched last year is called Pangolin 🙂

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