Namaqualand, West Coast

20 Aug

The track opened up to the Atlantic Ocean and Lamberts Bay, a fishing village. Not the most attractive town but it does have a big potato factory on the wharf (but again, they don’t have public tours through this factory either ☹).

There is a big bird colony past the wharf, you can pay to go out to see. We declined as we imagined it was all birds, stench and getting shat on. Instead, we were entertained by a seal in the harbour waving / cooling itself.

We had an average to ok seafood dinner in town, was hoping for better from a fishing village.

IMG_2958The only thing we found worthwhile in this town was the seafood buffet experience at Muisbosskerm Restaurant (Mouse bush shelter). The restaurant is basically a stylish, open air shelter on the beach: walls made of mouse bush, the sand floors neatly raked, not much in the way of ceiling, cool furniture made from single slabs of stone or cross sections of tree trunks, no cutlery available, only mussel shells to use. We started with fish biltong, then approx. 6 separate fish variety, paella, stews, fresh bread, crayfish. Ergh, so full….

Observation to date: All seafood (actually all food for that matter) seems to be cooked very well (done) over here.

Continuing north along the coast, the next village was Doringbaai. This village has a Winery on the wharf; (the grapes come from their coastal vineyards nearby) where we had lunch and topped up our mini wine cellar.

The seafood lunch was just edible to really bad; but the location was utterly stunning as our lunch was served in a private room, with 360 deg views, right at the end of the jetty.

When moving on, and out of Doringbaai, a Land Rover convoy was going past. We pulled out and slotted in a gap in the middle of it. We scanned our CB channels but could not pick them up (turns out they use AM, and unfortunately we ditched our AM radio about 8 years ago after UHF became the norm and AM phased out in Oz).

We thought we looked the part, but apparently the extra car caused a bit of commotion over the airwaves. We continued as if part of their convoy until they turned off to do a sidetrack, and we went straight on into Strandfontein to camp.

Strandfontein has nice campsites overlooking the big swells but it is also a bit exposed to the wind. The waves were coming in from a long way and it was blowing side on (thought – this could be a good, tho cold, windsurfing beach). The tap water tastes good here so we filled up our tanks.

The campsite was quiet and peaceful, being offseason. We set up camp, and were quietly settling in when in comes the convoy. Suddenly we were surrounded by 15 LRs from the Cape Land Rover Club. Normally it would have been an invasion, but being LR we were now camping with a bunch of friends.

Next morning we said goodbye to our new friends. There was the possibility that we might bump into each other along the way as we were going to be covering similar route and areas, but we assumed we travelled slowly as we tend to stop and hang out at anything that takes our fancy.

We left them and continued up the amazing coastline along 4wd tracks. The conditions must be ideal for mussel growing, as there were beaches and beaches, made entirely of mussel shells. Instead of banks of sand, there were massive banks of mussel shells, some 3 meters high from the low tide water. The locals used to burn the shells to make lime for cement.

DSC_6771We were lucky to be in Namaqualand at the beginning of the wild flower season.

It is illegal to drive on the beaches so we camped in the dunes, our neighbours being some mice in the mouse bush and some seals down on the rocks.

Next day was another late start after mooching around the rocks and marvelling at the incredible amount of mussels.

We drove past lagoons with Flamingos. Funny birds, when flying they’re all neck and legs, when sleeping, they look like a helmet on a stick.

Two meerkat jumped out and raced along the track in front of us, then stood at their hole and stared at us as we went by. Other animals to date were ostrich, whale, dolphin, deer.

The sand gets really soft in places and following a track can send you into soft deep sand or down the bottom of a hill with the only exit being back up the soft, deep sand track. All a bit of fun, but if not 4WD experienced and you get yourself stuck then you could be waiting a while before some assistance passes by.

DSC_6881By mid afternoon, we ran up the back of the LR convoy again. They had just finished extracting a car out of deep sand (even with so many competent drivers, it still took them 45 mins). We stopped for a late lunch where they presented us with a club sticker and made us honorary members of the Cape LR club; what wonderful surprise!

We found ourselves camping together again; and they invite us to join them for the rest of their trip into the Richtersveld. This area was in Frankie’s plan, however the club was meeting with a member who had access to areas ordinarily closed and knowledge of many unmapped tracks, so we joined them for the next 5 days.

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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Africa, South Africa


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