A scenic drive, an unusual campsite and Sesriem Canyon

We all know the traveller’s saying of “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”, but when that journey consists of a long, boring drive with a monotonous landscape and nothing that visually excites you, you just wish to get to that destination. Well…the road from Aus to Sesriem is nothing like that! We could feast our eyes on a  landscape that changed between vast open sandy plains, dark rocky mountains and our first sighting of the red dunes of the Namib Naukluft Park. We were also spoiled with regular sightings of oryx, springbok, zebra and ostrich.

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When driving the D707 you follow the border of the Namib Naukluft Park for a short distance. So you have the red sand dunes to the west and the Tiras Mountains to the east, which make for some truly spectacular scenery. Here we also encountered a large herd of oryx and we spent some time observing these elegant animals in their natural environment.

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 If you travel further with the C27 from Betta to Sesriem, you drive through the Namib Rand Nature Reserve and here you have the Nubib Mountains to the east. We really didn’t expect the south of Namibia to be so mountainous so we were pleasantly surprised by this.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, the only place where we booked accommodation in advance was at Sesriem since we wanted to stay inside the Namib Naukluft Park. Now Namibia is nothing like South Africa where you can find a town every 100km’s or so and have lots of accommodation options. In Namibia the distances are great and the towns few in-between. So even though Sesriem is indicated as a town on the map, it is nothing more than the entrance gate to the park, a fuel station and a lodge or two. There are only two camping sites, Sesriem Campsite inside the park and Sossus Oasis Campsite just outside the park next to the fuel station. So when we arrived a day earlier than what we booked for, we were informed that Sesriem Campsite was fully booked and we couldn’t check in earlier. We decided to try our luck at Sossus Oasis Campsite across the road, but were unsuccessful again. Luckily for us, the warm Namibian hospitality kicked in and Uncle Willie from the Oasis fuel station offered us a spot next to the fuel station shop. It was already late afternoon so he didn’t want us to drive many kilometers further to find accommodation just to return the next day . The staff were so friendly and they even supplied us with a ‘braaier’ and electricity! This is also where Ayla made some new friends again.

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The Sossus Oasis Campsite in the background

The next morning we moved over to Sesriem Campsite and we decided to explore Sesriem Canyon. Approximately 5km from the entrance gate to the Namib Naukluft Park you will find the parking area from where you can walk down into the canyon. The canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River over millions of years and it has rock pools of which some contain water even in the dry season. As you explore the canyon you will see some interesting rock formations and crevices in the canyon walls and at some places the opening in the canyon roof is very narrow. Sesriem Canyon got its name from Afrikaans explorers who had to tie six (ses) leather straps (riem) together to make a rope long enough to lower buckets into the canyon to get water for their animals.

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