We left Sossusvlei this morning after a leisurely breakfast. We really did enjoy (in case you missed that from the previous blogs) our time at Sossusvlei. The night sky there is incredible. They have a skylight above your bed that you can look up from your bed and see the stars. And the sky at night is covered with them. The NamibRand Nature Reserve (in which the lodge is situated) has recently been declared an ‘International Dark Sky’ location. In order to get this you have to comply with a number of requirements including only having outside lights that don’t affect your night vision. The reserve was the first place in Africa to comply with the requirements and at the time it was awarded the status it was the only one in the world with Gold Status. I simply don’t remember seeing a sky so full of stars as it was last night.
We left at about 10am and continued heading south, this time heading until we eventually hit the tar road at Aus before turning west to Luderitz. The roads were gravel roads until we hit the main tar road to Luderitz. About 300 kms of gravel roads. They were generally in very good condition though and at times we were able to drive 120 km/h even on the roads. It is incredible how they manage to produce gravel roads almost as good as the tar roads. There is pretty much nothing in the way of towns between Sossusvlei and Luderitz. We stopped at Aus thinking we might but lunch and met up again with our travel buddies – the Beigers. They had been staying elsewhere since Etosha though we had been at Sossusvlei yesterday together (and had seen each other).
The road from Aus to Luderitz is stark. It really is how you expect a desert to look. As you approach Luderitz the landscape starts to look ‘lunar’ in rock formations with the sand in between. About 10 kms outside of Luderitz is Kolmanskop which is a ghost town that was abandoned in 1954 and now is fighting against the encroachment of the desert. We plan to visit it tomorrow am so I won’t blog more about it now. We arrived in Luderitz at 2:15pm and Helen immediately asked if we could change our reservation from 2 nights to 1 night! If Kolmanskop is a ghost town then parts of Luderitz are exactly the same. Our GPS was directing us down a small gravel road to get to our hotel which I thought was clearly wrong but it turned out to be correct. The town is half deserted and so could easily be confused with Kolmanskop itself. It is a start contrast of one building being used and the very next building next to it being abandoned and derelict. It is quite bizarre. One of friends called it Ludecrous and another called it Looseritz. I think Helen has asked 3 times already about shortening our stay!
We are staying at (without a doubt) the best building in town – Luderitz Nest Hotel (http://www.nesthotel.com/). It is a nice, good quality hotel and is right (and I mean right) on the sea. As I type this I can hear the sea lapping against the building. All rooms have a view over the sea. Just a quick look out of the window managed to secure another 4 birds for the trip. We went for a drive around town and to do some more birding later in the afternoon. We discovered that there really is only one other restaurant (besides the one at our hotel) in town and when we tried to book tonight for ourselves and the Beigers, they told us it was already fully booked and only outside was available. Given it is about 12 degrees C with a wind chill factor there was no ways outside was an option. We drove around the whole of Luderitz (probably twice) and didn’t find anything of note. We then headed south down the coast to see what else we could find bird wise and did eventually also see another lifer (Common Whimbrel – for Paul) today (now up to 127 for the trip).
We settled on having supper in our hotel along with all the German tourists staying here as well. The quality was quite good (it bettered my expectations) and it was topped off by a freshly prepared Crepe Suzette for Stephen and I as desert. They made the sauce and flambeed it from scratch. I last had them down like that for my 21st birthday at a restaurant in Cape Town! First time my kids have seen it done. And they tasted really good as well.
S (because he had Oysters for the first time today in his life followed by sharing Crepe Suzette’s with me followed by resolved by internet Wifi issues at the hotel), M (because he too tried an Oyster), P, C & H (because she keeps asking whether we cut our stay down to 1 night only)