Part 2: Namibia Bike Trip - Aus
Luderitz and surrounds would be a day-trip for us. After an early breakfast, we sped down the quiet tar road - splitting the Namib-Naukluft on the right and the Sperrgebiet on the left. Our first taste of the cold West Coast air dropped the temperature right down to 16 C. It was bloody cold. Against my principles I switched on the heated grips to defrost the icy mitts - this is Namibia for crying out loud!
Our first stop would be Kolmanskop Ghost Mining town. For some reason, we were under the impression that a permit could only be acquired from the Info centre in town. This proved to be wrong as permits can also be bought directly from the guard at the entrance gate to Kolmanskop. So the 30 odd km's roundtrip turned out to be a 'scenic' drive.
Luderitz clad in a misty coat seems to bear some signs of ageing. Some old, big empty buildings glared at us with dark windows. In between the 'Gambling House' and the OK Bazaar we found a typical small town with typical Saturday morning activities playing out. This was clearly no great tourist attraction. The new 'waterfront' area is a definite attempt to make things a bit more commercial. It doesn't really work as most of the little shops were either empty or closed.
Kolmanskop - what an eerie place! The once elegant town where luxury goods were abundant and a life of comfort was led by hundreds is now haunted by wind and shrouded in shifting sand. Frayed strands of electric wire hang from the walls of dilapidated houses; dusty globes swing from the ceilings pushed by the relentless desert wind.
We did the obligatory guided tour together with some oddly dressed tourists (they probably said the same about us) after which we scouted the buildings at our own pace.
It was the craziest thing to see something now so derelict and think that it once was a lively little haven of German culture, offering entertainment and recreation to suit the requirements of the affluent colonialists. In a way, it's a stark reminder of our fallibility as humans. We can surround ourselves with whatever luxuries we believe is necessary. But in no way can the future be guaranteed.
Believing we could go for a leisurely lunch and thereafter pick up some supplies we set off towards Luderitz. As an afterthought, we stopped at the Spar to check until what time they're open.
Oh boy! It was Saturday mayhem and the shop closes in 20 minutes! And we need supplies for THREE days! I truly wish that I had an action cam strapped to my head that day to capture the chaos that I experienced in that shop! Once again we had the same predicament when needing some supplies in a larger town. The state of security' outside most shops and filling stations leaves much to be desired and inevitably one of us has to always stay with the bike. The bad part is that I am the cook and unfortunately one can not always guarantee the availability of produce - so advance planning goes out the window and impromptu meal options need to be conjured up.
On that note, I must add that we were surprised and somewhat taken aback by the amount of pestering and begging we encountered in Namibia. You can hardly stop anywhere inside a town without being harassed. Whether at a filling station or a shop. Even INSIDE some places! I was accosted twice inside a shop as well as once inside a restaurant. In Mariental I was asked for money by SEVEN people while waiting outside OK Bazaar on a Sunday morning for about 15 minutes. It was the same wherever we went - with the exception of Swakopmund.
After lunch, we had a ride around - checking out Shark Island amongst others (not a breath of wind by the way) and slowly made our way back towards Aus. Thirty or so km's before Aus we took a sandy track to the lookout at the watering point for the feral horses of the Namib.
We found no horses there but after just a couple of minutes some were trooping in from all directions. We suspect they spotted the only green (the bike) for miles and came running in hope! Eventually, we had about a dozen or so horses right in front of us prancing around. A little jackal tried his luck squeezing past them for a quick drink. What a sight! We could almost not get ourselves to leave.
Distance for the day: 300km's
Part 4 - Aus to Duwisib Castle