Day Trip – Windhoek to Walvis Bay Via Back Roads
Map of the route on the way to Walvis Bay.
On a whim we decided to drive to Walvis Bay to collect a bucket of clam shells for Luc’s aquarium. It turned out to be the most fabulous day. We felt as if we had gone away for the weekend, even though we were only away for just under 14 hours.
Luc and I love taking back roads in Namibia. It reinforces the remoteness of the country because we rarely meet any traffic. In fact, on this trip we didn’t meet one single vehicle while driving to Walvis Bay and back, except for on the C14 which is the highway between Walvis Bay and Sesriem. And we only met maybe 10 vehicles on the C14. What a GREAT day!!!
We left Windhoek on the C24 that travels past Daan Viljoen and then took the D1412, a very rural route through cattle country. You’ll need to pick up a good map to find the District Roads listed. If you book your trip through our friends at Infinite Horizons, they’ll give you a copy of the Namibian Roads Authority map which is excellent.
The district roads always have cattle gates that you need to pass through. There were at least 10 cattle gates on this one stretch. It is critical that you shut the gate again, properly, when traveling these roads, to respect the farmers’ grazing areas for their cattle.
The route shows some green, but it belies the lack of rain we’ve been experiencing. In a couple of months the farmers will have a more critical situation with their livestock not having enough water and grazing area.
Do not travel the back roads without a 4×4 vehicle. While these District Roads were surprisingly well maintained, if there is rain, the roads can wash out in areas and get a bit rough. In fact, if there is a lot of rain, the road will most likely be impassable since the Kuiseb river flows across it about one third of the way down its length, and there is no bridge so you’d need to drive through the river.
So, we reached Walvis Bay at 1330 and collected a large bucket full of clam shells off the shore by the yachting club. Then we ate lunch at Lyon de Sable on the waterfront. Forgot to take pictures and then we also went and forgot the camera at the restaurant, but the wonderful young owner ran it out to our vehicle. As the name of the restaurant indicates, it is French. The food was good.
Map of the route on the way back to Windhoek.
We left Walvis Bay at 1600, after filling up with fuel, and headed back to Windhoek. We took a different route back. We started out on the C14.
We drove through the Kuiseb Canyon which once was the refuge for German Henno Martin, his friend Hermann, and their dog Otto, during World War II when Namibia was rounding up all German nationals and putting them in prisoner of war camps. They lived off the land, with a gun, some bullets, their car (which they camouflaged and used only to move camp), and a few supplies. Henno and Hermann managed to avoid detection for over two years (if my memory serves me), but ended up surrendering when Hermann fell very sick. They were imprisoned for two days and then sent to the infirmary where Hermann recovered. At their court hearing they were forced to pay many small fines, including one for not having a dog license, but after a friend lent them the money they were free to go. In fact, since they were clearly not a threat, shortly before the end of World War II they were hired by the government as geologists. Henno Martin’s autobiography of the experience, The Sheltering Desert, is an excellent read. I poured through it the first year I moved to Namibia.
Shortly after passing through the Kuiseb Canyon, we turned east (left) on the C26 and headed down a fairly flat road for the first few kilometers, with small farms situated along the side of the road and signs for various lodges located in the mountains and surrounding area. There were cattle on the road every so often. When we reached the Gamsberg Pass, we were in awe at the beauty. We were there as the sun was beginning to set.
We saw a sign and road on the left for a place called the Hakos Guest Farm. We could see the place up on a hill, far in the distance. It looked great and we plan to return and stay there one night.
We arrived home at 2115. It was a laid back, nature-filled day, that felt like a full weekend, and well-worth the hours.