Day Trip – Windhoek to Walvis Bay Via Back Roads

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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!!!

Back road to Walvis Bay, through the property of several farms

Back road to Walvis Bay, through the property of several farms

 

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.

Cattle on D1982. We drove slowly so as not to spook them; they're stressed enough with the lack of rain.

Cattle on D1982. We drove slowly so as not to spook them; they’re stressed enough with the lack of rain.

Cattle gates along the route.  There were at least 10.

Cattle gates along the route. There were at least 10.

This is about as rough as the road got along the way.  If we had received the usual amount of rain, the roads might have more ruts and rough spots.

This is about as rough as the road got along the way. If we had received the usual amount of rain, the roads might have more ruts and rough spots.

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.

At the top of a hill, we came across a stunning view of the area

At the top of a hill, we came across a stunning view of the area

We reached the end of D1412, and the junction with 1982.  We are about to travel through the Us Pass.

We reached the end of D1412, and the junction with 1982. We are about to travel through the Us Pass.

The Us Pass is beautiful.  Drive cautiously around the bends as these roads have no side rails, anywhere, no matter how steep the drop.

The Us Pass is beautiful. Drive cautiously around the bends as these roads have no side rails, anywhere, no matter how steep the drop.

The Us Pass winds through the mountains to the coast.  Stunning views.

The Us Pass is quite windy. Stunning views.

The landscape gets drier and flatter once we leave the Us Pass.

The landscape gets drier and flatter once we leave the Us Pass.

We are nearing the dunes.  This rocky outcrop is on highway C14, about 20 km outside of Walvis Bay

We are nearing the dunes. This rocky outcrop is on highway C14, about 20 km outside of Walvis Bay

On the C14 Highway to Walvis Bay.  Very dry and hot here.  But, it will begin to cool down as we near the coast.

On the C14 Highway to Walvis Bay. Very dry and hot here. But, it will begin to cool down as we near the coast.

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.
lyon-des-sable

 

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 could see rain clouds in the distance but unfortunately there seemed to be very little rain.

We could see rain clouds in the distance but unfortunately there seemed to be very little rain.

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.

The Kuiseb Canyon, where German Henno Martin, his friend and dog hid for more than two years during World War II, to avoid being imprisoned in a prisoner of war camp in Namibia.  There were no roads back then and the land is unforgiving.

The Kuiseb Canyon, where German Henno Martin, his friend and dog hid for more than two years during World War II, to avoid being imprisoned in a prisoner of war camp in Namibia. There were no roads back then and the land is unforgiving.

The Kuiseb Canyon, on the C14 to Sesriem

The Kuiseb Canyon, on the C14 to Sesriem

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.

Highway C26, through the Gamsburg Pass.  Stunning environment

Highway C26, through the Gamsburg Pass. Stunning environment

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.

Highway C26 through the Gamsberg Pass.  It looks green, but there has been little rain this year and some of the cattle looked very skinny

Highway C26 through the Gamsberg Pass. It looks green, but there has been little rain this year and some of the cattle we saw along the way looked very skinny

Through the Gamsberg Pass, on the C26

Through the Gamsberg Pass, on the C26

Beyond the Gamsberg Pass.  The elevation is a lot higher and the land flattens out

Beyond the Gamsberg Pass. The elevation is a lot higher and the land flattens out

One and a half hours outside of Windhoek.  Just before the sun set.

One and a half hours outside of Windhoek. Just before the sun set.

We arrived home at 2115. It was a laid back, nature-filled day, that felt like a full weekend, and well-worth the hours.

2 comments


  • [...] One of our friends, Dee, writes a blog about her road trips in Namibia and about daily life here.  She and her husband love to take the back roads, so this is a great source of information if you want to try something off the beaten track.  Check it out!!  One Week Road Trip to the Namib and Luderitz. [...]

    March 19, 2013
  • Stephanie

    Love this Article Danette! I would love to be able to do these types of road trips. Such great information and I am intrigued by the book “The Sheltering Desert”.

    June 30, 2013

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