In spite of the fact that we are almost more than 50 years into decimalisation the reference to ‘miles’ still persist today along the “West Coast Recreational Area” of Namibia. This area has recently (2010) been proclaimed as the Dorob National Park. This was done to create a balance between servicing the tourism market and conserving the environment. Motorised vehicles have now been restricted to protect the more delicate part of the park such as riverbeds and the vast Namib Plains. Of special interest closer to the coast you would find the unique phenomenon of symbiosis of a fungus and an alga (Lichens) living on the coastal fog and this forms curious patterns on rocks throughout the area.
The endangered Damara tern is indigenous to Namibia and breeds in the dunes and gravel plains. Incorporated in the Dorob park is the Walvis Bay Lagoon area and in winter as many as 70 000 to 100 000 birds representing some 40 to 50 species call this area home. The Welwitchia Mirabilus plant contributes also to the uniqueness and very interesting destinations and features of this area. Welwitschia mirabilis is endemic to the Namib Desert within Namibia and Angola and is one of the more bizarre plants on the planet. These plants are slow growing and can live to be 2000 years old!! .
The coastal fog and the Benquella Sea current contribute to a very moderate climate. The area is a prime location for rock and surf angling and anglers and 4×4 enthusiasts enjoy this huge playground. Unlike the neighbouring RSA it is not illegal to drive on the beach, but it is however not only the fishing and driving on the beach that contributes to all the fun. Venturing “off-road” into the Namib, you would discover “miles and miles” of virtually unspoiled desert giving you the opportunity to appreciate the quite, peace and beauty of this desolate area. In order to prevent indiscriminate driving various access roads have been constructed towards the various fishing spots and formal 4×4 routes were approved offering unique opportunities. Amongst others the Omaruru River 4×4 and Messum Crater 4×4 Routes came to mind.
Over the years the popular fishing destinations were named by the distance from Swakopmund; such as Mile 14, Mile 72 and Mile 108 and a very popular pub in Henties Bay is still is known as mile 50! Some of the fishing spots earned names like “Sarah se Gat”, “Bennie se Rooi Lorrie” and many more. These are all well known (even on Tracks4Africa) and are today still very popular.
At the campsites at Jakkals Putz, Mile 108 and Torra Bay one would find, (especially during the Christmas Holiday season) extensive tented setups. The campers would, beforehand, come down in preparation for the holidays and erect a ‘tented camp’, that would include a ‘main bed room’ and various other ‘rooms’, including a kitchen, dining room and even servant quarters. They would then stay at the coast for the period in luxury befitting an Arab Sheik!
Alternatively Langstrand, Swakopmund, Henties Bay, Wlotzkasbaken over the years became more and more popular as the ideal location for a holiday home – the proverbial ‘huisie by die see’.
But… the fun does not stop there!
Within a short distance and couple of hours drive you would find very exciting destinations, amongst others; the Spitzkoppe, Messum Craterand the Brandberg. To the south you have the Namib Naukluft Park and the Namib Sand Sea, to the east, Damaraland with its various exciting 4×4 destinations – home to the Desert Elephant and Rhinos and a variety of other wildlife. To the North, the Skeleton Coast Park and even further to the North East – Kaokoland!
In the more remote areas and 4×4 trials it is recommended to venture into the area only in well organised and knowledgeable groups off at least in more than 2 to 3 vehicles since breakdowns might prove to be fatal should you not have the necessary support. Apart from the stretch from Walvis Bay to Sandwhich Harbour the Namib Sand Sea is out off bounds to general public and not accessible other than to join organised trips such as the Luderitz – Walvis Bay or Faces of the Namib adventures (see Leisure wheels 4×4 safaris) as part of your visit to this unique and beautiful area along the Coast of Namibia!
After returning from a 4×4 trip it is recommended that apart from the obvious cleaning of vehicle, checking filters and all camping equipment one should also take the time to do a proper inspection of your vehicle. Not only checking for the obvious like possible tyre damage, damage to the more exposed vehicle parts like steering rods, driveshaft’s etc., but also to go to the trouble to get the vehicle jacked up and inspecting the ‘out off sight’ parts off the vehicle. On a recent return from the Brazzaville Congo this proved to be worthwhile as due to the extremely bad roads some minor damage occurred . In this regard I must really congratulate Nissan and in particular Willie Badenhorst at Pupkewitz Nissan in Walvis Bay who went the ‘extra mile’ and repaired this free of charge. We are once again ‘good as new’ and ready to Patrol!