Cycling from River to River – Namibia
Part Two – Hammerstein Lodge – Uis (589 km – 5 days)
Map data: Google
Part One – Cycling from Sendelings Drift to Hammerstein can be found here
Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei Turnoff
Heading north from our overnight stop at Hammerstein Lodge took me past the turn off to the major tourist attractions of Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei, resulting in a lot more traffic, with the inevitable increase in fine dust that hung in the still air long enough for me to worry about my visibility to following vehicles. Although the shouted greetings and words of encouragement from passing tourists were enjoyable, the dust was not!
The desert scenery was, as always, enthralling in its starkness and the campsite at Weltevrede Guest Farm presented us with a mesmerizing sunset to end the day.
The little settlement of Solitaire
From Weltevrede the road took us past the little settlement of Solitaire which is used as a stopover by many tourists visiting Sesriem and Sossusvlei and is deservedly renowned for the quality of the apple pie on offer. The restaurant, surprisingly big for such a small settlement, is surrounded by a collection of wrecked cars.
Tropic of Capricorn and mechanical troubles
A little further north we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by a sign that has been plastered with stickers over the years.
Shortly before reaching the Gaub Pass I had the first mechanical problem with my bike. I found it more and more difficult to make headway in spite of the flat road and when I stopped to investigate, I found that the back disc brake was binding. After trying various ways to resolve this, I removed the brake pads completely which solved the problem but left me with front brakes only. As luck would have it, this was just before the quite hazardous descent down the pass to the Gaub River. Steep descent, loose gravel covering the road and front brake only. Interesting!
Replacing the brakes and smooth cycling
Fortuitously, we had planned to spend two nights in Walvis Bay, taking a break from cycling and enjoying the birds on the magnificent seaside, and this gave me an opportunity to replace the back brake without a delay to the planned schedule.
The road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund is tarred and runs along the coast, with dunes on one side and the ocean on the other, and carries a large volume of fast-moving traffic. From Swakopmund the road to Henties Bay is a “salt road” which is as hard and smooth as tar. With less traffic and a fairly strong tailwind, this was a very enjoyable stretch to cycle. The road goes past the colourful holiday settlement of Wlotzkasbaken, and further on past the wreck of the Zeila, a fishing vessel that apparently washed ashore after breaking loose while being towed to a scrapyard.
From Henties Bay we left the Skeleton Coast and headed north-east to the small town of Uis, located at the foot of the Brandberg Mountains and quite close to the famous “The White Lady” rock painting. This stretch of road offered distant views of the Spitzkoppe as well as magnificent stretches of desert scenery. The campsite at the Brandberg Rest Camp in the little village of Uis was comfortable and provided all the amenities we had come to expect in this wonderful country.
Part Three – Cycling from Uis to Ruacana will follow shortly