Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Namibia Pt.1 – Windhoek to Sossusvlei
Cycling from Windhoek to Sossuvlei, Namibia in 5 days. Embarking from the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek, heads up on tarred road of the C26, before pedaling through the scenic arid terrain that sealant its magic until the infamous salt pan, Sossusvlei.
This tour – Cycling from Windhoek to Sossuvlei, Namibia, we shared for whose into challenge. A journey of 313 km long that is embarking from the capital city of Namibia, heads up on the tarred road of the C26, before pedaling through the scenic arid terrain that sealant its magic until the infamous salt pan, Sossusvlei. But wait! Windhoek? Namibia? Where is it, exactly?
Where is Namibia?
Africa is a huge continent that – unfortunate as it may be – is still somewhat ignored by the international community. For those who aren’t sure, Namibia is located on the southwest coast of Africa. It is bordered by South Africa in the south, Angola to the north, Botswana to the east, and Zambia in the northeast.
Mostly arid, the spectacular landscape resembles Mars, with vast expanses of rocky mountains and canyons, vast orange and white sand dunes, and empty savanas, while the rugged Atlantic coastline is one of the most treacherous in the world. Hence, this route is the first part of our cycling and sketching adventure in Namibia that we did from September 2019, a few months before the pandemic of Covid-19 breakout.
Namibia by Bicycles
How to get there?
This route started on Windhoek, which has an International Airport – Hosea Kutako International Airport. As the airport is on the outskirt of the city, I recommend you get a taxi will be less hassle than mounting your bike and cycling to the city due it’s still around 40 km (depends on where will you stay).
If you decided to start pedaling from the airport, you may put a day extra into this route as it’s about 40 km away from the city (depends on where will you stay). Or just get a taxi up to town and safe the energy for days ahead.
As the starting point of this route, it’s recommended to explore around Windhoek before you hit the road. Despite the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek is in contrast to what you are used to from capital cities, it is comparatively small. It is much quieter and more relaxed than you would expect from a capital city.
Additionally, Windhoek is the best place to stock up for the days ahead. There will also be not many places nor options to get what you need in the future of this route.
As soon as you are leaving Windhoek, the scenery change to arid scenes. It ́s pretty dry and dusty everywhere. Enjoy to the fullest the tarred road of the C26 that stretches 20 km long before it turns into the vast emptiness, towards the crumpled folds of the Namibian desert. If your wheels aren’t plus tires or less than 2.4″ like ours, what you can do is lower the tire pressure to get a better grip on the sandy path.
Not for long after you are leaving the manmade constructions, you will see some baboons on the trees next to the road. Don’t worry about them because they will not do anything unless they feel threatened. Don’t forget to take some snaps of them since you may not see them again. Instead, you will see other wildlife along the route.
Once you reach km 14, prepare yourself for the first climb and the longest in this route – 360 meters in 9 km, with 9% of inclination (max). However, this climb isn’t something you have to worry about since the mighty heat will remain strong until 6 pm. Which, nothing to do with temperature during the day.
After Gollschau, you will turn to the left on D1265 road. This path is smaller than C26 and even more, fewer cars pass. Yet, it will lead you to a beautiful pass called Spreetshoogte pass. It ́s known as the steepest pass in Namibia with gradients between 16-22% and descending almost 1,000 m within 4 km of road. As it has a narrow road, please keep focus to keep the danger to a minimum.
Enjoy the vast scenic view of the Namib desert from the top of the Spreetshoogte pass. You deserve to let the breeze easy your body and rid your sore legs aside while filling your eyes with the redish palettes of the Savana.
Continuing onwards about 211 km cycling on a corrugated track, you will turn left on C14 road for 20 km before you reach Solitaire. As you reach this point, you will see more 4×4 cars and trucks loaded with tourists. Solitaire is not a village. it is a small stop area between Windhoek and Sossusvlei or Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay. This place has a gas station, a post office, a general store, a small luxury lodge, and a bakery. A true oasis for travelers. Hence, stock up while you can!
Sesriem is the finish point of this route which is also the gate of the infamous salt pan Sossuvlei. It is a small settlement that has a little shop on the gas station where you can stock up. Also, here is from where we went back to Solitaire on the same route before we continued on to Swakopmund via C14 which creates a 681 km (423 miles), 10-14 days of the venture.
Sossusvlei sure isn’t a cheap place to go. Because of its location, there are some restrictions such as neither motorbike nor bicycle can go inside the park. It ́s also not allowed to camp inside the park. While the iconic dunes and the deadvlei are still 60 km away from Sesriem.
You won’t avoid the forever shift in shape and hue of the dunes. Forms and reforms their contours by the wind, while their color changes from ochre to burnished orange to fiery red over the course of the day. The constant cobalt blue sky is in contrast to the blazing tones of the sand. The centerpiece is the shriveled weird white pan of Deadvlei where skeletal trees – some hundreds of years old, dot the cracked clay floor. The scene is nothing short of otherworldly.
Watch our travel documentary of Namibia
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- The capital city of Namibia, Windhoek
- Spreetshoogte pass: The steepest pass in Namibia – 1.780 m (around 5839 foot)
- Solitaire: A small settlement, yet an oasis for a traveler
- Sossusvlei: Salt pan