Helmeringhausen - Fish
- Ai Ais
Thanks to not having to pack up my tent we actually did not
get away too late! The sunrise was absolutely spectacular and it reminded me of
the typical pics one always sees of a sunrise or sunset of the Namib Desert
The slightly overcast sky gave us a little relief from the
sun for the time being. We were riding through hills and small mountains that
gave the whole area a feeling of closeness, yet beyond that one could see more
of it in the distance, making you realise the vastness of this country.
|Making cuppa soup for lunch|
|This guy was supposed to regulate traffic, but rather spent his time begging money off motorists.|
He caused a huge truck to come our direction when it was our right of way on the one-way traffic lane, 2kms in.
We were forced off the road onto wet tar where roadworks were in progress.
After riding some tar for a while we were back on the gravel
roads, discovering that the Fish
and Ai Ais were way further than I thought! Due to unforeseen circumstances in South Africa
we decided to cut out the wild horses at Aus and also the Canon Roadhouse,
trying to get back home 2 days earlier. Yet we wanted to see the Fish River
and even the
Roadhouse, so we were pushing a little to get as much as possible fit into this
|These trucks tyres are pumped - still get used?|
Some amazing old cars
We hit some really bad spots, where the corrugated stretches
could have been easier if one took it a little faster. Unfortunately there were
potholes and unforeseen stretches of sand that would take us down if approach
them too fast, not to mention damaging the bikes. So we were forced to go a
little slower, making it a long stretch and many hours in the saddle.
But boy, was it worth it? This day must have been one of my
highlights, for several reasons.
I had no idea what to expect at the Canon Roadhouse. Arriving
there, we were met by loads of old cars and trucks, all placed either next to,
between or even in plants, flowers and trees. Even a really old motorcycle!
Unfortunately we were pressed for time and could not stay too long.
|Refueling at Canon Lodge|
|A quick break and picyure-taking-opportunity|
|Petrol pumps with a roof|
|Our first view of the Fish River Canyon|
Once we got to the “entrance” of the Fish River Canyon
, we discovered we had to pay R60 each to go and look. Being late as it was, not to mention pretty knackered, we almost opted for not going in. Then decided since we have come this far and I might never get to this country again, lets just do it. And thanks heavens we did!!
|The visitors centre at the main viewpoint|
|The other side of the canyon - behind us|
I have no words to describe the magnitude and awesomeness of
that sight when I looked down into the canyon. Pics cannot do it justice. I
just know I am a very very small speck in the order of things around this
country. The canyon deep below with crevices, rocks and riverbeds is forming
something so absolutely stunning, that I could just stand in awe and absorb.
|As close as I would dare|
|The road going to another view site |
|A plato down below|
|Looking up at our bikes from where we climbed down|
Our feet at the edge of the canyon
Minus the helmet cam for the wide angle view, I took a short
video clip with my cell phone. For sure not great quality, but at least one can
have a small idea of what I'm witnessing. This is also my first attempt at
video editing with content from my cell, so please be impressed.
From the canyon we had to make our way to Ai Ais, more than
50kms away – and I thought it was something like 12kms! Needless to say it was
getting late and the sun started dipping behind some of the mountains.
We were in a nature reserve and have been warned to not go
too fast due to wild animals roaming all over, so in spite of trying to go at a
slower speed, we were well aware of how dangerous it would be if we were to
still be on these roads once it became dark. Not the best of roads, we picked
and dodged our way between potholes, sand and loose gravel.
|THIS is THE spot. Read why!|
On our way to the hot
springs a Gemsbok had suddenly crossed the road in
front of us and as I slowed down to have a better look at this magnificent
creature standing right next to the road. My attention was drawn to movement on
my right. A second buck also wanted to cross and I was obviously in the way. As
he was running next to the bike, I slammed on brakes. Fast (brilliant actually)
emergency braking brought me to a standstill within metres as he almost jumped
me off the bike when trying to leap across the road. He passed less than 3
metres in front of me. He was so close I could see the hair of his coat!!
Thanks John and Peter for teaching me the emergency breaking, it probably saved
my life today! I had to take a moment to recover and try and breathe
again. The Gemsbok is my favourite buck
and this was a horrific and terrifying yet thrilling experience I will always
|Gemsbok (Oryx) - like the one I almost kissed!|
Now (obviously) going much slower, we got to see the sun set
behind the breathtaking mountain ranges. Every turn we took was a different or
more stunning view than the previous one. Although my heart was still thumping,
I had an inexplicable feeling of euphoria as I took in the views and scenery.
The last stretch was through the very mountains I had been admiring all along,
with the soft glow of the setting sun highlighting the rugged rocks and
|Into the mountain ranges|
We arrived at Ai Ais hot water springs with the last rays of
the fading light. Although we were pretty knackered, the tents went up fast and
we later went and introduced ourselves to our neighbours, mentioning to them
that Ai Ais had no meat to buy! A braai grid had been lugged along for almost
4000kms now and we had still not been able to use it - plus I would be
delighted for some protein!! Just as we sat down with our pasta, the guy comes
over with a plate full of meat! Steak, sausage and ribs!! Enough to feed an
army! Says his fridge door came off and he was going to lose the meat if he
doesn't cook it. Toni was still declining the offer as I put the first piece of
meat into my mouth. NO WAY was I saying no to this offer! The little Italian
can eat huge amounts and we finished the pasta AND all of the meat! Obviously
the full stomachs were pulling the eyelids southwards… We barely made it back
to the tents, almost crawling back from the bathrooms.
|Ai Ais at last|
Dog tired but exhilarated and satiated. What a day! I will
be dreaming of Canyons and leaping Gemsbok all night long. And meat! Yep… just
what the Dr ordered!
|Cliffs in the late sunlight|