Since we still had well over half a tank of diesel left we bypassed the Engen at Sesriem and turned onto the C19 towards the small settlement that is Solitaire about an hour away. The dirt road was no better (or worse) than the road down to Kulala and after 10-15 minutes you get used to the shaking of the vehicle and settle into a routine of finding the smoothest part of the road, happy in the knowledge that this wasn’t my car taking the beating. Remember – to arrive safely, rather than early is a good rule of thumb in Namibia.
Solitaire is like an outback town from Mad Max with the (not-rusting) stripped bodies of several classic and veteran cars and trucks sitting on the deck around the entrance to the settlement. The petrol station offered a Germanic looking bakery, a coffee shop/café and a tyre replacement service (with another Toyota Fortuner being re-shod) – definitely hire a second spare. We filled up and drove the short distance to the junction with the C14, the road that was going to take us right across the Namib-Naukluft Desert into the port of Walvis Bay, on the Atlantic Coast, just south of Swakopmund. The GPS indicated the turn but we were not prepared for its next announcement –
“after 205kms, take the third exit at the round-about”. 205 kms!!
The drive took us over one of the bleakest places I have ever driven through; when you think of a desert you immediately think ‘sand’. Not in this case. This part of the Namib is rock, cut through with canyons where rivers ran many millennia ago – it’s a dramatic and starkly beautiful landscape. Greenery was a rare sight.