For breakfast we got served great pancakes and spoke to a young couple from South Africa who had moved to an area a little bit upstream (about 25 km) of the Kunene River. They were missioning and trying to help the Himbas in not getting completely run over by civilisation and many of its bad "consequences" like alcohol for instance. They had no regular income, but used their own savings and were partly sponsored by their church and friends. Pretty impressive!
It was a bit surprising that we were charged a hefty NAD 200 for the transfer to the airstrip. It hadn't been brought to our attention that this service costs extra (now it's on the web-site). After a little discussion on that subject we got it reduced to 100 - still not ok, I think, but here in Namibia you have to pay everytime you move a little finger. Africa is a lot more expensive than I had expected it to be.
There is a road along the river from the Lodge to Epupa Falls, but it is particularily bad and can not be recommended, not even with a Land Rover. Our dutch-courage guys had to take south-bound detour. With a plane however ...
... it takes less than 30 minutes to get to Epupa Falls along the river. A nice flight and scenery that not many people get to see. We circled the falls a few times and then tracked along the road back towards Opuwo. We were wondering if we were going to spot Mirjam and here two boys on their way to the falls?
Just when we were about to give up and leave the road we noticed a blue Land Rover. Can't be to many of those we figured - and sure enough it was them. We waved each other good bye from a distance, took the mandatory pictures and continued our respective journeys.
Since Opuwo is the only place with AvGas in the north-west of Nambiba we went back there, refuelled, bought some supplies (water and food) and proceeded west-bound towards the Skeleton Coast after having checked that the weather was sufficient for the rest of our planned route that day.
We tried to find another Yann Arthus Bertrand spot ("Himba Village"), but the coordinates are to unprecise or the village has disappeared - which very well could be.
The area is extremely remote. If we had to make a forced landing here we would have a hard time getting help - we probably should have filed a flight plan after all. This way several weeks could pass before somebody notices us missing.
At first we weren't able to see the Atlantic Ocean, because of a funny weather phenomenon I haven't seen before but which apparently is quite common here. We hadn't noticed one single cloud all day, but the coastline was completely covered in, well, still don't know whether to call it clouds or mist. It looked like normal clouds, but the base lowered the closer one got towards the sea until it actually touched the water.
We flew very low, sandwiched between the sand dunes and the clouds and tried to get further out towards the actual coast-line in order to get a glimpse of the water (no idea why this was important, but at that time it seemed to - maybe just an excuse to fly low ;-), but it couldn't be done. I used the carburator heat quite often that day.
Further south we noticed the Möwe Bay landing strip completely and totally isolated. A loensome hangar in the middle of absolutely nowehere. We could have landed (looked like a nice strip actually), but just immagine anything had gone wrong - Linda was probably still bearing the Maun landing in mind - that wouldn't have been healthy! There is nobody out here, not even on the radio. Nobody expecting us anywhere. The first person to miss us would probably have been "CC", when we hadn't returned the plane as agreed about four weeks later. Still nobody would have known where to search for us. The area is huge. Our 25 liters of water would possibly to have been enough.
So we continued further south towards Terrace Bay where we intended to land and stay overnight although we hadn't been able to get a hold of anybody there earlier when we had tried to call a number that was published in our air-strip guide. Also these low clouds could dash our hopes for a landing.
Well, the clouds weren't the problem, but the fact that we couldn't find the landing strip at Terrace Bay put an end to the plan of landing there. The place is purely for mining. We couldn't spot anything that remotely looked fit for accomodation. After orbitting the area a couple of times we continued further south towards Torra Bay.
Torra Bay however was completely covered in clouds. No way we could have landed there. We were getting tired of trying to find something along the coast under these weather conditions and were running low on adequate landing strips anyway so we decided to go to Twyfelfontein further inland.
Twyfelfontein had no clouds, but a pretty heafty sidewind which led to a landing I wouldn't call my best - but definitely not my worst either ;-)
The temperature differences we had experienced today were remarkable. Just 50km difference and inland versus coast means about 15 degrees. Here in Twyfelfontein it was much warmer again.
As usual we had circled the lodge as a signal to get picked up, but apparently nobody there got that. I was already considering starting up the engine again in order to do another orbit of Twyfelfontein and possibly dropping a big rock through their roof to get their attention, but just then a guy came out to the strip by coincidence - he was actually expecting to pick up somebody else.
Whilst still choking on the price for a double at the lodge (NAD 1200) we decided to get driven to the nearby campe site instead. The lodge was fully booked anyway, not that that had made any difference, but it eases ones mind a little when you know there was no other option after all.
The camp site seemed a little dodgy at first. The service personnel wasn't particularily friendly to say the least. Getting food and in particular agreeing on when to get it was a major issue. However, the worst thing was the wind. The sand is very fine. Even though we closed the tent there was a fine layer of sand covering everything when we went to bed later that evening.
Before dinner finally was served (guys, one chicken wing per person is not exactly much) we went for a short hike and watched the beautiful sunset.