Day 19 – driving, dust, and a mountaintop lodge

Luckily today we had a later start in the morning – 8:30 on the truck. Had another lovely omelette for breakfast and grabbed our bags. I was a bit tired from the night before; up late chatting on wifi and packing all the clean laundry!
Today was for driving through the Damaraland region – 450 km. Driving driving driving. Dusty dirt roads that blended into their surroundings so much that Misheck says in a bit of wind you are essentially following the power lines or a fence line and hoping you’re still on the road! We ate a LOT of dust and were pretty tired of the hot truck by the end of the day!

We stopped to see a shipwreck on skeleton coast and bought some gemstones from the vendors hovering there. I thought I was “supporting the locals.” I guess I was… but I certainly did NOT expect the guy selling polished rocks from a cardboard tray to drive away in a Mercedes with personalized plates!!!

Stopped for lunch in a little dusty town somewhere. Jess and I had the “usual” toasted ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich – hold the tomato. Grant had chicken fingers. Alexandra amazed us all by finishing her entire meal and everyone’s leftovers AND several apples and a banana afterwards. The kid is roughly the same size as Jessica! Guess there’s a growth spurt coming up!

There were guys wandering around beside the truck selling gemstones… Directly beside the sign on the outside of the restaurant saying that it was illegal to sell them without a licence. Pretty stones are EVERYWHERE here- I picked up a piece of rose quartz just along the side of the road at a photo stop! 

The afternoon scenery improved dramatically as we neared our mountaintop destination at Ugab Terrace Lodge. We began to see beautiful mountain ranges, green riverbeds, and hot dry valleys. We passed by the mountain with all the famous bushmen rock paintings but we didn’t have enough time to go see them. Boo. I SO wanted to see the white lady but this tour didn’t go near enough. I had been vaguely hoping I might find an alternate way to get there but the hike to see the painting is apparently a couple of hours so I gave up knowing we just didn’t have enough time even if I could get there.

We arrived at the bottom of the mountain and transferred into a smaller truck for the journey to the lodge. WOW was it steep. I couldn’t believe the little truck could make that kind of ascent fully loaded with eight or nine of us and our hand luggage!! 

The lodge itself was WONDERFUL! It was located atop a mountain with individual cabins ranged out across two different cliff tops; the lodge footprint is in the shape of a scorpion. Each group of cabins either had a spectacular sunrise or sunset view. They had a three tier pool with a waterfall that the girls were busy investigating within moments. The dining room, patio, and bar all had an amazing view of the cliffs and unique “finger” rock formations across the valley. We could hike out along a ridge for spectacular views of both the lodge and the cliffs opposite. There was even a small waterhole we could watch for game and birdbath a and feeders dotted round to tempt the birds closer. Stupendous. 

We spent a comfortable evening admiring the view and hiking along the ridge to admire the view from a different vantage point. The girls swam for a little bit and we all had a BBQ buffet dinner. 

Couldn’t unpack much because we were leaving first thing in the morning. One night stops sure get exhausting and we are about to do several in a row!

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