Life’s a beach and then you dig

The Skeleton Coast National Park. Referred to as the “sands of hell” by sailors. Famous for shipwrecks, whale bones and inhospitable terrain. Salt/Sand desert meets rough Atlantic Ocean. 1000’s of square miles of salt plains completely desolate and uninhabited. Perfect for some illegal off-roading right? ….wrong.

It all started out well. Let’s do a bit of shipwreck hunting, we’ve worn heaps of tread off our very grippy mud-terrain tyres.

Next, the wreck of the Montrose. It was 5kms off the road.

But 1km from the wreck…


Not too bad, dig out a bit of sand? Simple. 30 mins later…Jubilant!


Reverse 10 metres and end up like this…



Hmm, not so simple. We made use of all our recovery equipment: air jack, spade, sand ladders and then some “desert adapted” rocks as Richard would put it (will explain later)… No joy. Everytime we try to move the car just digs deeper.


At 4pm-ish Jo started to get a bit edgy and insisted we go for help and looking back that was a great idea (of course it was, Jo x). We walked an hour to the road and had precisely 20 minutes before we had to leave again to get back to the car before nightfall. Just as our 20 minutes had passed a car turned up (loving Murphy’s law!) We told the driver our situation and he kindly offered to drive to the next settlement (35kms away) and give them our GPS location.

The wind had picked up, the temperature was dropping rapidly, we could just see the roof tent in front of a (deceptive) wall of crashing Atlantic waves and we couldn’t be certain that anyone would come for us that night so we headed back to the car. (Oh and did we mention that the locals in Henties Bay had informed us of forecasted “extreme” sand storms for the next day?)

As we were about 1km away from the car we saw lights slowly moving along the road (searching). A dimly lit Sat-Nav at 3km’s with incoming fog really doesn’t suffice for signalling equipment so it was a mad dash for the car to illuminate the hazards. No good, the car is buried so deep you’d have to be two-foot-tall and a metre away to see them! LED head torches? No good. Headlights? No good, pointing in the opposite direction. Xenon roof-mounted spotlights? Yes, unbolting and waving them madly over the top of the roof tent works a treat, we’ve been seen! A confusing and unknown amount of time later reveals the shouting voices of a group of completely selfless individuals in the dead of night and not just one bright light in the distance but two headlights advancing slowly in our direction.


After such a long blog post we really can’t be bothered going into much more detail! But MOST importantly… after three hours of these local road-worker heroes digging, pushing, reassuring us and accepting constant hugs from myself, they freed us and then let us camp next to their temporary road-worker accomodation.

Let’s just say that our New Zealand silver fern door magnets went to the most loving and deserving home we could have hoped for! They were completely crazy about the All Blacks and I don’t think we’ve ever been so grateful for our boys in Black as we were this night (other than the World Cup of course!)

The most enormous thanks goes to the road-workers of Torra Bay, Namibia. It was an adventure, no doubt! You have enriched our experience of Africa (and very grippy mud-terrain tyres!)

For the observant amongst you… there was a bottle in the sand near the car. I put a note in this bottle with the following: “If you are reading this note, you are probably stuck in the sand like we were.”

(post written by both Richard and Jo so you will need to read from both perspectives)

Richard and Jo (sand kings!)

3 comments on “Life’s a beach and then you dig

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