02 October, 2014

An Oryx Holiday - Part 5

For Parts 1-4, you can look back at the last few posts....

We arrived at our next "bed and breakfast" (Le Mirage) in the early afternoon. On the way we went from desert to mountain to desert. We stopped at Solitaire, a thriving town of 94 people and had some delicious homemade ice cream for lunch. The bar had saddles for barstools. The town consisted of a bar-gas station-toilet-restaurant-bakery-convenience store-lodge. The landscaping consisted of many old cars amidst cactus. 

Refreshed, we continued our drive to Sossusvlei but unfortunately a stone was thrown up at the windshield making a crack about 20cm long. After driving for 6 hours on "C" roads we were ready for a break. 

Le Mirage looks like a stone castle-fortress from the Middle East with separate buildings for restaurant, reception, and rooms with the pool and spa sitting in the middle of the desert. 

Johanna immediately got a pedicure and John sat by the pool. Diane went on line.  At around 4:00 we had a drink. Once again, John had to teach the bartender how to make a vodka gimlet. Funny thing was when the bill came, there was a charge for the liquor and a separate charge for the Rose's lime juice. The same thing held true for Diane's gin and tonic. After that, just before dinner we went to the firepit area where they had put chairs in a circle around a fire. Soft drinks and snacks were available. From here, as well as from our room we could see a small watering hole. 

This is what happens at the watering hole before the animals come!
We had a 5 course dinner served to us by Baby who was John's favorite waitress and as it turned out was a friend to one of Johanna's friends. The first course was a Greek salad. The second course was potato leek soup. The third course was prawns served on a plate with garlic butter for John  and an avacado salad for Diane. The fourth course was stuffed chicken breast for John, oryx steak with sweet potato and grilled veggies for Johanna, and a vegetable tower for Diane. When it was served all three courses were presented to us as three waitresses uncovered our dinners all at once. Dessert was something really really good but we can't remember what it was.

We enjoyed this dinner because each course was small and the service was better than what we previously had.  After dinner we sat by the fire again and witnessed 2 separate herds of oryx come to drink at the water hole. We all needed better cameras for this but took pictures as best we could. During this same time the staff sang and danced to a great drum beat for the patrons of the restaurant. 

This morning we got up at 5:15, got dressed, and the spa had fixed us...yes, just us, some coffee and cookies. We were picked up by a van at 5:45am connected with Namib Balloon Rides. There were 2 balloons with 16 people in each basket and 2 crew members steering each balloon. We stayed up for 1 hour floating above the Namib Desert. We flew at about 2500 feet. Anxiety ridden, scared all the time, worrisome Diane totally enjoyed the ride as soon as we lifted off. We saw the sunrise. It was beautiful and peaceful and ended with a champagne breakfast in the middle of the desert.

Diane held the bottle of champagne while the captain took his machete and cut off the cork from the top of the bottle.
You can see the corks in midair.

At the end of this blog there is a 14 minute video on that balloon ride.

On the way back to the lodge, the driver took us to a school which actually was started by the balloon company for the children of its employees. Local people asked if their children could enroll and they said yes. So today they have 25 students, ages 2-6. The teacher is new. This was her second day. She came all the way from New York via Brussels where she had taught for a few years. The place was amazing and I am hoping to get video of it on You Tube when we return.


We returned back to the lodge and rested the entire day. Lunch was light....John had a ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich,Johanna had a Greek salad with chicken and Diane had a Greek salad. We tried to get internet but it's tough!! Johanna is getting old and we are wearing her out so she needed a nap. We washed our jeans and in the dry desert air they were dry in an hour or two.

At 5:00 we had a drink. Apparently Americans are the only ones who have a drink before dinner. Mixed drinks are uncommon here and people usually stick with beer or wine. But the American dollar goes far so we imbibed. Everyone else had tea and cake!


  1. AWESOME! Now I need to do that! Vic

    1. haha! It's a bit different over Sossusvlei - instead of Nashville highways :)