You know those movie scenes in which a guy stumbles around in the baking desert sun, heat hazes obscuring his legs, his walk becoming more and more laboured… And then he sees it! A mirage of palm trees, cool shade, blue water, rescue! This is the exact feeling I had when I first laid my eyes on the town of Solitaire in Namibia!
I was on a guided trip with Nature Travel Namibia, enjoying some of the top sightseeing spots that amazing country has to offer, driving through the hot rugged desert landscape that dominates most of the interior of this vast place. Suddenly my guide cheerily announced that we were close to the town of Solitaire. And there it was – a colourful oasis of shade, food, fuel and friendship in the middle of this harsh landscape.
Solitaire is a small settlement in the Khomas Region of central Namibia at the junction of the main C14 and C19 roads, both major tourist routes through the nearby Namib-Naukluft National Park. As the nearest big towns are Walvis Bay (233 kilometres/145 miles away) and Windhoek (251 kilometres/156 miles away), it has been a common stopover and meeting place for tourists from all over the globe for more than 60 years. Solitaire sits just below the Tropic of Capricorn in the middle of the 45,000 acre Solitaire Land Trust, dedicated to preserving the grassland ecosystem and the wild animals that reside here. The surrounding areas include Kuiseb Canyon, the spectacular Spreetshoogte Pass and Namibia’s iconic Sossusvlei dunes.
Solitaire is not only famous for being the only stop between Sossusvlei and Swakopmund, but also for McGregor’s Bakery, where I enjoyed the world-renowned fresh apple pie, espresso, take-away sandwiches and cold drinks.
I also walked around the little settlement and took some fantastic photographs. We also filled up on fuel and made sure our vehicle’s tyres were OK (the Namib desert is hard on tyres!) and then we set off again. I will never forget Solitaire, that movie-quality oasis in the middle of nowhere!