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Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 3

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Day four

Gunsbewys

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

Trying to describe our journey with words and pictures can simply not do justice to the experience.  Everything is big and vast and majestic.  It enfolds you.  You need to live it to get a feel for it.  So bear with me in the endeavours that follow.

Hart wie Kameldornholz ist unser Land
Und trocken sind seine Riviere                              -Das Sudwesterlied

 

Arriving at Gunsbewys gave a first impression of a dusty farmstead with outside buildings.  The farm itself had never actually been actively farmed.   The fenced in erf has very little green.  And looking around you, you see vast expanse of land with very little that livestock would be able to live off.

However, Gertrude turned out to be a living encyclopedia.  One of the buildings houses a display of the animals and wildlife to be found in the area.  The magazine Go! visited Gunsbewys and interviewed Gertrude inside her display.  You can find the video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99p4yBaigsI

Cooking is done by green power, using the sun.

Electricity is generated by solar power, with battery backup to last through the night if used sparingly.

Gertrude provided us with laminated cards and instructions how to get to various places of interest close to each other at the southern foot of the Tiras mountains.  These included San rock paintings, and evidence of the San people having been active there at some stage.

The spots were clearly marked and we could easily find all but one of the attractions.   It was 32 degrees, but in the extreme arid conditions, it felt like 26 degrees.  Only a slight breeze is required to improve comfort.

The evening Gertrude took us on a short drive of about 3 km’s away from her house on a sand track.  To my embarrassment my vehicle got bogged down in what appeared to be very straight forward sand driving, albeit at a bit of an incline.   As it happened at the end of the motorised journey, it did not matter – for the moment.

Once disembarked, we have not walked 10 meters before Gertrude pointed out three markings in the sand.  It looked like three little half moons, with nothing to it.  However, as she demonstrated to us, it turned out to be a spider trap.

 

[Picture: Mariki Stassen]

Gertrude would point out the small markings of beetles and small creatures.

[Picture: Mariki Stassen]

We could follow the trail of a dung beatle forcing his black gold uphill to where his family was waiting on the feast.  I may mention that my nutritional needs differ vastly from the amaBhungane’s.

Gertrude demonstrated how one could collecte iron oxide with magnets from the dunes.

We could see the tracks of the Gemsbok that we saw running as we pulled up there.  The Gemsbok’s urine patch was the only remotely wet spot around.   We stayed there, watching the sun set on the dunes, before returning home.

Gertrude was very impressed with Adriaan’s driving skills, and even named him “the headboy of headboys”.  Gmph….!  She was less impressed with Johnie’s endeavours to turn his Land Rover around in the limited space of the sand track.  She even jumped out to help push in spite of Johnie’s protestations that he was not stuck.  I chose not to stick around, and removed my bakke from the scene downhill in reverse gear, rather than to invite any comments on my driving skills.

That evening Gertrude joined us again for wors and patties, pap, salad and wine.  I’m not much of a cook, so I stood amazed at the absolute five star meals that the ladies could organise (to be executed as per instructions by the males) every day.

As one can imagine, harmony is key to living, touring and …

Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 4

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Day six

Friends leaving

Adriaan and Lizette left shortly after sunrise to arrange and attend the funeral and pay their respects.  I felt a rather emply gloominess with them departing.

Koiimasis ranch is an active farm with a horse stud and livestock.  You can check their website:  http://www.namibia-farm-lodge.com/.  Due to the drought the live stock had been removed from the farm, though. We went on a 5km walking trail the afternoon. It’s a nice walk, with a viewpoint along the road.

That evening we baked a pot bread, and the remainder of the steakof the prevous evening found its way into the potjiekos.

 

Day seven

Sossus Oasis

This was the first morning where we had to decamp and pack the vehicles from scratch.  Everything went rather efficiently, though.  By half past nine we were ready to leave.

[Source:  Imagery © 2017 Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  www.google.com/maps]

Johnie was now in the lead.

We hit the sandy D707 again, but had the good fortune of eventually landing on the freshly graded tracks of a grader.  At a windswept Betta we stopped for petrol and coffee and snacks.

I found Betta to be a curious place.  It seems in the middle of nowhere, and I wondered whether you decide to start a refreshment station there in the middle of nothing, or whether you incidentally live there, see the opportunity, and then slowly develop the place.  Betta offers accommodation, with a nicely developed website:  http://www.bettacamp.net/.  I noticed that each of the camping sites had water, electricity, roof cover and a deck.

We met up with a Swiss cyclist at Betta.  Africa was his last continent to conquer before returning home.

Being so close to Duwiseb, we considered paying Duwiseb a visit.  By democratic election the vote went the way of visiting Duwiseb, but we nevertheless eventually decided gainst it.  We were swayed by another tourist’s advice of how bad the road from Betta to Sesriem was.  So we decided to rather get the trip to Sesriem over and done with.

Good call.  I like driving on gravel roads, so I hate to have to admit that, by the end of the day, I found the road to Sesriem to be just 20 kilometers too far.

[Pictures: Mariki Stassen]

The gravel roads that we travelled varied from the sublime (Solitaire to Maltehohe) to the exciting (sandy D707 rounding the Tiras mountains) to the horrible – Betta to Sesriem.  Very rocky and corrugated.

[Picture: Mariki Stassen]

We arrived at Sossus Oasis just past 16h00.  There was a nice buzz at the shop.  There was a garage and a workshop.  I suppose every enterprise on a road such as this one would also stock a few new tyres.   You could collect wi-fi vouchers valid for two days at the shop, and utilise the wi-fi on the stoep of the shop.  From there we could see campsite 1 – 12, built in a circle, and each with its own shade, shower and wash-up.  This looked very nice!  http://www.sossus-oasis.com/

However, we were directed to site 15.  The road went past the larnie sites 1 – 12.  It went past two other sites.  It pretty much went past everything, before ending up under a tree at the outer edge of the terrain.  I guess it was the outer edge, because there was nothing else but open plains.

My initial thought was that this was a real dust heap.  However, upon further inspection it turned out that there was a built braai, working surface for a kitchen, electric light and plugs to tap electricity from.  On top of that the large tree provided ample shade for most of the day.  We were closest to the swimming pool of all the sites, and there was very nice ablution about 50 meters away.   And once …