Namibia Tour 2017 – Part 3

Day four


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

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:

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 cooking in this confined type of environment.  If someone in the group got irked by anything, they were very good in hiding it.  This was, of course, critical to the success of the tour.


Day five


The plan on our departure was for Gertrude to take us on a drive over her farm.  However, as her 4×4 had a flat battery, and as Toit’s bakkie was a two-wheel drive, there was a change of plan.   Adriaan was provided with directions to a dam on the farm, and requested to check the water level.  Should the dam be overflowing, the water pump needed to be switched off.

Whilst waiting on the departure, and because I had nothing better to do, I decided to check my tyre pressure.  I forgot to inflate my tyres for the load before I left home, so it should be normal.  Much to my surprise, though, I found the tyre pressure on all four tyres to be 2.8 instead of between 2 and 2.2kpa!  This, of course, explained why I could not make headway the previous evening on the sand track.

We had a rather splendid drive on the sand tracks on the farm, similar to the one of the previous evening, but this time with no problems at all.  Of course, it goes to show the importance of tyre pressure, but even more so, the need to actually check you tyres before embarking on sand driving!

We arrived at the built dam which was filled to the brim with water.  A wonderful sight in the middle of such a dry area.

On our way to the dam we could see a number of Gemsbok in the distance seemingly racing each other.  Or maybe the one in front had a tiff with the rest and was making a beeline to safety.

From there we went back to the D707 where Gertrude and Toit & Christine were waiting for us.  A friendly farmer who drove past insisted that we first pay a visit to his farm.  That we duly did, even though he was not there!  At this farm, Weissenborn,  a lot of time had gone into creating lush green surroundings in the otherwise arid environment.

We said our farewells to Gertrude, and left for Koiimasis Ranch.  Following Gertrude’s warning of thick sand on the D707, Toit was promoted to second position in the convoy with his 2×4 bakke, instead of his preferred spot at the back,  so that we would know if he got stuck.  He did not, but driving on this road with an ordinary sedan might get you stuck, especially should you have to come to a standstill for whatever reason.  I could see from my fuel consumption how the sand was holding us back.

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

Bad news

Upon checking cell phones on our arrival at Koiimasis, Adriaan got the bad news that his mother passed away.  For obvious reasons this put somewhat of a damper on the otherwise festive mood in the group.  As it was already late in the afternoon, Adriaan and Lizette decided to rather make camp and head home the next day.

We got camp site # 5 (Siesta).  A huge site that comfortably accommodated us all, with room to spare.

The nearby cold water ablution was neatly built, blending into the surroundings.  There was no electricity.  To our eastern side the Tiras mountain was rising up sharply against the increasing darkness.  Adriaan had steak no the coals for dinner, whilst Toit got the roosterkoeke going.  The near full moon that appeared over the mountain provided surprising illumination.

This was our first night in tents and without electricity.  A sudden wind came up just before 21h00.  We were just done eating, and we just wrapped up the evening with everyone heading to bed.

We ended up going to bed just before 21h00 – ok, that is just before 22h00 South African time.  But given that one stays in your tent until dawn, it gives you nine hours of sleep.  In the nights to come I did find myself fending of the awake in the early hours of the morning, waiting for the sun to rise.

I was geared for cold nights, taking along long johns and two jackets.  None thereof had been necessary for the duration of our trip.  The sea wind in Ludertiz had been a bit chilly, but apart from that and our last night in Grunau, we never had the biting cold that one would have had in, say, Sutherland.  Not even close.

Click on the link below for part 4


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