Namibia tour – further comments

In my previous post + the 5 that followed on it, I reflected on our recent trip to the southern part of Namibia.  With this posting I make a few additional comments which I hope readers may find useful.

In my previous posts I have tried to paint the picture of the vastness of the landscape.

One may add that camping sites also need to be viewed a bit differently from, say, Mossel Bay in December. I thought I’ll try to give an idea what I’m talking about, courtesy of Google Maps’ 3D function.

It was a rather glorious evening, sitting on the banks of the Orange river with the sun setting. On a cable (seemed like the feed of a foefie slide) a few birds were sitting. The variety with real wings, I mean. One had caught a fish, which he had in his beak. The fish was still very much alive, and evidently not amused. So the bird casually bludgeoning the fish to death on the cable. It took a number of attempts before the fish gave up the good fight. Such is life, nuh?

[Source: Imagery ©2017 CNES / Airbus, Map data ©2017 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google, South Africa]

Border post
The experience had been swift and painless on both occasions (in and out). Not knowing where to go, I stopped at the first official looking office, where I was told where to park, “where you unpack”. Aag no! It thought. But it turned out the stern looking member of SAPS was just having a bit of fun with me. No unpacking.

From what I understood from Neville at Oewerbos, the hunting season just opened a day or two before. Or maybe on that day – it was 1 July. That probably explained why, on the day of our return, all the vehicles in our vicinity, ours included, got searched.

In an endeavor to maximize packing effectivity, my wife bought us each a R50 nylon zipper bag. They were enormous. You could pack an illegal immigrant in it with ease. We did not, though, just for the records. But on first blush, the rear of the bakkie did look as though it could have been packed with “goods”, with these enormous bags being very evident. Well, actually, it was not that evident. It only became evident once I removed the groundsheet that I had over it to protect from dust and rain. Given that there had been neither dust nor rain when we arrived at the post, it might have raised some suspicion. So the gentlemen from (I assume) SARS and SAPS opened each of these bags, and meticulously went through our clothing.

A docile looking dog that appeared to be half ridge-back and two-and-a-half some other things, stood by. I greeted him friendly. He showed no interest, but I took that as a good sign.

My wife was contemplating whether the combination of our packing system and the age of our vehicle might have counted against us. I think not, though. All vehicles that looked like it could accommodate meat seem to have been checked, and one could easily stack a few kudu’s into those bags of us, provided of course they were not alive any more, and also not in one peace.

But even the lady right in front of us with a midget Peugeot got checked. The friendly dog gave her more than just a sniff-over and she had to park elsewhere for a more thorough search. I did see here again at Klawer, though, so evidently there was just a bit of mis-sniffing that had to be sorted out.

Once in Namibia
My youngest had difficulties grasping the concept that we’re driving along a river in Namibia, but just about 100m away from us – you could swim there – was a completely different country.  Ours.

On that road we at one stage stopped to see if we could pinpoint the De Hoop camping site on the South African side of the Richtersveld, but by then we must have been past that point already.

Rosh Pinah
Mmmm…. Well, I only filled up my bakkie, and did not take much notice of the town, other than to notice that it was being overrun by bakkies with CBR registration numbers. Montagu by the mine?

I have never been to Aus before. But for some reason I had a totally different picture in my head, and more in particular, I though the town was on the other side of the main road. It reminded me of Paternoster, it’s just a bit further away from the sea. At the fuel station people were queuing to fill up. It was a rather busy fuel stop.

We went past Klein Aus, but did not drive in there. I was just amazed that Klein Aus could be smaller than Aus. That’s now, judging by the name.

The road to Luderitz
Captivating. And more so the closer you get to Luderitz. The sand blowing over the road, the very strong wind, and a chilly evening in Luderitz gave a bit of a, well, windy feeling, but once inside things were perfect.

[Source: Imagery ©2017 DigitalGlobe, TerraMetrics, D SIO, NOAA, US Navy GEBCO, Landaat / Copernicus, Map data ©2017, Google, South Africa]

Feral horses of Aus
It’s not quite like the pride stud of some upstanding equestrian estate. It’s more like a Huis-Amper-Dood kind of retirement place for horses, only less luxurious than what the human version of such institutions would normally offer.

Gertrude Grabner’s vast knowledge of the dunes and what lives there, made this visit very special. A worthwhile visit.

[Source: Imagery ©2017 GeoEye, Map data ©2017, South Africa,]

Each place had its own character. Koiimasis offered us a huge camping site, wonderful ablution close by, but with no warm water or electricity. Not that it is a problem, it just helps knowing it beforehand. There are a number of activities to do there, like among other things, horse riding. We only did the 5km walking trail.
[Source: Imagery ©2017 DigitalGlobe, Map data ©2017, South Africa]

What you’re looking at in this picture, is 4 camping sites on the far side of the little koppie, with a 5th one on the far right, just above a third from the top in the picture.

The camp sites each had running water, a kitchen working area, electricity, a roof, and a deck to sit on, with nice neat ablution close by. When we were there, there was a really nasty wind blowing, which somehow made it a bit difficult to appreciate the camping sites fully. But this could make a good stop-over.

One set of 12 campsites provided running water and some shelter which would seem very comfortable. These sites 1 – 12 are set out in a circle. I can imagine it would be nice if you are a large group and could take up a number of these sites. You can’t get too far away from each other.

Yet, if you want to get away, though, ask for site 15. Right on the edge with just veld stretching out in front of you. A big tree provided good shade, a nice working area for food preparation and a braai, and rather luxurious, running water and electricity. The pool and solar heated ablution is about 50m away.

[Source: Imagery ©2017 CNES / Airbus, Map data ©2017, Google, South Africa]

Ours was the site on the right, protruding into the picture. From there you had an unimpeded view over the vlaktes.

I’ve tried to sketch the picture in my previous blog postings, but I think this is simply one of those place you need to go to yourself to get the idea.

Admittedly, this apply to so many areas that we have visited. Just driving on those never ending gravel roads, and to see the mountains going by, changing to grass fields, pictures just cannot reflect what you see and experience.

Tsauchab River Camp
The facilities at the reception are good. You could order drinks (probably something to eat as well), get access to wi-fi, have your laundry done, take a swim in a small pool, and enjoy the iron artworks.

The camp sites are all exclusive in the sense that you are really far away from the closest other camper. You don’t even know where they are! No electricity, but donkeys to provide hot water showers, and nicely laid out working areas with running water and a braai area.
[Source: Imagery ©2017 CNES / Airbus, Map data ©2017, Google, South Africa]

For the avoidance of doubt, I have marked the camp site. You had to cross the mighty Tsauchab river to get to the luxury ablution on the other side. Or you could stay this side and use the shower and basin built into the tree, with a separate, and quite removed, loo.

Also, here you have access to a 4×4 route where you could choose to go break your vehicle if you are so inclined, or just drive for the fun. A number of hiking trails with properly marked maps are available. These maps were provided at reception, but you can access it on their website as well.

We did the been-there-dunnit apple strudel, and it did not disappoint. My flat tyre was swiftly attended to, and there was a nice vibe in the restaurant section.

Rostock Ritz
Really fancy hotel.

We might have been a bit spoiled by then with good shade we had at previous sites. The 5 camping sites are next to each other, quite big. No shade for your tent, but there is a braai- and working area on each with some shading at the working area. The ablution has a donkey providing hot water.

Behind the camping site, up against the rocks, is a very nice kitchen area with electrical lights (no plugs, though) good working space, and an area where you can sit and watch over the vlakte in front of you.
[Source: Imagery ©2017 Digital Globe, Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data ©2017 Google, South Africa]

The structures in the right hand corner of the picture are the campsites.

This place would be perfect for the overlander with a rooftop tent coming in late in the afternoon, and again leaving the next morning. That is probably the intended market, given where the place is situated.

The combination of our group then dwindling in numbers, a tummy bug that got a grip on a few of the members, an abundance of large crickets, and a cocky scorpion probably all contributed to a feeling that the time has come to wind up the holiday and return home. An extended stay in the hotel would have been the cherry on the cake, though.

We stopped there for petrol, and in search of a replacement tyre, which we could not find.  Or we could, but not in the right size. Malthohe signals the welcome end to kilometers of gravel road. Depending, of course, which direction you are heading. We had toasted sandwiches at the restaurant right next to the Total garage. Typical platteland setting. Nice.

We arrived there in the dark, and left at dawn, so I have no idea what the town looks like. But the Grunau Country Lodge was a rather nice stopover. Situated on two busy routes, they get the flow of travelers from two directions.

Accommodation ranges from luxurious to the budget rooms offering two beds, two chairs, a kettle and cups with the necessities for coffee. No bathroom. You use the nearby ablution for that. Except if someone in your company has the luxury room, then you use their bathroom. It is advisable, though to not break the key off in the door as you leave, as it then requires the owner to come and shoulder the door open for you.

The food was good. We ordered among other things Springbok steaks (hunting season mos opened, remember).

[Source: Imagery ©2017 CNES / Airbus, Map data ©2017, Google, South Africa]

I have not seen Grunau in daylight, so I found the picture just as enlighting.




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