Gannaga Adventures

Tanqua Karoo National Park Panorama

Trips to the lesser known parts of Southern Africa

 

Brandberg - Namibia: June 2014

This was going to be a trip with a difference. Some members of the Worcester Section of the Mountain Club of South Africa decided to do some hiking in the Brandberg range in Namibia. There was some space available and I asked whether I could go along.

The difference from the usual was that I had nothing to do at all (initially) with the organization of the trip and that I would go along as an extra driver and to help share the costs.

The vehicle of choice was Erika van Niekerk's Land Cuiser Series 70 station wagon, that could fit in (at a squeeze) all five of us.

(click the link to download the whole trip in MapSource format - gdb- BrandbergFinal.zip)

Day 1
Ceres - Bastion Farmyard B&B 10km north of Mariental - 1240km

I was picked up 04h30 at Wolseley (Letty had to drop me off - she was not a happy camper) at the start of a very long day.
Three of us took turns driving - two of us had to get used to the heavily laden Cruiser.
My first section was from Citrusdal to Vanrhynsdorp in thick mist through multiple Stop 'N Go's.
It was freezing cold for most of the day and as we neared our destination we decided that we would rather stay in a B&B than camp - a vote was taken and, in the end, it was a sensible decision.

We has a great stay at the B&B and started the next morning with an excellent breakfast. This place is highly recommended.


Day 2
Mariental to Uis

We had to meet up with the other hikers, who had been on a trip through the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, at Uis early on the day to prepare for the trip into the Brandberg Massief.

We met up at the Brandberg Rest Camp in the centre of town.
What we didn't know beforehand was that that day was the yearly Uis quad-bike competition and the party continued to 03h30 and the hikers had to meet up with their guides 04h30 - so some of them managed to get only one hour's sleep.


Day 3
Uis to Ugab River Rhino Camp via the Messum Crater

Tom Jourdan and I had decided before the trip not to join the hikers on the 3-day Brandberg trek, but instead go on an off the beaten track trip, using Tom's Mazda B50 4x4.
I had prepared some proposals and plotted the possibilities on some maps and my GPS's.
There are no roads signs and GPS's and good maps are absolutely essential - you will get lost and probably perish without them.

This was our first view of the Brandberg, knowing that our friends were somewhere in/on there sweating profusely.

First View of Brandberg

The roads were very corrugated and Tom soon stopped to let down the tyres.

Let down tyres

The vastness and solitude of the open spaces left me breathless and truly amazed.

Space 1

Toward Doros Crater

Even the welwitschias were huge and plentiful.

Welwitschia with Tom

More space

And just in case you did not know where you were going, you got this:

Moer Toe

River Bed

The camp site is idyllic, but you do not want to stay here in the middle of summer.
I would also suggest that you make reservations during the school holidays.

Rhino Camp

Keep your eyes and ears open.

Lion Message

Day 4
Ugab River Rhino Camp to Madisa Camp via the Doros Crater

This part of the trip felt more away from it all than my Kaokoland trip many years ago - just Tom and I and the occasional gemsbok.

Desolation

More desolation

The southern parts of Desolation Valley - one day I will return to explore this more:

Desolation Valley

Gemsbok

The locals call this an Elephants Foot, but I am not so sure:

Elephants Foot

Even in the desert there are beautiful flowers

Flower1

And interesting bugs

Bug

We were going to camp at the Granietkop Community Rest Camp, but found it closed with no sign of activity. I do not know whether this is a permanent situation.
We now had no place in the vicinity to camp, but decided to head south.
A short while later we saw an "Elephants Crossing" signboard in the road and 100m from us this -

Elephant at reservoir

Zooming in on my Tracks4Africa map I saw Madisa Camp

We turned in at a poorly signposted road and found -

Madisa Camp Site 1

Madisa Camp Site 2

This camp site obviously does not get much traffic. Simon, the caretaker, charged up and welcomed us profusely.
Each camp site has toilets and showers raised on stilts to protect them from elephants.
That evening we had 18 elephants passing through the camp site.

More elephants

The site has apparently been bought by someone who intends to convert it into an up-market resort because of the daily visit of the elephants - pity.

Day 5
Madisa Camp to Uis

The road section to the White Lady Lodge is very sandy and it was the only place were we got stuck for a few minutes. Good ground clearance and deflated tyres are a must.

Sandy Road

The lodge has some great camp sites and this will also be a place I will revisit in the future.

Shortly after we got back to Uis, we met up with a very tired group of friends and we sat around exchanging experiences.

Although we had nearly travelled constantly over the last 3 days, we had only done 316km, an indication of how poor (and interesting) the roads are.

Before we left Ceres, I was asked to work out an itinerary for some of the group who wanted to drive home off the beaten tracks.

Again for me it was going to be different because I would be driving for the next few days with a married woman, a widow and a spinster in one vehicle. Yippie!


Day 6
But first we were going to stop over at Ameib Ranch Guest House. 

Only a small detour brought us to the Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve

Spitzkoppe 1

Where we enjoyed a picinic

Spitzkoppe Picnic

and a drive around the reserve. If you ever go there, try and camp at Site 11, the most spectacular one.

Spitzkoppe Klouter

At Ameib we did some easy walks.

Phillips Cave

Some hikers more enthusiastic than others.

Hikers

Hercules was with us, too.

Hercules

The ladies were also helping

Ladies holding up rock

The Kletter Steig provided some real exercise

Kletter Steig

Day 7

We bade farewell to some of our group who were in a hurry to get back home and some who wanted to spend more time exploring the northern parts of Namibia.

Leaving Ameib

For years I had been reading about the first "capital" of Namibia -
Otjimbingwe, and this was our first stop.

Looking at it now, it is hard to believe how important this place was to the early settlers and especially the traders.

Otjimbinwe Church

I also wanted to drive the second-steepest pass in Namibia, the Boshua Pass.
The road from Otjimbingwe to the pass was not in a good condition, but interesting. It took long and we had to push to get to get to our camp site.

We quickly had a look into the Kuiseb Canyon.

Kuiseb Canyon

But did not have the time for the walk to the Henno Martin shelter, but made time for a piece of the famous Apfelstrudel at Solitaire.

We managed to get the last camp site at Agama River Camp and it was dark by the time everyone had pitched camp.
Much fun was had trying to use the one shower that ran continuously. I doubt that I will camp here again.


Day 8

I could feel that the group was now itching to get home and we split up again, but funnily, met up a few hours later at Duwisib Castle after having taken different routes.

Duwisib Castle

The D707 was as beautiful as ever.

D707 Dunes

Some us even wanted to fly away

Charlotte Taking Off
 

We spent the night at Klein Aus Vista

Klein Aus Vista

This is one of the best maintained camp sites I know of.

Day 9

The dew during the night was so bad that most of the group woke up with wet sleeping bags.

We had intended to drive to Springbok and camp there, but after some deliberation we decided that we will push for home.



Total distance travelled 4164km.