Swallowed by the desert

After having cooled off in the swimming pool in Sesriem, we went back to the restaurant at the fuel station for a quick brunch. Then, we were off to go further into the desert. 

It felt quite strange. The road from Solitaire to Sesriem was mostly gravel, fortunately most of it was quite decent. Then around Sesriem, there was suddenly tarmac. From Sesriem to the Deadvlei was also mostly tarmac and around Sesriem most roads were also tarmac. Then, when we went south, so did the quality of the roads. We quickly drove on gravel again, unfortunately. Although most of the gravel road was pretty decent, on gravel it was much more difficult to control Gigi's temper than on tarmac. Quickly we drove without any electics again, battling the hot air coming in through the windows. 

We were now on our way to the furthest point south we had decided to visit during this trip. There were dreams of going even further south, but with the continued struggle to control Gigi's temperature, the ever looming incident of having severe car troubles in the desert and our increasing exhaustion, we had decided that our next stop would be far enough south for us. It was quite the trip down south, so we decided to cut that into two trips. 

The first trip went to a camping called At Kronenhof. We had read good reviews and the trip was not too long. Yet, it was long enough to make the remaining trip to our final destination doable. At Kronenhof is a relatively new lodge and the campsite was also clearly very new. A lot of thought had gone into the lodge and the campsite. When we arrived, we still had quite a lot of time in the afternoon left to enjoy. However, the heat of that day had taken its toll and especially Jeroen did not feel all too well. We could use the swimming pool of the lodge and we decided to have dinner there as well. There was no use in us going to the campsite and drive back for dinner, since the campsite was a few kilometers away from the lodge. We spent the entire afternoon at the lodge, enjoying the swimming pool and some very cool drinks. Slowly we recovered from the overheating. When we arrived at the campsite, we noticed what we had missed. This was clearly the most spacious campsite we had been to so far. There was more room to store and put away our stuff, than we had stuff to put away. We set up our camp in the dark, had a nice shower and went to bed. 

The next morning, we just wanted to do only a few things at the lodge before we left. However, with the stable internet connection, we decided to do a lot more. We planned a few activities and contacted a few accommodations, since there were a few things we REALLY wanted to do before leaving Namibia. It felt really strange to already think about the fact that we were (sort of) on our way back. After having contacted the places we wanted to get some information from, and even booking a flight (more on that later!), we were off to our furthest place south. 

The trip was longer than to Kronenhof, but it was still very doable. The road was in decent condition, but still we had to be very vigilant in making sure Gigi (and ourselves) would arrive safely. The place we went to was the Desert horse Inn, in a small town called Aus. The town is nothing really special, but the lodge was quite nice. We had the cutest 'first day' lady checking us in. She clearly made a career switch just before retiring, and everything went quite slowly. We didn't really mind that though, we were just happy we had made it all the way to our point furthest south! We spent the afternoon in and around the swimming pool to stay cool in the heat and we went to bed quite early. The next day, we would have a very special day. 

Aus was just a nice place to use as a base to visit Kolmanskoppe. This ghost town was a diamond town in the diamond rush, early 20th century. Back than, diamonds could apparently just be picked from the sand. One 'clever' man found out about this and bought all the mining rights in a huge area, that seemed worthless to many. At Kolmanskoppe, a small town was built from nothing and for about 50 years, this town was operational for the people managing the mine. The actual mineworkers had to sleep in barracks for two years straight, without getting out. Different times?

Anyway, after about 50 years the diamond production had dropped to about zero and most mining activity had already moved away. The town was abandoned and left there for the brown hyenas and other desert animals to call it their home. In the decades after that, due to the strong wind and the lack of maintenance, the decaying town is covered in sand, as if it is being eaten by the desert. Some rooms are filled with sand almost to the roof. 

This town can be visited from 8 AM until 1 PM, except for those who buy a so called 'Photographer's permit'. This would grant access from sunrise to sunset. We would not call ourselves photographers without buying that permit. We had already bought that ticket online when we were at Kronenhof, and the plan was clear. Drive towards Kolmanskoppe from Aus early, spend the morning at Kolmanskoppe (with a guided tour), drive to Lüderitz to have lunch and watch the pengiuns there and come back to Kolmanskoppe late afternoon for some pictures. 

The tour was really wonderful and we immediately loved the place. The sand everywhere, the old houses and shops and all the history. We decided to stay, just spend the entire day exploring and photographing the town. We had a sandwich at the shop and went outside for more pictures. When everyone without the photography permit had left, we had the entire town just for ourselves. This was such a crazy feeling. A ghost town, all this history, and only the two of us to enjoy it. The abandoned buildings gave off a very spooky vibe, especially the old 'Krankenhaus' (hospital). This seemed to come straight from a horror movie. The long, dark hallway, doors slamming open and closed by the strong winds, the cracking of wood and screeching of metal sheets made it feel very eerie. 

We loved spending the entire day at Kolmanskoppe, exploring and photographing every single building. We visited the old bookkeeper, and the mine manager, who had the most beautiful building. The wind in the afternoon was crazy. The strong wind blowing the tiny grains of sand against our skin, felt like we had been continuously cut by sand paper, or a thousand little knives. 

After sunset we drove back to the campsite, tired and in pain of the sand-wind, but extremely happy with the wonderful experience. 

Add comment


There are no comments yet.