Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Rock formations at Spitzkoppe and drive to Omaruru

ALLIE: DAY 14: Wednesday, 28th of February

Fascinating rock formations at Spitzkoppe and onwards to Omaruru

Our journey takes us across more empty dust roads towards the “Matterhorn of Namibia”, the Spitzkoppe. We can see see it from afar. In the middle of flat and deserted countryside there is the “spitze” mountain. As we enter the National Park it is clear that nature has again created some amazing structures. Little round balls of rock sit like eggs on the soft but steep slopes of these granite rocks. We climb up to “Bushmans paradise”. A steep ascent on a  rope. Underneath the shelter of a overhanging huge rock there are some wall paintings. Not as clear as the Brandbergs ones, but still quite nice to look at. We leave Bushmans paradise for the bushman (this certainly not being paradise for my dear husband with no Cider and having to climb a steep hill) and drive a bit deeper into the area. And there I find my paradise: a little pond set within the red rocks with splendid views over the Spitzkoppe.

On past the little ex-German town of Usakos where only the historical locomotive from 1912 still stands in front of a desolate railway station in memory of more glorious days. Its 30 km on a tarmac road to the gold town of Karibib. The B2 is the main highway of Namibia connecting the coastal area of Swakopmund and Windhoek the capital. So it’s a bit of a shock to see huge trucks and even having to queue to over take them!

We leave Omaruru and search for our “Game lodge”. A few not very tasteful huts are set in a park full of zebras, Oynx, Wilderbeast and Kudus.

The similarity of being in a zoo is quite obvious. But the ex-property tycoon from Chur in Switzerland, Thomas Domenig, now owner and creator of this lodge, explains to us: “The difference here is, that the animals are free, but you are protected to watch them.” So indeed a zoo, but an inverted one!

Domenig always had wanted to set up a animal farm and in 1994 he and his wife realized their dream by buying this 3400 hectar land and 300 animals. Today he has got 3000 wild animals, including three elephant, two rhinoceros, two hippopotamus named Hermann and Hermine, and many others. After sunset the animals come to a waterhole to be fed by the local wardens and the boss himself. We are lucky – in the end even the 2,5 tons heavy rhinoceros slowly walk in to collect their share of the food.

They are pretty to watch, but this is certainly not the real Africa. Am debating whether I want to stay another night in the zoo or escape to the real world again.

PHIL: Day 14/28 Feb

Off to Spitzkoppe, a group of wildly eroded conglomerate mountains with bushmen cave paintings.At 11 a.m. we are the first visitors of the day and only see three other groups of tourists in three hours of delighted wanderings through deserted the rock formations. Of course Allie finds a bathing pool in a rock cleft but her urge to swim naked is tempered by a rather prudish-looking German family (whom I thought looked like a pastor and his wife and young daughters anyway) so she retreats to her bikini.

Allie is also in a ‘driving’ mood, which means her looking mostly at the passing scenery whilst performing some kind of contortion to keep her bum off the seat and legs in perpetual motion. All this whilst she holds the steering wheel and searches, mostly in vain, for a gear two cogs higher than required by road conditions. I fight to prevent myself offering useful tips like “ for Christ’s sake look ahead and ‘read’ the road” because she so rarely wants to drive other than brief stints first thing in the day when I am also fresh, and when she does she complains constantly about wanting to stop and take some form of exercise.

We make it to Omaruru via the two uninspiring townships of Usakos and Karibib by late afternoon.The settlement at Omaruru seems to offer more enticing German colonial style – but no working Internet facility – which we promise to investigate tomorrow. To our dismay the Omaruru Game Lodge at which we are booked begins to look increasingly ‘Disney-esque’, with animals in zoo-like enclosures, set feeding times for animals and humans alike, and house rules on dress style at dinner etc. Not ‘us’.

First impressions were confirmed by a proudly displayed press cutting about the Lodge’s wealthy Swiss owner in which a suggestion that his establishment was in fact ‘a zoo’ were angrily dismissed. We watched as the self-same man hand fed a selection of ‘wild’ animals culminating in a pair of rhinos who allowed their horns to be stroked by excited tourists.

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