Monday, 27 February 2017

To Uis and the Brandberg Rest Camp

ALLIE: DAY 12: Monday, 26th of February

Shopping in a German environment and on towards the Brandberg, to Uis

A leisurely day. We do some shopping in the “Buchladen”, the “Afrika-Boutique” and at last pig out in the “Konditorei” with fresh Brezeln and Berliner. Hmm. Around lunch we hit the road towards the north driving along the coast on a nice firm saltroad. The stop in Henties bay is not really worth it, but we are in need of a cold drink and find “dry premium Savanna cider” and salt and vinegar crisps in the “De Dune Bar”. This is probably the only place you can face living in this desolate place unless you are addicted to angling or playing sand golf on the 9 hole course (the greens and the tees being the only green spots on that course).
After a hot drive through quite unspectacular and flat countryside we arrive at the tiny town of Uis near the Brandberg, which prouds itself in having the highest mountain in Namibia, the Koenigstein with 2581 meters.

Balloons flying over the Brandberg Rest Camp
Check in the BrandbergRestCamp and our posh 5-bed and self-catering apartment. Who is taking which bed? We could have a family in here. But even more surprising is the Olympic sized pool. Phil has a hard time in finding his wife again for the rest of the day.
Our host, Baisel, a hippie looking man with a long beard and a band around his head, invites us to join him and his nephew for a sun downer tour around the mines and sand dunes. He tells us the story of this mining town: in 1920 a German discovered tin in this area and started mining. 

The place was at its peak in the 60is when sanctions against South Africa – and Namibia then was part of the country – didn’t allow any imports of tin. 2000 workers lived here at the time.

Map of Namibia
But when Namibia became independent in 1990, South Africa could import tin much cheaper from abroad and didn’t want to depend anymore on Namibia. The mines were abandoned and the town became ghost towns. Basil drives us to the top of a white sandy looking tantalite hill. “I love this place” he says, “let’s enjoy sunset” and he hands out a bottle of cider to each of us. The sun drops behind the Brandberg and leaves the sky glowing with red clouds.

PHIL: Day 12/26 Feb

Shopping and internet morning before leaving for Uis, former tin-mining town, via Henties Bay which turned out to be a bit like Clacton-with-sun. Salt roads along the coast much smoother than their desert counterparts so listened to a Bee Gees in Concert CD bought cheap in Swakopmund.

Uis was, until 1990, centre of Namibia’s tin extraction industry but is now almost a ghost-town supported by tourists visiting nearby the White Lady primitive rock drawings. Our accommodation is in the former mine company social club with a 25m pool (much to Allie’s delight!) run by Basil, not Fawlty, but a latter-day hippie who had the unlikely previous profession of  having been a thatcher.

An evening 4x4 drive up (and 45deg down!) the ‘dunes’ of discarded pegmatite elicits the information that there is a chance to fly in a microlight at dawn tomorrow which we eagerly book. We also learn that tantalite, a rarer component of pegmatite, is now being processed to manufacture parts for replacement hips.

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