googleed3ca5fea536c11e.html South African Mineral Specimens: Our trip to Namibia, January 2009

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A Mineral specimen blog by which we want to share our mineral outings as well as our experiences in the Western Cape mountains.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our trip to Namibia, January 2009

We left Somerset West on the morning of Thursday the 15th, and crossed the Namibian border at Vioolsdrif late that afternoon. We spent the night at Grünau, and had to combat hundreds of small flying beetles before we could eventually settle for the night. The next morning we resumed our journey (with the road apparently stretching endlessly ahead of us) and encountered a cloudburst and terrible storm as we passed Windhoek, which left us with a cracked windscreen. We reached Karibib early that evening, and pitched our tent at a camping site.

Saturday we drove about 18 km to Namdeb, also known as Neu Schwaben (because of the Neu Schwaben mine, about 3 km further). One of the local residents told us that the original name was Tjomtjas, meaning "to clean with saliva" - the method they often used when quickly wanting to see the quality of the stones, since they don't have much water. We spent about 5 hours there, looking at all the stones the people had for sale (mostly cathedral smoky quartz and a few toumalines on matrix) and making purchaces. We found the people very friendly, and enjoyed the time we spent there, although it was quite hot that day. Eventually it became overcast. Getting back to our camp, we discovered that the bad dirt road we had travelled to Namdeb, had cost us one of our car's hub caps and damage to a head lamp protector.

On Monday morning we packed a picnic basket for the day, and made some mineral purchaces in town. There we teamed up with our friend and guide, Enrico, and drove to Usakos, some 30 km west of Karibib, where we visited the location and made many purchaces of Erongo minerals e.g. fluorite, schorl, aquamarine and quartz. On our way back we again encountered a severe storm, and at times we could hardly see the road ahead of us. Getting back to our tent, we discovered that the storm had tilted our tent (we hadn't used any storm hooks for anchoring!) and thus managed to soak our mattresses and sleeping bags! We had to pack up and eventually we rented a room for the night in a lodge in town.

Tuesday was a hot day, and our wet bedding dried quickly. We resumed our journey and visited the well known mineral stalls some 24 km outside of Usakos, where we saw some lovely mineral specimens. We only wished that we had unlimited space in our car and loads of spending money! Early afternoon we reached our furthest destination, Uis, having travelled a total of 1 980 km, and pitched our tent. The swimming pool on the camping ground was a welcome sight, and we made good use of it! We spent the next four days visiting local dealers and the location outside of Uis, making many purchaces of prehnite, quartz, fluorite etc. from the Brandberg area,and also looking up friends we hadn't seen for a few years. On Sunday we enjoyed coffee at daybreak on a hill outside of town, having been taken there by microlight aeroplane. What an experience to see the sun come up and cast its light over the majestic Brandberg!

We also met two Austrian gentlemen at the camp site, who had been lost in the desert (and already without water) a few days earlier, and had been rescued by the same microlight owner. He had taken them food and water and showed them the way out. This experience hadn't deterred their adventurous spirit, and they continued on their journey!

Early on Monday morning we made our last purchaces, and were sorry to leave this quiet little town and its friendly people. But we were very glad to leave the millions of mosquitoes behind! It was a cool, overcast day. We travelled back on a different road, the one that leads to Omaruru. Most of the roads were very quiet, sometimes we travelled up to 100 km without seeing any other vehicles! At Okahandja (where we had made our first purchaces on our way to Uis, and had experienced heavy rain) we noticed a sign saying "Okahandja - the Garden Town". This is, indeed, an apt description!

Driving through Windhoek (Namibia's capital city) on our way back, it was raining lightly. We went to the mining office to pay the due taxes on our purchaces and get the required permit. North of Keetmanshoop it was hot and still very dry, the earth almost seemed scorched. About 100 km before Grünau, we saw a massive electric storm ahead of us. We have never seen such severe and long-lasting lightning bolts before! Some 30 km further we were in the storm, and were in it for about 13 minutes, when the road swerved and took us out of it. We could still see the darkness of the raging storm behind us, and were thankful that we were out of it. We were met by a most beautiful sunset!

We again spent the night at Grünau, but this time we had to compete with small grasshoppers for space in our room! It seems like there are many more plagues of a variety of insects in the desert land! Next morning we drove the last 144 km of our trip on Namibian soil, and then crossed the border at Vioolsdrif, after having paid the due import taxes on our stones at the customs office.

At about 21h30 on Tuesday the 27th, we arrived back home in Somerset West, and thanked God for His protection. Although it had been tiring, we enjoyed our trip tremendously. We had travelled a total of 3 956 km.


Wellcome to Namibia!
Making purchaces at Namdeb

Purchasing at Usakos location
One of Karibib's special inhabitants, ± 25 cm long
The town of Karibib

Aerial view of Uis

Desert land with the Brandberg in the distance

The road stretches ahead in the vast distance ...
Spitzkoppe in the distance
Usakos mineral stalls
A special moment, being in the same picture as the Brandberg.
This picture was taken by the late Nico van Dyk.

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