Heading South

November 15, 2013 - Aus, Namibia

14 November (Thursday)

We decided to visit the Sesriem Canyon as we had missed it the day before due to our car problems.   So back to the gate and again we had to pay for a permit (R60 per person and R10 for the car).  We drove the 4  and a half km and abruptly the road came to an end at what appeared to be a donga (an eroded channel in the ground).  However on getting out of the car and walking a little closer, it became obvious that this was no ordinary donga.  It is a huge canyon  deep in the earth.  Although it was already hot on the surface as we walked deep into the canyon there was very welcome cool shade.  As you walk down the canyon you are walking through time.  You can see the layers of sediment and rocks that have been laid down through millions of years,   The rock formations are spectacular and the amazing thing is that you would never know that anything this spectacular was just below your feet if you were walking along on the surface in close proximity to the edge of the canyon.
We left Sesriem and drove through beautiful vast landscapes full of game. 
We were now heading South and had read about Duwisib Castle in a pamphlet at the border as we entered Namibia, claiming that there was a Museum and Campsite at Duwisib run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts  (NWR).  It  does NWR no credit as they have allowed this once  beautiful  house built in the early 1900’s to fall into decay.  The ‘Castle’ was the very grandiose home of a German army officer and his very wealthy American wife.  They built the house and furnished it in the grand style, with beautiful furniture (some of it antique and some in the style of the time).  They also had a wonderful collection of art.  He died in the Battle of the Somme and so the house  passed  through many owners until in the 1970’s it was taken over by the Namibian Govt ‘To preserve it for posterity’, or so it says on the tatty piece of paper they give you when you pay the 55 Namibian dollar entrance fee.  What a sad, sad place it is.  A Namibian lady sits in the once magnificent grand Reception Hall while the house and its contents decay around her.  Plaster is crumbling, old murals are decaying, beautiful old floors and hand carved wall panelling are rotting.  And many of the wonderful pieces of art are sadly in need of restoration.
On inspection, the campsite was not too bad, but next door was Duwisib Guest House.  They also had lovely camp sites, but also a café selling ‘Kafee und Kuchen’, a very German tradition - Coffee and Cake.  This tiny little shop in the middle of nowhere was selling the most delicious looking apple tart.  The slices were enormous, so we ended up sharing a slice with our very good coffee.
The problem with both the camp sites at Duwisib was that neither had power, and we were worried about our batteries.  Turned out this was an unnecessary worry as the batteries both worked fine after the replacement of the alternator.  So we decided to go back to Betta where we had seen camp sites when we filled up with petrol.  Betta seems to be kind of cattle station where they collect livestock for transport  in the middle of nowhere.  It is just a crossroad,  the filling station, a camp site and about 5 houses.  The whole community revolves around the little shop and camp site.  It is a very, very good camp site.  Each site has its own paved area with a table and chairs, a sink for washing up, a lean to to park the car under in the midday heat and a kind of balcony on top of the car port which you can climb up to via steps.  There is a fully equipped laundry - even irons!!!  They have a kiosk where they serve light meals and the little shop had  beers and wine as well as all the usual tea, coffee, etc.  Lovely clean ablutions - really to be recommended to anyone travelling in that area.
Terry watched the Namibia Sandgrouse coming in to the only waterhole in the vicinity at sunset - poor things were being harassed by a lanner falcon just waiting to pick off its supper.  The sand grouse have the ability to fill their chest feathers with water and take it to their young which can be up to 80 km away in the desert.
Also at this campsite we met a delightful old dog who joined us for breakfast, making himself very comfortable under our kitchen table.

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