When my dad first suggested a trip to Namibia, I was certainly hesitant. Although I’d always been curious to see this desert wonderland, I didn’t know what to expect, but sometimes that’s the best way to enter into an adventure. Follow our Namibian trek past the Orange river and all the way through to the red dunes that begin to appear further inland.
①Amanzi River Trails Camp (2 Nights Camping)
After a long drive from Cape Town, all the way through Springbok and over the border, you come to Amanzi which lies adjacent to the Orange River. The river is a physical barrier separating South Africa and Namibia. We set up camp right next to the river, not realizing how cold it would be and that placing a tent right underneath a tree makes it easy for birds to drop twigs (and larger objects) on your roof before you’re ready to wake up.
With firewood readily available we cooked meals and brewed fresh coffee over the fire. Sitting against the river with my book in hand, I was visited by small green birds. We later looked it up and found that it was an Orange River white eye. A curious bunch, they sifted closer and looked inside a bag, only to hide back in the reeds again.
Our legs stiff from a long drive, we decided to inquire about walking trails in the area. The owner informed us that she and her husband were in the process of setting up some trails but owing to an accident that left her husband on crutches whilst venturing out to do this, there was only one trail that was deemed safe. Good enough for us, we set out to stretch our legs.
On our last day after some peanut butter oats and a warm shower, we headed off on the long drive to Aus, another German outpost back in the day.
②Klein Aus Vista – Desert Horse Inn (1 Night Double Room)
One of my favourite stays in Namibia, Klein Aus Vista, is a clay-coloured farm-style inn with red sands nestling little houses further out from the reception’s main building. A little too cold to use the guest pool, we lingered at the on-site bar for a refreshing juice and free WiFi instead.
We stayed in a double room which included a luxurious bathroom (in comparison to most camps) as well as a kitchenette. Apart from all the home comforts inside the lodge’s rooms, the outer area is also quite spacious. We cooked a meal in our private little boma area, listening to the sounds of the wild just beyond the rocky outcrops. This constant immersion into nature is just one of the reasons why Namibia is so special.
Sleeping soundly that evening, we were well-prepared for a relaxed hike through the surrounding hills. There are several trails to try and the helpful information booklet in the room included a detailed description of each. We opted for one of the easier trails, marked by its own colour on the actual trail. Upon reaching the halfway mark on the loop, you are invited to climb a little higher to a viewing point. Astonishingly vast stretches of desert await you, with nothing else visible to the naked eye.
③Ranch Koiimasis (1 Night)
The next leg of the journey took us off-road (more off-road than Namibian roads, which says something), all the way to a little ostrich ranch, hidden between the cliffs.
Some of the most rustic accommodation with no electricity and no hot water on our side of the campsite, we were still treated to astounding natural beauty in the form of pebbled bathrooms hidden within the rocks and walking trails reaching into the depths of mountain caves.
We were lucky enough to notice a large nest crammed between two rocks, high up on the cliff-face. Wondering what bird it belonged to, our question was answered when a Verreaux’s eagle (or black eagle) soared overhead, surveying the area. Not the only wildlife on the premises, we were constantly stalked by Rock hyrax, affectionately termed dassies in South Africa. My dad shares the knowledge that the closest relative to the dassie genetically is the elephant! Many animals have adapted to the desert climate over time, just like the dassie. An example of this is the wild horses that also made their way down the mountain; remnants of lingering colonial times and lost wars.
④Sterreprag Farm (1 Night Camping)
Certainly the most unassuming stay of all, Sterreprag translates roughly to ‘beautiful stars’ and I was quite unprepared for how accurate the name is. We set up camp once again after another thorough Namibian trek through Helmeringhausen and enjoyed some wine around the fire. Rustic ablutions were not actually a concern as they were well-maintained and private. Owned by a cattle farmer, the property is still fully operational and guests are welcomed to roam around.
We waited patiently for the stars to make an appearance, fearing that it might be too cloudy or the moon might be too bright but eventually they all became visible, glittering in the darkness. The sky was so clear that we could even see the lower satellites as they orbited through the sky.
⑤Canyon Roadhouse (1 Night Camping)
Upon stopping at Canyon Roadhouse, I noticed an old filling station, complete with a 60’s style cartoon to entice travelers to fill up. We were early for our reservation so we decided to see what was on offer at the cafe. To my surprise, they had quite an accommodating menu, complete with a veggie burger.
Inside there’re vintage car models on display, with some fireplaces even being made from the hoods of scrapped cars. The bathrooms displayed the same old-school graphic, continuing the car-motif throughout.
We got our camping allocation and ventured around to the back of the building. Looking out onto a large rocky hill, the campsites are well-spaced out and the amenities are very clean. Another warm shower on the trip certainly made it stick in my mind!
After walking a few trails in the surrounds we took a dip in the circular pool which was cold but refreshing in the desert heat. We set up camp for the evening and made sure to enjoy the stars, despite the outside light of our neighbours being turned on for most of the night…
From here we made our way to the real spectacle that a stay at Canyon Roadhouse offers, The Fish River Canyon. You enter through the park entrance for which there’s a vehicle fee but from there it’s a mysterious drive to the top of the canyon. We actually made a wrong turn and ended up looking over a small rocky valley which we were very disappointed by as the second-largest canyon in the world. At last, however, we made it to the real one! The sight we saw from the lookout this time was far from disappointing.
With our adventure behind us we made the last trip on our Namibian trek back to Amanzi where we camped once more before crossing the border back to South Africa.