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Ugab to Ameib

With two more days to go before our return to Switzerland, we had decided to spend one night in Ameib in the Erongo Mountains, and a second near Windhoek, in the Windhoek Mountain Lodge.

We departed from Ugab Base Camp mid morning, and first paid a short visit to the Brandberg West Mine. The tin mine had been operational between 1946 and 1980. Since being abandoned, the buildings crumbled (and quite some scrap metal and stones had been recycled while building the Ugab Base Camp site), but the open-cast pit can still be seen. We also thought about visiting the degree confluence at -21° 14°, but instead decided to drive on to spend some time in Ameib.

The D3203 road follows a river valley seamed by those turbidite rocks until it meets D2342. The landscape then opens up on the way east, mighty Brandberg can clearly be seen ahead, and the endless rows of rock transsecting the Ugab river valley (check out this satellite image, it's really stunning) lie to the North. Coming closer to Brandberg, we saw many Welwitschia mirabilis of all sizes, but not much else, in this extremely arid region. We drove around Brandberg, enjoying the change in light on its slopes, until the little mining town of Uis. So we've driven 3/4 of the circle around Brandberg, missing now is just the link to Sorris Sorris. Next time.

Uis offers a few decent shops and restaurants, so this might be a good place to re-stock, on a next trip.  And there was cellphone reception, time to send out a few SMS after more than a week out in the wilderness...

On it went past Spitzkoppe to Usakos to go shopping - but we didn't find the shop there (it is on the road out towards Karibib), so we immediately drove on to Ameib Ranch.


Ameib Ranch

Ameib Ranch, a private game reserve and guest farm, has two well-known attractions on offer: Phillip's Cave with San rock art, and Bull's Party, a rock playground. We wanted to visit them, so we decided to stay on Ameib's campsite for one night. The main house, shaded by huge butter trees and weaver nests in the palm trees, is nice, and our hosts were much more hospitable than our guide book suggested. However, the campsite was a bit a disappointing place, after the fabulous campsites we enjoyed earlier on our trip. It is a small compound surrounded by a high fence (which admittedly didn't keep the baboons out), rather crammed with ca. 10 minuscule camp spaces and bungalows without any privacy, and with not much shade. The infrastructure is not new, but well maintained. There is a pool we didn't use. The one ablution block contains 4 WCs and 2 showers - which led to a queue in the evening even though the camping was far from fully booked. Well, it depends on your perspective: Ameib might still be great compared to standard Eurpoean campsites, but the Namibian community campsites seem to have a better approach the use of the one thing Namibia has in plenty: space.

Anyway, the main attractions where really attractive! We took the walk to Phillip's Cave and then drove on to Bull's Party for the sundowner.

The hike from the parking area to Phillip's Cave takes roughly 45 min (one way) in lovely terrain, including some easy climbs over boulders. Interesting on the way were some very colorful lizards - similar to the Augrabies Flat Lizards I've seen a few weeks earlier. The "cave" is a rock overhang ca. 50 m wide. There are several rock paintings of good quality: The famous white elephant with a red buck painted on his belly (probably later in history), a big hunting scene with many hunters, elephant and other animals, and a single hunter with an ostrich and a beautifully sketched antelope. Not many designs, but they are nice, as is the view from the cave over the lovely valley below and the mighty Erongo mountains in the distance - especially in the warm afternoon light. We could also make out the boulders of Bull's Party in the distance - it would be an easy walk there, but then your car is stuck at the Phillip's Cave parking.

I've no idea where Bull's Party got its name from, but it is an area with rocks. Spectacular rocks. Huge round boulders sit on smooth volcanic rocks as if they were bowling balls and would just roll down. Some of the boulders really dwarfed our giant Nissan! Erosion must have gone crazy here... There are more funny-looking rocks around, like the Elephant Head and the "Wagner Scene" to which you can do a 1 hr hike (good leaflet available in Ameib).

On our way to those attractions, we saw lots of game, like giraffes, kudu, and a family of baboons climbing the smooth volcanic rocks.


Back to Windhoek via Bosua pass

The next day we drove back to Windhoek - not on the main road, but via Bosua Pass. I had read about it in my guide book and thought we - and our Nissan? - might like this before returning to Windhoek. The C32 from Karibib leads first down to Kuiseb river, and up again afterwards. This region looks very different from the landscapes we had seen in the previous days, as it was cattle country again. Soon after the turn East to C28 (ca. 1250 meters above sea level) come the first turns and some ups and downs, but in a way this doesn't really justify the warnings like "no trailers, no caravans" yet. But slowly the road starts to resemble a roller-coaster ride, and suddenly you turn again and see a patch of tar road in the distance. And this one is really steep! 20% elevation means one meter of elevation per 5 meters of distance! It really feels quite steep, and the immediate view to the left is nothing for people suffering from vertigo. There is a little shelter just afterwards, for wild camping - must be a terrific place for a sunset, as you see over hill after hill of empty land. Less nice is the rubbish dump just there... This is, however, not yet the summit of the pass (and thus the edge of the escarpment), as the road still ascends afterwards to ca. 1700 masl. An elevation gain of ca. 450 m, but overall, your car does more than double, due to the roller coaster setup! Afterwards we heard that a very cool tour guide hadn't headed the "no trailer" signs and had driven his car with trailer down Bosua pass, and himself and several guests to death.

Once up the escarpment, you reach Khomas Hochland, a scenery dominated by an endless number of round hills. Beautiful view, though not beautiful for your car, as the roller-coaster ride goes on, making the drive a bit lengthy. However, the view is gorgeous - up to the Gamsberg plateau some 60 km to the South!

Windhoek Mountain Lodge

We had booked a room in the Windhoek Mountain Lodge, 15 km from Windhoek, to have another quiet evening before returning home. The lodge is easy to find on the slopes of Auas Mountains South of Windhoek. It provides a cosy comfortable accommodation overlooking the quiet valley, with the host Jackie well looking after us. The property belongs to Gravel Travel, a German-based travel agency specializing in motorbike trips through Southern Africa. We spent a lazy afternoon at the heated pool, and enjoyed our last sundowner and a fine dinner in Namibia.

Our plane left the next day at 16:00. We went to Windhoek for some last-minute shopping, a steak at Spur, and we still had to give back our Nissan to Asco Car Hire - time for an easy chat with Pat about the nice and nasty things we experienced during our trip. Looking forward to our next time with an Asco car!

Back at home, autumn had just started with a day of rain and cold after two weeks of warm and sunny weather... 

Last update:  20:59 04/04 2007
Kalahari Meerkats
Augrabies NP
Naries - more flowers
Kleinzee diamond mine
Namibia's South, Orange
Fish River Canyon
Koichab Dunes
D707 scenic route
Büllsport & Naukluft
Windhoek & Waterberg
Outjo & Khowarib Gorge
Hoanib & Amspoort
Desert Elephants
Purros, Hoarusib & Khumib
Huab, Doros, Ugab
Erongo, Boshua, WDH
Travel facts
Gallery of this trip

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