Tuesday, May 9, 2018 | Namibia – Kunene Region, Opuwo | Petra
HARTMANN VALLEY AND MARIENFLUSS VALLEY
KAOKOLAND ON THE SECOND ATTEMPT
With a delay of two or three weeks we take a second attempt to visit Kaokoland together with Conny & Tommy. The lonely region in the far north-western reaches of Namibia to the border of Angola is a special adventure not only for 4×4 travellers. Fully equipped with food, water and diesel and with an eye to a rain-free weather forecast we leave to Kaokoland from Opuwo.
MIDWAY THROUGH HOARUSIB RIVER
Yet we have doubts whether our planned route will work. The rainy season has destroyed parts of the pads, and the rivers might be still too wet or the ground too soft to cross. Our extensive tour will take twelve days and more than thousand kilometres around one of the most untouched areas of Namibia.
The recommended maximum speed of 60 km/h on pad D3707 seems to be very ambitious to us. Within the next 91 kilometres to the west of Opuwo we work on our first project of road construction. There is still quite a lot of water in Hoarusib River. The sandy ground is way too soft for our heavy tons. So let’s build a road with the big stones around us.
Tommy is the first testing the stability of our do-it-yourself road. It looks dramatic when the big MAN bents forward into the ford.
After all we enjoy a bath in the river, the sun and the marvellous scenery at Hoarusib River.
THE DESERT IS ALIVE
In Okondjombo Region we lionise the green vivid scenery of the normally monotonous and arid area. Here the rainy season improves its power to bring nature to life immediately. It smells like thyme and hyacinth.
At a little pond anywhere on our way to Orupembe we meet some children who have to bring water home. They take their time and much more prefer to play.
THE BEAUTY OF HIMBA WOMEN
Every so often we come upon smaller Himba villages with rondavels made of brunches, clay and dry dung. Himba women sit in front of it in the shadows with their children. Sometimes the huts are temporarily left. Himba are seminomads and go to where the cattle can find enough to eat.
© caroline75005 / Fotolia
The beautiful Himba women spend several hours every morning for their skin and hair care and for the adornment of their bodies. Reasons enough to get up much earlier than the men. With a red paste of butterfat, ochre and resin they lotion the body to protect it from sun and dehydrating. They curl their hair to bunches and also coat it with ochre. For intimate care they hunker down over smoke.
© frag / Fotolia
But to the question what to wear they have an easy answer. Their hips are wraped up with a wide skirt of goat hide. A top they don’t need and wear rich necklaces instead. That’s all they need for looking good.
To protect travellers from getting lost, there are placed remarkable drums at four forks between Hartmann Valley and Marienfluss Valley. The Groendrom, Oranjedrom, Bloudrom and Rooidrom (green, orange, blue, red drum) are helpful landmarks in nowhere.
AT HARTMANN MOUNTAIN RANGE
Along the Hartmann Valley we get new sceneries to see every minute. On a mountain we even can see the wide and magic dunes of the Skeleton Coast Park.
THE LONE MAN
Suddenly in the middle of the unpopulated nowhere we light upon him under a tree – the Lone Man.
Around him and the others of his kind many stories and fairies twine. No-one knows how many Lone Men in fact exisit. Nine, ten or more?
These nearly life-size rock sculptures catch you by surprise in the middle of the wide scenery, in a sitting, standing or walking posture always with inner peace.
Where exactly you can find them you only will know the moment you see them. Two of them I unfortunately missed while I was completely distracted by the beauty of the scenery. Who is the artist of these exceptional masterpieces who arranged it with sensitivity at Kaokoland? It always will stay a mistery.
One saying is that the stone sculptures were once men whose love for the land was so great that they were transformed to stone and destined to be part of the magic landscape forever. The moment I ask our Lone Man, what the true part of the story is, he only smiles. The rest is silence.
THE MONSTER DUNE
From Hartmann Valley our route to Marienfluss Valley leads us downhill a monster dune, 180 m high. Our truck smoothly coasts down the dune of soft sand. On the bottom Tommy is waiting with his truck and at the side Conny takes pictures of our slow slide. What an adventure!
Image 1, 3, 4: Conny
Only some kilometers later we reach a wide hill where we get to see the mountain range in the South of Angola. Fantastic!
On our way to Marienfluss Valley we come upon numerous herds of zebras, oryx antelopes and springboks.
AT MARIENFLUSS VALLEY
The more we get into the valley the more we are impressed by the springlike nature. The grass softly sways in the wind. We float with our eleven tons through the scenery as if we are part of a magnificient painting.
It is an incredible chance to get to see this spectacle of nature. Thanks to the heavy rain this year that created this magnificence.
For hard-core offroaders Van Zyl’s Pass is a formidable challenge. It is only passable from East to West, although the very hard kind of offroaders try to do it the other way round. Our truck is way to big for the hazardous pass, but we want to have a look at the steepest part of it and walk uphill.
Later we learn from Allgemeine Zeitung (oldest, German-speaking newspaper in Namibia) that just now a Southafrican tourist had an accident and finally completely lost his Land Cruiser there. Ouch!
THE LOST NUT
Lucky you are if you can find a water tank (not drinkable!) that is filled with water and also is working.
At one of the most beautiful places in the North of Marienflusstal Valley happens one of the most unpleasant things a traveller can imagine – a mechanical breakdown! The flat spring of Conny’s & Tommy’s truck drops a nut and the spring threatens to slip out of the suspension. There is no way to move on without getting it fixed immediately.
There is neither an automobile association nor telephone or internet around.
With united forces and a robust, original African lifting construction made of big stones and three hydraulic jacks for trucks we finally succeed to get the flat spring into the right position to mount a new nut. Problem solved!
Even the next day another bitter fate comes along with a break down. It’s the spiky rest of a Mopane tree that kills Tommys new front tyre. To change the wheel is not a thing for Conny & Tmmy, they waltz through it. It is the financial loss that hurts.
A cosy camp fire in the evening at full moon helps to forget about it and world looks much brighter the next morning .