Our safari drive was a door-to-door service starting at 09:00. As we drove past the service garage we were surprised to see that our car had already been collected from the rail siding.
Our first view of Bogenfels
On the other side of Luderitz we stopped to pick up a young French man who introduced himself as a tour operator and he was doing some research on possible excursions for his clients. As the morning moved on it became clear that he took a shine to our daughter who was not too impressed with this. Gave us a good bit of entertainment.
Lyn admires a plant in the desert
More importantly though, the scenery was beautiful and the information interesting. About 10kms outside of Luderitz we arrived at the gated entrance to the diamond mining area which today belongs to Namdeb, a merger between the Namibian Government and de Beers’ Mining. It is a highly protected area where there are still diamonds near the surface.
Notice at the entrance to Sperrgebiet Nature Reserve
As there was no person on duty at the gate, our guide had to go into the small office and radio the headquarters giving our names and passport details. Note: one cannot visit this area unless on an approved guided tour. The approved tour guides have keys to the gates.
Our guide radios HQ to sign us in
Once through the check-in gate we continued on another of Namibia’s long but well maintained gravel roads which stretched for miles ahead of us. This is what it is like in Namibia with the exception, probably, around Windhoek and similar regions where there are mountains. As we drove along our guide showed us a number of dunes which have shifted even in just a few days. In some places where so much sand that the road was impassable and we had to go around it.
Our first stop was at Grillental where the Germans set up some buildings and pump equipment to access fresh borehole water for all the mining towns springing up in the area. Today all that is left are a few abandoned buildings and rusted equipment. Birds had built nests and sand had been blown into the buildings in huge piles. This was not surprising as Grillental had been developed a hundred years ago. Also all over the ground were large and small pieces of navy and white marble which was also mined by the Germans.
Abandoned building and wagon at Grillental
Large piece of marble at Grillental
After a half hour we continued the drive into the Sperrgebiet (German for ‘Prohibited Area’) National Park to visit the ghost mining town of Pomona. As we drove along we stopped intermittently stopped to look at interesting plants and the various dunes and their formation. At Pomona we spent some time wandering around the empty buildings, many of which were filled with wind-blown sand. Some of the buildings were in amazingly good condition when one considers that they are 100+ years old. There were parts of the original rail track which is now twisted and broken having lain in the desert heat for all these years.
Twisted rail tracks
Bottles left by miners – all full of sand
A room full of sand
Perched on a hill above the town is the manager’s house which was securely locked so we had to peek through the windows. The wind and sand show no respect or difference for the Manager’s house than for any other. It was filled with sand as well.
The Manager’s house
In the centre of the town is a bowling alley which was very popular with the German miners and it too was in good order with the exception of the missing pins and their control bar. There were a number of pieces of equipment lying around of which many were rusted and now of no use but there was a large item which was a mixer or sorter as it had a handle to turn the central ‘tube’. I tried to get it to turn but it was well jammed.
The handle was solidly jammed
Sign stating “No spitting” above the door to the bowling alley
Inside the bowling alley as maintained
Not surprisingly many of the German miners died in the towns which were far from any medical assistance or access to transport. At Pomona there is a small cemetery to remember these persons.
Some of the graves at Pomona
Our guide had brought an excellent lunch for us which he admitted that his wife had prepared. One of the houses had been cleaned up and a small kitchenette and dining area had been created.
Our lunch buffet
From there we continued the last short lap of our trip see the Bogenfels (German for Arch Rock). As one comes over the top of a hill the arch rises up from the sea – a truly incredible sight. It stands 55m high but I cannot find a record anywhere of its width, which is huge. Our French companion chose to climb to the top of the arch, something that many visitors choose to do. We decided to remain at the bottom of the arch and just wander on the rocks.
Bogrnfels being pounded by the sea
Trevor and Vicky sitting beneath the Bogenfels
Before leaving at about 3.30pm, there was a delicious cup of coffee/tea and biscuits as a nice finish to the end of a very interesting day.