14. More rock formations near Grunau

In 2010 Lyn & Tyrone had been transferred to Gobabis, Namibia. Where I heard you ask? That was just my response at the time.

If you go back to the map on my first blog on our trip to Katima Mulilo and you will see that it is a small town in central Namibia close to the border with Botswana.

We were fortunate to visit this little town of Gobabis twice and discovered some unknown treasures. For this trip we were very adventurous as we decided to see as much of Namibia as possible. We planned a scenic route around a part of central South Africa to the Namibian border at Grunau, near Karasburg in the SE of Namibia. The nearest SA town is Upington.

 14. More rock formations near Grunau

Rock formations near Gruneau in E. Namibia

We were due to leave Durban on a Friday morning in September and start our journey with a 2-night stopover in Kimberley; the city of Diamonds and the Big Hole. Our adventure started on the Thursday when we learnt that heavy snow and fallen on the Drakensberg mountains and surrounds and the pass we were due to travel through was blocked! Snow was unheard of in September as this is the time of our Spring – rain, yes but snow, new to ourselves and most residents of the province. Climate chnage is real. This year we have had Winter temperatures as well as unequalled wind and rain in October.

Early Friday morning we called the AA to be told that the pass should be opened at midday but nothing was certain so, when they said that access via the N2 South was available, we went that way and travelled to Kimberley by a circuitous route. Although it was slightly longer we saw a beautiful part of the country in the E. Cape that was new to us. We took the road via Tsolo, E. Cape to Aliwal North and it was an amazing experience. One climbs higher and higher until you feel as if you are on top of the world. Lots of friendly local people too who waved enthusiastically at each car which passed. We arrived in Kimberley early evening and were very grateful that we had booked 2 nights as our journey had left us exhausted.

 Tsolo region

 Some of the beautiful scenery near Tsolo, E. Cape

We had visited Kimberley in 1992 and had been to the Big Hole created from the diamond mining of the 1800s and other places of interest at that time but, as it was 15 years later, we decided to repeat the visit and we were pleasantly surprised. The whole area had been significantly upgraded and made much more interesting. We were able to walk out on a bridge a fair distance into the Hole area. There were also 2 opportunities to experience some of the difficulties and not so pleasant events that the diamond miners had to endure. First we ‘went down’ in a lift which rattled and shook rather violently. It did not actually move but it certainly felt like it. Then, one is guided down a passage to follow the route to the actual mining and blasting areas. Once again all the ‘required’ noises and movements were heard and felt. Not an experience for the faint-hearted. It really makes a person realise some of the hardships that these people had to live with every day. 

viewing platform

The viewing platform over the Big Hole 

Kimberley the big holeThe Big Hole

 Another new section is an area which has been developed into a model of how the original village would probably have looked. It was excellently done and a most interesting place to visit. We had expected to look at other interesting places in Kimberley but this visit to the Big Hole took a good few hours and so we decided to rest up for the afternoon. The following day we began a long drive to the town of Upington in the N. Cape, the town nearest to the Namibian border. We arrived in the late afternoon and so were able to take advantage of a beautiful day and walk around the town. On our way here we had crossed the Orange River, the longest river in South Africa, and we were able to see extensive damage following floods which the area had experienced just a couple of months earlier. The Orange River is very popular with canoeists and those who enjoy riding rapids. It flows from the Highlands of Lesotho right across South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean on the West Coast, creating a natural border with Namibia.

 Kimberley shops of the 1800s

Auction Rooms and Printing Works in the redeveloped town of Kimberley (my photo not available)

The area here is very flat and semi-desert. It forms the SW region of the Kgalakgadi Transfrontier National Park which covers an area of 38 000sqkms (15000sqmiles) in 3 countries. Generally. the farm animals are sheep as the only grazing is scrub and small bushes which is unsuitable for cattle. The meat of these Karoo sheep is known all over SA as the best mutton in the country.

Another very common sight was weaver nests. These birds build extremely large communal nests on telephone poles all along the highway for up to thirty or forty couples of birds. I would imagine that at times it must be very noisy.

 We arrived at the SA border post we had little problem in getting everything stamped and approved but, after travelling the 14kms to the Namibian border post, we met some very officious border officers. Every paper was checked and some were discussed with other officers and after 15mins or so they finally stamped everything and sent us on our way. We had entered a Namibia extremely different from the lush north but beautiful its own way as we discovered as we made our way to Fish River Canyon.