Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Klein Aus Vista

I had pictured Aus. A dusty, barren place for us to put our tent up, a rudimentary ablution block, something a little backward. But they would have ice. I checked.

It was an overnight stop of necessity. I didn't want to make the trip from the border to Sesriem, halfway up the Namib, in one day.

We drove into tiny Aus from Rosh-Pinah and beyond to put in diesel, and passed a lady on her stoep, carefully polishing the leaves of her houseplants. Back out on the tar road we found the turn off to Klein Aus Vista, crossed the train tracks and arrived in a sandy parking lot in front of a fenced-in fruit garden. Wizened lemons, grapes enveloped in individual bags, sparrows scuffling in the dust. Inside the stone-built reception, cool as it could be, we were given directions to our camp site, ice, and handed in our dry ice packs to be re-frozen in the deep freeze. We also logged onto the Internet for four minutes to see if our vouchers from Namibia Reservations had arrived for our stay at Sesriem. They had not. They never would.

The road to the campsite wound away from the sun-facing chalets built against the hill, and as we came around a bend we saw the beauty of the place.

Low hills of eroding granite, a valley beween them, many camel thorn trees, blonde grass. We found camel thorn #8 and parked. It was a beautiful tree with plenty of shade for the truck and the tent, and a screen of poles gave us some shelter from what would become the daily afternoon wind.

The gritty sand around the site had been meticulously raked, the braai place had been cleaned, and a fresh trash bag had been put in the animal proof bin. We had a tap.

Cleanliness = godliness.

A French family with small children and an old blue Jeep had begun dinner preparations. A large overlander's little khaki pup tents stood empty, waiting for their occupants to return from a walk in the hills.

We set up our tent. I learned how easy it was. Cold beer the reward. At the neighbouring camel thorn a fire had been lit. I felt I could stay forever.

The setting sun lit the rocks from within and we took a short walk up the sandy road, hoping to see klipspringers on the rocks.

We found sociable weavers instead. For many miles we had been seeing their apartment-block sized nests in tree. They were the first to greet us at the campsite, landing in squadrons and hooting brassily at us.

The first of many field kitchens.

While the fire got going we put our feet up. A truck, a fire, glass of red wine, a man in a red fleece. What more...

Dinner: instant Smash, with hot milk and butter, chops with rosemary and lemon, avocado for salad, peaches for dessert.

Next morning, after a very good sleep, the weavers woke us and I gave them some water in our candle holder. From then on they vowed that they were Our People.

Then they broke into the rusks. They said that Marie Antoinette had given them cake. And that I had better Watch Out.

Sweet people.

BTW, the dreaded ablution block was low, made of stone, with solar panels for the lights, and polite notices about conserving water* and not fiddling with the gas geyser's settings, and about closing doors and windows at night so that the curious mountain chats would not get stuck, and was labelled Ewe and Ram on each side so that we knew where to go. Impeccably clean and neat. Behind it was the open air scullery.

*My favourite notice read Please do not use inconsiderable amounts of water.
Next stop, Sesriem.


  1. Lovely! the red/gold sunset picture is especially evocative.

  2. You and Beence had some sweet company to share your camp with ... those weaver birds are amazing!


  3. No mention of the rats? Well, they were sweet. Desert rats, or mice, striped like chipmonks, and almost as friendly, too. One or two per bush. Everywhere. But yeah, what a lovely place... We only missed the wild horses...

  4. QC - warmer than snow :-)

    Hi Frank - some nests were so big they brought whole branches down. Good luck with the seeds...

    Keli'i - we helped teach them some bad habits too, on our way back down to SA.

    Beence! that's for next time!

  5. I'm so enjoying the story of your trip. And I love that you had painted toenails for it!

  6. Your adventures have been so fascinating. Know you and Vincent have had a grand time!


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