Pg 5 – Harnas to Tsumkwe via Baobab 4×4 trail – Day 5

Day 5 – 04 August 2013 – Harnas Wildlife Foundation, Drimiopsis to Tsumkwe, Otjozondjupa  via the Baobab 4×4 trail, camping at Tsumkwe Country Lodge – Co-ordinates for Tsumkwe:  S19 36.086 E20 29.736 – Distance: 394.61km – Duration:  7h46min – Descent in elevation 1010ft.

Trip Report –

We were on the road at 8.41 Nam time, after paying our camping fees, and taking a walk around the reception and bar area.

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We took the C22 back to Drimiopsis then the C44 all the way up to Tsumkwe, making a detour by doing a portion of the 4×4 Baobab trail which is just off the C44, closer to Tsumkwe.

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The horsepower of a local guy we passed along the road.

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The C44 road to the left and Botswana straight ahead.

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A few detour areas which make for a smoother drive.

The condition of the C44 road was excellent, with a few areas where you need to drive off the road and onto the verge to detour around a few deep, soft sand holes where vehicles had struggled, in the past, to drive through.  There are places where recent rainfall has damaged the road.  The clay sand would become very groggy and slippery to drive on.  Once the rain dries up and the land becomes dry, it leaves the way with several corrugated tracks.

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Red dune areas on top of nearly every little hill we climbed.

The weather was perfect for driving, keeping us cool as we headed Northwards.

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We went through this gate into the Ondjou Conservancy. While doing some reading up about the Conservancy, I found out that it is one of the many conservancies in this area and various other parts of Namibia that allow for trophy hunting!  It is “their” way of helping the local people as they are hunter-gatherers by culture. They have the support of the WWF, some United States organisation and others.  Its aim is to help the locals co-exist with tourism and “sustainable” living. This area is around 1.000.000ha where the animals are in their natural habitat without fences.  Some of the animals they hunt are Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Crocodile, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Springbok, Zebra, Greater Kudu, Warthog, Chobe Bushbuck, Hyaena and Baboons.

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Namibia 2013 - Harnas to Tsumkwe road trip.013Namibia 2013 - Harnas to Tsumkwe road trip.015The veterinary control point that states:  “You are entering a stock disease controlled area.  No animals, animal products or plant products may be allowed to return unless covered by an official veterinary permit” by the Directorate of Veterinary Services.

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The Nyae Nyae Conservancy, which consists of 9,030 square kilometres of Kalahari woodlands and combines with 3,842 000 km2 of Khaudum Game Reserve.  The land of Ju’hoansi people.  The hunter-gatherers, also known as the Kung, San or Bushmen.  They have lived here for over 40 000 years in this semi-desert region covered by tall grasses, thorn bushes and ancient baobabs.  Home to a variety of predators and wild game. These include Antelopes, Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Eland, Tsessebe, Springbok, Wild Dogs, Kudu, Oryx, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Lion, Cheetahs, Leopard, Hyaena and Wild Dogs.  The area has masses of birds that migrate to it after a good rainfall which is roughly 400 – 450mm per year.

One of the stipulations on the conservancies requirements is that the locals are not to dwell close to the watering holes.  It makes me wonder in whose best interests all this came about and with the hope that one day our children and their children will be able to see wildlife as we do today.

I also now understand why sitings are scarcer than they probably should be, giving the remoteness of these areas.

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Namibia 2013 - Harnas to Tsumkwe road trip.018The turnoff we took for the Baobab 4×4 trail.

Namibia 2013 - Harnas to Tsumkwe road trip.020The 4×4 trail was quite easy to drive without needing to engage into 4×4.

Having a finger lunch pit stop next to a majestic and ancient Baobab tree.
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Back on the trail where one drives past many, magical, ancient baobabs that tower themselves high up into the sky in their upside down manner.

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These baobabs must be hundreds or thousand years old.  Baobabs can reach a height of 5 to 30m with trunk diameters of 7 to 11m. The Glencoe Baobab of South Africa was named “Adansonia digitata” as it honours the French naturalist and explorer, Michael Adanson.

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A San village spotted along the trail.

You can organise to visit one of the San villages in the area where they will give you a greater insight into their lives.  We, unfortunately, didn’t have the time for doing this right now but hopefully, one day we will be back and able to spend some more time on Bushman land as I have a great respect for their way of life, their culture and the general compassion they have towards the land. It is, after all, their livelihood.

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The incredible, dramatic scenery of this beautiful land makes you feel like you are in the heart of Africa.

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Back on the track again and a taster of the 4x4ing we’re going to be doing in abundance over the next few days.
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Arriving in Tsumkwe with the sun low in the sky and a bit of tar road ahead.

We arrived in Tsumkwe and made our way straight to the lodge to find a camping site for the night.

Tsumkwe's petrol station and general dealer.
Tsumkwe’s petrol station and general dealer.
A quaint few cottages along the road.
A quaint few cottages along the road.

Namibia 2013 - Harnas to Tsumkwe road trip.033The solar power station that supplies the town of Tsumkwe with its power as it is entirely off the grid.  The closest electrical supply is something like 250 kilometres away.  This solar station has a backup generator that kicks in at night to provide the whole town.  We could hear this generator from our campsite at Tsumkwe Country Lodge, which is about a kilometre down the road from here.  The night was far from peaceful for us while camping in Tsumkwe as there was an alarm going on and off somewhere, all night long!

It was just a pit stop for the evening until we were in the peaceful, natural and wild bush vacation we had planned.

The people who we interacted with were all bearing a few beaded necklaces, bracelets and ankle chains for sale to which we supported their handiwork and crafts by buying what we could for gifts back home. They are friendly people who have a character of their own.

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The land and its prints of past meanders in Tsumkwe.

We arrived at Tsumkwe Country Lodge at 4.27pm Nam time. Its coordinates are S19 36.086 E20 29.736.

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Tsumkwe Country Lodge, which is in the heart of Bushmanland.
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Entering Tsumkwe Country Lodge.
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The reception and restaurant – Tsumkwe Country Lodge

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The ladies were preparing the vegetables and the homemade bread to go on the fire.  A drink in the hand and the sun setting on the horizon.

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Our wood delivery man.

Our day came to an end, around the campfire, sharing stories of past travels and ideas to what lay ahead, while enjoying a few sundowners, a pootjie meal and some fresh homemade bread together.

Tsumkwe Country Lodge offers the following:

  • 21 rustic guest units
  • Restaurant and bar
  • You can visit a local village and experience the abundant wildlife by joining an excursion to the Nyae Nyae Pans.
  • It has five large campsites each fitted with electricity, BBQ facilities and a communal ablution block.
  • It is an ideal base to explore the Khaudum National Park or the Okavango Delta via the Dobe border post.
  • The town of Tsumkwe has a good fuel station and a small general dealer but fresh provisions such as meat and vegetables are limited.

To make a booking for Tsumkwe Country Lodge, contact the central reception in Windhoek on Tel:  +264 (0)61 374 750 of Fax:  +064 (0)61 256 598 or email tsumkwe@ncl.com.na

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