Day 3 – 01 August 2013 – Noordhoewer, Orange River to Quivertree Forest and Giants Playground, Karas region, camping at Quivertree Forest Rest Camp – Coordinates for Quivertree Forest Rest Camp: S26 28.906 E18 14.501 – Distance: around 320km – Duration: roughly 5 hours with stops in Keetmanshoop.
Click on the following link to google maps if you’d like to see the route we travelled today:
Trip Report –
Daytime gently woke us up with bird calls and the sunrise shining into our rooftop tent. Coffee was served to some in bed as we lay in, enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains reflection on the perfectly still water in the Orange River.
We settled our bill at Amanzi Trails reception, which came to N$ 800 for two people camping including our half towards the canoe trip and then we were on the road.
The hills and dips that run along the road between Amanzi Trails back to the B1, always gives us a few belly laughs, if travelled at just the right speed.
We stopped at Noordoewers petrol station to fill up our tank with diesel and our tums with a toasted sandwich and coffee for the road. We bought a Namibian sim card which I tried to get connected, but I had no luck. I phoned the help number, and they tried their best to help me, but nothing was working, so they advised us to go to the nearest cellphone shop for assistance, which was in Keetmanshoop. It was a few hundred kilometres before we would get there and we decided if it’s not working, we will stop there as it’s our cheapest way of staying in touch with our family at home.
The convoy of cars ended up with one group speeding ahead of the other two of us who were taking our time and conserving our diesel consumption.
The B1 road is in an excellent condition, a tar road with a few potholes here or there. It can be narrow at times with gravel verges. It is a bit scary at times when you need to overtake one of the dozens of huge trucks that run up and down this road, especially if the winds blowing. The force of the vehicles alone sway your car as you pass them.
We made it to Keetmanshoop just after lunch time. The town of Keetmanshoop is usually quiet, and you won’t see a soul then around the next corner you may find the local spar/shop where ‘everyone is hanging out’. We found the cellphone shop with a seriously long queue of people. It wasn’t easy, standing there for about an hour in the end, while you are on holiday and having to do mundane tasks like this, but we knew it would be worth it in the end. The shop assistant pressed a few buttons and within two minuites had our sim card working! In times like these, one can feel so stupid for having to deal with technology. We were happy as our holiday could now continue again, we only had about a 20km drive to reach our destination for the day.
Tip – Cellphone coverage, even with it being on, is never of good quality at the best of times! It helps though with keeping the connection between you and home, even if it is only now and then, at least, it doesn’t cost us the earth with trying to use our roaming facilities on our South African cellphone. We have, in the past had seriously hefty cellphone bills, and we won’t be doing that again! We prefer to buy a local sim card at a small cost and pay as you go. It has always worked best for us. There are a few cell phone providers you can link up to in Namibia. We used to use Leo but found their coverage wasn’t that good and since those days we’ve always ended up with using MTC Tango as our prepaid provider of choice in Namibia. MTC Tangos help number is +264 481130.
We made our way out of the town of Keetmanshoop and were back on the B1 ‘highway’, heading North. You will find the turnoff for the M29, which takes you to Quivertree Forest Rest Camp, this is just outside Keetmanshoop town on the B1. We made a right turn, in the North Easterly direction onto the M29 where you drive for 13km till you reach the rest camp which is about a 20 minuite drive. Coenie and Ingrid Nolte’s farm is otherwise known as Garigan’s Farm, in the Karas region of Namibia
The M29 is a good, gravel road with a few corrugations making it a bumpy ride at times. There are a few cattle grid crossings to cross. The fences along the side of the road in this area to stop the animals from roaming. If you are lucky, the Cheetahs will be seen before you even reach the entrance to the Quivertree Forest Rest Camp.
We arrived at 4 pm with just enough time to park our vehicle and have a cold drink with our friends who had all arrived earlier than us. The Cheetah feeding was starting at 4.30pm, so we made our way down to the reception area.
We waited outside the cheetahs feeding area that’s fenced off. Coenie Nolte had the food hanging in a bucket on the fence, ready and waiting for feeding the Cheetahs. His border collie dogs were on our side of the fence, and the Cheetahs were approaching us from inside the fenced off area. Coenie took the bucket, opens the gate, goes in and as he throws the food to the cheetahs the dogs jump and bark and the cheetahs growl at the dogs. My instincts take effect with a fear of what one could expect if you meet up with one of these in the wild. Coenie moves the dogs away while the Cheetahs grab the food and take it to their stone slate, their plate where they lie down on all fours and start devouring the meal.
We are invited into the fenced area to be with the cheetahs while they’re eating. It doesn’t feel right on any level as I respect wild animals as being just that, wild. We were invited to stroke the Cheetahs while making sure one approaches them from the front so that you don’t take them by surprise from behind. I sent Ian forward before myself to brave myself up a bit. My heart was pounding, and I was sure the cheetah could sense that. Ian, the man that he is, went ahead. I had to beg him to wait there a bit longer so I could take the picture.
A million thoughts were going through my head about how wrong this was. Why would I want to put myself in this situation? I knew that it was because of this that I had to take this opportunity. I crept closer, my knees almost buckling. I was concerned about tripping over my skirt and falling on the cheetah instead of just creeping up on him slowly. I knelt down, with trembles running through me as I reached out my hand and was surprised by the hardness of their coat as I stroked away, getting a little bit more confident with every stroke I made. I could hear the power of their jaws as their teeth gnawed through the bones. I could feel the force of their heads ripping the pieces of meat apart. They had a gentle purr of happiness that I could feel vibrating through their body as they appreciated the meal they had. The smile on my face in the photo above covers my nervousness I had very well as I stroked this cool cat whose claws could cut me up like a knife and their mouths would go straight for my throat as they are known to strangle the air pipe of their prey for a speedy death before eating them.
Small children are not allowed inside the fenced area at all due to them still being wild animals, and they have in the past taken a fancy to children. Coenie had mentioned they had a problem before. As an adult, you must make sure that you stick with the group that is inside the area and don’t wonder off alone.
I managed to film a little bit from inside the Cheetahs area, with much nervousness in my hands and no tripod at the time!
Coenie gave us a humorous and informative talk about his cheetahs who he loves dearly. He saves each and every one of them from the surrounding farmlands. Cheetah’s these days are the ones to be killed off as they fight for the use of the land with the farmers. Coenie saves these cheetahs, feeds them and educates people about them.
The feeding of the Cheetahs was over, so we took the short drive to Giants Playground with the permission we had received from Coenie Nolte.
We arrived there with plenty of time to have a good walk around, investigating the wonders of the landscape. The boulders are placed together like pieces of a puzzle the way the cracks have appeared over the years. The formations and shapes are majestic. The area gives you the feeling that there was once a Giant, who had his playground here, as one boulder after the other are on top of each other in a careful and precise balancing act. As the sun sets in the west, the rocks turn a deep, rich reddish brown, enhancing the features of these huge boulder formations against the rich blue sky that starts to change into its red and orange hue as the sun kisses the earth goodnight. The stones cast amazing silhouettes upon the ground as the shadows become larger and larger as the sun goes down. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and you are so aware that you are in the here and now! Living and enjoying life to its fullest at this incredible moment in time.
We all had such a great time in the maze of Giants Playground.
Depending on how long you spend at the playground and how deep you venture into it. Be aware that the pathways can sometimes confuse one as to where the exit is that leads you back to the parking lot.
It was special for Ian and me to be back within this wonderland with its crystal blue sky and earthly ground. It holds such a history of geological proportions of time within its facade that’s here, for all to come and see.
Here is a picture of us at Giants Playground.
We got back to our campsite at sunset and lit the fire. Our friends had decided to make pasta, so we combined some of our ingredients together so that there was enough for all of us. It felt like our friends were brewing up some magic as they stirred away at the large, witch-like pootjie pots with the flames lapping up high on the sides. The pasta was very wholesome and delicious.
We all had a lovely evening with stories and laughs around the campfire while being surrounded by the beauty of the quiver tree silhouettes on the hilltops with millions of stars out in the night sky, enjoying the stillness of the evening. We all had a beautiful, magical, stimulating, eventful and extraordinary day.
We had a good nights sleep and took a quick picture of our campsite before leaving bright and early in the morning.
Here is a You-Tube video I made from some of our footage with the Cheetahs.
We’d like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to Coenie and Ingrid Nolte for their hospitality and their beautiful rest camp. Ian and I have visited a few times over the years and feel it’s a perfect pit stop for a night or two while travelling around Namibia, especially from Cape Town to Windhoek as it’s along that way. We have stayed in one of the bungalows before which are clean and comfy with a delicious breakfast included in your accommodation rate. We have always enjoyed our stay here. Thank you.
Regards Ian and Wendy
Quivertree Forest Rest Camp Contact Information:
Coenie and Ingrid Nolte
P.O. Box 262
Tel: +264 (0) 63 683 421
Sat Tel: + 264 (0)83 7683 421 (Updated 30 June 2016)