Day 20 – 19 August 2013 – Samsitua, Rundu, via the Hoba meteorite, Grootfontein then on to Weaver’s Rock, 36km outside of Otjiwarongo on the B1 towards Okahandja, to camp there for the night.
We were back on the road after having a pleasant and peaceful night at Samsitua Riverside Camp. Our aim was to travel as far as we wanted to go during the day towards Okahandja, making our way closer to Windhoek.
We made our way back to the B8 by Rundu and turned right as we were heading towards Grootfontein. The contrast of life in the picture below, all seen in the walking distance from each other. The horse and cart and the local scrapyard. Shebeens are well sign boarded and seem to be popular in the area. A Shebeen is usually an unlicensed drinking establishment which is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Driving past the Military Base just outside Rundu.
We were quite surprised by the amount of houses and local community kraals that went on for kilometres on either side of the B8, after leaving Rundu. The population has blossomed since we were last here which was only a few years ago.
We came across a few local communities outside Rundu, who were selling their handmade mekoros. Mekoros is plural for a mokoro, a tree trunk that has been carved and hollowed out by hand in a traditional way to be used as a boat with a pole that the person uses to push off the river or delta floor to navigate themselves along. It’s the locals way of being able to navigate around the Okavango Delta and the rivers.
It was at this gate where we had our uncooked meat taken from us. Fortunately, we only had a little bit of sausage left. They gave us the option of cooking it up, on the side of the road if we wanted to eat our meat but with time constraints, we declined and agreed they could throw it in the dustbin.
This area amazed us with all the palm trees everywhere on either side of the road.
We did a quick pit stop in Grootfontein. The town area we saw was quite sweet and clean with its tree lined streets.
We turned off the B8, onto the gravel road, D2905 as we were taking a detour to view the Hoba Meteorite site.
We drove up the road, expecting a signboard to indicate the turning to the Hoba Meteorite on the right but missed the sign as it was only on the other side of the road for the vehicles coming from the opposite direction to us. We had driven about 10km passed it when we felt we’d gone too far as indicated on our map. We asked a man alongside the road, and he confirmed we’d driven up the road too far, so we turned around. On seeing the sign on the way down we felt like idiots to have missed it. A person doesn’t think of looking back onto road signs on the opposite side of the path from the direction your travelling. It wasn’t facing us at all. We couldn’t understand why there was no signage for the D2859 while driving up the D2905 at the end of the D2859 intersection. I hope they have rectified this issue and that they have erected a signboard at the first crucial intersection.
The mountain range surrounding the meteorite site forms a huge half circle right around us in the distance.
We finally arrived at the Hoba Meteorite! The garden, written plaques on the wall and all the stone built walls and flower beds, have all been well manicured and maintained. All these things blend into the pleasant experience one feels with being here, from this wonderful site.
The plaque below gives interesting information regarding the Hoba Meteorite: I will type it out for easier reading –
Geology of the Hoba Meteorite Area –
The area surrounding the Hoba Meteorite consists of white calcrete in unconsolidated Kalahari sands. This fills the valley floors between ridges of folded dolomite running east – west. These ridges form the hills of the Otavi mountains to the west of the meteorite. This area forms the edge of the extensive Kalahari plain which stretches towards the east and south-east.
Hoba Meteorite –
This meteorite, the largest known in the world, was discovered by Jacobus Hermanus Brits in 1920. It was declared a national monument on 15 March 1955 with permission of the farm owner at that time, Mrs. O Scheel. The declaration was extended in 1979 with the approval of Mr. J Jooste, the then owner of the farm.
The Hoba meteorite weighs approximately 50 ton and is almost 3m long and up to 1m thick. According to scientific calculations, the meteorite struck the earth 80 000 years ago.
The meteorite consists of approximately 82.4% iron, 16.4% nickel and 0.76% cobalt. Other trace elements contained are carbon, sulphur, chromium, copper, zinc, gallium, germanium and iridium. Scientifically, it is termed as ataxite high in nickel content.
Hoba Meteorite Project –
All improvements to this site are part of a project undertaken by the National Monuments Council and Rossing Uranium Ltd. Major contributions were made by the following and are hereby acknowledged: M Pupkewitz and Sons (Pty)Ltd, Duropenta (Pty) Ltd, Northern Logistics Command, The community of Grootfontein.
The office and curio shop where we paid our 20 Namibian Dollars per person to walk through their garden and to see the Hoba meteorite.
There is a vast variety of trees and shrubs around the Hoba meteorite site. A pamphlet from the reception will help you to identify the species coinciding them with a number plate that is on the tree.The pamphlet gives you the scientific name for each tree. There are 35 species of plants that one can see here.
You will find; the Mountain Thorn, Sweet Thorn, Hook Thorn, False Umbrella-Thorn, Mountain Aloe, Zebra Aloe, Sheperd’s tree, Wild asparagus, Simple spines num-num, Transvaal Saffron, Leadwood, Russet bush-willow, Sand Commiphora, Common Commiphora, Lavender croton, Sickle-bush, Wild pear, Common Gauri, Sycamore fig, False brandy Bush, Wild Raisin, Small-leaved white cross-berry, Common Spike-thorn, Transvaal sumach, Wild Olive, Tropical resin tree, African water, Tinnea rhoaesica, Karee, Bastard willow, Bitter karee, Camphor Bush, Purple-pod Terminalia, Buffalo thorn and the Puzzle Bush.
We did what every tourist does as they said it was allowed. We climbed onto the meteorite and took our pictures. It was quite surreal to be with “matter” from outer space. The thought that this was once a ‘shooting/falling star’ is mind boggling. It feels incredibly solid, and ultra cool to the touch.
Reading material picked up at the office:
When a meteorite enters the earth’s atmosphere at an extremely high speed, the friction is so great that it burns up. In the process, it produces a bright streak of light which is readily visible at night and is commonly called a shooting star. A huge belt of such meteoric material, the so-called asteroid belt, is present in the space between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Scientists have not yet reached agreement about the origin of meteorites. It says that whatever falls onto the earth from space is part of our solar system which developed some 4 600 million years ago. There are two main types of meteorites, namely iron meteorites and stony meteorites.
Namibia is world-famous for its meteorites. The most extensive meteorite shower known is found in the southern part of the country and is called the Gibeon Meteorite Shower. It is estimated to have occurred over an area of 20 000 square kilometres. The more concentrated centre of the shower extended over and area of around 2 500 km2 in the vicinity of the village of Gibeon.
After the meteorite had fallen, it was gradually covered by a layer of calcrete. This calcrete forms by the evaporation of near-surface groundwater, which carried calcium carbonate derived from the surrounding Otavi limestones. Today, the region receives an annual maximum rainfall of only 750mm, and near-surface groundwaters are less abundant. The calcrete, therefore, suggests a more humid climate in the recent geological past.
Vandals have attacked the meteorite over the years. In 1985 when Rossing Uranium Ltd made funds available to the National Monuments Council to combat vandalism. They then launched a project to protect the meteorite and made the surroundings more attractive for visitors. Mr J Engelbrecht, the farm owner from 1987, donated an area for the development of the site. An information centre was established to meet educational needs. The facilities opened on 31 July 1987.
As you can see by the pictures above, this meteorite is huge.
A few pieces helped with the scientific research that was needed. It must have been hard to get the sample required or for vandals who wanted their piece of the meteorite.
HOBA: Namibia’s ‘Fallen Star’ – by Matthias Bleks –
The earth has always received visitors from outer space. Every year something in the region of eleven thousand meteorites – heavenly bodies consisting of stone, or a combination of nickel and iron – fall victims to the earth’s gravitational pull. A mere seven to ten of them are ever investigated by scientists. Rarely do the larger ones find their way to the land’s surface. Most often they are broken up and arrive as ‘stone rain’ or cosmic dust, a mind-boggling six thousand tons of it, all of which means we get damaged with over two million tons of alien matter. If we accept, what is said that the earth’s age is, namely roughly three billion years, a layer of extra-terrestrial rock fifteen kilometres deep has accumulated on our planet since it was born.
The composition of the earth’s crust differs significantly from that of meteorites because it is subject to weathering; also, the extraterrestrial matter mingles with sediment on the earth’s surface and ocean floors.
In astronomical terms, the Hoba meteorite is no more than a ‘speck of cosmic dust’. On a more modest human scale, the sixty-ton rock near Grootfontein is both the largest and heaviest meteorite on earth.
The discoverer of Namibia’s ‘fallen star’, Jacobus Hermanus Brits, wrote as follows in his memoirs –
“From 1920 onwards I lived on the farm Hoba West. On one occasion, two or three years of my life there, while hunting I came upon a peculiar rock of which only the upper part was visible. Its blackened appearance stood out conspicuously from the surrounding yellow-white limestone. I scraped the surface of the rock with a knife and noticed that it was shiny. I fetched a chisel, chipped off a small portion of it, and took it to the SWA Company in Grootfontein. The director examined it, investigated the rock on my farm and concluded that it was a meteorite. After being partially excavated, its weight was estimated at eighty tons.”
The Smithsonian Institute in the US’s subsequent findings were almost identical to those of the Otavi Minen- ind Eisenbahngesellschaft (OMEG) in 1929. The original Brit’s report on show in the Old Fort Museum in Grootfontein.
The locals make the above monkey balls out of the fruit from the type of tree we had taken a picture of yesterday, between Caprivi to Rundu. The monkey balls fruit is highly regarded by the locals who eat them and make various crafts out of them. If you have a monkey tree in your garden, you’re regarded as being wealthy. The locals trade their produce for the needs they have together and with their neighbouring communities.
We still had a few kilometres of road to cover before settling down in a campsite for the night. We hadn’t booked anywhere, we were just driving and were sure to find somewhere nice and comfy for the evening. We needed to reach as close to Windhoek as the sun would allow us on the road.
The landscape around us was changing as we drove past plenty of farmlands.
We had a time constraint. Otherwise, we would have gone down the road below into the hills. A 40km drive one way was just a bit far for us from our track for now. The Ghaub caves would be great to see one day if we are in this area again, especially the Dragons breathe cave. The oxygen levels are low within the cave. Cave enthusiasts cannot spend too much time inside them. The caves are about 38m deep and 2,5km long. They are Namibia’s third largest cave.
The quaint town of Otjiwarongo with its churches, shops, banks and restaurants. A great place to stock up on supplies for the road ahead. We drew some cash and were on our way.
The warthogs were grazing on either side of the B8 in quite a few places.
We had done enough driving for the day and were ready to set up camp and enjoy a refreshing sundowner around a campfire, so we decided to take the C22 off the B1, only 29km outside Otjiwarongo towards Okahandja and to find Weaver’s Rock Campsite.
The gravel road going into Weaver’s Rock was in an excellent condition.
We arrived and were happy to find out that they had a few campsites still available.
Our elevated campsite had a lovely view. We had a cemented braai area, electrical point, tap and a lamp on our campsite. Every campsite has a levelled area for vehicles to park, so you don’t sleep lopsided if you’re camping in or on top of your car. Small, thoughtful things make all the difference. The stone wall was a great windbreaker when a breeze came up during the night. Being under a canopy of different trees was lovely.
The sun dazzled us with its beautiful orange colour that enhanced the size of the shadows on the escarpment below us.
We woke up to the birds chirping and the sun just rising over the hilltop. We made a lovely breakfast, packed up and double checked our site for any garbage lying around.
We meandered down the garden path to the reception, bar and restaurant area to pay for our campsite.
The road leading out of Weaver’s Rock was different to the one we had come in on. Enabling a safe driving condition as parts are only wide enough for one car.
The ostrich was putting on quite a show for us. He would have outrun us if he carried on trying. It looks like the ideal terrain for them.
Weaver’s Rocks road comes out onto the C22. We turned left as we were heading for the B1 then making our way down to Windhoek. Our next and last destination stop for this trip.
Contact information for Wever’s Rock Guest Farm & Camping Site. Postal address: P O Box 1091, Otjiwarongo, Namibia or you can visit their website at http://www.weaversrock.com or call them on their landline at, +264 67 304 885 or Mark + 264 (0)81 129 3679. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org