NAMAKWA-4X4 ECO TRAIL (8)


SEPTEMBER 2020

DAY 7

We are now approaching the last leg of our journey on the Namakwa-4×4 Eco Trail. The surroundings will start to change and we will encounter more flat and sandy areas – although there will still be small(er) rocky areas that we will drive through.

Sunrise at The Growcery river camp

The drive towards Vioolsdrift (official border post between South Africa and Namibia), runs along the bank of the Orange River. There are many river camps on this stretch and river rafting is one of the biggest attractions here.

The fertile alluvial soil along the bank of the Orange River makes Vioolsdrift an agricultural community and we saw beautiful green fields on our way.

Green vineyards close to the river – on our way to Vioolsdrift (Credit: Fiela Basson)

There is a very small shop in Vioolsdrift, where we’ve stopped. We were hoping to get some hotdog rolls there for lunch, but none was to be found … instead, Estelle bought us each a generous amount of freshly baked slap chips (otherwise known as french fries) … what a fine breakfast 😄!

We were driving for approximately 25km on a tarred road, before we’ve turned left on more gravel roads. At first, we were not sure whether we were on the right track … one has to remember that we were actually doing the Namakwa-4×4 Eco Trail backwards! Normally 4×4 adventurers will start this trail from Pofadder and end in Alexander Bay – while we will end our journey in Pofadder!

Fortunately, there are some way markers … every now and then … in the form of a tyre with yellow paint on it, indicating we are on the Namakwa-4×4 Eco Trail.

This is our way marker on the Namakwa-4×4 Eco Trail

After driving on a flat sandy stretch for some time, we once again got to rocky areas, where we had beautiful views of more quiver trees … these are really a stunning sight in nature!

A quiver tree – how beautiful are they!

And then, to our surprise, we saw the endangered “half human” plant … and not just one, but plenty, growing in a rocky area. I remembered those “half human” plants we saw back at Sendelingsdrift that were stolen … and to see these in their natural environment, filled me with happiness!

Half human plants (“halfmense”) in nature – where they belong
These endangered species literally grow out of the rocks (Credit: Fiela Basson)

It may be confusing to find so many dirt tracks on this trail – I presume they are all going in the same direction – but we were trying to stay on just one and not creating more roads.

We were seeing many roads, but stayed on this one
Another huge quiver tree (Credit: Fiela Basson)

It was quite astonishing to see how the landscape were now changing. We would drive on sandy roads for quite some time and then the area would suddenly change into a more rocky terrain with green bushes and plants.

Around lunchtime, we found a small riverbed (with a tree for shade) and decided to stop here for a while. It was such a peaceful place – no noises, just the sound of nature!

Lunchtime in nature (Credit: Fiela Basson)
Berto’s home baked bread rolls with apricot jam and cheese – yum! (Credit: Fiela Basson)
After we had lunch, we took it slow on this rocky patch out of the dry river bed to the top (Credit: Fiela Basson)

We were expecting to meet more friends today! Jacques and Anel live close to this area and they will enjoy the weekend with us. Since there is no cellphone reception, we’ve agreed beforehand to meet each other “somewhere on the road” or at our camp site, Ramansdrift later that afternoon.

It was beautiful to see the winding road stretching out in front of us
From rocky roads to almost beach sand – just beautiful!

After driving through flat valleys, but also some rough patches for most of the day, we came to a wide gravel road – this is the main road used by everyone.

This road continues for about 20km before we got to the Henkries pump station. Here you need to make sure your vehicle’s roof rack (or rooftop tent) is not that high that you struggle to get underneath the pipes that runs over the road …

Fortunately, we had no problems and cleared the pipes at Henkries pump station in order to continue with our journey

After the pump station, we were back on the gravel tracks and close again to the Orange River.

Next to the Orange River after Henkries pump station

We were now on our way towards a very small hamlet, called Goodhouse. I’ve read before our trip (in the magazine “Weg! Ry en Sleep”) that there is a graveyard at Goodhouse where we will find the graves of Carl and Caroline Weidner. This couple was the founders of Goodhouse in 1913.

The graves of the founders of Goodhouse, Carl & Caroline Weidner

Close to the Weidner’s graves, were also some graves of a couple of British soldiers who died in 1914 and 1915.

Graves of British soldiers

While we’ve stopped here for a moment, Berto and Frans inspected their vehicles. From all the travelling on the corrugated roads, some parts on the vehicles came loose … fortunately nothing serious on closer inspection (well, nothing that a cable tie could not repair anyway!) and we continue on our trip.

Time to fasten the loose bits on the vehicles after serious corrugated roads!

And then, as we drove through more valleys (with many roads), we were quite surprised to find our friends (that we’ve agreed to meet “somewhere on the road”) … speaking of luck!

More sandy roads

It was already late afternoon and fortunately just a short drive now to our overnight spot, Ramansdrift. We took a wide stretch down to the river – it almost looked like an airfield strip 😊.

The road down to the Orange River (Credit: Carel Wiggett)
The road to the river was like a multi-lane highway! (Credit: Fiela Basson)

Ramansdrift is a beautiful camping spot … many other 4×4 adventurers had the same thought than us and there were already plenty of tents along the bank of the river when we arrived. There are no ablution facilities here … but I can promise you, this is the closest you’ll get to nature! The only sounds you’ll hear, is that of the river and maybe a call from a baboon!

Ramansdrift camp site on the bank of the Orange River
We found a nice secluded spot to camp for the night (Credit: Fiela Basson)
The tents were up and it was time to relax

It was another long day on the road – we’ve covered 165km – but what a stunning day! The Namakwa-4×4 Eco Trail is definitely diverse in landscape and beautiful to drive.

After we’ve started the fire, Anel brought out the most delicious appetizers … different cheeses, biscuits, olives and pancetta … we’ve enjoyed these with a crisp glass of white wine and beer … the perfect way to end another day!

Friends sitting around the fire to end off a beautiful day
Categories: Namakwa-4x4 Eco Trail

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