From the Orange River to Lüderitz

Outside traffic

From the Fish River Canyon we head south. We visit the Ai-Ais thermal springs camp. In the narrow valley it stinks so much of the droppings of the numerous baboon gangs that we don’t even take a photo, but leave again straight away.

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Aussenkehr is a small settlement on the Oranje – Orange River – on the Namibian side. A tarred road leads up to here, probably because of the grape cultivation. The grapes are harvested in November / December. Several thousand seasonal workers travel from Ovamboland in northern Namibia for the grape harvest. They live in improvised huts for the duration of the grape harvest.

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We spend the night at the Norotshama River Lodge, directly on the Oranje. Good lodge with internet and restaurant. Camping a bit tight. In the evening I play the guitar, a little girl listens and applauds me, it feels good ….

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Orange River Road

We have adapted our rhythm of life. Yes, even Ernie, the sleepyhead, gets up early now. That’s why we’re already on the gravel road along the Orange River at 06:00. When the Orange River is high, the road may be flooded. Then there is no getting through. However, the Orange – Oranje – is now a tired little water because there is a drought in Lesotho and in the heart of South Africa. 70 % of the water of the Orange River is used for irrigation in South Africa and Namibia …

The gravel road is in moderate condition. Again and again, long fields of hard corrugated iron. The Sprinter is shaken and jolted, even though the tire pressure has been adjusted.

The valley is wild and looks more like a gorge with mountains on both sides. The journey to Rosh Pina, a mining town, is about 80 km long. We take our time and try our hand at filming.

A railroad story

At the beginning of the 20th century, the German colonial rulers built a railroad from Lüderitz to Keetmanshoop with a connection to Windhoek. In connection with the outbreak of the First World War, the colonial power destroyed its own railroad line between Lüderitz and Aus.

The destroyed section between Aus and Lüderitz was rebuilt by the Namibian authorities. The route was due to open in 2016.

Along the newly built line – with neatly arranged level crossings – there are still remains of the old track and railroad facilities. So the line is finished and yet no train is running? Oh yes, after completing the route, we realized that there is sand in this area. Lots of sand. Sand was not considered when planning the new route. Something like that, shaking my head in disbelief. The wind constantly blows new sand over the tracks and before the railroad could go into operation, the brand-new tracks were blown over. Will the solution to the sand problem be found in Windhoek over the next few years or will the opening wait until the tracks are blown clear again?

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The road builders

The road builders are obviously smarter than the railroad builders. Sorry, no offense! In any case, they have recognized the problem and shovel the sand dunes across the road with machines – on the other side of the road the dunes are then allowed to wander happily on …

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