To the Fish River Canyon

Namibia at last

Arrival in Vioolsdrift, the small border town on the South African-Namibian border, in the evening of February 12, 2016. We spend the night at the well-kept and clean campsite behind the Vioolsdrift Lodge with its small swimming pool.

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Crossing the border the next morning is very easy. Go to offices 3 and 2, we are told. That’s what we do. But where do we have to have our Carnet des Passage stamped? We hand it to the policeman in office 3. He hesitates, asks what he should do with it. We tell him that a stamp is needed here and that he has to tear off this sheet. And so he does. Our passports are stamped in office 2 (Immigration). Then we drive to the gatehouse. This turns out to be the actual customs. The lady asks us for our Carnet des Passage. Now we realize that we should have had the carnet stamped here. The customs officer grins and says that’s our problem and lets us go. Another gatehouse, aha, this is now the exit control. Where would we have our control slip? We no longer have that – but he still lets us drive. Later we find the control slip in our documents.

On the other side of the Orange River is the Namibian border. Everything is a bit more chaotic and simpler here, but we still receive clear instructions. The foreign vehicle and the Carnet des Passage seem to open the gates for us. At No. 1 (Immigration) we get the 90-day stay without any problems, pay the Cross Border Tax of N$ 240 at No. 2 (Namibian Roads Agency) and at No. 3 – Customs – our Carnet des Passage is stamped without any problems, with a broad grin and the question where the Swiss chocolate is…. Have a good trip. A huge poster welcomes us to Namibia in front of the exit control from the customs area.

Noordoewer – Fish River Canyon

Namibia – the landscape and the villages change completely. The border town on the Namibian side – Noordoewer – consists of two petrol stations, a few houses and simple huts. While the Orange River Valley is still green thanks to irrigation, the semi-desert begins right next door. Two women are walking down the middle of the main street, chatting happily. That’s how little traffic there is here.

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The next village on the B1 is 140 km away – Grünau – a gas station and a few houses. Tranquillity and heat lie over the town.

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From here the (good) gravel road C12 starts via Klein Karas to the Fish River Canyon. We lower the tire pressure to 2.8 bar at the front and 3.5 bar at the rear. The Sprinter glides smoothly over the perfectly prepared gravel road at 70 km/h. It is quiet. A wonderful, wide landscape glides past us. Hardly any other vehicles. A deep feeling rises in us: “Great God, we praise you!”.

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Fish River Canyon

Hobas Restcamp

Top clean and pleasant sanitary facilities, pitches with good shade. Friendly and helpful crew. On the second day, a light green 4×4 Iveco with Aargau license plates drives in. We meet Werner and Margret from Aargau and have a great time with them.

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Fish River Canyon

What is the best time of day to photograph the canyon? In the evening, says the lady at reception. After two days in the Fish River Canyon, we see things differently: after sunset, before sunrise and at sunrise, even in the course of the morning. 10 km from the rest camp is the Hobas viewpoint. As Ernie is not as free from giddiness as Vreni, he can’t enjoy the view into the canyon as much and the photography isn’t as creative. Nevertheless, he does his best and the canyon is visited at different times of the day.

Canyon Rim Road

About one kilometer before the viewpoint, a gravel road leads off to the left (in a southerly direction). This leads about 15 km along the canyon to various viewpoints. Loneliness is good for you. No tourists get lost here. Many “race” to the main viewing point with a big cloud of dust, look down into the depths and soon leave again. Others come at sunset, get drunk (they say, “take a sundowner”), get funny and affectionate and then drive on, not knowing how.

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A little treat

A treat for all those who have read this far – a time-lapse recording of the sunrise at Hobas View Point in the Fish River Canyon. Nikon D750, Nikkor 20mm/2.8 D, aperture 5.6, 864 frames at 30 frames/second, shutter release every 8 seconds with pixel timer. Taken according to the “Holy Grail Method” by Gunter Wegner.

The video

We unpack our GoPro 4 and try our hand at videography. A short road movie from Grünau to Fishriver Canyon to the end of the Orange River Road – all in 4 minutes!

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