Luderitz – Kolmanskop – Aus – Fish River Canyon
Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Luderitz and Oranjemund are on the South African Border where the Orange River meets the Atlantic, they are the only two coastal towns of the Namib Desert.
They both still carry the characteristics of colonial structure inherited from the ‘Diamond Rush’ by the end of 19th Century while Kolmanskop has been a ‘Ghost Town’ since the mining operations came to an end and the inhabitants left their grounds.
Boat trips on the ocean to nearby bays and islands is one of the highlights in Luderitz that allows photographic and viewing possibilities for sea mammals including Seals, Bottlenose-, Common-, Dusky- and Heaviside Dolphins as well as False Killer Whales and Orcas and of course the gigantic Humpback and Southern Right Whales depending on the season.
Whales migrate from the Antarctic to Namibian Coasts for mating, giving birth and nursing purposes in winter months (June to September) when sea temperature here is milder than the far south which makes life easier on the calves.
Luderitz is home to plenty of Sea Birds and most of the Endangered African Penguins are here. Hiking and 4x4 trips are other ‘Things-to-Do’ activities in both towns.
Kolmanskop, unlike Luderitz and Oranjemund, is a deserted town. It serves as an open-air museum for visitors to discover what happens when exclusive prosperity established by diamond mining, suddenly vanishes. It is certainly a very special experience observing the fancy houses and other settlements being taken over by desert sands. Kolmanskop is a land of dilemmas and it offers unique photographic possibilities along with abandoned railway stations on the way from Luderitz to Aus.
Aus is only an hour and a half away from Luderitz. What makes Aus special is the presence of Namib’s Feral Horses. They are believed to be the descendants of military horses brought here before World War I and somehow adapted to harsh desert conditions when the war was over and they were left behind. Thanks to the military and state personnel who had chosen to let them go instead of culling and thanks to the adaptive skills of these amazing animals they survived. There are only 150 Feral Horses living in Garub Plains of Aus today. It is always a special treat when they approach a couple of waterholes by the main tar road from within the deep desert, especially in the afternoons to quench their thirst.
Would you like to see the second largest canyon in the world and the largest one on the African Continent? It is Fish River Canyon - lying on the South African Border. The Fish River Canyon is 160 kilometres long and at some points 540 meters deep. The canyon offers great hiking possibilities and landscape photographic perspectives. However, daily temperatures in summer months (December to March) can reach a scorching high of 50 degrees which is when hiking is only for the extremists. So, it is not a good idea to be there within those months, but rather from May to September when it is milder. Fish River Canyon is not to be missed by fly-fishing enthusiasts as well.
Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park may carry the same descriptive name ‘transfrontier’ with Kgalagadi, however, it is not the right place for wildlife sightings, but significant with its unique landscape enriched by the presence of endemic Quiver Trees. Oh, and by the way, we love Quiver Trees! However, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra sightings are always a unique treat together with small antelopes like Klipspringer, Duiker, Rhebok, and Steenbok. There are no other large mammals in this park including large carnivores. Leopards are believed to roam here as well as other smaller cats like Caracal, but sightings are extremely rare. Hiking and Landscape Photographic and Viewing Safaris would be the major activities here. There are hot springs in Ai-Ais which can be counted as an activity-treat for rest and relaxation at the end of one or two long days out in the field.