Geologists would tell you that the Erongo Mountains are rich with minerals and gemstones like aquamarine, schorl, jeremejevite, quartz, fluorite and garnets (amongst others), but I have news for you, these mesmerizing mountains are full of magnetic rocks. They must be magnetic because they are so awesome they draw us back to them time and again. We have visited the Erongo region often during our stay in Namibia and for the sheer beauty and majesty of the dramatic granite boulders, valleys and incredible landscapes it cannot be beaten.
Our latest weekend getaway was to the farm ‘Omandumba’ in the Erongo Mountain Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy lies in a flat basin surrounded by the imposing walls of the remnants of an enormous volcano that collapsed millions of years ago. The name ‘Omandumba’ means ‘place of bitter bushes’ which obviously doesn’t deter the animals, because the farm abounds with wildlife and birds.
The appeal to us, of this particular farm, is its remote bush campsite, where we were the only campers and had the entire area to ourselves. What price can one put on solitude like that – not another human being around, just us, the wild animals and the soothing presence of the silent looming boulders. At night the silence enveloped us and we often just sat quietly straining to hear something – anything, even if it was just a cricket, but there was nothing.
Our walks were very productive as we found a waterhole in the rocks where we positioned ourselves for hours to photograph the birds that came to drink.
Admittedly there wasn’t a very large variety, it being winter, but the ones that came were very colourful and varied (acacia pied barbets, grey go-way birds, red-headed finches, waxbills – both violet-eared and common, bulbuls, larks, buntings, rosy-faced lovebirds, doves and canaries to name a few). We even had the pleasure of an enormous black-chested snake eagle. On a previous visit we saw the resident pair of Verreaux’s eagles and caught a glimpse of their chick in a nest high up on a cliff.
Animals we saw included kudu, warthogs, Damara dik-diks, baboons and the usual dassies that live on the rocks.
Our special treat was a black mongoose that we saw for a few seconds. We were saddened to hear that leopards had been preying on the farmer’s cattle and had to be hunted down. It’s awful to imagine these magnificent animals being shot for being a nuisance.
The mountains were once home to the San Bushmen and there is a good collection of their rock art on one of the walks. We didn’t linger too long there as the overhanging rocks were covered in hornet’s nests and we didn’t fancy being casualties of their nasty stings! Folks who would like to learn more about the Bushmen can visit a living museum in the area and meet with a local community of them, who demonstrate their survival skills and way of life.
One has to be totally self-sufficient at this campsite as there is nothing but bush. There are a couple of long-drop toilets (for the very brave), but no showers or water. This is part of the charm of the place though and it is a privilege to be in such pristine untouched surroundings.