Looking at a map of Namibia can be deceptive for the inexperienced. Even downright misleading. If you look in the north west of the country, in Kaokoland, for example, you will see a little town called Purros (on some maps spelled Puros). A town? Well, I am not sure of the definition of a town, but Purros is so small it doesn’t even have a petrol station. Perhaps it is not a town or village, just a “place”. It may not have a petrol station, but what Purros does have is a wonderful location for exploring this remote area, and also a wonderful campsite.
The Purros Community Campsite, located on the banks of the Hoarusib River is a wonderful spot. The campsites are spacious and the enormous camelthorn trees provide shade as well as being a wonderful backdrop to the wildlife activity that abounds. The Red-billed francolins are especially tame here, and are quick to visit in the hope of picking up a snack. Tree squirrels make themselves known, as do Southern yellow-billed hornbills, Pied crows and many other bird species. And there is always a chance of desert-adapted elephants wandering through the campsite – there are warning signs on the trees to keep your food where the elephants cannot smell it!
The Purros campsite is well placed for excursions on the Hoarusib River. Driving excursions, that it is; like most rivers in Namibia, the Hoarusib very seldom has any appreciable water in it. Of course in the rainy season flash floods are always a possibility and several vehicles have been lost along this benign-looking stretch of sandy river bed after being caught by the rapidly rising water. So, being there at the right time of the year is important.
Head west down the river from the campsite and you are soon embraced in the magnificent scenery as the track criss-crosses the little water that remains in the river bed. The mountains on either side are low but dramatic in the late afternoon sun, displaying colours that must make a landscape artist’s mouth water.
The driving on this stretch of riverbed is easy as the sand is quite firm and the water very shallow at the crossings, but some care is required to avoid holes or patches of deep, loose sand. A small price to pay for the magnificence of the scenery.