Day 3 – 5.45am in Pofadder. Think of the quietest place that you’ve ever been. The Namib Desert on a Sunday morning? Well Pofadder at 5.45am is right up there. You could hear a feather floating in the still air. If you went deaf in this little town during the night you would never know it in the early hours. Unless, perhaps, you missed the church clock.
So I set off into the silence of the pre-dawn darkness at 5.45am and it was really pleasant to make an early start. It was fairly cool, but that didn’t last very long. The east wind came up with the sun and gathered strength during the morning, so that it was fairly strong by eight o’clock and even stronger by nine. Although I was riding into this headwind, the heat was oppressive and out on the road there is no place to hide from the Namaqualand sun. There were times when, with the air shimmering above the tar, the very road surface seemed aflame.
There is very little of consequence to keep one enthralled as one pedals along the road between Pofadder and Kakamas, although the Orange River and the Augrabies Falls are not too far to the north. Rated as one of the greatest waterfalls in the world, the Augrabies Falls were discovered by a Swedish mercenary named Hendrik Wikar in October 1778. Pedalling through this arid moonscape, one cannot help musing on why Hendrik Wikar was here in the first place. What would bring a man to this arid area in 1778?
I met up with the Orange River and the Orange River Wine Route some nine kilometres outside Kakamas and rode the last stretch between the vineyards with their irrigation canals. What a difference the waters of the Orange River make! The contrast with the waterless areas adjacent is startling. The arid scrubland is transformed into fertile green vineyards fed by the canals bringing the water from the river. We will spend the next few days in the vicinity of the Orange River, between Kakamas and Groblershoop, and are to be astounded time and again at the contribution that it makes to the agriculture of this arid region.
When we reached Kakamas we booked into the Annristo Caravan Park, which was very small, but was pleasant enough. In the afternoon we went and looked at the Orange River and some of the irrigation canals in this area. We also took in the famous Kakamas Egyptian-style waterwheels, which are used to raise the water from the main irrigation canals to the channels that convey it to the fields. It is this network of canals, the first of which was commissioned in 1898, that enabled Kakamas to become the sultana capital of South Africa. The little village was also the first home of the Kakamas peach, the principle canning peach produced in South Africa.
While we were shopping during the afternoon, Avril went to a pharmacy to buy something to treat my sunburn. Her enquiries for the preparation that we would normally use, met with blank stares. Apparently the local treatment for sunburn is Shaving Cream. I tried this and found that it worked exceedingly well. I guess that it follows that people who live in Namaqualand should know a thing or two about treating sunburn.