Namibia and Botswana have a wonderful system of helping the indigenous population to share in the spoils of the tourism industry and to realize the benefit of preserving wild animals and the environment. In association with Conservation Tourism, community campsites have been set up that are run by the local community and the money earned is used to benefit the people of the area. Not only do they learn new skills running campsites and chalets, but they can display their cultural activities, art and craftwork, do guiding and have gainful employment in the rural areas.
We stayed recently at a community campsite, called Granietkop, about 19 kms from Twyfelfontein in Damaraland. This delightful spot had about six campsites on and around a granite outcrop, each with its own excellent ablution facilities. Twice a day the wood burnng stove was lit, so there was always hot water available. We were sad to see that this immaculate campsite was not as well supported as the rather overcrowded and run down Aba Huab River Camp closer to Twyfelfontein. Their rates were more reasonable and we had peace and quiet as well as amazing facilities. If you’re heading in that direction, please give Granietkop your consideration and business – you won’t be disappointed. And if you want excellent views over the landscape, ask for campsite no. 5!
The area supports the elusive desert elephant, which we didn’t see, but on an early morning walk we did see wild giraffes grazing near the road.
There is plenty to see in this beautiful area. Twyfelfontein has been declared a National Heritage Site because it has the largest concentration of rock art in Namibia. Whilst there are plenty of the usual Bushmen paintings, where staining material was used for their art, Twyfelfontein is famous because the rock art has been engraved deep into the soft red sandstone rocks.
There are over 2500 petroglyphs of various sizes, mostly of animals and people. Considered a sacred site by the indigenous people, Twyfelfontein was an ideal spot for the Bushmen to tell their stories by means of art about fifteen thousand years ago. Twyfelfontein means “doubtful fountain” in Afrikaans and the little spring that rises in the area has been supporting life for thousands of years.
Nearby, the Organ Pipes are an interesting geological feature in the Twyfelfontein area. We walked down into a narrow gorge and were surrounded by literally thousands of perpendicular dolerite pillars, some measuring up to five meters in height. These were formed when dolerite that had intruded into the shales of the Karoo Sequence, shrank during cooling and split.
Our next stop was Burnt Mountain, formed by the Karoo shales and limestone deposits about 200 million years ago. The dramatic changes that took place over the centuries left a mountain sporting various shades of colour (red, black, grey, purple, white and orange), which, at certain times of the day with the rays of the sun hitting it, give the impression that the mountain is on fire. Seen at midday, people might wonder what all the fuss is about as it just looks like a black mountain!
This is a beautiful area to visit, with so much to see and do. From here it’s a short drive to the petrified forest, which I wrote about in a prevous blog.