We managed to survive the bone-shaking drive through the Marienfluss to Camp Syncro on the Kunene River and were delighted with our destination. Not only was it a sight for sore eyes having a campsite overlooking the water after days of driving through desert-like conditions, but the views across the river into Angola were spectacular. The well-run campsite, situated under enormous Ana trees, was just the spot to relax and prepare ourselves for the long journey back to Windhoek.
To the right of the campsite was a steep hill which offered amazing views of the river cuttings its way through the mountains. The Angolan side looked pretty deserted and in fact the only sign of life that we saw was a lazy crocodile sunning himself on some rocks in the middle of the river. This pair of donkeys added some life to the scene when they came down to take a drink.
Back at the camp the birdlife was prolific with an abundance of Pale-winged starlings and sightings of a White-fronted bee-eater, a Long-billed crombec, Common fiscal shrikes and Mountain wheatears to mention but a few. This little Pririt Batis spent a lot of time flitting around our campsite.
The highlight (for me anyway) was a visit by a shy Small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta). It’s always exciting to see uncommon animals and we felt very honored to have this little nocturnal cat visit us in the early evening. He sat and watched us for hours and his patience was rewarded by a few tasty morsels left over from our barbecue, which he ‘stole’ once we’d gone to bed.
One of the biggest mistakes that visitors to Namibia make is to underestimate the time it takes to cover the vast distances. The sensible rule of thumb should be quality not quantity and by that I mean that you should rather plan to see fewer places and spend more time at each one. If you don’t do that, you will end up like we did on this trip, rushing from place to place without having a chance to linger and appreciate each spot fully. Because of our delay when traveling up the Hoarusib River, we lost a precious day and had to spend less time at Camp Syncro than planned. What a shame as this lovely place (and the Marienfluss) deserved more attention.
It was great to drive back through the Marienfluss valley and soak in the solitude and vastness of this beautiful area. As we drove out five Kori bustards flew alongside us as if to give us a good send off and thank us for our visit. At Red Drum we elected not to go back via the Red Drum Pass, but headed off to the other side of the Hartmann’s Mountains, passing Blue Drum and approaching Orupembe from a different direction.
The scenery was absolutely stunning and it was even more remote than the Marienfluss route.
We came across a safari vehicle that had been stranded there for a whole day. After assisting with food and diesel, we offered to inform the company of their driver’s plight. Unfortunately it was two more days before we could do that – we hope that the poor fellow survived his ordeal. This is definitely the route less traveled and is best not attempted if you’re traveling alone.