The Shower Building "Bachelor Week"
Route: Cape Town to Keetmanshoop, Keetmanshoop to Tantalite Valley and then reversed for the return journey.
Plane: One Cessna 182: ZS-IDX
In our ongoing endeavour to improve our camping experience at "Camp Kameeldoring" (Camp Camelthorn), Sean, Murli and Laurence set off in mid-January 2004 to build and install a shower. Finn, knowing that January is one of the hottest months and put off by the fact that there would be no girls and only warm beer for comfort, used some lame excuse about "work" to cop out.
Parts, pipes and other plumbing were planned and purchased (largely by Laurence during the course of one morning) in Cape Town.
Having carefully worked out weight, here we are ready to depart, and departing, Cape Town International (with the back end of Table Mountain in the background).
Three aspiring plumbers in a plane, with no clue of the arduous labour that lay ahead (and some weird ground formations en-route):
We got a good look at the Orange River as we passed overhead our final destination, flying one hour further north just to clear Namibian customs & immigration, before returning. This basically means we overshoot our destination and that the requirement for clearing customs & immigration in Namibia adds a whopping 3 hours to the journey (2 hours flying and 1 hour on the ground). NOW THAT will discourage tourists from visiting southern Namibia from South Africa by light aircraft!
The next morning we set off in our Toyata Hilux through Warmbad to Karasburg, to pick up some fuel and further plumbing supplies. For a very small town (supposedly 800 people, but we find that a little hard to believe), Warmbad has a surprising number of modern-looking churches (and a few derelict buildings):
We then set-off along the rugged road to Norechab with the Hilux loaded with the solar-panel, water drum, cement, plumbing and solar pump to get the construction under way. Finn had arranged for a borehole to be sunk a couple of years earlier so "all" we had to do was drop the pump down the hole and erect and connect the solar panel.
It was helluva hot and we, with the help of a little wind, totally destroyed the pagoda during construction; setting up the water drum was no joke either - gloves are needed to carry the sun-baked rocks - they are literally too hot to carry with bare hands. Problem was, we had only one pair of gloves and they were used in handling concrete.
This little guy (which we believe to be a fairly nasty variety called scorpion parabuthus granulatus, or western granulated thick-tailed scorpion) came visiting while we were sitting around the camp fire. Generally, feeble pincers and a thick, juicy tail are signs of danger.
Digging a sufficiently deep hole for the solar panel was a real challenge in these rocky conditions - it must have taken us 3 hours using a variety of implements. We joked about how hard it would be to get the pole out once it had been concreted in. Funny things is, we decided to move the solar panel about a year later and replace it with a windmill. Here we are erecting the solar panel and getting the plumbing in place (note the very clever blue tap on the left for fuelling water bottles and doing dishes):
Mama told you not to play with wet concrete...mixing concrete and carrying river sand is literally back-breaking work...on the right: our work approaching "completion" (note the tent in the background poking out above Sean's head):
After 2 days of seemingly endless work, we understood at long last what a privilege it is to open a tap and see running water - never again will we take it for granted at home!
We then headed up neighbouring Grappa Hill for a cold beer, thoroughly knackered. The second photo looks back down Grappa Hill and shows just how high Grappa Hill actually is - note the circled Toyota Hilux and tents in the river bed; Grappa Hill always has a great sunset view....
We paid a quick visit to "Murli's Pub" for a warm beer....both pictures show Murli and Laurence cowering in a few centimetres of shade...
....and then checked out the windmill at Rooifontein (which was relocated to Camp Kameeldoring around a year later to power the shower)....
We then headed back to Casa Severin, where the following happened after a refreshing swim....
We then set off for the Sandfontein Lodge and agreed to try and find a route which nobody had used for many years. BAD IDEA! Boet Adrianse carefully explained exactly where we should turn off the Witkop road and, er, "drive right over the fence". It took us MUCH longer than we anticipated (8 hours?), it got dark, and even with the GPS we had an enormously difficult time finding our way through the river bed vegetation. Tempers frayed but we eventually made Sandfontein well after 10pm. The road also ran straight into the game fence and we had to negotiate some pretty serious terrain to eventually find this gate, which fortunately had no lock! The right hand picture shows the Sandfontein Lodge the next morning.
We wanted to do a trip to the north of the Sandfontein Lodge and head up into a part of Norechab which only Finn had explored before. It was a really attractive journey and Laurence absolutely loved it - plenty of Quiver Trees and plenty good hiking....
....plenty of interesting and hardy vegetation en route...
Shortly after the game fence gate to the north of Sandfontein Lodge, we passed the tombstone erected for the German soldiers who died in the Battle of Norechab in February 1906 - note that these guys were all early to mid twenties....:
The views at the northern-most end of our journey (the border between Norechab and Aluriesfontein) were absolutely first rate:
As was the sunset light....
On the afternoon of our last day, we attempted a new river-bed circuit to the south and then west of Casa Severin and were only successful because Laurence never quits....the last stretch was really tricky.... the quad-bike was definitely easiest over the really tough terrain...
And finally, after an exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable week, trusty ZS-IDX stands ready at Tantalite Valley "airport" to take us back to Cape Town for a well-deserved break...