By Marita van Rooyen
“Most visitors to Namibia know little of the enormous and awe-inspiring cave systems in the north. Not only does ‘The Thirstland’ have the biggest underwater lake in world, namely Dragon’s Breath. It can also boast with some of the best cave exploration potential in Africa,” says Nico Scholtz, director and head guide for Swakopmund-based Scarab Enterprises.
Dragon’s Breath is situated on the farm Hariseb, 46 kilometres north-west of Grootfontein off the C42 to Tsumeb. This subterranean lake is situated more than 100 metres underground and is as big as four rugby fields. To dive in this vast expanse of cavernous water requires valid cave-diving qualifications as well as a considerable measure of experience, as it involves more than just plunging into the dark waters.
However, there is a way to experience this wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites and deep underground waters without any qualifications other than an appetite for adventure. The fun-filled team at Scarab will gladly take grotto afficionados to experience the troglobites (cave life) on a guided descent into the depths of the earth.
“An expedition launched into the bowels of Mother Earth is usually met with great excitement, fear and, of course, a little apprehension. The air is damp and dark, and your head torch only temporarily breathes a thin sliver of light into the ever-engulfing darkness that surrounds you. With the flutter of bat wings and the unknown lurking around every corner, these expeditions are sure to send shivers up your spine,” says Nico.
To get down to the lake-filled bottoms of most of the caves, you need to be willing to take on multiple abseils of between 50 to 100 metres and elbow through tight passageways, which will inevitably leave you drenched in sweat. Single-rope technique experience is desirable but not essential. Keep in mind that even though you are the gutsiest person out there, caving can still be quite a scary experience.
Scarab Enterprises is a Namibian adventure operator specialising in taking intrepid souls into some of the most inhospitable and seemingly inaccessible areas Namibia has to offer. The most popular trips include caving, scaling the granite walls of the Spitzkoppe and climbing to the summit of the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain.
This article appeared in the Aug/Sep ‘10 edition of Travel News Namibia.