by Marita van Rooyen
Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge is known for its magnificent views over the barren, deserted landscapes on the edge of the Namib. Located on the slope of a hill overlooking the Rostock Mountains to the north and the dunes of the Namib to the south west, it offers something unique in every direction.
With the introduction of ten new hiking trails, hikers can now experience the intense beauty of the surroundings firsthand. The trails vary in intensity and duration and include four easy walks, three moderate trails and, for avid hikers, three more challenging trails.
As with most of the other hikes, the four easy hikes, Lion King, Sundowner, Sunrise and Plain start and end at the lodge. Ranging between 2.6 and 6.5 kilometres, these hikes take between one and two and a half hours to complete. The Lion King lookout point, with views over wide dune lowlands and mountain ranges, such as the Gamsberg and Witberge, is the origin of many other hiking trails.
The Sunrise Walk, an extension of the Lion King, moves down sand-filled plains. Hikers walk on small dunes, which consist of fine, reddish sand, blown in from the south. And even though the landscape might seem to be meagre, hostile or dead, it definitely is not. If you look closely, you will find interesting weaver nests, toktokkie trails and other natural wonders.
The Ramblers’, Ubib and Panorama Trails are moderate hikes, ranging between 8.5 and 10 kilometres. Also kicking off at the lodge, the Panorama Trail offers interesting views of the ‘shipwreck’ (a package of tilted schist that looks like a sinking ship), talc and graphite schist, the Witberge, quartz dyke and a stunning panorama that covers views beyond the Rostock farm area.
The three challenging hikes, Guab Spring Trail, River Trail and Bushman’s Paintings, start and end at the pick-up and drop-off point at Ubib. Consisting of 14.4 kilometres of ana trees, red gneisses, a borderline of bedrocks, tamarisks and the spectacular Bushman’s paintings, the Bushman’s Paintings route is the longest trail at Rostock Ritz. The paintings, found in a cave, have an estimated age of about 5 000 years. The cave has views of a totally different landscape; the gneisses with their characteristic weathering and colour especially are an interesting change to the co-lours and shapes of the riverbeds and the schist and quartz seen up until here.
All trails are well marked and thoroughly described in the hiking guide, complete with GPS co-ordinates, noteworthy fauna and flora, geological features, and interesting insects and birds that are to be found en route. Hikers should wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots, to protect against injuries caused by stones or thorns. It is important to carry enough water, and it’s best to start hiking either after breakfast or early afternoon, to avoid the hottest hours of the day and to be back before sunset. The new hiking trails were plotted under the management of Professor Gerald Kuhnt from the Institute of Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology at the University of Hanover.
Another noteworthy event at Rostock Ritz is the annual fly-in weekend.
This article appeared in the Aug/Sep ‘09 edition of Travel News Namibia.