by Ron Swilling
A scenic, winding mountain road leads through the grassy valleys of the Naukluft mountains. Small sturdy shepherd’s trees, some heavily laden with sociable-weaver nests, are conspicuous landmarks in the mountainous terrain. Driving the snaking road from the main entrance to the reception area, a ground squirrel runs across the path and I stop to watch the swaying reptilian walk of a rock monitor sauntering across the road.
Approximately 10 km from Büllsport, south of Solitaire, the campsite is situated in the Naukluft mountain area of the Namib-Naukluft Park, providing a variety of hiking trails and peaceful solace for weary travellers. The campsite, called Koedoesrus (Kudus Rest), has ten sites positioned in a grove of false ebony trees, four of the sites placed on the lower level of the river bank. Each has a barbecue, tap, bench and table area, and shares the communal ablution facilities. The campsite is reminiscent of campsites of the past, and with no electricity, so that nights belong to the mountains, animals and stars.
Koedoesrus is a restful and quiet stop after the busier Sesriem campsite. During the day masked weavers, pale-winged starlings and red-eyed bulbuls create music, and families of dassies (rock hyraxes) clamber nimbly up and down rock faces. With most visitors out walking, you may often have the campsite to yourself.
For more energetic travellers, there are three popular trails: the Olive Trail, a 10-km (4–5 hour) walk, the 17-km Waterkloof trail (6–7 hours) and the challenging eight-day Naukluft hiking trail that can also be halved into a four-day walk.
This latter trail needs to be booked in advance through the Namibian Wildlife Resorts (NWR) office in Windhoek. Day visitors are welcomed in the park and all walkers should wear hats and carry sufficient water. Hikers must be cautious in the rainy season when flash floods may occur, turning dry riverbeds into raging torrents. For those wanting to stroll from the campsite, the small pools on the Waterkloof trail can be reached in about an hour for a bit of exercise and a good dose of beauty without too much effort.
Namib-Naukluft is home to a large population of endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, differentiated from the Burchell’s/plains zebra by their lack of shadow stripes and possession of a dewlap. In the evenings, the unusual sounds of zebra and kudu can be heard interspersed with the barking sounds of dassies.
Baboons frequent the campsite looking for easy pickings, so it is important to keep food locked away when not at your site. According to national park regulations, visitors must arrive before sunset and may leave only after sunrise. The reception office below the campsite stocks firewood, cold drinks, beer and snacks and the tree-filled campsite provides all other simple camping pleasures. Surrounded by the Naukluft mountains and with the choice of trails, the peaceful site is worth the stop and slightly higher national park camping fees.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘08/Jan ‘09 edition of Travel News Namibia.