A must-visit community campsite
by Ron Swilling
The Marble Campsite is a stopover on the wild and wonderful route in the remote north-western Kunene Region. Once a marble mine, the camp is now a community campsite run by the Orupembe Conservancy.
The campsite opened on 13 September 2006, with recent construction completed towards the end of May 2008. The marble mine was in operation from 1996–1999 and two enormous chunks of marble still lie in the Khumib riverbed adjacent to the campsite, described by efficient and friendly manager Gerros Tjindunda as good places for a sunbath.
Well equipped and imaginative
The Marble Campsite is a solid, surprisingly attractive and well-equipped facility in this remote north-western corner of the country. The five sites all have their own kitchen counter and barbecue area, and share a stylish communal ablution block made of local stone and thatch. The roof of the reception entrance is made innovatively from a satellite dish filled with pebbles, supported on pillars made from gnarled leadwood trunks.
Two hiking trails surround the camp and with a visit to a Himba village, offer alternatives to resting and relaxing at the peaceful campsite.
At the campsite is an IRDNC (Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation) office for conducting the Commifora wildii project, whereby local people harvest the resin that falls to the ground below the trees from September to December. It is then sent to Europe to be used as an ingredient in French perfume.
Combined with animal fat and powdered ochre, the resin is rubbed over their faces and bodies by Himba women as part of their daily beauty ritual, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate.
An ideal halfway stop
Marble Campsite, an oasis on the rough roads of the area, is a welcome find. Situated approximately 200 km from Opuwo and 95 km from the Okarohombo Campsite in the Marienfluss, it makes a perfect and pleasurable halfway stopover for travellers in either direction.
It is situated on the Kaoko-Otavi road, just south of Opuwo towards Orupembe on the route up to the Marienfluss and Kunene River and the return journey from the Kunene and the notoriously difficult Van Zyl’s Pass, and is a suitable stop when driving north from the Purros area with its attractive scenery and possible sightings of desert-adapted elephant.
At night visitors are lulled to sleep by the sound of pearl-spotted owls and a feeling of all-pervasive peace. Situated next to the ephemeral Khumib River and surrounded by mopane trees and small hills, the campsite is a must-see destination to add to itineraries while exploring this beautiful area of the country.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the April/May ‘10 edition of Travel News Namibia.