by Pompie Burger
Somehow, every time we go to the Namib Desert, I think of Antoine de Saint-Exupèry’s Little Prince saying, “My secret is simple. It is only with your heart that you can really see. What is really important is invisible to the eye.”
The Namib is the one place in Namibia where you can truly be alone and feel the immensity of this wonderful country. My first encounter with the desert was way back in the seventies when I went to Ganab with my brother. Coming from a well-populated city in South Africa in the then Transvaal Province, it was a life-changing experience.
The total silence and the wide-open spaces made an indelible impression on my mind.
There and then I decided that one day I would come back and settle in this fantastic country Namibia, so that I could return to this incredible spot at will.
The other lasting impression of that trip, incidentally, was the effortlessness with which Namibians drive vast distances to get away for a weekend. As it turned out, nowadays less than a thousand kilometres a weekend seems to be a rather short trip!
But be warned. When you go to Ganab, don’t expect to see verdant lawns, tidy flowerbeds, spotless ablution facilities with hot water and bunny girls with balloons to welcome you. If this is what you’re after, turn around immediately and go back to where you came from!
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a piece of heaven just a few hundred kilometres from Windhoek, this is the place to go. Ganab is where, rather than five-star accommodation, you’ll get something much better – a million stars in the heaven above you each and every night.
Situated on the desolate plains of the pre-Namib with a few camel-thorn trees dotting the banks of an ancient riverbed, this is where you’ll experience peace and quiet as you’ve never experienced it before.
There are five camping spots spaced a good distance apart, and a huge camel thorn, Acacia erioloba, to keep you company. Here you’ll be able to see and experience what is really important – something that is invisible to the eye.
The only difference between our Little Prince’s place and Ganab is that there are things to see there that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The experience is so special that you’ll feel the need to go back over and over again.
Most nights you’ll be honoured by a visit from a Cape fox, but please, don’t feed or tease these animals.
The chances are that you might even hear the Spotted Eagle Owl calling in the middle of the night. During the day you’ll see Burchell’s zebra, gemsbok and ostrich.
Be on the lookout for one of Namibia’s endemic birds, Ruppells’ Korhaan, which is rather special and one of only 13 endemic species. In the end it’s what you see with your heart that is most important.
Ganab is situated just off the Us Pass road, about 10 km after entering the Namib-Naukluft Park, driving from east to west.
The camping sites are always clean and well kept, thanks to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Keep in mind that you’ll need a permit from Namibia Wildlife Resorts if you’re planning to stay overnight at Ganab.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the Oct/Nov ‘06 edition of Travel News Namibia.