by Peter Bridgeford
Every time we go camping, we invariably compare the different campsites, and the conversation tends to drift in the direction of what is Namibia’s ultimate camping spot.
Now, before the owner of Tiras changes his will and makes me one of his heirs, let me state clearly that I don’t think Tiras is the ultimate camping site in the country. However, it has several significant ingredients, certainly making it one of Namibia’s better campsites.
For a start, the view from the site is awesome. It is situated halfway up a koppie facing west into the Namib Desert, from where you can virtually see into eternity. Waking up in the morning to such a view tempts you to put your feet up, call the waiter and ask him to bring your coffee while you’re still in your sleeping bag admiring the scenery.
However, you soon realise that if you stay in bed, you’ll be missing out big time on many of the specials this spot has to offer. So, no breakfast in bed this time, maybe just a coffee, that is if the waiter can do his rounds before the sun is up.
The koppie behind the camping site is a paradise for photographers, botanists and anyone who can enjoy the exceptional beauty of the pre-Namib. The higher you climb, the better the view, obviously, but the heavier your camera and accessories become. So, if you don’t have a strong, and may I add, an obedient wife or girlfriend, or you’re lucky enough to have children to do the carrying, you should invest in a butler or Sherpa to fulfil this task. Then you can admire the view and do your photography at a leisurely pace without huffing and puffing and looking around for your oxygen tank.
Not like yours faithfully who, after reaching the top, realises there were only two frames left on the film, and didn’t bring another film for back-up. After running down to the campsite to fetch more film, and running back, I realised that the camera battery was about to die, so I did the whole thing all over again. In the meantime the sun had become much higher than I’d ordered it for that photographic session.
We had the good fortune to stay over during April after good rains and that particular morning there was mist coming through the valley below. This made for excellent light conditions and an outstanding photographic opportunity, although by this time I was somewhat exhausted.
The trees and plants are really special here. The quiver tree at the top is probably losing so much bark because of all the pictures that are taken of it. Be sure to look out for that road way down in the distance. Unfortunately I only noticed it when I got my slides back. There are also some handsome commiphoras and other wonderful endemic plants to entertain even the non-botanical fanatic.
To get back to my ideal campsite; there is no place for overlanders at Tiras, which in my book makes it a five-star camping spot without further ado. The ablution facilities are more than sufficient and spotlessly clean. As you would expect from a camping spot in the south, it is not overly blessed with shade trees, but the ones that there are, are more than sufficient. Hopefully the purists will get rid of the prosopis trees, as no tree is better than a prosopis. I’m sure the ones there were just a small oversight. Being an avid bird watcher, I cannot help mentioning the Dusky Sunbirds that entertained us while we were having breakfast.
The Tiras Mountains are situated in the Tiras Berge Conservancy on the C13 road, 48 km from Helmeringhausen and 64 km from Aus. It’s the obvious choice for campers when they’re driving from Windhoek down to Lüderitz. But please, remember to get up early when doing the koppie, and don’t forget to take extra film and batteries. A water bottle would not be an unnecessary item either, because once the sun is up, there’s no place to hide.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the Dec ‘06/ Jan ‘07 edition of Travel News Namibia.