13-Jul-2007 -- Following our visit to 25S 16E on 12 July 2007, we continued our journey to Lüderitz, where we spent the night. In order to visit 28S 16E, we had previously obtained Restricted Area permits (see also 26S 15E) and we felt extremely privileged to have been granted permission to visit this area known as the Sperrgebiet (Diamond Area no.1) or "forbidden area". It remains one of the world's last true wildernesses. This is the vast, scenically beautiful and fragile southwestern corner of Namibia which has been the source of most of the country's diamond revenues for nearly a century. As a mining concession, the Sperrgebiet has been off-limits to the public and scientists for the same period. It is the northern tip of the Succulent Karoo Biome, an area recognised as a globally outstanding "hotspot" of unique biodiversity. The Succulent Karoo is the world's only arid biodiversity hotspot. Nearly 10% of plants in this area only occur in the Sperrgebiet. More than half of Namibia's red-listed Brown Hyena live in this area. There is a high concentration of unique plants, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as wild populations of gemsbok, springbok, and ostriches.
The following morning we met again with Wynand Breytenbach who had accompanied us previously to 26S 15E and who would once again act as security escort. We left Lüderitz and followed the B4 for about 15 km until we reached the Rotkuppe (red hilltop) security gate where we entered the Sperrgebiet. We followed the well-maintained gravel road southwards (speed limit 90 km/h), passing the abandoned mining settlement of Grillenthal (where underground water was found in the old days and transported by train to the mining villages), and further on the Schwarzerberg (black mountain). The area was very green with lots of unusual plants and flowers. We also spotted occasional groups of gemsbok, springbok, and ostriches. After travelling about 150 km from Rotkuppe, we reached the next security gate at Chameis. We continued south until the Boegoeberg mountain came into view, then took the track leading towards it in a north-easterly direction until the Confluence was due east of us. From here the Confluence was about 14 km away.
We had been given permission by the Chief Game Warden of the Sperrgebiet to go cross-country from this, the nearest point, provided we returned on the same track and raked our entry/exit point for 20 metres. We travelled slowly in order to avoid plants and especially the "Bushman candle" (Sarcocaulon patersonii) with its tough, sharp thorns which would easily puncture a tyre. There were lots of small burrows that had been dug by the many desert rats in this area. On the way we passed numerous unusual succulent plants which are common in the Sperrgebiet. We eventally reached the Confluence at about 12h30. There was a rat burrow within one metre of the Confluence which we did not disturb. The Confluence is situated in a relatively flat area with small green bushes and succulent plants in all directions.
Once we had taken our photographs, we had a picnic lunch before returning on our tracks back to the road. There we carefully raked the area, leaving no sign that we had been off-road. We returned the way we had come, stopping off briefly at Bogenfels to photograph the deserted mining village and then on to view the 55 metre high Bogenfels rock arch, an awesome experience. We continued northwards, turning eastwards off the main road at Grillenthal. We managed to photograph the old ox wagon there just as the sun was setting. We then followed the narrow gravel track eastwards to the Kaukasib fountain where we would camp for the night.
Continued at 27S 16E.