14-Jul-2007 -- Continued from 28S 16E.
We reached our campsite near the Kaukasib fountain after dark. Here we met with Francis Santambwa, the Northern ranger for this area, who had driven out earlier to meet us. He would guide us towards the Confluence the following day, using existing tracks as far as possible. The camp consisted of two round patrol huts which had previously been donated by one of the mining organisations. They had been camouflaged by using light green paint and sand in order to blend them into the surroundings.These huts had originally been erected at the fountain but had later been re-located to their present site on top of a hill by the Chief game warden, Trygve Cooper, with the help of Raleigh International. Basic facilities such as a gas stove and fridge were present as well as a bar! This site was affectionately referred to as the Kaukasib "lodge". Here we spent a very pleasant night camping.
The following morning we awoke to a magnificent view of vast grassy plains in all directions with blue hills in the distance, especially beautiful in the early morning, predawn light. It was humbling to realise that there were no other human beings within a 60 km radius of us. After packing up camp we travelled down the hill and stopped at the Kaukasib fountain. We were surprised at the amount of water there and the fact that it had been running steadily for many years. The water was slightly brackish but drinkable. There were many game tracks and lots of interesting desert plants in the rocks near the fountain.
We continued in an easterly direction, later turning south-east towards the Confluence following an existing track. We passed the Agub mountain and were then about 3.5 km from the Confluence. We then went cross-country in an easterly direction into the permanent red dunes until we reached the summit of a dune which was about 1 km from the Confluence. We parked the vehicles and walked the rest of the way, reaching the Confluence at about 13h00, situated within the red dunes at an elevation of 830 metres.
After the uphill walk back to our vehicles, we enjoyed a welcome beer and delicious picnic lunch. On the drive back we stopped to photograph one of the original Sperrgebiet signs in English, Afrikaans, and German, warning people to keep out of the diamond area without a permit or face a fine of five hundred pounds or one year in prison. We followed the track back then headed west towards Tsaukaib, our exit to the main road back to Lüderitz, sighting groups of gemsbok and ostriches along the way. It was late afternoon in winter and we were following the power lines and driving directly into the setting sun across the grassy plains. Francis was leading us and could not see the only clump of rocks in the entire area, resulting in his Toyota pickup (with 397,000 km on the clock) ending up on top of them. We decided to leave the vehicle there as it was getting dark. Fortunately, it was not damaged and was safely rescued and driven away two days later.
Our thanks to all those who made this amazing trip possible: Schalk Hugo, Wynand Breytenbach, Karl Fisch and Jackie Matthee of Namdeb, Trygve Cooper, Chief Warden, Sperrgebiet, Francis Santambwa, Northern Warden, Sperrgebiet, and Greenwell Matongo of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for assistance with a National Parks Permit.