We arrived at Aus-Klein Vista camp located just outside the town of Aus on July 26th. Aus is located in the Aus Mountains above the plains of the Namib desert and the village was formerly the site of a prisoner of war camp in 1915 used to house German inmates from the First World War. Our camp site was fantastic, private yet exposed to the local wildlife. Oryx, Ostrich and Springbok wandered and fed nearby. We arrived fairly early in the day so we headed out on a 2 hour hike up through a rock strewn mountain path to arrive at the most incredible view of the plains of the Namib desert far below. Later in the evening we cooked pork chops over a wood fire while watching Springbok feed nearby. After Joyce went to bed with her hot water bottle, I sat by the fire contemplating life, the universe and everything like I usually do when staring at the stars. I occasionally shone my flashlight around the surrounding area and to my delight an African Wild Cat approached my spotlight. It was about 4 times the size of an average house cat and of course, I didn’t have a camera on hand but we definitely made eye contact as we were only about 15 feet apart from each other. A very cool experience.
The next day we had a very long journey ahead of us but we had to go out of our way about 200 km round trip to visit the famous ghost town of Kolmannskuppe, once called “the African Siberia” where once upon a time many people found wealth in diamond mining. Most of the houses and buildings were constructed between 1908-1910 and now stand abandoned and are slowly being reclaimed by the desert sands. The wind was howling and after a very short time we were covered in a fine sand dust, my camcorder shutter became jammed and our trip back to Aus to continue on to Sossusvlei would become an adventure we didn’t anticipate.
Backtracking to Aus the wind blew sand waves across the highway, fortunately paved and smooth going. The wind was strong but I didn’t think so strong that it would cause the truck become sluggish climbing a small hill. After several cars flashed their lights at us and realizing I had the gas pedal to the mat, we figured something was definitely not right so we pulled over in the middle of nowhere to check things out. Well damn! The pop top of the truck had popped up and the tenting canvas was in tatters. Shit, both of the top latches had released. Well, not quite. One latch released while the other had literally ripped out of the steel molded canopy top. Now what? What do we do? How do we get back to Aus? (Good thing Aus isn’t spelled OZ ha ha!). We had some thick string that we used to secure our water supply (another story) but no way would it be strong enough to secure the pop top. I put on my Macgyver cap, thought holy crap now what but didn’t say this out loud because Joyce was, shall we say a little panicked, and came up with a plan. We had a tow rope stowed in the truck. Hopefully it would be long enough to secure the top and get us back to town. It was, just barely, within inches but it worked. We slowly headed back to Aus, bought a strap and ratchet at the local gas station, secured the top and made our merry way for the next 5 1/2 hours driving several hell highways enroute to Sossusvlei. It took 1 1/2 days for a Technician to meet up with us in Sossusvlei, he fixed everything and now we will be paranoid for the rest of our trip. What will happen next?
The road back to Aus.