When we arrived in Oranjemund we made a beeline to the local Spar to do some shopping and find Mike. Mike proved to be so passionate about his town he just could not stop talking about it and he offered to take us on a guided tour around town the following day. As an outlet for his Oranjemund passion he runs a website about it: Oranjemundonline.
One of the reasons we had come to Oranjemund was a possibility to drive through the Sperrgebiet from Oranjemund to Luderitz. One of the other guys we had met in Ai Ais had mentioned that maybe, he might be able to arrange this. Unfortunately, it seems that incidents had happened in the recent past and the mines had locked up again: as an outsider you would not be able to get a permit to drive through the Sperrgebiet, not even with a guide! Pity… because that would have been a very unique experience!
On recommendation of Mike we drove out to the Oranjemund viewpoint, parked our trucks and enjoyed a glass of wine and a braai, overlooking the mighty Orange River. Cheers Mike!
Next morning we met up with Mike at the Spar. While waiting for him I got a few pics of interesting stuff in his shop: the “pet” sign, which included the gemsbok as pet, and the Tiny Art Gallery. I was really curious and had a look inside: every art work (10cm x 10cm) is for the taking under the condition you replace it with one of your own. And the gallery expects handmade art, no prints! Pity our time there was so short because I would have liked to take on that challenge!
Eventually Mike was ready for us and we went on a walkabout around town. He grew up here and was the proverbial encyclopedia of information about the history, the buildings, the mine and all things Oranjemund. What touched me most on our walkabout was the desolate graveyard at the edge of town, overlooking the vast, windswept expanse of the desert.
As said… his passion is poured into his website Oranjemundonline! He gave us a book “Diamonds and Dust” by Malcolm Bertoni about life at Affenrucken in Diamond Area 1. Quite interesting reading of a unique life in a diamond company outpost in the desert.
Besides the historical buildings and all the stories Mike could tell about them and life in Oranjemund, I was duly impressed to see some really good modern mural art on various buildings!
When Mike had to go back to work in the shop, we took a drive to the ‘Spookhuis’ (ghost house) – an old police station – where we had sweeping views over the Orange River and could only try to imagine some of the stories Mike had told us.
We found a spot to camp in a eucalyptus forest just downwards from the Spookhuis. And no… we were not haunted during the night!
Next morning we went to say goodbye to Mike and drove back to Rosh Pinah, where we would take a left to go to Luderitz.
As we left town, we saw another few gemsbok wandering around town! It’s still a weird thing to see them so domesticated.
On our way out through the desert again however, we were lucky to see the real thing though: a herd of gemsbok in the wild… grazing on the sparse tufts of green on the sand dunes!
Once you leave the green oasis of Oranjemund there is just sand, sand and more sand. And then it is quite funny to see official traffic signposts indicating a rest spot under a tree (l) and all you see is sand (r)!
We filled up with diesel in Rosh Pinah and continued towards Aus, for our next passage through the Sperrgebiet to Luderitz.
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