North of Hentjies Bay
Two roads break away from the main coastal road near Henties Bay. The D1918 heads almost due east for about 121km, passing within 30km of Spitzkoppe before joining the main tarred B2 about 23km west of Usakos. The more popular C35 heads northeast across an amazingly flat, barren plain: certainly one of the country's most desolate roads. This is the way to Uis Mine, Khorixas, and southern Damaraland, unless you are planning to stop for the night somewhere like Terrace Bay.
Ignoring both these right-turns, and continuing northwest along the C35 coast road, you soon reach…Mile 72 Campsite
Book via the NWR in Windhoek.
Yet another desolate row of ablution blocks – unless you're here in the summer. In season, this has a useful fuel station. By the time you are this far up the coast, fresh water costs 10c per litre, and hot showers are N$1 each.
The Omaruru River
Driving north past Henties Bay, note all the vegetated depressions (indicating watercourses) that you pass through, spread out along 10–15km around the town. These are all part of the Omaruru River Delta. Because of the high rainfall in its catchment area, in the mountains around Omaruru, this flows regularly and the sandy riverbed usually supports quite a luxurious growth of vegetation.
The vegetation includes a variety of desert flora, native to the Namib's many riverbeds, as well as some exotics like wild tobacco (Nicotiana glauca
), jimson weed (Datura stramonium
), and the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis
). These are found from here northwards, in many of the other river valleys also, and Dr Mary Seely, in her excellent book The Namib
(see Further Reading
), suggests that the seeds for the first such plants might have been imported with fodder for horses during the South African War. As they are hardy plants, eaten by few animals, they have been very successful.
With so little precipitation, even unobservant visitors notice that the basic geology of the Namib often lies right on its surface, just waiting to be discovered. Don't miss the chance to stop somewhere on the C34 or C35 around here. Wander a few hundred metres from it, and do some gem hunting. Even if you're not an expert, you will find some beautiful crystals.
It was whilst staying at Mile 72 in 1972 that a Namibian mineralogist, Sid Peters (owner of the House of Gems
in Windhoek), went hunting for minerals. He found several aquamarines and then a long light-blue crystal that he couldn't identify. Eventually the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC confirmed that this was jeremejebite
, a very rare, hard mineral containing boron, first discovered in its white form over 80 years ago in Siberia.