The devil wears Prada
The late Freddie Mercury, legendary frontman of Queen, said he always knew he was a star, “and now the rest of the world seems to agree with me”.
It’s the first week of September, and a fleet of 17 trendy sport utility vehicles is parked at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, about 50km outside Windhoek – Namibia’s capital.
These compacts represent the fashion hub of the SUV market segment. Okay, so there are exceptions, but these trendy compacts are mostly tasked with running around town and/or transporting kids to and from school. At most, you can expect to see one of them carrying a mountain bike to a remote rural destination along a dirt road. And now and then you may spot one that is fitted with all-terrain tyres, implying that its owner uses it for a bit of off-road driving. Here’s the line-up.
BMW – the X-factor
BMW’s latest X3 is represented by the xDrive20d model with 135 kW and 380 Nm of torque. With average monthly sales of 155 units (July to September, 2011) the BMW – with a starting price of a shade under R500 000 – sells remarkably well.
The four-wheel driven X3 is a prime example of the fashion species.
A Captiva audience
Chevrolet’s Captiva is another popular fashion accessory. Recently face-lifted the 2.4 LT AWD joined us in Namibia. The revamped styling, dominated by the distinctive new front-end, has ensured that almost 300 new Captivas are sold (on average, July to September 2011) per month.
With 122 kW and 230 Nm of torque that is sent to all four wheels via a new sixspeed manual gearbox, the Captiva should be able to run with the bigger boys in Nam. That is on tar, at least. What will happen off-road is anyone’s guess.
A Terios option?
The Daihatsu Terios, as the smallest SUV in this company, is also a bit of an unknown quantity. It is imported by the Associated Motor Holdings (AMH) group – part of the massive Imperial Group – and monthly sales figures are not released. Considering the number of Terios SUVs on the road, it certainly is selling up a storm.
This is the Off-road model. The 1,5-litre engine delivers 10 kW more than the standard version, its suspension is slightly raised, it has all-terrain tyres and the interior gets an infotainment system.
What you C is what you get
The CR-V 2.4 AT sports a familiar silhouette in the car park, yet Honda sells less than 100 units per month (average of 94, July to September 2011) – yet it’s one of the top selling SUVs in the US.
The 2,4-litre petrol engine delivers 122 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque, and in this model the double overhead cam, 16-valve engine is mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox. Honda’s RealTime system provides the fourwheel traction, but will Honda’s third-generation CR-V be able to handle the rough and tough Kaokoland?
H5 to be square
It’s not very hard to mistake the latest GWM H5 for a Mazda CX-7, especially not when seen from the front. The nose of the Hover replacement is undeniably a replica of the Japanese SUV.
Selling for less than R250 000, the spacious, luxurious and surprisingly capable Chinese SUV can quickly make prospective owners forget about Big Brand loyalty. Money talks in GWM land – and in the case of the H5, it talks particularly fluently. Although GWM recently joined the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), sales figures for the new H5 have not been released – but we reckon the H5 is selling, and selling rapidly.
iX35 – the new “X” in town
Hyundai is another company that doesn’t reveal its sales figures, but it is a known fact that getting hold of a new iX35 is not as easy as walking into a dealership and buying one off the showroom floor.
Indeed, the iX35 is quite the popular compact SUV. The funky good looks are propped up by high specification levels, good build quality, powerful and refined drivetrains and – best of all – competitive prices.
In many ways the iX35 epitomises what the modern compact SUV is all about: style, fashion, performance, plausibly okay off-road abilities, and practicality. The enticing sticker price is an added bonus.
Jeep’s Cherokee 2.8CRD is a bit of an anomaly in this company. It’s the only compact SUV, other than the Suzuki GV, that is equipped with a low-range transfer case.
So where’s the Patriot? And what is the Cherokee doing here? Here are the reasons:
Firstly, this Cherokee is equipped with a newly upgraded turbodiesel engine. And secondly, the addition of a pukka 4×4 in this company could only be beneficial from a recovery point of view when the going gets very bad – and we certainly expected that it would.
From a sales perspective the Cherokee sells an average of only 37 units per month (July to September 2011).
A lot of Sport-age
Kia is another Associated Motor Holdings brand that doesn’t report its sales to Naamsa. However, it’s no super-secret: Kia is selling every Sportage it can import. Like its cousin, the Hyundai iX35, the new Sportage embodies what the modern compact SUV is all about.
We can throw the same adjectives into the mix: style, fashion, performance, plausibly okay off-road abilities, and practicality. And the enticing sticker price, of course.
Kia’s recent success is largely thanks to the fact that Kia hired Peter Schreyer, designer of the original Audi TT, as its chief designer n 2006. Since then Kia has been on a roll.
The land of the Freelander
While Land Rover’s Freelander II is the brand’s top seller in other significant overseas markets, this is not the case in SA. Here the more expensive and bigger Discovery 4 claims the best-seller Landy mantle, with average monthly sales of 219 units – compared to the Freelander’s 82 (July to September 2011).
Still, the smaller Freelander II is a classy act and boasts fashion appeal, amazing 4×4 ability (considering that it doesn’t have a two-speed transfer case), plenty of luxury and quality, and a fair turn of speed that is off-set by reasonable economy.
In fact, once you’ve sat behind the Freelander II’s steering wheel, you can hardly believe that its competitors are in the same category. It really is a plush and classy affair.
An outlandish experience?
In recent times the Mitsubishi brand in SA has lived through a lot of changes. In June this year Brietta, an Imperial Motor Holdings subsidiary, took over the local distribution of Mitsubishi’s passenger vehicles from Mercedes-Benz SA.
The Outlander has been around for a few years now, and one can’t help but feel that it has been, well, under marketed. Product range has always been limited, too.
And so, with an average monthly sales figure of just five units (July to September 2011), Mitsubishi’s new future with Brietta can only be a good thing for the capable Outlander.
Nissan’s double whammy!
Nissan is represented by two compact SUVs: the Qashqai and the X-Trail. A few years ago, shortly after the Qashqai landed in SA, we took one on our annual adventure to Swaziland. On that trip a relatively easy 4×2 trail was turned into a tricky and slippery 4×4 one, courtesy of heavy rain. Yet the “soft” Qashqai never missed a beat. The Qashqai is popular too. The Qashqai range, which includes 4×2 models, sells more than 300 units a month.
The X-Trail seems more at home here in Namibia than the Qashqai – even though the two Nissan’s share identical drivetrains. From a practical point of view, the X-Trail also has its smaller sibling covered.
Although one can hardly call the X-Trail’s design – both inside and out – cutting edge, it’s all about being realistic, and offering practical solutions.
Overall the X-Trail, with its average monthly sales of 121 units (July to September 2011) fails to evoke copious amounts of motoring passion – but it ticks a whole lot of practical boxes.
The speed merchant
If the Qashqai looks an unlikely compact SUV for the rough-and-tough parts of northern Namibia, the Mazda CX-7 seems even more so. This stylish and very sporty compact SUV is more suited to leafy city suburbs. There, Mom can drop the kids off at school, do the shopping, have a dice with a hot VW Golf GTI on the way, and so on.
But what about Namibia? Will this Mazda, with its 175 kW of turbocharged power and very sporty ride, be able to last the Namibian distance? And why is it that the Mazda sells on average only 11 units a month (July to September, 2011)?
The Gallic revolution!
Renault’s current Koleos makes a last appearance on this trip before being replaced by a face-lifted model, as seen at the Joburg Motor Show. Some punters would say it’s about time for a face-lift for the relatively slow-selling Renault – it manages just 21 units a month (July to September 2011).
With the Nissan-Renault alliance proving to be one of the most successful in recent motoring history, the Koleos shares a lot of DNA with the Nissan X-Trail. The platform is virtually the same, and the drivetrain – including the 4×4 system – is exactly the same.
So it’s a hybrid of sorts, what with a Japanese heart beating in a typically extravagant French body.
But, will the Koleos pack out crying and shouting “Mon dieu!” when this adventure gets tough?
The best SsangYong ever?
The new SsangYong Korando is the frog that was kissed by a princess and turned into a reasonable looking prince.
After being subjected to years of off-thewall and weird vehicle designs, the latest Korando is a breath of fresh air – it’s probably the best looking SsangYong ever.
Along with the more Average Joe look comes a powerful new turbodiesel engine that runs on a strict 50ppm (50 particles per million) diesel diet. Unlike some of the other compact SUVs here, the Korando is available only with this 130 kW/360 Nm engine. So there’s no petrol option.
The new all-wheel drive model, as well as a six-speed automatic version of the 4×2, recently went on sale here. SsangYong also doesn’t report its sales figures, so there are no clues on how it’s selling. But, with only 180mm ground clearance, will the AWD Korando cope in the Kaokoland? Or, more realistically, will it actually survive?
The right stuff
The Suzuki Grand Vitara is the same one that we did the recce in, in August. This vehicle is not 100% standard, though. It is called the Namib edition, and is sold through the Suzuki Windhoek branch and in SA.
It features a suspension lift (up to 60mm at the back and 40mm in the front), custom- built protection plates for the undercarriage and slightly more beefy all-terrain tyres. All the upgrades conform to Suzuki’s standard warranty terms though.
The Grand Vitara has not been able to match its smaller sibling, the Jimny, for sales numbers, but it does churn out an average of 28 units per month (July to September 2011).
And, the Grand Vitara has some useful tricks up its sleeve: it comes standard with a low-range transfer case, and an awesome off-road traction control system.
The original deal
Last on the list – and only so because of the alphabet – is Toyota’s RAV4 2.0VX. The RAV4 is credited with bringing the compact SUV concept to SA roads, in the early nineties.
Back then the RAV4 was a lean and pretty mean 4×4. Thanks to its compact dimensions, relatively light weight and powerful engine, the RAV could tackle a rough 4×4 track. In time, though, this changed. More airbags were added, more leather trim, more this and more that. Today the RAV4 is a safe and luxurious compact SUV, but it has also grown in stature and in weight. Today Toyota sells an average of 102 units a month (July to September 2011).
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our line-up for this year’s adventure. It’s a flashy, trendy and glitzy line-up, for sure. But is it a line-up that will survive some of the roughest terrain Namibia can dish up?
Lights! Camera! Action!
Smokey and the Bandit
The character Carrie (played by Sally Field) in the classic Smokey and the Bandit film, famously said: “I’m goin’, I’m goin’! I got the metal to the petal and the thing to the floor!”
It’s the first driving day of the Namibia adventure. And it’s a long one, too. The compact SUVs have to leave the Hosea Kutako International Airport, drive through Windhoek and then head north on the main B1 highway to Okahandja, Otjiworongo and Otavi. Just before Tsumeb the adventurers take a left turn towards the Etosha National Park’s Namutoni gate. Near this gate they will reach the suave Kempinski Mokuti Lodge, where the group will spend the first night.
There’s the one thing about Namibia that always remains constant – distances are vast.
The convoy first has to cover around 250km of long, straight and quiet tar roads to reach the Kameldorn Garden Coffee Shop and Bistro in Otjiworongo. This is a welcome lunch stop, about halfway to Kempinski Lodge. Smokey the spietkop is out and about though, so it helps relieve the pressure on that right foot some.
After the Kameldorn lunch, we hit the road again, and as the kilometres flew past and the Etosha National Park and the lodge drew closer, the gist of our adventure became ever more tangible.
Etosha, the dry Hoanib River, a night camping under the stars and Twyfelfontein with its 6000-year-old rock engravings – this is it. This is the Namibia Kaokoveld adventure.
How to train your dragon (or elephant)
William Dukenfield, better known as WC Fields, was an American comedian and actor. He once said: “Women are like elephants. I like to look at ’em, but I wouldn’t want to own one.”
We also like to look at elephants. Especially big elephants, like the ones in Etosha.
Not long after sunrise we clock in at Namutoni gate, just 2km from the lodge.
The plan for the day is simple: get in your compact SUV, enter Etosha through the Namutoni gate and drive the 200km to the Taleni Etosha Village at your own pace, in your own time. Essentially, our guests had the day to themselves, and they could choose how much time they spent in or outside Etosha.
Thanks to tour guide Johan Swanepoel all the vehicles are fitted with powerful twoway radios. And 14 minutes after entering the park, the radio comes to life.
“We’ve found elephant! Big ones, on the road to Halali, not far from the gate!”
We head there, keen to see the ellies up close and personal – and we find them easily enough. They sure are bigger than most of the elephants we’ve seen in the Kruger, Pilanesberg or any other SA game reserve.
“Lion. We’ve found a pride of lion. There are cubs and everything!”
It’s the radio again, and along with a few other vehicles that have joined the little train of discovery, we follow the directions to the position where the lions were spotted.
We find the pride lazing about in the shade of some trees – it’s still early morning but the sun is already blazing hot.
“We’ve got two big elephant bulls, right next to the road!”
Again we follow the trail – and find the two giants next to the road, as promised. This is easy!
We move along and come across vast herds of zebra, blue wildebeest and springbok.
It’s almost as if the Lion King had called a meeting the previous evening, and told his assembled subjects: “Okes, first on the agenda… we have a group of SA tourists coming to visit in a bunch of shiny compact SUVs. Most of these people have never been here before, so please put your best paws forward and give them a bit of show.”
So the animals gathered especially for us, right next to the main roads.
We stop to watch two more elephant bulls heading in the direction of a pan, which looks stunning after recent rains. It’s more like an ocean than a pan.
Next we land up right in the middle of a big elephant herd. There are calves, and mommy elephants with calves are normally rather edgy, and grumpy. They are in the road, in front and behind us. We’re careful not to upset them, and we get through okay.
Later we’re back on the main dirt road to Halili. We see lots more zebra, giraffe, blue wildebeest and springbok. We even spot an elusive white rhino. We see another pride of lion – and we see so many more elephants that we don’t even stop for a photo anymore. Finally, on arriving at Okaukeujo Rest camp, we refuel and head to the Anderson Gate. The Taleni Etosha Village is just a few kilometres down the road from this gate.
At Taleni we check into our luxury tented villas – and wash down some biltong with a few cold ones.
It was a very special day.
No, it was… a magic day.
House of sand and fog
The late George Carlin, an award-winning American stand-up comedian and social critic once said: “Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.”
On the programme for this trip is one night of sleeping in a tent, under the stars. This was to be that night. We are scheduled to sleep over at the Khowarib community campsite, in the Khowarib Schluct, near the settlement of Sesfontein. This is in the very heart of the Kaokoveld.
Getting to this remote campsite, though, could prove quite a challenge, especially for the softer of the soft-roaders in this convoy. For today’s leg, the 17 SUVs are following tour guide Johan Swanepoel’s Landy Defender.
From Taleni we head south towards Outjo, but just before reaching this town the convoy aims west, in the direction of Kamanjab. From here on we’re officially in the grammadoelas. Johan leads us north towards Weissbrünn. After about 55km, he makes a left turn, off the main road. This will be the last time we see a tar road for almost two days.
We’re on a tweespoor track, first snaking its way through a rural village and then heading into the bundu proper. This is the plofstof track.
It’s not long before we hit the first patch of it – and the convoy’s average speed drops dramatically as the SUVs have to wait out the worst dust in front of them before tackling the sandy ruts.
We also come across the first 4×4 challenges. Although not difficult, they may prove troublesome for some of the lowerslung SUVs. However, with a little bit of extra momemtum when required they all keep on going.
Meanwhile, the convoy is making steady headway towards the Hoanib River, and its dry riverbed. Amazingly, this river was still flowing at the end of April this year, due to the massive unseasonal rains that caused widespread flooding, and several deaths.
We reach the river, and it’s dry. We hit the sand and – thankfully – the plofsand is no more.
The river sand, in the 40-degree heat, poses another challenge. Here, momentum, horsepower and the correct tyre pressures are the vital factors. Here the light weight Daihatsu Terios is in its element – it runs on the sand, instead of in it.
Not all the SUVs are as happy and content in the sand. Traction control and stability control systems need to be switched off in this sand. When wheels start spinning, computer brains reckon a catastrophic accident is imminent and cut down the power. And less power means less momentum, and less momentum… well, that usually equates to getting stuck.
However, some of these 4x4s’ traction and stability systems can’t be shut down.
The omission of an on/off switch for these systems in a 4×4 seems like an elementary design fault (dear Watson), but one needs to keep in mind that the Kaokoveld and a dry riverbed were hardly part of most of these vehicles’ design briefs. Safety enjoyed a higher design priority, especially on slippery roads covered with water or ice. And that’s where traction and stability control can save lives.
But even when these control systems are doing their utmost to stop wheels spinning, one can haul them through the sand. You just have to select the correct gear, hold the right foot flat and keep the steering movements as far away as possible from a “we’re gonna crash!” level.
After some on-the-job-training for less experienced 4×4 drivers, the convoy forges onwards, relentlessly.
In between the plofstof ruts and the dry and sandy riverbed, we have to cross a few streams. These are not deep, though, and the crystal clear water poses no problems.
And apart from the streams, the plofstof ruts, the dry and sandy river beds and pesky insects that like to nibble on humans, we have to deal with a few rocky outcrops, and climbs. We were particularly worried about these sections.
But by now our guests are all fundis at this business of driving in the Kaokoveld – and so we arrive at the Khowarib Community campsite, and strike camp.
Much later, after a swim in the Hoanib River (okay, so it was more of a lie down in the shallow water near the camp), and a lovely dinner, we stare in wonder at the zillions of stars that fill the sky.
We’d expected a day filled with mechanical troubles, stranded and possibly damaged 4x4s. Instead, there had been no real trouble – only a few punctured tyres to deal with.
It was a very special day.
No, it was… an amazing day
The Full Monty
The legendary British statesman, Sir Winston Churchill, declared: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Today we are heading to the Twyfelfontein area, which is said to have been frequented by ancient tribes of hunters and gatherers 6000 years ago. The rock formations near Twyfelfontein are decorated with engravings from that time, and more recent works of art from Bushmen. It was time for a history lesson.
The 350km drive is mostly on well-used gravel roads. These are normally in excellent condition, but the rain earlier in the year had caused much damage, and some lowwater crossings that are normally bone dry are still filled with water. These crossings keep us on our toes as the convoy, now stretching over several kilometres because of the dust restricting visibility, winds its way through the rugged landscape.
Finally, we reach the Hoanib river again, and Johan gives us a choice – either drive via the dry riverbed to the lodge and possibly see a rare desert elephant, or stick to the main dirt road and head straight for the lodge.
More than half of the SUVs choose to tackle the dry riverbed, including some of the vehicles with permanent traction and stability control. The drivers were clearly enjoying the sand.
While Johan leads the more adventurous crews down the Hoanib, we escort the rest of the group via the main road. But we don’t get very far. Before tackling the dirt road, we stop as a few of the drivers inflate the deflated tyres of their steeds.
Two middle-aged ladies, sporting very red sun tans, approach us, near the main road. Their driver has got his two-wheel drive minibus stuck around the corner, in a patch of soft sand. Can we help, please?
Ah! Finally, a recovery! So we recover the stricken Quantum bus in a jiffy – much to the relief of the group of German tourists. We resume our journey, glad to have finally justified lugging the recovery kit all the way from SA.
The last 40km of road to Twyfelfontein is in excellent shape as it snakes between hills and down dales amidst the stark beauty of this rugged place. At the front of the field we push on some to sort out details at the lodge before the guests arrive.
When we stop at the lodge’s reception, we notice two SUVs fast approaching. They were hot on our heels. It’s the SsangYong Korando and the… Daihatsu Terios Off-road.
“Cheeze, that was fun!” says SsangYong’s Pedro Perreira when he pulls up. “That was one amazing section of road. What a lekker drive!”
Later, the Hoanib River group also clock in for a cold one. They hadn’t seen any elephants, though. Can’t say we blamed the elephants for staying out of the sun. The temperature was now 42C, and we would also prefer to hide away in the shade than put on a show for the tourists!
Dinner is at the lodge’s restaurant, and the food is spectacular. It’s the last night of the adventure. And as tradition dictates, 4×4 tour leader Francois Rossouw, who is our guest and the mampoer-cookie man, gets a chance to share some of his stories. And so, under the stars and amidst Twyfelfontein’s spectacular boulders, we end the last night.
The soft-roaders had shown that they could withstand all the challenges Namibia could throw at them. Punctures played a role, though, as we thought they would. The BMW X3 lost two run-flat tyres during the day.
Thank goodness for the “Twyfel Wheel and Tyre”! The staff patched and healed a number of ailing tyres.
Still, it was again a special day.
No, it was… an astounding day
The Final Curtain
Mark Twain once said: “If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.”
Mr Twain had clearly never been to Namibia – everything comes there 30 years later!
Seriously, though, Namibia is reported to have the second-lowest population density in the world, after Mongolia. It’s a wonderfully stark, rugged and beautiful place.
The last day of our adventure was a long drive – about 650km from Twyfelfontein Lodge to the airport. It’s normally an uneventful drive. But for the BMW X3 xDrive20d crew, it certainly wasn’t uneventful.
The Beemer had fared well in all departments of the trip, but failed in the tyre segment. All four its run-flat tyres had been damaged beyond repair by the time the BMW reached Khorixas, about 120km from Twyfelfontein.
After some testing times, the BMW crew finally reached a semi-workable tyre solution, thanks to other crews who supplied similar pieces of 18-inch rubber, and the team reached Windhoek and the flight back to Cape Town with a minute to spare.
But that’s one lesson learned: run-flat tyre technology and Namibia, well, they’ve never heard of each other. Traditional tyres are more suitable here.
So all of the crews eventually arrived at the airport – and returned to the concrete jungle in the tummy of a Boeing 737-200.
It was a special experience, this Namibian adventure.
We thought we might have stretched the limits of endurance too far for these softroader SUVs – yet the “softies” proved to be not so soft after all!
In fact, they showed their mettle in the harsh and unforgiving terrain. They took the knocks, and lasted the distance.
Still, as one 4×4 expert once said, “It’s the nut that holds the steering wheel that makes the difference.” Kudos is due to the crews who got the SUVs through the worst of it, and delivered them all safely to the airport.
We end with a quote of our own: “He who travels far, he who travels through robust places, he’d best be travelling in a modern compact SUV.”
The reason is not Freudian, nor is it Shakespearean or even Andrew St Pierre White-ish. It is simply because they can.
Etosha National Park
Etosha was used as a backdrop in the filming of the fourth edition of the Star Wars series. At its heart is a 120km-long dry lake, and at the time of our visit in September it was covered in water about 10cm deep, following unseasonal rains earlier in the year.
Most of the 22 750 square kilometre park’s roads are accessible by higher clearance 4×2 vehicles, but a 4×4 is just more fun. However, visiting this malaria-free park is an expensive business for SA tourists. It is geared towards international tourists that pack euros or dollars. A day pass costs less than R200 per vehicle though, so perhaps one should stay overnight outside the park (there are lots of lodges outside the gates) and make a day visit. Well, except if your surname is Oppenheimer or Malema, that is.
The game viewing is spectacular. The pan itself is surrounded by savannah grasslands that are home to many animals. These include large herds of zerbra, blue wildebeest, springbok, white rhino, elephant, wild dogs, lions, leopards and various antelope. So it’s a pretty cool place if you’re into wildlife and all that. In fact, it’s probably one of the coolest places on Mother Earth.
More information: www.etoshanationalpark.co.za; Tel. +27 21 853-7952.
Places we stayed
Kempinski Makuti Lodge
If you’ve seen the Etosha pans under water, and have seen all the elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, zebra… you name it, and now need to relax, the Kempinski is just the ticket.
With its own spa (where you get to wear really cool slippers!), a tennis court, beautiful swimming pools, and “wild” game that walk freely between the chalets, it’s an unusual and comfortable place.
Pricing varies from mild to a little bit wild, but it’s one of those bucket list kinda places to visit – you just gotta do it.
Etosha Taleni Village
Situated 4,3km from Etosha’s Andersson Gate, this snazzy lodge with its luxurious tented accommodation offers plenty of fun. You can swim, you can check the sunset, you can swim, you can eat and/or drink something, and you can swim!
Seriously, though, after a long day exploring Etosha National Park, the Taleni Village is just the place to put up your feet and relax.
Oh, and the architecture is pretty interesting, too, especially if you’re a budding Antoni Gaudi. The lodge is an amazingly environmental- friendly establishment. It was designed with preservation and conservation in mind. So it not only looks good but does its part to save the world.
Pricing here also varies from mild to a little bit wild.
Twyfelfontein Lodge, Damaraland
Six thousand years ago this area was inhabited by stone-age hunter-gatherers. They made most of the sandstone engravings that can still be seen there today. About 2500 years ago, the Khoikhoi – a group related to the San (Bushmen) – moved into this region and decorated it with some of their own paintings and rock art.
In 1947, a farmer named Levin acquired a piece of land here, and soon discovered a natural fountain. But it was like a traffic light in modern-day SA – one moment it worked, the next moment it didn’t. Hence the name Twyfelfontein, or “doubtful fountain”.
Today the Twyfelfontein Lodge presides here, in the heart of Namibia’s Damaraland. The rooms are not the most lavish you’ll ever see, but the setting is stunning and the restaurant’s food is quite brilliant.
Again, pricing varies from mild to high. However, the lodge is massively popular with tourists – so book in advance.
More information: www.twyfelfonteinlodge.com