Klein Aus, Namibia

Klein Aus is well situated for seeing the desert horses, and visiting Luderitz and Kolmamskop ( as well as the remains of a WW1 German pow camp )

The highlight of our stay was the accommodation - we stayed in the chalet called "Rock" and it was one of the most enchanting places we have ever stayed. We sat by the outside table enjoying a glass of wine and looked out over the African veldt - unbelievable! These chalets are built and equipped to a very high standard

The blips were

1. The food was not up to the standard one might have expected from the quality of the accommodation. The food on the evening buffet was held at a far too high a temperature. The result was that lamb only had a passing resemblance to lamb, and the vegetables were over-cooked to smash.

2. Our check in was very bad. We arrived at 12.15 pm, and were told quite bluntly that check in was not before 1 pm. There was no mention of the room not being ready - check out is 10 am,so the room should have been ready. We sat in the lounge for 45 minutes, were then given the key to our room and then drove to 7 kms to the chalet. I would recommend to management that they try to fix this sort of reception

3. Finally although the hotel implies that it is owner run, we did not see the owner in our two days there!

But it was a great hotel, and I would recommend it. The only change I would make if I did return, would be to cook on the Brei in the chalet, rather than taking dinner in the dining room!

The excursions are

1. The German POW camp - only really for the aficionados like me - nothing to see but history!. When the South Africans walked into German South West Africa in 1914, the Germans gave up without much of a fight, and were interned in a camp they had to build themselves here. Later Spanish Flu killed many Germans and their South African Guards. I bought a small book from the hotel shop with the full story. The prisoner-of-war camp was erected after the conclusion of peace in July 1915 between the German and Union forces in South West Africa. A total of 1,552 prisoners-of-war were initially based in this camp. This number remained constant until the official closing of the camp in 1919..

2. The desert horses. Legend has it that many years ago, a cargo steamer ran aground south of Luderitz. It carried thoroughbred horses from Europe and was on its way to Australia. After the wreck, some of these horses made their way through the desert to the Garub plains. But then, another legend tells us how the wife of Baron von Wolf at Duwisib castle opened the farm gates and set free nearly 300 horses who ran off into the desert... also to the Garub plains. And what about the legend that says Germans and Namas bought horses from the south and the interior, to also bring them to ... the Garub plains? The truth is, nobody knows where the wild horses of Aus come from or how they got there.

3. Kolmanskop, the deserted diamond mining "ghost town" near Luderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers). In 1908 the worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in this area and showed it to his supervisor. After realizing that this area was rich in diamonds, lots of German miners settled in this area and soon after the German government declared a large area as a "Sperrgebiet", starting to exploit the diamond field. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theatre and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere (to detect men trying to smuggle diamonds out of the area). It had a railway link to Lüderitz. The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was finally abandoned in 1954.

4. Luderitz is a harbour town lying on one of the least hospitable coasts in Africa. It is a port developed around Robert Harbour and Shark Island. The town is known for its colonial architecture, including some Art Nouveau work, and for wildlife including seals, penguins, flamingos and ostriches. It is also home to a museum, and lies at the end of a currently decommissioned (not quite sure what is happening with it ) railway line to Keetmanshoop.The town was founded in 1883 and boomed in the mining boom before WW1, but after WW1 many Germans were deported, the mining moved south to other diamond fields, and shipping moved to a better harbour at Walvis Bay. Today one goes as a tourist to see the German colonial architecture.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to get a larger photo

Our chalet at Klein Aus was literally built around a whacking great boulder: there was a fully equipped house with bedroom, lounge, kitchen and a patio with a wonderful view over the plain below. Real "Out of Africa" here. A walk through the bush yielded distant large game and closer small game. Then back for a sundowner on the patio.
There was little fighting here, the cemetery has 60 odd graves from each side who died of Flu. Little remains of the POW camp apart from decaying foundations.
At first we thought that we would never see the desert horses. Other game came and went, then eventually a herd of the horses came in for water. Later we saw another herd near the abandoned railway station. The horses have adapted to the lack of water, and can go long periods without having to drink.
Kolmanskop was built as a "real" German town to attract German settlers to this God forsaken spot. It is hot , sandy and very, very windy. For a short period it thrived.
Luderitz, a windy spot on the coast, offered a mediocre harbour on a cost with nothing better. Many of the colonial buildings still remain and it has a German feel
The coast was windswept, the road back to Aus was straight and windswept. The railway ran close to the road, and though no trains ran they seemed to be working on it
On our way to our next stop at Sossusvlei we stopped at Duwisib Castle which had been built in Germany in 1908 and shipped out as a kit, complete with furniture

 

On to Sossusvlei

Namibia Holiday