A 4200 km long mineraltrip in Namibian sand- and stone desert 2002
Part 1 of 3
©2002 Lennart Borg
Day 0: This mineral trip started in Oslo/Gardemoen Airport and from there weflew to London -Johannesburg and up to Windhoek in Namibia.
1: The Airport is two
hours drive south of the capital Windhoek and there we met our geological
guide Andréas, André and his wife Thea and the three Toyota Land cruisers
and a trailer that later on was filled with our mineral packages.
On the way from the airport to Windhoek were a lot of, not sheep but monkeys!? We stayed at a hotel and went home with Andreas who told us what should happen during the trip.
About sleeping places, they will be of three different kinds, he said:
wild camping in the desert without roads, water electricity or toilets but
moon and starlight
- established camping places with solar heated water and toilets
- hotel/lodges with all the comforts.
We unloaded at the hotel and went into town to change our money. Don’t forget to take small notes for buying from small-scale miners, we were told. We also visited the park with a lot of big meteorites.
Windhoek is known to be one of Africa’s cleanest towns. It has 200,000 inhabitants and is situated at 1,700 m above the see level. The streets have names after their heroes like:
Nelson Mandel Ave, Robert Mugabe Street, Idi Amin Strasse and Olof Palme Ave.
On one office building we could read - Office of Ombudsman (funny - "Ombudsman" is originally a Swedish word).
Back at Andréa’s house we all got a plastic bottle. Every morning you have to fill it up with water, he told us. All other equipment was already in the cars. I ran around in his house picking up different minerals in a big box. Put it there, he said, and when we are coming back you can bye it or leave it.
The members of the group:
We were in total 12 persons from seven different countries: one from Canada, England, Hungary, Namibia, Sweden, South Africa and 6 from Norway. The most common language was English.
Andreas- is a clever geologist born in Hungary and for many years living in N. His occupation is now to fix geological tours for mineral collectors from all over the world. It was winter in Namibia in August. We where the 3rd group of four he guides.
André - is a 45 year old ex officer form S-A. He was the driver of my car and he turned out to be perfect for the job. He told us most everything about animals, plants and Namibian history during the trip. He also had a lot of funny stories to tell us from 20 years fighting with Unita against Swapo, Cuban flyers and Russian instructors. The UN came to Namibia in 1990 and all weapons were laid down. Now white and black people seem to live happily together without problems. Besides being our driver, Andre was also our cook and jack-of-all-trades out in the desert.
Thea - an ex signalist from S-A army was also our driver and a clever cook. This was her first trip and before the trip her husband said - it would not be so many kilometres. But - it became the opposite - 4,200 km on non-existing roads. "Never more", she said when we came back home.
We were all in all 12 persons - Astrid, Björn-Otto, Egil, Hans-Vidar, Harald and Jan from Norway, David from England, Robin from Canada and myself from Sweden. We were a good mixture of nations, micro- and macro mineral collectors.
Day 2: The program today was -up at 6 o’clock; breakfast and then we went south to a quarry at Aris Phonolite, 25 km south of Windhoek. Here was a lot of blasted, fresh material. The rock contained some "fossil water" and rich mineralization. In most boulders were small hollows with micro minerals. Phono - sound, and that was exactly what it did when striking a stone. It sounded like a church bell. After some hours in the sun we all were satisfied and more or less filled our first big box with minerals. We all found sprays of Tuperssuatsiaite, some Natrolite, and red xls of Villiaumite.
We went back to Andreas house and unloaded the boxes and went north against Usakos where we stayed overnight in the desert in tents. The name of the place is "Namib Wüste" and can be translated to Namibian desert.
Day 3: This day starts with a visit in Neuschwaben Tourmaline Mine. Here a lot of small-scale miners are struggling to find the gemmy green Tourmalines. I visited a black man in his 6-meter deep cave in this quartz site. He had been working there for 6 months without finding the green Tourmalines. But he had found some nice Smokey Quartz that I bought from him. But look here he said - here is a good potential for opening a cave!
We all went to the place where everybody lived in shelters and bought some quartz and tourmaline crystals (xls). Our next stop was at the Usakos Demantoid Mine. There we found some small green garnets but it was a flop.
"Jump in", said André and we went off to Kleine Spitzkoppe where we put up our tents for the night. Here I slept outside for the second time. It was an adventure to see the stars in the dark on “the other” side of the world.
We could hear a lot of things during those tent nights. It was sounds from baboons, cicadas, wild pigs, donkeys and other wild animals. There was also a lot of snoring from 12 persons. The man
from Canada, or was it the UK took the first prize? Or was it a baboon?
Day 4: This day starts with buying from the small-scale miners who had their small tables along the road. They were all nice and well organized. We bought Amethysts (septer, inclusions, smoky, window quarts), Tourmalines, Schörl, Aquamarines and Topaz. It is now close to 30 degrees Celcius and HOT.
Afterwards - back to the cars and out into the desert on roads that are no roads - just a track in the sand.We soon arrived at the Rössing Mountain Pegmatite. We found some Amazonite and Allanite. In another spot it was easy to find Chalcedony, Jaspers and also small blue Apatite.
"Hoppin" - is Afrikaans for jump in - and we went off for the Goanikontes Mountains. On the way we passed The Moon Landscape.
Inn Goanikontes a lot of blasting had taken place and
among the boulders we found some small, nice yellow Boltwoodite xls sitting on
small black Calcites. This place/site belongs to Andréas.
We went on in this landscape that looks like being on the moon and late in the evening we arrived at the big and beautiful town, Swapkopmund. I can think of going back there with my wife to our hotel, the Alte Brücke Hotel.
The Official Language is English. Most white people in towns speak perfect German. Afrikaans is very common and there are also about 10 tribal languages.
Day 5: Swapkopmund is a vacation paradise for the Namibians and there are many English and German pensioners. The next day was Sunday and we went shopping at one market place where we bought some phone cards and more water for the rest of the trip.
Our travel went on roads that looked like ordinary paved asphalt but they are made of a mixture of salt water and diesel oil. Trucks were filled with saltwater from small salty lakes in the desert. We stopped at one of those lakes and walked out on what looked like ice along the beeches. It was hard salt and on the side against the water there were white big Halite xls.
Our trip along the coast continues and we soon came to Cape Cross Seal Colony with approximately 150,000 seals! They smell very badly and the sound level is very high and among them run shekels. They have a lot of food from all the small new borne seals.
We now leave the sea and travel into Gebobosebberge with many high mountains. The mountain Tafelkoppe is 2,400 m high.
Many Rivers were passed and André knew all the names. A funny thing -there was not a single drop of water in the rivers now during the winter. We drove over and in many of them. During summer season the rivers are filled with rainy water and later it is seapping down to the groundwater. This is then pumped up during the winter with help of wind or petrol engines.