ON THE EDGE of the famed Namib desert dunes, Solitaire is a hiccup of a town, with farm stays amongst the low hills. Nearby, day or multi day hikes around the Naukluft Mountains show a different side to the Namib-Naukluft Park seen by most visitors.
Marinetal, however, is a farming community, set amongst flat fields of grain, near the Haardap Dam, a key water supply for Namibia, as well as weekend retreat. There’s really no logical link between Mariental and the others, but I have cobbled them all together. Well, they are all nice places.
Solitaire is a one-shop town quite close the Namib Naukluft Park.
A mere 75km to its south, Naukluft is an even smaller gateway to some gorgeous isoltaed hiking.
And the small farming town of Mariental is 250km east, but I have stuck it in this gallery anyway.
In amongst these picture-perfect fields, was one of our favourite campgrounds. Each site came with its own lock-up bathroom and toilet, and they served a ean breakfast.
We originally planned to camp at Haardap Dam, 20km north of town. A friend dropped us at the gate, and headed for Windhoek.
The camp was closed! Luckily we managed to grab a ride back to town.....on a garbage truck!
Haardap is a great place to see rock dassies, aka hyrax, the elephant's closest relative.
Quiver trees are common around the dam.
There isn't much wildlife, but plenty of interesting flora.
It's usually very popular with Namibians for weekend breaks, for fishing, clear skies and short hikes.
And there are so many of these guys around!
The Naukluft mountains, likewise, aren't famed for wildlife, but has some excellent hiking.
In amongst the the high cliffs are some reliable streams, good for swimming on a hot day.
The trails are clearly marked, hardly challenging, and mostly deserted.
Kudu as well as baboons may be seen.
A black-chested snake-eagle, apparently.
The camp owners had a rather large collection of that peculiar Namibian artform, the used parts sculpture.
I guess out here, you have to make your own fun, though.
But as locations go, this one was pretty well placed. And it had a pool.
Namibia has no shortage of beaut camps, and this one in Solitaire wasn't too bad either. (Pool and a bar....)
Low, dry hills separate Solitaire from the Namib desert to its west, and Naukluft hills to its south.
Arid at the best of times, rain had failed in 2013, and a prolonged drought followed.
The occaisonal oryx or emu roam the area.
Solitaire's cheetah rehabiltion sanctuary is a chance to get really close to these sleek killing machines, which roam a large enclosure, and a tracked by collars.
Follow your guides instructions. There's only her and her stick to protect you otherwise.
Not much else happens in Solitaire. Old cars rust.
Guinea fowls cluck, ignorant oftheir fate.