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Namibia Red Rocky Koiimasis

Dassie and horses

15th September Tiras

We left in good time as there is little to do in Aus. After only a few kms we turned off the nice B4, right on to the rutted C13 towards Helmeringhausen. The road was extremely dusty and nobody wanted to be behind any other vehicle so it was a bit of a game! We ended up letting all the bikers past us and held back until their dust had settled. Then we were basically alone, driving through the red southern edge of Namib-Naukluft desert, with a few scattered black rocks.
After about 60km we came to the hamlet of Tirool, where we turned off left onto an even less well maintained road; basically a red dust track (officially the D707). However, we were totally alone and the views were incredible. To our left was the edge of the desert; think red and yellow sand dunes, black outcrops and blue sky, while to our right were the mountains of Tirasberg; think grassy savannah with herds of oryx, zebra, ostrich, impala…. etc with red and black mountains as the backdrop. There were maybe 2 or 3 small farms along the road for 70km until we spotted the gate to the Lodge on the right. Then it was a 4x4 track for some 20km, through all the game, another gate, and finally the lodge itself. The journey was only 2 hours (we expected it to take longer), so it was mid morning and we decided to chill on the patio and enjoy the views. Probably the most beautiful hotel we stayed at in Namibia.
Welcome to Koiimasis Ranch Fest Inn Fels Lodge situated in the heart of the Tiras Mountains. Allow your soul be revived in this magnificent surrounding and enjoy a special feeling of endless freedom amongst shining red granite boulders. Listen to secret ancestral voices, which the echoing wind carries through the ancient valleys. Accommodation is in comfortable private chalets at the Fest Inn Fels Farm Lodge which includes the restaurant, reception, the sky-bar and pool facilities all elegantly melted into the red granite rocks. Explore this variable landscape, from desert savannah to Quiver tree forest on horseback or by foot, or take a glance into our ostrich and parrot breeding production facilities. At Ranch Koiimasis learn how the ancient bushmen survived. https://www.namibia-farm-lodge.com/fest-inn-fels-clg6
Tirasberg Conservancy Since 1998 there has been a 125,000 ha (125 km²) large private nature reserve. The area is set aside by 8 farms (2018); Gunsbewys, Tiras, Landsberg, Koiimasis. Numis, Weissenborn, Korais, Excelsior). This Wildlife Conservancy encompasses much of the Tiras Mountains. The Tiras Mountains are the intersection of four different landscapes: from the north/ north-east, the Tiras Mountains merge with the mountainous landscape of the Rooirand (Rotrand) and adjoining Tsaris Mountains; from the west/ south-west, the red dunes of Neisib Plateau and Homs Plateau form the contact with the Namib-Naukluft National Park and the foothills of the Namib Desert. To the south-east, the Tiras Mountains border on a savannah and succulent steppe, which has ancient rock paintings of bushmen (San). In the adjoining short shrub savannah, cattle breeding is practised. Important peaks of the Tiras Mountains are Schanzenberg (1902m), Sattelberg (1419m), Koiimasis Nase (1397m) and Bergveld.
We thought about going in the pool; even changed into our costumes, and then felt the water temperature. We changed our minds! Then the manager came to show us to our chalet at the bottom of the hill. Very well appointed, although the lack of door and wall to the toilet was a bit off-putting, with a porch. As the temperature cooled we went for a hike around the lodge, keeping an eye open for snakes. A very pleasant walk through the red rocks and dry grasses, we saw a lot of birds (White Browed Sparrow-weaver, Acacia Pied Barbet, Bulbuls), insects and lizards, especially in the dried river valleys. Koiimasis is San "The Meeting Place" and invites exploration of fauna and flora; very true as we discovered.
Oryx (gemsbok) (Oryx gazella) often known by its Afrikaans name, gemsbok (origin unknown) are found all over Namibia and can tolerate arid areas uninhabitable to most other antelope, hence its status as Namibia's National animal. It obtains enough water from food to survive and rarely needs to drink. They can tolerate extreme heat and to conserve water can allow body temperature to rise to levels that would kill most animals, by cooling the blood going to the brain. Herds number anywhere 5-40, but aggregations of several hundred can occur. Female herds include non-territorial bulls who will move between the territories of dominant bulls in search of food. To avoid conflict, non-territorial bulls are submissive towards territorial bulls. Fights between males are often fatal, one or both can receive severe stab wounds. When cornered by a predator, oryx use their horns rigorously to defend themselves and attackers display extreme caution before advancing. In the heat of the day they rest in the shade of trees. When shade is not available they orientate themselves to present as little as possible of their body surface to the sun. The sight of oryx in the dunes at Sossusvlei, with the rising sun as a backdrop, is not uncommon. They are so common in Namibia you are likely to see them next to the road throughout the entire country. Gemsbok feed on leaves, grasses and herbs. It is a large mainly grey-coloured antelope, with striking black and white markings on the face and legs, black side stripes on the flanks and a long black tail. Only one calf is born after 9 months. Bulls measure 1.2m at the shoulders and attain a mass of 240kg. Both bulls and cows have horns, shorter and stockier on the male.
Yellow Spotted Rock Dassie (Heterohyrax brucei) refers to the colour of the hair on the dorsal gland, which in the rock dassie is black but can vary in the species from yellow to ochre. They are slightly smaller than the rock dassie and the muzzle is slightly narrower. Two of the best features when distinguishing from the rock dassie are the white or off-white patches above the eyes and the lighter colour of the sides of the face. It lives in similar habitats to the rock dassie, often live on the same rocks and crevices and can be seen basking in the sun next to each other. Both species frequent the mountains and koppies around Windhoek. They do not interbreed. Predominantly a browser but in the warm, wetter months, their diet includes grass as well. In colouring it is dark brown with a reddish tint, flecked on the upper parts with off-white.
Hyraxes (Ancient Greek ὕραξ (húrax) 'shrewmouse'), also dassies, are small, thickset, herbivorous mammals in the order Hyracoidea. Hyraxes are well-furred, rotund animals with short tails. Though superficially similar to pikas and marmots, they are more closely related to elephants and sea cows. Hyraxes retain a number of primitive mammalian characteristics; in particular poorly developed internal temperature regulation, for which they compensate by behavioural thermoregulation, such as huddling together and basking in the sun. Unlike most browsers, they do not use the incisors for slicing off leaves and grass, but instead their molars. The incisors are large and tusk-like, and grow continuously through life, similar to rodents. Hyraxes have complex, multi-chambered stomachs that allow symbiotic bacteria to break down tough plant materials. All modern hyraxes are members of the family Procaviidae (the only living family within Hyracoidea) and are found only in Africa. The order first appears in the fossil of Dimaitherium, 37 mya. For many millions of years, hyraxes, proboscideans, and other afrotherian mammals were the primary terrestrial herbivores in Africa. The smallest were the size of a mouse but Titanohyrax could reach 600- 1,300 kg. During the Miocene, competition from the newly developed bovids, displaced the hyraxes into marginal niches.
Sesamum capense (Wild sesame) carpeted the floor. Sesame seed is the oldest oilseed crop known to humanity. The genus has many species, and most are wild, native to sub-Saharan Africa. Archaeological remnants of charred sesame dating to about 3500-3050 BC show sesame was domesticated in India and possibly traded by the Indus Valley civilisation to Mesopotamia (ilu in Sumerian and ellu in Akkadian). Egyptians called it sesemt, and it is included in the list of medicinal drugs in the scrolls of the Ebers Papyrus dated over 3600 years old. Sesame can grow in areas that do not support the growth of other crops. It grows in drought conditions, high heat, and at the edge of deserts, a true survivor.
Euphorbia virosa (Gifboom poison tree), spurge family Euphorbiaceae. It has a short main stem, usually twisted, from which 5–10 cm branches emerge. These leafless branches have 5 to 8 edges. Paired thorns grow in regularly spaced intervals from the edges. Euphorbia virosa is common from the Orange River to Southern Angola, and throughout the Namib Desert, mainly on rocky slopes. The plant contains a milky latex with carcinogenic properties. This is very poisonous and is used by San (Bushmen) to dip the tips of their hunting arrows. Contact causes skin irritation, and even blindness.
After our walk we cooled off sitting on the porch and watching the birds, before strolling back up to the outdoor bar for a cocktail. As the sun set behind the red rocks the dassies (rock hyrax) came out in force to soak up the last rays. We thought they were cute; the staff thought they were pests! Then it was a set dinner in the restaurant (only one other couple were there) with giant viewing windows and a very nice Namibian wine, before we headed back to our room for the night.
Namibian wine is produced in small quantities by a few wineries. Although the production of wine is expanding in Namibia, the grapes grown are mostly destined for the home market. One of the challenges of viticulture in Namibia is that the country is quite dry, which means that irrigation is usually necessary. Unlike South Africa, it is situated closer to the equator than the traditional (but now challenged) 30-50° latitude rule for wine production. Namibian wine production began with the colonisation of Namibia by Germany in 1884. The first vineyards were planted by German Roman Catholic priests at the end of the 19th century in the mountain valleys of the suburb of Klein Windhoek. They produced a white wine and a potent schnapps named "Katholischer". Production was halted in the late 1960s, when the last wine-making priest died and the vineyards made way for building classrooms for the church school. Since Namibia’s independence in 1990 plantations for table grapes have taken place along Orange River. Small scale winemaking was pioneered in 1990 by Helmuth Kluge in the town of Omaruru. He grew Colombard and Ruby Cabernet in his plot called Kristall Kellerei http://kristallkellerei.com/our-wines Kristall Kellerei, purchased in 2008 by NAWGA’s Chair, Mr. Weder, continues to produce quality wines with Colombard grapes, and a unique red blend, the Paradise Flycatcher and various fine spirits. In addition to Kristall Kellerei, Namibia currently comprises two other wineries: Thonningii Cellar in Otavi, and Neuras: N/a’an ku sé Wine and Wildlife Estate, on the edge of the Namib Desert. The Cheetah Conservation Fund planted its first vines in 2005. In 2009, Heiko Pfafferott planted 1000 shiraz vines on farm Ahrensburg near Otjiwarongo, producing under the cellar name of Omumbara. Winery Erongo Mountain Winery https://erongomountainwinery.com produces a variety of wines from European-style grapes. Allen Walken-Davis established a vineyard with Shiraz vines during the 1990s at his farm Neuras https://naankusecollection.com/establishment/neuras-wine-wildlife-estate near Maltahöhe, in south Namibia. In 1997, Bertus Boshoff planted his first vines at his farm, Thonninggii, in the Otavi Mountains where he grows Shiraz, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage and Mourvèdre. In 2003, the families Schulz and Evrard bought a farm 2 km away from Boshoff, and they planted Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo and Chardonnay in 2004.
AA86C86E-6527-4416-89A7-636B5FA303E9_4_5005_c.jpegNamibian Kiss Cabernet Sauvigon / Shiraz Blend “Namibian Kiss” is made with subtle intention and passionate wine making. After slow fermentation and gentle pressing the wine was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels then expertly blended to give a full-bodied, but elegantly smooth red wine, bursting with sweet ripe fruit and wild berries. It pairs well with grilled meat but it is just as enjoyable with good friends. Each sip will leave you behind with the sweet kiss of the Namibian Sun.

Posted by PetersF 15:01 Archived in Namibia Tagged mountains animals horse namibia aus garub koiimasis festinnfels

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