by Ron Swilling
Puros campsite borders the Skeleton Coast park in Namibia’s Kunene region.
After driving up the narrow, rocky track to Jan Joubert koppie (small hill), you are met with spectacular scenery. Mountains extend around you and the green vein of the Hoarusib River meanders below.
This incredible view of the Puros Conservancy bordering the Skeleton Coast Park is one of the highlights of staying at the Puros Campsite on the banks of the Hoarusib River. An ephemeral river, it is dry for most of the year, running in summers of good rainfall when its catchment area fills up. Desert-adapted elephant roam the ephemeral river courses in the Kunene Region from the Ugab River northwards and the elephants are frequent visitors at the campsite.
The name Puros stems from the Otjiherero word ‘omburo’ meaning underground water that seeps up to the surface. It refers to the artesian springs much favoured by these hardy elephants that visit the springs or dig gorras in the riverbed to reach the fresh water. Animals that may be seen in the area are giraffe, ostrich, gemsbok, springbok and baboon, and if extremely lucky, the few lion that still wander through.
The camp was officially opened in 1995, becoming part of the Puros Conservancy in 2003. It was upgraded in 2005 and consists of six sites under large camel-thorn trees, each with its own private ablution facilities with flush toilets, made with makalani palm walls and cleverly placed under branches of the trees, with one site having double facilities. Hot water is provided through ‘donkey’ wood-burners and fresh water pumped up from the borehole is available. The sites have large trees providing blessed shade in the day and are equipped with a kitchen sink and counter, barbecue area and tap. Francolins walk about the campsite, calling in the mornings and grey go-away-birds ‘kweeeee’ through the day.
The attractions of the area include the stunning scenery of an unfenced desert landscape, the springs that run between the mountains near the village – where you can view the river birdlife and experience this small Eden in the dry environment – and a visit to the nearby demonstration Himba village a few kilometres away. Guided trips are offered by campsite management to the village and the surrounding areas.
Come prepared. Purros is a very small village, although it looks bigger on the map. Fuel can usually be bought in Sesfontein and basics at the Fontein Shop. It is best to buy groceries and fill up with fuel in Kamanjab or Opuwo if travelling from the north. Fuel can also be purchased at the Palmwag fuel station and Khorixas. The camp is not accessible when the Hoarusib River is coming down in flood and it is re-commended to check the situation if travelling between January and April.
The Puros Campsite provides a good base for exploring the area and as a stopover point if travelling via Orupembe to the Marienfluss area and Opuwo or returning from the north via Purros to Sesfontein. A hundred and nine kilometres from Sesfontein on a 4×4 only road, Purros is a good desti-nation on its own for an experience of the area.
Visiting the traditional Himba village, exploring the surrounding area, watching the sun set from the viewpoint into the mountains and desert sands, and glimpsing desert elephant journeying through the riverbed are worth spending at least two nights at this riverbank campsite.
Although you may feel on arrival that you have reached the end of the world, with a bit of exploration you will discover the beauty and magic this desert world holds.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘09 edition of Travel News Namibia.