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Breaking The Cycle: The Sperrgebiet and the Finish


Location: Luderitz to Oranjemund (finish)

Total Distance: 1621km

The final section of the expedition, from Luderitz, through the Sperrgebiet to Oranjemund and finally to the mouth of the Orange River, was quite different from the rest of the journey.

The Sperrgebiet (Forbidden Diamond Area), originally annexed by the German government for mining purposes in 1908, has remained inaccessible to the general public since then. We were very fortunate that Namdeb, the current owners of the area, which is 320km long and spans 26,000 square kilometres, granted us special permits to travel through it.

Before setting off from Luderitz we checked in with the Namdeb office to do a short induction to understand the restrictions and safety requirements. On Monday, we set off down the main tarmac road, first to Kolmanskop and then to a turn off 22km from Luderitz. Set 2km off the main road was the Rotkop Gate.

At the turn-off towards Rotkop Gate

There we waited for Hugo from Namdeb to drive out to unlock the gate. Hugo then escorted us for the first 20km. Elago had to carry a satellite phone that could track our movements. Initially, we were told that we could keep it turned off and just check in each night, but the following day, Hugo drove all the way out to ask us to keep the radio on at all times. If Elago’s vehicle stopped for too long, they would want to know what we were doing as we were not to stray from the Chameis Road (except to camp).

The road tracked roughly parallel to the beach, between 10km and 20km inland.

Typical road on Day 2 in the Sperrgebiet

At night I could still hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. The landscape is so vast, I found it difficult to capture it in a photograph. Initially, there were some spectacular mountains and broad plains carpeted with low vegetation. I could count the number of trees on one hand. The colours of the rocks and mud pans were a real feature; red pan, green succulent bushes, yellows, greens, browns and white. I really enjoyed cycling through such open expanses.


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