The Nama Padloper Route has an abundance of natural attractions with unique landscapes and a diverse range of fauna and flora. Most of the route falls within the Succulent Karoo Biome whilst the area east of the Fish River falls in the Nama Karoo Biome. Visitors can view fauna that is unique and endemic to the area, including an isolated and near-extinct population of grey rheebok that live in the Huns Mountains; the Nama padloper tortoise and the desert mountain adder. The Springbok frog can also be spotted near seeps in the Huns Mountains.
The route is named after the Nama padloper tortoise (Homopus solus), the only Padloper that is endemic to Namibia. It grows up to 15cm and has an orange to brown carapace, with dark pigmentation on the scute edges. The name ‘Nama’ comes from the Nama people who inhabit southern Namibia. The Nama have much in common with the San (Bushmen), sharing the same linguistic roots, light skin and small build. The term padloper is an Afrikaans word which means ‘path walker’, ‘road walker’ or ‘trail walker.’
The route starts at the Vioolsdrift/Noordoewer border post between South Africa and Namibia and follows the Orange River to the town of Rosh Pinah before heading north to the quaint village of Aus, on the edge of the Namib Desert.
The road meanders along the Orange River for approximately 160km before reaching Rosh Pinah. This is a truly scenic drive passing through the Aussenkehr area known for its export quality table grapes. You will also travel through the Aussenkehr Nature Park and can experience the many unique features of the park by enquiring at the reception desk at Norotshama River Resort.
The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park opened the Sendelingsdrift pont that operates across the Orange River on 17 October 2007. The trip itself takes less than five minutes, whereas the alternative route is 485km extra to go around. A maximum of two vehicles can go across at a time, and in heavy windy weather, crossing is stopped.
Reasons to visit:
The route provides scenic views of the river and surrounding desert mountains, synonymous with Namibia’s southern parts. The Orange River brings life to the surrounding arid lands and with the water comes a varied birdlife, like red bishops, African darters and Fish eagles.
Apart from a number of lodges and camps along the route, points of interest include the Orange River crossing, the abandoned Lorelei Copper Mine where some dated machinery can still be seen and the Sendelingsdrift pontoon crossing.
Rosh Pinah is a quaint town with all the basic necessities, surrounded by some of Namibia’s most attractive landscapes. Apart from being an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding areas, the village has a few of its own attractions worth noting. It has a golf and tennis club, and a number of accommodation options for tourists.