If you’ve seen my post about the Canyon Roadhouse you’ll know that this is a hard act to follow. Leaving it is what I imagine it must be like to come down off a heroin high; everything else would pale by comparison. But at its sister, Canyon Lodge, we discovered a completely different world of rock formations and old bachelors.
The vibe and funkiness of Canyon Roadhouse was gone, but in its place there was a sense of quiet, space and red-rocked glory. Just as old cars had been the main attraction at Canyon Roadhouse, so here the rocks took centre stage, bringing with them an entirely different close-to-nature experience.
Out next morning with guide Frans Eiseb, we learned how these rocks formed. They’re granite, a mix of feldspar, quartz and magma, which came up like bubbles during volcanic activity long ago. In Europe, Frans told us, granite is the strongest rock, but here in Africa it’s the weakest because of our climate of extreme heat and cold, our sun and wind. Such extreme changes make the rocks crack. ‘We call these core cracks,’ Frans explained.
We saw many examples. One half of a rock, rounded on one side and flat on the other, would sit alone on a hilltop, its mirror-image having cracked off and tumbled to the ground. One or two had wide core cracks that need another few thousand years of weathering before they split entirely. Frans pointed out how the rocks at the top of koppies were rounder and smoother from the polishing action of the wind, while the ones at the bottom were still rough.
Self-sufficiency and staff
The lodge also separates litter into glass, paper, cans, plastic and food. A relatively new venture, food & beverage manager Norbert Machipisa told me, is keeping pigs that are fed on scraps from the kitchen. The plan is eventually to use them for meat. At present all meat, veg and cheese comes from Gondwana’s self-sufficiency centre at Kalahari Farmhouse near Stampriet, from which they get deliveries twice a month. That explains the fresh fruit and veg that appeared on the buffet table so far in the boondocks.
Later he worked at Etosha National Park for five years. He shared with us some shocking stories of how dim-witted tourists can be. ‘Sometimes I didn’t want to tell people when I spotted a lion,’ he confessed. Because he knew what they did next would be not only against the park’s rules but suicidally stupid too.
So why did he come to work down south, so far from home? ‘I like to learn new things,’ he said, though he admits the hours can be tough: ‘Guiding is not for lazy people.’ But he still loves his job, the chance to get out into nature day after day.
And for that I envy him, don’t you?
Note: I was a guest of Canyon Lodge for two nights but had free rein to write what I chose. I paid for all meals, drinks and travel costs.
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