The Community Camp at Puros is Kaokoland’s best campsite. I know, there are other camps with better facilities. But there’s not many other camps where you can be seated on the “throne” with an elephant showering in the cubicle next to you. The place is simply special.
Getting to Puros is half the fun. From Sesfontein you can either take the gravel road (D3707) or you can follow the Hoanib River to Amspoort and travel via the Ganias or Giribes Plains. I’d suggest the latter option (9 hours). Although, following the gravel road will take less than half the time, you’ll also arrive with less than half your teeth still in your mouth – the corrugations are terrible.
The camp itself is well shaded. Large camel-thorn trees provide ample shade and the ablution facilities is well concealed in the salvadora bushes scattered throughout the camp. Most of the time there’s running water, flush toilets and warm showers. The camp is however not elephant proof and when these mammoths do come for a visit it is not unusual for them the ‘interfere’ with the water supply to the ablutions.
But you’re not there for the toilets or the showers. You’ve traveled to Puros to experience a bit of Kaokoland’s magic. The camp is situated on the banks of the Hoariseb River. The riverbed is frequented by plains game such as Springbok, Oryx and Giraffe. I have alo been lucky enough to spot a lioness with her cubs 3 km’s downstream from the camp.
Then there’s the desert elephants. They love the Hoariseb River. Drawn to the riverbed by its many natural springs and ample food supplies lining its banks. They also like the camp, frequently visiting, especially “after hours”.
When camping at Puros it is a good idea to park the vehicles in such a manner that it forms a laager of some sorts. The idea is to keep the elephants out. They are curious and can smell an orange from a mile away. If you want some “action” during the night, stick a few oranges underneath your mother-in-law’s tent, and wait…
Like I said, the ablutions are particularly well concealed in clusters of Salvadora bushes. The bushes however do not prevent the elephants from entering a shower or a toilet cubicle. It was September 2012. We were camping at campsite no.3 (my favorite) when shortly after dinner auntie Karien went for a session on the “throne”. She was already safely seated when a large bull appeared between us and the ablutions. Pierre was visibly nervous knowing that his wife is blissfully unawares of the elephant lazily grazing on the branches directly above her. It was only when the elephant rounded the corner and entered the shower cubicle next to Karien that she became aware of her predicament. The only thing separating Karien and the elephant was a flimsy make-shift barrier of dry reads. The elephant, not bothered with Karien, proceeded to dismantle the shower plumping and after (what must have felt like ages for poor Karien) taking a drink, nonchalantly turned around and made its way out of the shower, past Karien and off into the night. We had to “sedate” both Karien and Pierre with a 12 year old whiskey…
The Puros area also provides one of the best sun-downer spots the Kaokoland has to offer. After making sure there is no edible temptations lying around in camp, grab a cold bottle of sauvignon blanc and head out to the Jan Joubert Koppie. “The Hill” is situated on the eastern bank of the river and it takes about 15 minutes to get there from the camp. It offers spectacular views of the Hoariseb Valley. Enjoying a glass of wine while the sun sets over the flat-topped mountains to the west is a truly enjoyable experience.
If you’re going to visit the Kaokoland, make sure you spend at least two days at Puros. I’d recommend three.