The weekend was upon me once again, as I planned to put in the notorious longer run.
A back-to back-session ensued with 45 kilometres due on Saturday and 35 kilometres on Sunday. On Friday evening I had received a call from Manni who said, “Hey Kyron, come out tomorrow and I’ll be at the gate at 08:00 a.m. sharp to show you around Moonraker.” Our get-together for this purpose was already overdue, so I decided to head out to have a look and do some reconnaissance for what I thought could be a new destination for outdoor and adventure activities.
I was not sure if I would have the opportunity to run, so just in case I decided to get up at 04:15 and put in 20 kilometres, before I was to meet Manni at the gate at 08:00. In the interlude from 06:40-07:40 I quickly took care of family affairs before heading out on the airport road. After a 15-minute drive I made contact with him just 20 metres before the roadblock and heading out together to Moonraker I was once again reminded of how beautiful the Auas Mountains are.
The stunning white quartz midway up the rock face became ever so conspicuous as we closed the distance. The Auas Mountains are often underrated by ultra runners, competing with the magnitude and breathtaking power of the Winterberg Mountains, Cape Fold Mountain Range and the magnificent Drakensberg. However, the Auas Range is not be underestimated in the effort and the pure rawness it presents in any apparent footpath, if one is indeed found, and in addition there is the dry air, heat and altitude.
We made a quick stop at Moonraker and I was given a tour of the facilities at hand and those still to be launched. The wonderful chalets are spacious and the rustic ebb and flow between the units creates a distinct feeling of presence, space and belonging. The hexagonal conference facility bodes well for any form of organised contingent, with its panoramic view of the bush below the large glass sliding doors and the magnificent mountains in the distant background. The ambiance is an eclectic mix of a relaxed lodge with a farmer’s touch, while naturally always respecting nature.
After being introduced to the beloved house, we agreed it was time to venture out to make up the other 25-30 kilometres for the day. After filling up my bottles and making sure all eats were close at hand, I departed to be one with nature. I thought today I should get a good lay of the land, so to speak. After taking many jeep tracks and trailing through the bush, over rocky outcrops as well as some mountains, I was once again reminded of how raw the terrain is out here. I think what made my 4-hour run here memorable was the fact there was good elevation gain to be had, as the mountains at the latter end of the range ascend from a basin, which produces great positive gradients.
I had come to a place halfway in my run where I noticed signs of digging and foraging for roots, when I heard a rustling and saw a porcupine trying to get some sleep. He was sleeping half in and half out of his cave, almost as if he just could not settle himself, due to pure exhaustion from hustling for food the previous night. I was reminded at this point how much this thirsty land needs rain.
I was still thinking how good it was to see something wild like this, which is a sign of little human activity, when I heard what sounded like a growl. I thought to myself it must be a baboon. However, I had seen no baboons for the last couple of hours. I looked up and saw the outline of a large cat’s head, clearly making noises at me. Safe to say at this point, I swiftly disappeared! I have never seen a leopard in the wild before, apart from once four years ago at a game farm in the north of the country. After heading back to the house, I caught up with Manni who was grading his road towards the mountains and I told him what I had heard and seen, not wanting to sound juvenile. He started to laugh, saying: “Oh, Was it over there?’’ I said: “Yes.”
“That’s Leopard Rock and we know him well and take good photos.” Much to my amusement and surprise, it was at least good to experience the wild of a place in which nature was still outright king!
The outing had been a good adventure and a breath of fresh air, as truly it is not often I get to run and experience areas or places near Windhoek that I have not done over and over, with much repetition.
I’m sure in the future Moonraker will be a desired destination for mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers, holiday makers, corporates and the likes.
Author: Kyron Raad