This tranquil little desert town is situated 125km east of Luderitz and the name means ‘out’ in German, but may be derived from a Khoi-Khoi word which means the ‘place of the snakes’. Aus is tucked between the folds of several hills, and if you’ve ventured this far, then the chances are you’re on the way to the coast.
After the German surrender to South African troops in World War I, Aus became an internment camp for German military officers. As many as 1,550 prisoners were held at Aus, and the towns population was further boosted by around 600 South African guards.
The railway to Luderitz stops here, as some years ago the continual struggle to keep the line clear of the Namib Desert sand was abandoned, and in places the line is now covered by massive dunes. One of the major attractions of the area around Aus is the Namib Feral Horses. They are the world’s only wild desert-dwelling horses and theories as to their origin are many. A logical favourite is that they were descended from German Schutztruppe cavalry horses abandoned during the South African invasion of 1915. Another is that they were brought by Nama raiders moving north from beyond the Orange River, whilst a third claims they’re descended from a load of ship-wrecked horses en-route from Europe to Australia. More local (and believable), is the story they’ve been bred from the stud stock of Baron Captain Hans-Heinrich von Wolf, the owner of Duwisib Castle. Wolfy famously set off for Germany in search of more horses, but came to a sticky end in battle in France.
These bony and scruffy looking beasts, can be seen on most Namibian safaris which visit the area. Whatever story you choose to believe, (if any) then look out for them grazing on the either side of the road on the way to Luderitz. Alternatively, stop at the hide and waterhole, 100km east of Luderitz, at Garup Pan, fed by an artificial bore hole.
If you intend to visit Aus and need somewhere to stay, then look no further than the Bahnhof Hotel, Eagles Nest Lodge, or The Desert Horse Inn. They are all located either in or no further than 2km from Aus, and are the ideal stopover destinations when heading to or from Luderitz.