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A Namibian Interlude

Celebrating 130 years of life.

The celebration was for my son, Andrew’s 50th birthday in January of this year and my upcoming 80th towards the end of the year.

The prize was Namibia. A short trip: the dunes of the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, then Swakopmund, and finally the north, Damaraland, and those broad dry rivers that might harbour the desert elephants.

The cover picture is Dead Vlei in the famous Sossusvlei, surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world. It is busy and you need patience to get a picture sans people. This is more normal:

We stayed further north in a charming lodge called Agama, with views of the Naukluft Mountain range, looking soft in the evening air, as if they were painted.

The cold Benguela current brings mist on shore almost every night to cool the land and provide succour to the plant and reptile life. This is the view from our room at the Strand Hotel, situated on the mole in Swakopmund;

And the small boat harbour in Walvis Bay;

One of our excursions was to Sandwich Harbour a natural bay which was once a victualling point during the era of wooden sailing ships supplying, surprisingly, fresh water – in the heart of the desert with dunes that meet the sea at high tide.

We got there in dune chariots, 4×4 pickups and SUV’s with strong torque characteristics and soft tyres. Mainly Toyotas. They climb the windward slopes of the dunes and fall down the almost sheer faces on the lee side. This picture illustrates the degree of gradient on that lee slope, and then, my son, with his son, Dylan, on his back, had to prove that humans could also do that. Strong legs, good balance. No-one was injured.

Damaraland is very different. The dryness prevails, but the dunes are replaced with mountains.

We stayed in a lodge situated in magnificent rocky kopjes. The following is the view taken from inside our room and from the verandah.

And our final grand adventure: trying to find the desert elephants in the Huab River valley.

We travelled west in a game viewing vehicle for more than two hours and finally drew near the river which is positioned hard up against those mountains in the distance.

The going was slow in the river bed, but the views were variable and interesting, and then, without any fanfare, we hit water and the vehicle was wading in low range gear. It was like an oasis with pools and a resident Grey Heron, a completely different environment.

We did not find elephants, and eventually climbed out of the valley on a fairly precipitous gravel pass and returned to the lodge after a six hour journey for a swim and a beer.

This final picture, taken at the end of the climb out of the Huab River system, is more representative of that dry but ever interesting land.

Published inBlog/Gallery

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