Archive for the ‘Namibia’ Category

Namibia (Mar 19 – 29)   5 comments

The Namib Desert


Finally, we have arrived in Africa. Our first stop was the former German colony of South-West Africa, now known as Namibia. After a few days in Windhoek we got our rental car, which was a Nissan Micra (small car which was an upgrade) with driver’s seat on the right and gear shift on the left. We headed out on the main highway, but after an hour of driving the road turned to gravel. Four more hours and we arrived at the small desert town of Sesriem in the heart of the Namib desert – oldest desert in the world; 50-80 million years old. The drive itself was very nice and we encountered a unique African scenery that we had yet to experience. We went from rolling hills to vast plains covered in small african trees.

Upon arrival we set up camp and headed out to a nearby gulch known as Sesriem canyon. It was formed by a flow of water that runs rarely, but during the rainy season.  This 1km long canyon was mostly dry with cliff walls reaching up 10-20 meters on each side. The bottom had a bit of plant life, but the most interesting part of the walk was looking at the walls which were made of clay and stone or solid rock with smaller crevasses carved through them.

That night as we camped outside the park gate we saw the best night sky we have ever seen. It seemed as though every star visible to earth was in the sky with the long blurry line of the Milky Way dividing the night sky in two. The next morning we entered the national park and headed to Dune 45 (above) where we climbed the steep ridge to sit on the pinnacle of the dune for the sun rise. As the sun came up the surrounding desert caught fire with the bright orange-red dunes that spread in every direction. As the sun rose higher we were in awe at the landscape of deep red dunes rising as high as mountains that were juxtaposed against the bright clear blue sky.

Farther down the trail we came to Sessusvlei where an ancient river used to flow through the desert and into the middle of the dune sea creating an ephemeral pan. While this was an impressive sight we were eager to see the next attraction, Deadvlei. After hiking 2km through a few more dunes we arrived at a large white clay pan dotted with dead acacia trees. Surrounding the flat pan are the tallest dunes in the world, measuring up to 300-400 meters tall. The colors of the white pan, dark brown trees, tall deep red dunes and bright blue sky merge together in such a surreal way that you feel as though you have been sucked into a Salvador Dali painting, missing only 200 foot tall elephants and clocks melting from the trees. After our trip to the desolate yet extremely beautiful desert we were ready for the wild animals of Etosha.


Etosha National Park

We arrived in Namibia at the end of the wet season which is not the best for viewing wild life because of the high bush and ample water that makes watering holes superfluous. We had intended to stay for 3 days and 2 nights, however, we were cut short to 2 days and 1 night because of a flat tire. None of this mattered because the first day we saw an astounding number of animals.

As we entered the park we were greeted to our right by three giraffes grazing in the bush only a few meters from the road. Continuing on we set up camp and headed out where we saw many species of birds including one that looked to have a 6 foot wing span. As we drove through the park we would stop and scan the horizon often with the binoculars in search of animals. On one stop while looking in the distance we happened to catch a glimpse of a hyena about 10 meters from our car. We weren’t able to get a photo because it soon disappeared into the brush. Later, while looking in a tree at a large bird, I saw a brown mass bobbing through the tall golden grass which turned out to be a female lion walking toward the tree – again, no photo because she was out of range. A few hundred more yards up the road and we spotted a large adolescent male lion crossing the road. As we watched from a couple of feet away he walked to the side and stood there grunting. Later, from a couple of kilometers away we also saw a full adult male lion.

It was getting late so we headed back to camp for lunch. Along the way we saw the occasional springbok, zebra, gemsbok, ostrich and wildebeest, but when we arrived at a watering hole near camp there were scores of them all gathered in one place. Back at camp there was another watering hole where herds of these animals were all meeting to drink. They would stand around and wait for their turn. Once one herd would move out the next would flood into the watering hole a few feet and drink.

After lunch we headed back out, this time to the opposite end of the park. Here we saw large herds of zebra, springbok and gemsbok. As we drove they were scattered about the road giving us great pictures. We even came upon a train of 40 or so zebras walking in the middle of the road. Farther down we found a couple of zebra carcasses being devoured by groups of ravenous vultures. If we had been an hour earlier we could have seen a great show.

As we headed back for the night we came upon three female lions laying a few meters off the road. After watching them for a bit we headed back to camp where we grilled up some steaks (of one of the animals we saw that day, I have no idea which one) with some green beans and had a nice meal. The next day we saw giraffes and more zebra, springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest, but also some gazelle and kudu before our flat tire. Even with our bad luck the animals we saw the first day were amazing and worth the trip.

Feeding the cheetahs at one of our camp sites before the park




Watering hole just outside the camp

Zebras walking down the road

Three lions laying in the tall grass


Posted March 31, 2012 by Magan and Brenden in Africa, Namibia

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