Saturday, August 6, 2016

Zebras, Oryx, Springbuk and Flamingos



It appears the Scutt family are poor representatives of Canada. Shawn and I are second to last in getting our tents down this morning...Graham and Cameron are last. Yikes

The winds picked up last night. Because the sands were whipping around so much, Gift and Alfons prepared our supper inside Brenda ( our truck) and we all crowded in  and ate at our seats. Supper was still good, pasta in a meat and veggie sauce.

Just as we finished our meal, we looked out the window and Juana's ( our traveling companion from Portugal) tent blew away. Mike and a few guys ran out and caught it. Juana ended up sleeping in Brenda last night because there was no way to get that tent back up in the wind.

Meanwhile the rest of us all ran out of the truck to make sure that at least one person was sitting in each tent. The winds are so high that grains of fine sand get through the canvas into the tent.

We are told that we have an extra early start in the morning because we are going to watch the dawn over Dune 45.  That means we wake up at 4:30am. I'm  in bed by 8:30pm.

I wake up to the sound of voices. I think I hear Gift saying " good morning!" So I jump out of my sleeping bag and start collecting my clothes. Shawn says " what are you doing?". I answer, " I'm getting ready. Gift said we have an early start.. Can't you hear, everyone getting up." To which he replies, " it's only 11pm...that's just people going to bed".  Oops.

The winds really whip the tent through the night but when we get up in the morning we are still in the same spot... I was half expecting to wake up in China.

I don't think anyone showered this morning cause as soon as you step out you are covered in sand. I must confess, I didn't comb my hair cause I can't  find my comb in the dark.

We are now back in Brenda tearing through the desert to catch the sun rise.

I love this...it's such an adventure!

We arrive at dune 45 ( with a number of other tour trucks) and everyone gets out and starts to climb. The sands swirl and dance in the wind..we push against the wind and our feet sink backwards 11 inches for every 12 inches stepped. It's not easy.

The dunes seem alive, subtly shifting with the grace of a tai chi master.

Graham and Cameron take off way ahead of us along with some of the other guys and gals. I brace myself to keep from being blown over. My husband says, "Stand closer to the edge so I can take your picture". Hmmmm.

I tell Shawn to go ahead since I am moving so slowly. Then I'm blown into the sand. A large, athletic bald guy with a strong European accent comes up behind me and helps me up. He says, "Hold my hand, I will help you to the top." We pass my husband. I soon tire out and say goodbye to my helpful companion. Shawn catches up and we decide to watch the sun rise through the wind blown haze from the mid-way point before we return to the base.

Let me tell you, it's a lot easier getting down to the bottom.

Interesting point: Namibia has the second tallest sand dunes in the world. ( China has the tallest).

The boys make it to the top. We watch Cameron and a bunch of his Dutch friends take turns rolling down the dunes. Graham was the last to return with Evi ( from England) and Mike.

Once we get to the bottom, everyone takes off their shoes and fine grains of tan sand pour out like beer at a keg party. I even have to take my knee high socks off and turn them inside out.

We get back into Brenda and drive to another spot where we wait for four wheel drive trucks to take us to Seserin, which is home of a dead forest. There used to be a river there that dried up but there is still water deep under the ground. The trees there seem dead but get just enough water from down below to keep them slightly alive. I kind of think of them as zombie trees.

As we wait for our jeeps, the guys start a game of pictionary in the sand. People draw things from their country. When it's Fabio's (from Italy) turn the guys call out "pizza!" Before he even starts to draw.

The group has really melded. A great bunch of people.

Cameron and his buddies from Holland keep "dabbing" for pictures.

Dabbing definition: straightening one arm on a diagonal while pulling back the other arm....almost like you are pulling a bow....it's a pop culture thing.

Gift points out that the dune behind us is one of the larger dunes...almost twice the size as the one we climbed earlier. He says it's called Big Daddy and the one across from it is named "Big Mama". Most of the other dunes are numbered.

I am horrified when we start walking towards Big Daddy. Heavens to Betsy, we aren't climbing another one I hope...I follow the group.

Fortunately we skirt the bottom and climb over a small dune. The wind is still strongly blowing, but now that the sun is up, it's warm. I strip off my down jacket.

My hair blows uncontrollably around my head. My shadow resembles a Greek goddess...Medusa.

I have my first glimpse of the zombie forest from the top of the small dune; Halloween like leafless trees in a hardened white cement-like base. There is a desolate beauty to it.

I put down my back-pack and jacket so that Graham can take a picture and the wind picks up and blows my jacket across the concrete basin. I take after it like a tortoise on fire. Fortunately Gift is a lot faster runner than I, catches it and returns it to me, dusty but otherwise unharmed.

I get to sit in the front passenger seat of the jeep on the way back. Gift tells the driver not to let me touch the controls... I wonder if someone has told Gift about my unfortunate car incident from a few weeks earlier.

We fly across the desert passing oryx along the way. I don't know how the driver knows his way. It all looks the same to me. He tells us to hold on, guns the motor and we fly up what seems to be an impossibly steep incline only to get stuck in the sand at the top. Our driver is skilled, he gets us out and we are back on our way.

It is so hot now that I change into my tank top and peasant skirt. The temperature here changes drastically. You can be at 5 degrees in the morning and 25 degrees five hours later.

We stop back at our campsite for lunch. I don't normally like hamburgers but these ones taste awesome....must be that eating outside thing. Oryx roam free around the campsite and I get some really close pictures.

There are also some really large birds nests. They are made by sparrow type birds that work together to create a community where they all have their own rooms.

On the road again. It was a really early morning. Half of our group are now sleeping as trusty Brenda motors us to the next destination.

We stop for a quick break at a bakery in Solitaire. There were a lot of adorable meerkats here. They are quite squirrel-like. One of them comes right up to me and poses for the camera.

We arrive to our campsite. Blessedly, the wind has calmed down and we can put up our tents. We prepare ourselves; (hat, sunscreen, water) and head to a large jeep/truck where our tour guide, Frans, awaits us.

Frans is a man of the land, his grandfather was a bushman. He informs us about some of the desert plants, history of the area, culture of the bushman, local animals and tracking, all in an interesting and often humorous manner. He informs us that if someone fools around with a bushman's wife and leaves a footprint, even if he denies it, will be found guilty if his footprint matches and then cweek (Frans does cutting motion across his throat) and he becomes food for the jackal (Frans does a little dance).

We see zebras, oryx, and Frans digs up a big spider.

The sun sets in a ball of glowing orange glory and we watch the colors on the horizon change until they slowly fade to black.

I took a nice warm shower at the camp and borrow Evi's comb. Fortunately it had wide teeth because the knots In my hair are so bad. It felt good to be clean again.

Gift and Mike demonstrated their magic with a delicious supper of sausages, steaks, vegetables and potatoes.

I wander down to the bar and discover that the zebras are at the spotlit water hole. They are skittish creatures and we all keep very quite. The bar is the perfect vantage point to watch them.

They are ghostly in their spotlight, ears alert for any sign of danger.

One zebra kicks some of the others out of the way. Neighing and calling sounds are heard in the darkness outside the lit up area. Many zebras come and go. Frans told us that they drink the watering hole dry every night. And then it is always refilled.

We are in the middle of nowhere. The sky is alive with stars and I have never seen the milky way so clear. It takes my breath away.

Through the night I hear the soft shufflings, snortings and sounds of the zebras. I also hear a repeated deep nasally sound of "oo-oo-ooooo". I think it is an oryx. This place is wonderful.

In the morning, We pack up in good time. After a pancake breakfast, I check out the empty watering hole. The only sign of the zebras visit is a smattering of large, black poop.

I turn on my music (Coldplay, Adventure of a Lifetime) and take in the moment....burning the scene into memory to be taken out and relived on cold winter days.

Too soon we get back on Brenda and leave this magical place.

Herds of oryx and Springbuk graze as we pass. An oryx runs down the side of the road and a herd of zebras stampede across the road in front of us, trampling a fence on the other side.

We stop at The Tropic of Capricorn to take pictures. We can see no signs of civilization no matter what direction we look.

Our next stop is at a viewpoint that looks like a moonscape.

We arrive into Walvis Bay; a gorgeous seaside resort...There's a Florida type feel to it. We stop to take pictures of the thousands of flamingos hanging around the water's edge. Both greater and lesser flamingo species mingle here. I can't help but smile when around flamingos.

The truck stops again when someone spots a pod of dolphins swimming off shore. Orange and yellow  jellyfish dot the shoreline.

Now onto Swakopmund. We have desert on one side of us and the Atlantic ocean on the other. We pass an oil rig off the coast. It is virgin beach with no resorts to be seen until Swakopmund. Quite refreshing.

We are in a hotel for two nights. We have done hand washing and sent the rest of the laundry out to be done. Our portable camping clothesline is artfully strung across our hotel room.

Our group goes out for supper as a family since Mike, Ayla and Merel will be heading home the day after tomorrow. Sigh.

We go to a great Italian restaurant and then out dancing after. Fun fun fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment