From Diary 4
6/12. We are, once again, waken by a large school of finches, searching for scraps around the camp. They make a lot of noise until they continues to the next campsite. It is anther perfect day, and we head out of B4 towards Lüderitz. Already from Aus, 125 kilometres away, we can see the ocean. Our spare battery for computers and batteries have finally given up, and I invent some wiring for recharging. I have brought tools and spare parts for a situation like this.
It is a long decent, cross Lüderitz Plain, and it does not provide much interesting plantvice. Only exception is a one kilometre stretch in a low part, which host thirteen or maybe fifteen different succulents. They are all from red by drought stress to covered in flowers.
One of the famous tourist items are some horses, decedents of the German troupes. We see some in the distance, way out on the enormous, yellow plain. After some time, the area turns into Sperrgeiet, a restricted diamond area. They don't seem to take it too serious, but I remember the armed guards in South Africa well enough to not trespass - much.
We are following the railroad, which seems to be restored. On the last half, only new sleepers are loosely placed on the dam. The old gate keepers houses stands with their station name, but they are ghost houses. It is Saturday, and the few vehicles we meet are the huge but empty road-trains.
The wide grass plains are turning into sand dunes and granite gravel hills. Just outside Lüderitz, a huge ghost town, Kolmanskop, with houses from the golden colonial time and large factory buildings can be found. I would love to make some photos of the sand dunes inside the houses, but we have to get to Lüderitz town before it close.
It is a diamond town, but one of the more nice ones. There are even a big and colourful playground - with kids - next to the Maersk dominated and probably run harbour. We find a new tent, some food and an ATM. Drive a bit round the town to see the really well kept colonial buildings and the new bank buildings. It seems to be a town doing real fine, although there are ghost towns right outside, and it's old industrial quarter is dead as well.
The temperature is significantly lower than further inland: Only 20C, although it is around eleven o'clock. It is due to the real cold water in Atlantic Ocean, straight up from the South Pole. Almost make sense with the rusty Christmas tree on the central square.
After having driven most of the towns streets, we head out to the peninsular; Black Ridge, which famous Diaz Point once was the location for a cross, raised by a Portuguese captain in 1488.- now there is a replica. The little hill it stands on is almost invisible due the the mist, coming from the sea. The nearby seal colony are also drabbed in fog, but the animals can surely be heard!
We head further down, towards Grosse Bucht, on the peninsular. We try to find some succulents, which evidently should be found here. We drive in-between salt pans, black volcanic rock and granite, holed like a Switch cheese. Finally, we reaches a hotspot. Here are two Pelargoniums one is P. mirabile, two Othonnas, a Crassula, a Sarcocaulon and other nice succulents.
Even though it is a waste area, and Saturday, here are almost no people. We see a few sport fishers, that is all. The mist is still around, which seems to suit the large amount of huge lichens fine. Some areas like almost like a green grass lane.
It is getting late, and we head bag. Lüderitz leis on the end of a blind road, and we have to pass Aus again. We might as well take advantages of the excellent campsite we already know. On the way back, we see large groups of ostriches, some springbok and gemsboks, and a few horses.
Although the sun is decentring in the review mirror, the temperature is raising fast, while we drive inland. We reaches the camp around eight, just after dark. The new tent is a blessing: Open the sipper, and it springs up to full size. Looking forward to see him get it back in the bag, in the morning.
7/12. Today, we head way down south to Rosh Pinah, a small mining city on the border to South Africa. We follow the B4 inland to catch the small D727. The area is magnificent - but also a bit dull. We are driving in the middle of an 150 kilometre wide plain with yellow grass as long as we can see, and surrounded by mountains all around.
After turning off at D727, which is a fine gravel road leading to a few farms along it's 150 kilometres, it starts to be interesting. We head up to the Huib Hoch Plateau, and the rocks along the way host some interesting plants, although not many.
Some of the mountains is made of a completely black rock I can't recognise, but which makes up a fantastic scenery along with the green and yellow flowering Acacias. A few cows and goats can be seen on the endless fields. Some of the walleyes we pass seems even a bit greenish, although it might be caused by Euphorbias.
In one area, huge, colourful beetles are feasting on the Acacias flowers. While we pass that area and a corner, the plants changes as well. A thin Sarcocaulon, Hoodia, spiny Euphorbias and even a few small Aloe dichotoma can be found.
After a few more stops, we find Pelargonium, fat Sarcocaulon flaviensens and several "new" smaller succulents. On the opposite mountain range, a group of baboons give alert. We see them from time to time in the more lush areas, but they seems very scared. Suits me fine, they are one of the few animals I prefer to have on an distance.
The temperature started high, and right after noon, we have 45C, but luckily also a slight wind. The rocks are burning, and I can feel it through my boots. I can't place my hand on them for more than a few seconds.
We now reach an area, 20 kilometres from C13, and this must be Aloe dichotoma's stronghold. Here are hundreds of huge trees and numerous smaller plants. We are on the brink of Nasepberge, and this must be a forgotten highlight of Namibia, plantvice.
In the distance, we can see heavy rain, and we get a few wind tears. We reach C13, and enters a open area. Looks a bit uninteresting, but when we stops around 35 kilometres from Rosh Pinah, we find a marvellous succulent garden. Almost only succulents, and around fifteen or even twenty different species.
Here are both Sarcocaulon - unless one is new, real fat Pelargonium carnosum, Euphorbias and a lot of other succulents. We drive five kilometres to we meet some rocky hills. This is a succulent rock garden! Among the many "new" succulents are huge Tylecodon paniculatus which are covered with red, fresh seedpods. Huge Pelargoniums are sitting on bare rocks, and if just the sun could penetrate the light clouds... Here are some Aloes which looks almost like the tree like A. dichotoma, but they have no stem at all!
Another five kilometres, and we find two species of flowering Sarcocaulon, of which one is "new".: Sarcocaulon inerme. It have no thorns, but a nice pink flower. The other one is - I believe - the fat one we have seen for a long time. Here, it have light yellow flowers. One little bush have around twenty flowers!
We reaches the townships of Rosh Pinah around six. Closer to town, a new build area seems to be for the white workers. The zinc mine is more or less the centre of the little, Sunday dead town. We try to find our way out to the western mountains, but it seem to be a restricted area.
The town have only one campsite, and we head out the fourteen kilometres gravel road. It is a fantastic succulent garden, all the way. Due to unnamed reasons, we can not stop on the way, but I am puzzled by some large, red columns on the surrounding hills.
The camp is cheap, only 50 N$ a head, but although there are no electricity or water at the campsite, there are no lack of mosquitoes. How they get along in this dessert, I can't explain. They have a bad influence on my patience to write this!
8/12. As usual, we leave the camp an hour or two, too late, to use the great, flat morning light. We head back the long driveway, and make a single stop along a giant Hoodia. It is 130 centimetres across and 65 centimetres high. I guess it have found a well? The strange, red columns on the hills could be Euphorbias with drought stressed leaves attached?
In to town, and out it's south western corner. Roamers have it, there should be some Monsonia multifida which is essential to my co-discoverer. We walk quite a while to get to them, and I climb all the way to top and around it, without finding anything else than a few of the usual suspects. Maybe it was the Southern hills? On a nearby hill, there are a single, real fat Hoodia, which could be H. gordonii?
Little more than three hours of hard walking/climbing, and only eighteen photos are not above average! Back to town to gas, and down C13 to some southern along Oranje River Mountains. Other roomers have it: This is the place to find the special Monsonia peniculina, with it's small feather-like leaves on thick branches
Stops twelve kilometres out of town, at a real dead-looking hill, but to my big surprise, it is actually here they are! Growing among some fascinating, sand blasted lava stones and big crystals. A single Lavrnia marlothii sits at the foot of the hill, and some of the usual plants are also present along with a huge bulb like Haemanthus coccineus.
Makes a few other stops along this road, before we turn in to Ai-Ais & Fish River Canyon National Park. We follow the huge river, which is full with brownish water. Makes a stop to climb a rock, and get some shoots. On the rock some real dry Aloes are sitting, red or orange.
A gorge on the left hand seems interesting, but we only find a neat little Tylecodon schaeferanus, and a huge group of the tiny Conophytum truncatum. It is a warm day, and a half hour walks takes at least half a litre water. Some small Cerarias turns up, one with dark brown stem, one with light stem with small dots, Could be C. fruticulosa and C. namaquensis?
After having checked out the plants, I turn my attention towards the stones. It is one big gravel pile from the river, and a lot of the stones are really fine polished. Some are blood red, some green and others look like wood. I start picking up, and within no time, my pocked are full. I make a photo and start all over.
The road leads to the brink of the big river, and on the vertical cliffs along the road, some fig trees sits on bare rock. There are a dense bush area along the river, and it seems like it is being used by cows, although we have entered Fish River National Park. Later, we meet a mine and a farm.
A large group of baboons crosses the road, and they seems more custom to people than the ones we saw in the mountains the other day. Here are no tourists now, and the gate was un-manned, but it should be a well visit park later in the year.
It is getting real late, considered we have to be out of the park before sundown, but we still haven't found Pachypodium namaquanum, known as "Half Men". Finally, on a steep rock wall, way up at the top, we spot them. The sun is real low, but I get some nice shoots. My co-photographer have his difficulties with the light, and needs an other half hour or two. Not that it will improve the light!
It is passed seven, and the sun have descended behind the mountains. We head for the uppersite entrance, but have to stop for some sunset photos several times. When we finally gets out, we have our daubs about a campsite. As usually, it is a bit hard to find in the unknown darkness.
We find Noratshame Lodge with camping (and bungalows and houseboats and vine tasting and riding and 4x4 ...)around eight thirty, which defiantly is way too late. It is pitch black, and beside from raising my tent, making dinner and writing this (while I have at least a faint memory of the things we have seen today) I also have around 600 photos to sort and back-up. At eleven, the temperature have dropped to 35C, but I still have work to do. The showers have two taps: One warm and one hot.
8/12. We have been sleeping ten metres from Oranje River. I had decided to sleep a bit longer, but is turns out only to be one minute. I hate that inner clock! We leave camp at eight, and head back to where we left last evening, 70 kilometres within the park. The driveway out of the lodge go through huge vine fields. The soil are right, and there are plenty of water in the river.
On the way, we pass the large village of Aussenkehr, which is made mostly of straw huts, but a few are made of clay and even one by metal. It is displayed over a large area, and seem to be very clean. Might be vice, considered the hazard of fire!
We try a gorge next to the one we found Half Men in, but here are only a few, ordinary succulents. The next stop reveals something much more interesting. Multi-branched Pachypodium namaquanum with seedpods, some small Avonias, Gasterias, giant Ceraria fruticulosa and some other "new" succulents along with a marvellous view ,over the river, to South Africa.
I find a giant cricket with thorns on it's neck. It is, as fare as I recall, poisonous, and takes it nice when I take some portraits. Unfortunately, the sun doesn't seem to come around today, but it remains 30C with a fresh, almost chill wind.
We makes a few stops more along the way, but it seems like we have found all that there are to be found around here. One of the last stops does reveal a pair of fat Euphorbias/Commiphoras bushes and a group of large column Euphorbias, of which some are in flower. We have only seen one other vehicle on this 150 drive; a park officer.
Once again, we passes the farm, which seems to relay on Alfalfa and goats. Along with a mine and the camp site for it's workers, they are the only buildings on this long road. The lack of sun considered, we leave this part of the park, after haven crossed the rivers Boom and Fisk. We head out of D212 and then D316 to get to Ai-Ais Hot Spring Resort. Ai-Ais means Scolding Water in local languish.
It is only three o'clock, but it look like dusk. The area is barren, reminds me of the highlands of Argentina or young parts of Iceland. This endless road twines in-between enormous, flat hills for 70 kilometres, before it decent into Fish River Canyon. We have been on Kanabean Private Reserve's land for the better part of the tour.
Even the mountains seem lifeless, until we see a guide in a one square meter hut along the road. He is a bit difficult to understand, but something about "closed due to reconstruction". He get a five litre water, and we push on. We are in a deep gorge with almost black mountains on the sides. The road end in a nice - and closed - lodge. No city, nothing else. U-turn, and back again to last knight's campsite.
We did plan to go back, but first after a day in Fish River Canyon, that is. The canyon is 160 kilometres long, and in some place 550 metres deep. We are out of season, and it might been dried out. We might get a chance to see it, if we pass the north end at Holoog/Hobas.
On the way out, we see a small group of the cute klipspringers/daisies. Back in the camp, birds are active before dusk. I see kingfishers, black ibis, swallows, spectacled birds, herons, sparrows, wagtail, flycatchers, singers, cormorant and büll-bülls. After dark, a huge number of two species of toads/frogs start their concert.
I am out of
space on my hard-disk, and have to relay on external memory for the first
photos. Crosses my fingers for it works! Until now, I have made around 6000
photos, of which I have deleted roughly half. Have not had time for anything
else than rough sort and find illustrations for the diary. I'm sure there will
be a huge work in getting them sorted and named after returning to frosty