Thursday, April 12, 2012

HIMBA TRIBE


We drove up the Skeleton Coast, named for the large number of shipwrecks through the years.  We saw the wreck of an Indian boat that floundered there in 2008 in a heavy fog.  

Shipwreck
























We stopped to visit some Herrero people and I bought some cute little dolls they made.  Ivan, our assistant guide, is a Namibian from this tribe.

Herrero tribe roadside stand














Herrero women




















An interesting side trip was a visit to a Himba tribe village.  They are a pastoral people and formerly nomadic, but that doesn't work well in today's world, so they are getting money by letting tourists come in to see how they live.  The guide is Himba, but westernized and wearing jeans and T shirt.  He took us around but we did not have much interaction with the rest of the tribe.  I think they don't want them corrupted too much.  We got to see their cattle, huts and how they make them, cooking, etc.  The women wear grass skirts and necklaces they never take off, but are bare chested.  They braid their hair with a muddy substance.  One showed us how she takes a bath with smoke, since there is little water.  The children and men bathe in water but the women never do.  The five men of the tribe were "up north" and the 23 women stayed in the village.  There is polygamy, as long as the men can afford a separate hut for each wife.  Only some of the children go to school, and they have to go to boarding school since there is no school nearby.  This is very expensive.











Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NAMIB-NAKULUFT NATIONAL PARK TO SWAKOPMUND


More desert as we go into Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game park in Africa.  It is hyper arid, with little rain, but the wind brings in mist from the Atlantic Ocean.  There are huge orange colored sand dunes, which are very old and the largest in the world.  The sharp edge always points north/south, since the winds are east/west.  That helps a little if you get lost.  A compass won't work here because there is a lot of iron oxide in the sand.  We stopped to climb Dune 45.  I only got about a third of the way up, since it is really difficult to climb up sand.  A young girl had fainted, so I stopped to help her down to her car.  That was my excuse.






Dune 45
Dune 45 attempt soon aborted


Sossusvlei is a vast clay pan in the central Namib Desert, which is surrounded by dunes.  We also visited Sesriem Canyon, formed by the Tsauchab River.
Sesriem Canyon


We stayed two nights at Hammerstein Lodge.  They rooms were OK but the pool was so dirty you couldn't see the rungs on the ladder.  They had pet cheetahs and leopards in huge cages that we could see.  We couldn't pet the leopard, but the cheetahs were amenable.  They had a pet Springbok running around who seemed to like to plant his horns in people's behinds.

Springbok
Spanish and Portuguese friends








Unusual to see an African recycling center
Our Nomad truck stops for lunch




















We stopped at a farm for a "nature walk," which actually was a drive in a safari vehicle due to the high grass and presence of snakes.  The guide, Franz, showed us a calendar picture of how the area normally looks--just orange dirt--and we could compare it to the same view at present.  It is lush and green, but he says that is an aberration.  Normally it is too dry to grow anything.  For awhile, people were raising Corcoran(sp?) sheep.  They have to kill them at 8 days old to get the curly haired wool, because by the time they are one month old it is straight.  PETA had a campaign against this in the 1970's, so the sheep are all gone now.  The guide explained how some insects and animals survive in the desert.


Karakul sheep skin










Franz

We stopped for a break at the small town of Solitaire, which boasts a fantastic Swiss bakery with great apple pie.


The baker
The shopkeeper




We passed the Tropic of Capricorn and finally reached Swakopmund, the adventure capital of Namibia and the main harbor for German Southwest Africa.  The architecture shows a lot of Bavarian influence.  We also visited Walvis Bay, 33 km south, which was a British possession.  There were supposed to be flamingos here, but seem to have gone on their annual migration.








I took a dolphin cruise.  They were a little hard to spot due to high waves, but I did see lots of sea lions and pelicans, and they came right onto the boat to visit.  They are wild, but seem to be used to tourists.  The ocean cruise was a nice change after a week of desert.



Hundreds of seals



Sunday, April 8, 2012

KOKERBOOM FOREST


Day 4 I am back on lomotil.  We had a long drive to the edge of the Kalahari Desert.  We saw kudus and ostriches running.  We saw a pencil bush, which has a white milky sap the Bushmen used for poison arrows.  We visited a Kokerboom or Quiver tree forest.  The Bushmen use the hollowed out branches for quivers for their arrows.  Sociable Weaver birds build huge nests in the branches and keep on building until the nest falls down.  We saw about 200 of them around one huge nest.  The trees look similar to Joshua Trees in the California desert.  Nearby is the Giant's Playground, which looks like giants were tossing huge boulders all around the area.



Pencil Bush

Sociable Weaver nest

Quiver tree forest

Giant's Playground

On the road



Day 5 was Easter Sunday.  Some people went on an early game drive, which sounds wierd in the Kalahari Desert, but they did see giraffes and mongeese.  This was the first breakfast on the trip that I actually was able to eat, so I just relaxed and enjoyed it.