Photos from two days driving the gravel roads inside Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa, home to more than 600 African elephants.
Last week myself and seven friends hiked the Fish River Canyon in Southern Namibia, the 2nd largest canyon in the world. We completed the 90 kilometer distance in four days, ending at the Ai-Ais hot springs.
Only thirty hikers are allowed in the canyon at one time. We needed medical release forms stating we were healthy enough to complete the hike. Without a satellite phone there is no reaching the the outside world once you're in the canyon, which we didn't have.
After a successful meeting with Keetmanshoops mayor, council members, and director of PR, I've accepted the opportunity to make a promo video for the town. Most of the details still need to be worked out, but we've taken the first and important step of committing to make it happen. The plan is to use the video to attract new investors, and its completion will hopefully coincide with the launch of the towns new website.
Right after visiting Sossusvlei we stopped by the Namib-Naukluft camp site for a few days of camping. It's a gem of park, a complete oasis in the desert with streams, pools, wildlife, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, and immense views. On our full day in the park we embarked on a 17 kilometer hike up and around the Waterkloof trail. It took us almost ten hours to complete the hike, mostly because we couldn't help but stop frequently to explore interesting areas off the trail.
About half way to the summit we were surprised to stumble upon the only parrot in the Namib-Naukluft park, the Rosy-Faced Lovebird. Both Nathaniel and myself have a zeal for wildlife photography so we found some spots to duck and cover to get up close enough to photograph the parrots as they mingled about. We ended up staying at least an hour trying to get a clear shot.
Just before arriving at the summit we were shocked to find a Hartmann's Zebra foal laying at the edge of the trail. We kept our distance, but couldn't help but be concerned about the little zebra. We had seen an adult mountain Zebra only moments before. It was a few hundred yards away, and we assumed it was possibly the mother who had sensed us coming and fled. We stood and watched the little zebra and after a few minutes the foal made an attempt to stand, but failed, its legs buckling. After about fifteen minutes of trying, the foal stood on its own, taking its first steps. It was an impressive site to witness. We quickly departed, anticipating the mother would return to reclaim her child.
Eventually we reached the summit, took it in, and then began our decent. None of us anticipated how difficult the hike would be and we each packed too little water, having to ration what we had. I was happy to eventually complete the Waterkloof trail, but sad to leave such a beautiful area in the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
We packed the truck at 5:00am, piled in, and began our two-day camping trip to Sossusvlei. We left from Swakopmund and made our way along the C14 gravel road stopping to see the 1,500-year-old welwitschia plant, famous moonscape, and a sunrise over the Swakopmund riverbed. Along the way we stopped to greet fellow travellers, a few Oryx, a herd of Hartmann’s Zebra, Springbok, and several jackals that had stopped to snack on a dead Oryx who had been caught in a fence.
Six hours later, which included a few bathroom pit stops, lunch, and a cup of the famous handmade ice cream in Solitaire, we arrived at the Sesriem campsite inside Sossusvlei. We unpacked the truck, set up camp, and started preparing dinner. The campsite was equipped with electrical hookups, a grill station, shade tree, and trashcans. It was also about one hundred yards from the pool, which was a nice break from the scorching sun.
The next morning we again woke up at 5:00am, ate breakfast, drank a cup of coffee, loaded the truck with the gear we didn’t feel comfortable leaving at our site, and started the drive to the Deadvlei dune and salt flat with the camelthorn trees.
Deadvlei is the last dune in Sossusvlei and takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to arrive at. We wanted to be there at sunrise, so that meant leaving our campsite at exactly 6:00am, the time the park opens its gates, and driving straight to the dune. Once we got to Deadvlei we had to drive about seven kilometers along a sandy path that only a 4x4 vehicle can conquer, anything less gets shamed with being stuck and needing a tow.
Deadvlei was spectacular and a dream for anyone with a camera. The light during the twilight hours dances along the dunes creating opportunity after opportunity to make an amazing photo. We arrived early enough to have the dune almost all to ourselves, had we gone later, there would have been far more people.
From Deadvlei we made our way to the Sossusvlei dune. During the accent we crossed paths with a Shovel Snouted Lizard and Tenebrionid beetle that both didn’t mind posing for a photo. Eventually we came back down from the dune and ate lunch by the truck. While eating we watched an Oryx move from a relaxing position under a shade tree to his next destination. From here we made our way back to camp to relax ourselves under our own shade tree.
In the evening we returned to Deadvlei to take sunset photos. On our way out we passed a very nice couple with their vehicle stuck in the sand. We all jumped out of the truck and helped them push the vehicle to solid ground.
Our second day in Sossusvlei we visited the first dune we passed along the road, the Elim dune, it was a high dune, but not nearly as photogenic as all the others. In the afternoon we packed camp, quickly visited the Sesriem Canyons and then set off for the Namib-Naukluft trail about two hours away.