Sunday, April 15, 2018 | Namibia – Kunene, Kamanjab | Petra
KAOKOLAND AND RAINY SEASON
NAMIBIA UNDER WATER
It is rainy season and we are present. In the past years the rainy season in Namibia was only poor in rain and didn‘t bring enough of the highly coveted water. So country and nature is bone dry. This year the rainy season occured not only late but also much heavier and longer. We become eyewitnesses of gravel roads washed away, rain in the desert and tender sprouts on desert sand short after the rain.
Even now we understand what rainy season looks like and what it really can mean.
From Kamanjab we drive via Grootberg Mountain Pass to Sesfontein. In Palmwag we get to know that it‘s just impossible to reach Sesfontein due to heavy rains.
What next? What about our appointment with Conny & Tommy? They already drove ahead with Conny‘s brother Markus, his wife Yvonne and their daughter Ella, who are spending Easter holidays in Namibia.
We give them a phone call and get to know our new meeting point. They expect us 36 kilometers from Sesfontein at Khowarib Gorge, where they had heavy rain last night. Since the morning Markus, Yvonne and Ella are engaged with drying and sealing works. The roof tent of their rental camper didn‘t sustain the heavy downpours.
Later in Khowarib we can see the drama with our own eyes. The ford at Khowarib is completely flooded by Hoanib, most time of the year a dry river. Now it is impassable.
On each bank of the river cars are waiting for carrying on as soon as possible. Maybe in some hours, maybe not before tomorrow morning or even later. Roof tents getting popped up and camping chairs are taken out to make waiting as much comfortable as possible. For the villagers and for the children this event means a welcome change to their everyday life. They chat with strangers, hope for trifles or even some dollars from the tourists and just keep an eye on what‘s going on.
The atmosphere is happy and relaxed, you can‘t change the situation anyway.
To reach the Khowarib Gorge we luckily need not passing the ford and just turn right before. The others are already waiting for us. They vividly describe how Hoanib within seconds shifted from a tiny runnel into a rapid river by just one noisy flood wave.
That is by the way the reason why driving in a river bed needs to be considered carefully in advance, and camping there can be extremely dangerous. Even if there are no clouds or rain to see, a flood wave might approach suddenly fed by rain in a total different area.
It might happen, that heavy rain puts everything under water right now and within minutes the whole rigmarole has an end. After all the water drains off quickly. The ground gets dry fast as lightning by sun and wind. Or apparently solid ground shifts to a loamy slobbery mud and the foot bogs down to the ankle.
How deep a truck would bog down we don‘t want to know at all.
JAUNTING TO KAOKOLAND
After we’ve checked the weather forecasts critically our adventurous crew of seven ventures with our three vehicles a journey to empty Kaokoland. We experience exciting days with fantastic off-road tours and terrific sceneries. We dive into stoney mountain ranges and sandy dunes. We gaze bizarre cloud formations and spectacular stormy skys. We camp at the most beautiful spots and enjoy cosy camp fires. We cruise between the two rivers Hoanib (south) and Hoarusib (north) and observe oryxes, zebras and giraffes in their natural habitat. And for the first time in our lives Win and I get to see rain in the desert.
Particularly exciting for Markus, Yvonne and Ella becomes the return journey to Windhoek for several days. At Puros there is to much water in the river bed of Gomatum and crossing the ford is no option. So they have to drive back to Sesfontein the same way we came, via Fearless Mountain Pass. Serious is the black sky of rain in this direction spelling trouble. They make it to Sesfontein in spite of stormy rain and washed away tracks, but then they definitely stuck on Sesfontein for two days due to the flooded ford at Khowarib blocking the road. In addition they gradually run out of petrol and the only petrol station is sold out.
But the following days they succeed catching their plane at Windhoek airport in time with many adventurous experiences in their baggage.
Their holidays are over now and we will proceed with our journey.
Image 1: Conny
One or two may wonder: “What the hell are they doing all day long?” Of course we not only drive around a lot. Apart from cooking meals, reading books, maintaining the truck, doing the washing, taking pictures and studying maps, we also are busy with other things of everyday life.
Once a fire place with wind protection needs to be built, another time we are busy with chatting. Recently I bake our home-made delicious bread once or twice a week, due to the fact that there is no extensive branch network of bakery stores around. For not becoming sluggish we toughen our bodies every day (or something like this) with jogging, fitness exercises or yoga.
Again and again we wonder anew how it’s possible, that a day passes by so quickly.
GREEN IN THE DESOLATION VALLEY
The day when Conny‘s brother and family fly back to Germany the four of us decide for plan B, an off-road tour to Desolation Valley and through the Torra Conservancy. Plan A, to cruise around Kaokoland together for another ten days, is on hold due to the current weather conditions. In the North rain still blusters inexorably and washes away the tracks.
Here in this desert area rain causes shooting of bushes and growing of tender gras, as if the resowed lawn starts getting green. It‘s autumn in Southern Africa and we experience spring awakening of an usually cured and desolated land.
Again and again we gape how versatile the landscape even of deserts can be. Dark red-brown stone changes with pale dunes of fine sand, wide plains with no end are surrounded by soft hills and impressive mountains. Round boulders, soft sand and rough rocks create a completely new scenery over and over again.
Image 8: Conny
For days we encounter no other human and – much to our regret – not a single elephant. Relentlessly we watch for foot prints and animals. Springboks, colorful birds and a lonesome oryx appear on the scene, otherwise it’s rather quiet. Instead Conny comes across foot prints of a big cat in the dry river bed of Huab. A cheetah we assume. How recent the trace might be? Very exciting, isn’t it?
During our extensive tour through sandy and rocky sceneries Tommy makes a sensational discovery while having a short break.
In front of him we spot petrified remains of a tree trunk. You clearly can see the annual rings and knots of the crumbled tree trunk, that might have grown here many millions of years ago. Over time the organic material of the trunk, sealed airtight under layers of earth, was interchanged by orthosilicic acid.
In Namibia some of these Petrified Forests can be visited for an entrance fee. We get it presented by Mother Nature and Tommy for free.
MADLY IN LOVE
On our way to Kamanjab we meet a group of giraffes, quenching their thirst at a water hole next to the road. A special eye catcher is a couple of giraffes being very much in love by all appearances. They tease each other and rub each other with their long necks, twine around left and twine around right. Perhaps the two just romp around in a cheerful play without any affection? You never know.
Anyhow, amorous is wonderful romantic we think (at least I do).
We get inspired by such a lot of naughty playing and Win and I give it a test how it works with the two of us: