March 27th – April 2nd, 2017
We awoke at Spitzkoppe before sunrise in order to watch it creep over the horizon. Our view from the top of the rocks gave us an amazing viewpoint, and needless to say, it was awesome. After breakfast and packing away the tents we booked it down to Solitaire. We drove along the Namib Naukluft park most of the way, which gave us lovely views of the desert and mountains. Rain seemed to have recently fallen so we occasionally stopped to look for little plants. Our arrival in Solitaire was later in the afternoon and we enjoyed drinks by the pool before setting up camp and making dinner. While cooking dinner we used the camp light in order to see what we were doing and we soon discovered this was a mistake. In no time at all, millions of bugs swarmed to our little spot and we undoubtedly ingested a few critters that night. The neighboring campers also had a little insect party of their own. We quickly inhaled dinner (and bugs) which was a bad idea for recently healed tummy, which was still sensitive and it let me know afterwards of my mistake. I crawled into bed and had a rough night of sleeping. Blargh.
My illness returned with a vengeance the next day while we drove to Aus. It was hot, sunny and dry so we didn't stop too often for botany. In Helmeringhausen we stopped for supplies and my appetite had somewhat returned. For some reason a can of peaches sounded absolutely delicious so I purchased one and slowly ate it while watching the landscape fly by in the backseat. It helped enough that we stopped for some botany and I found a Ledebouria. In Aus, we pitched our tent at Klein-Aus Viewpoint with several other campers and a large nest of social weavers. As in most places in Namibia, the sunset was beautiful and fortunately, my tummy returned to normal. Sleep was good.
The following day was the day that we had most anticipated; we were finally going to romp around with some Quiver Trees (Aloe dichotoma). We drove through Keetmanshoop on our way to The Quiver Tree Forest where we paid our fees and began the short walk. I used to think Aloe dichotoma was special but now I just think it is a weed (just kidding). The pictures will do more justice than my written words. After our fun in the sun we stocked up on supplies back in town and headed to Mesosaurus campsite. Once there we were greeted by Giel who happily told us to proceed to the Bush Camp. There was a 4x4 track we could take if we wished so we decided we would do it in the morning, for now we would just relax. After arriving at our campsite, we regretted paying to see the quiver trees back towards town because the giants were more abundant and bigger at Giel's place! The sunset on them was amazing which made us rather giddy to take pictures. That night, the sky was brilliantly bright with stars again and we slept like little babies.
We awoke the next morning, still in awe by the large quiver trees and excited to take the 4x4 track. Aloe were everywhere during the drive and again, we couldn't believe we paid to see these plants back at quiver tree forest. After the 45-minute drive we returned to reception to check out and proceed north. It turns out that Giel is quite the painter and loves to paint quiver trees, and it also turns out that I am a happy supporter of artists so I did not hesitate to purchase a painting for my wall back home. Also, once he found out we were all botanists he offered us Aloe dichotoma and Hoodia gordonii seed, and began telling us all about the plants on his property. He was an excellent host and we were so happy to have stayed at his wonderful campsite. I highly recommend Mesosaurus for anyone who is near Keetmanshoop. Oh yeah, he has a lot of fossil dinosaurs in his office too, hence the name of the campsite (Google it). After departing Mesosaurus, we drove north and then back west towards Mariental. The drive was bland and a bit dry. We arrived at Oppikoppi campsite south of town to find out it was no longer opened. So once in town we saw a sign for Lapa Langa, located outside of town. It is quite a fancy establishment and we were told that the campsites were all booked for the night, so we drove back to town. Before leaving, the receptionist ran to the car to inform us that a luxury tent was available for N$500 per person to which we happily declined. Once back in town we saw a sign for Koha farmhouse so we headed there. They had a spot available, two big cats and new facilities being built. On top of that, they also had Wi-Fi. What a perfect place! Dinner and drinks with more starry skies filled the evening.
Friday, we decided to make our way back south to Helmeringhausen in order to buy shoes. The boys saw these shoes at the shop in town when we stopped earlier in the week. Unfortunately, they did not purchase them then. So instead of visiting Lake Oanob, we made the 5-hour roundtrip for shoes. On the way back we stopped along the road for wood and made our way to Camp Hudup. As we arrived I realized that I had been there before and wished I would have known that beforehand. We set up the fire, grilled the largest steak EVER and fought with millions of mosquitoes the whole time because of a full river/lake. While attempting to fall asleep I came to discover that the tent did not seal very well because I was repeatedly swarmed by mosquitoes. After 15 minutes of nonstop buzzing in my ears, I decided I would sleep in the truck where I was not longer pestered for the night.
After a rough night’s sleep, we drove east towards Windhoek so that we could drop Taylor off at the airport the following day. Along the way we stopped at some red sand dunes to collect sand, found some Ledebouria there, as well as millions of Pseudogaltonia clavata. We stayed near Windhoek at the Transkalahari campsite where we treated ourselves to dinner that included appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks in order to celebrate the great time the three of us had together. Kiki, Coco, Taytay take Africa; hopefully there will be a part two.
Sunday was uneventful. We dropped off Taylor at the airport, and Killian and I drove to Kamanjab where we stayed at Oppi Koppi campsite. The plant stops were fairly bland since it appeared to be rather dry along the way but I’m always optimistic so I knew things would get better.