There’s nothing quite like the uninhibited energy of young vervets at play. We were fortunate to have an opportunity this afteroon to observe this troop at quite close quarters. While the older members were foraging and grooming, the younger were energetically swinging through the branches. Happy to know through Dries at www.dewetswild.com that these are a sub species of vervet known as Malbrouck’s.
Morning erupts here on the Kunene River with ebullient energy – the bird chorus is chirpy, full of range and volume. Sounds like a herd of elephant is marching over the tin roof. I shoot out of bed, armed with camera to see a troop of agile vervet monkeys scampering through the camp.
Little faces peer intently through the leaves – some are bold, others shy and they’re alert anticipating being chased off. Then comes the high wire act as they make a dash across the power cables. The previous evening the tree squirrels showed off their athletic moves on the same wire and we delighted in their balancing act doing showy moves with their elegant tails. The monkeys shimmy across in an instant, perfectly balanced and surefooted.
The property has fruit trees but it’s the campers with accessible food supplies who are the real attractants. Even though there are notices up at every campsite with rules not to feed the monkeys, the advice is often ignored.
The landscape, immediately after crossing the Orange River at the Noodoewer border post, takes on a desolate appearance.
The route through to Grünau, in the Karas Region goes over gravel plains and then as we head to Hobas – the viewpoint for the Fish River Canyon. Clumps of milkbush and granite outcrops form a backdrop to this arid Eden. As we travel we wonder which animal will be our first viewing of local wildlife? Take a guess?!
Yes!! Baboons! How remarkable that they have adapted and can find enough to sustain life in this tough environment. They are far leaner than the coastal cousins and their fur much finer. I worried about their feet pads burning on the scalding stones, but they appeared to walk quite comfortably but nimbly over the rocky terrain. Their diet would include mainly insects – scorpions, beetles and tuberous plants.
How to describe the spectacular Fish River Canyon? It draws the viewer’s eye into a terrain of riverting and rugged convolutions, twisting and turning. The information boards tell of ancient geological history, but i’m also fired by the local mythology and the story of Koutein Kooru, a giant snake frantically scrambling to get away from San hunters.
Impressively the oldest rocks here existed long before today’s continents were formed by the break up of the super continent Gondwana. The basement rocks are believed to be 2,000 million years old! At some point tectonic plate movement caused a huge block of the Earth’s crust to subside along deep-reaching faults and formed a deep trench. The geology was further shaped through the eons by dramatic forces – erosion, volcanic and climate action. The river has melded its way over millions of years and cut through the Namaqualand Metamorphic Complex exposing horizontal layers of quartzite, gneiss and sedimentary layers.
As we gaze out across the Namib desert the vista before us is startlingly immense. The horizon pleats and folds through desert sands to the distant purple escarpment. The magnitude of it all is engulfing and at once we feel reduced down to an inconsequential spec in this vast sea of sand.
Our road trip starts in the south, crossing the Orange River then venturing off the beaten track we travel northwards to reach Kunene River bordering Angola.
For a photographer it is a dream location – the colours, light and form unfold in superlatives. The stark, arid landscapes which so captivate have a compelling rhythm where wind sculpts sinuous sand dunes and water carves meandering pathways. As we travel northwards the land transforms to savannah, green mopani and woodlands.
It’s a strange and wondrous land: mesmerising and surreal at times. My field of interest – the interconnection between land, people and it’s wildlife is revealing in it’s complexities here.
I’ll be posting when WiFi is available, why not come along and read about our adventures ……
Precious water after a rainstorm quickly evaporates in the heat of the day. The landscape is in Namibia where the day time temperature soars up to 40* C and above.