Walking with vervet monkeys

Here’s the scene: In lush contrast to the desert regions of Namibia, the Zambezi Region (Caprivi) is a tropical wetlands area.  Namushasha River Lodge is set on the banks of the Kwando river on the curve of an oxbow lake, where pods of hippos wallow in muddy grandeur.   It’s rich riverine ecology extends beyond the dense stands of Jackalberry and Mangosteen trees over extensive reedbeds to the distant game-spattered floodplains.

It’s bounded on all side by wild game parks and it’s up there in the rank of ‘coolness’ not just for its shady campsites but for it’s splendid setting and gorgeous lodge facilities, swimming pool and watering hole.

A popular wallowing spot for hippos.

A walk along the path at the edge of the river revealed an unexpected encounter (there are warning signs to watch out for crocodiles and hippos, though fortunately avoided).   The sound of leaves rustling gave them away……

Little faces peeked down at me as a gathering of vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus pygerythrus) came to assess this other primate intruder: friend or foe?  The alpha male bared his teeth, signalling his status.   Averting eye contact, i sat quietly wondering what would happen next.

Their curiosity won out and soon they had descended from their leafy domain to forage in the leaf litter below.  Keeping a discreet distance my presence appeared not to bother them and i was able to keenly observe their long limbed grace and agility.  Predominantly they’re found in savannah woodland, but here they’ve settled in this paradise alongside the fruit trees and breakfast options at the lodge.

 

 

 

Back Again!

Dear Readers,

I’ve been away for some months and am now happily back online and looking forward to checking in again on fellow bloggers.

A chance to revisit Namibia at a slow pace, traveling the back routes, camping mainly and stopping at destinations way off the beaten track has been a compelling experience for me.  Becoming so immersed in nature – learning the scent of the land, it’s voices, the revelation of the night skies, the heart thumping exhilaration of hearing nocturnal wildlife close by adds up to a “stop-the-world-i-want-to-get off” kind of destination.

Here’s a dip into the first scenes of this immense and timeless place –

The rugged grandeur of the Ais/Richtersveld-Namib Transfrontier Park near Rosh Pinar.

Namibia is an extraordinary country, the expanse of it’s panoramic vistas stretch way into the far distance, seductive in pastel colours, so tantalising as the horizons pleat and fold.

The Namib gravel plains stretch towards the desert.
Wild Namib horses have adapted and live in the harsh desert conditions.
The orange sands of ancient sand dunes shift and shape through the wind, forming long geometric ridge lines.
Statuesque quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) grow in a barren land inspiring awe at their sculpted defiance.   Reputedly some are as old as 800 years, but now climate change is a factor in their survival.

As we traveled through different biomes:  desert, savannah, tree and shrublands, to the wetlands of the Zambezi area the contrasts in ecosystems and habitats were distinct.  Hope you’ll join me as a post further stories; coming up soon …..

Walking with Vervets

Graceful long-limbed vervets accompany me on a walk next to the Kongola R, Namushasha Lodge.

Standing Sentry Duty: Who goes there?

Sentry duty, scanning the horizon.

Meet the Enchanting Miss Dik-dik.

Doe-eyed Dik-dik the smallest of the antelope species, roam the campsite.

The Enigmatic Wild Horses, Can they Survive?

For 100 years the desert horses have survived the harsh conditions. But drought and predation by the spotted hyaena are taking a drastic toll on their numbers.

 

The Spirit of the Rocks: Twyfelfontein

“Place of Ceremonies” – Twyfelfontein, Namibia.  A pathway leads between two imposing slabs of rock and on entering this shaded corridor there is an immediate sense of a captivating aura.  Some inner call whispers an invitation to reach out and touch the cool sandstone.  It’s like checking a pulse, finding an ancient rhythm and feeling a deep-earth heartbeat.  In the surrounding area, a legacy of San rock art is chiselled in the stone.   These petroglyphs are the finest in Southern Africa and date back to the late Stone Age.  Fortunately it was proclaimed a World Heritage site in 2007 and is administered under UNESCO’s preservation guidelines.  

Panels of engravings cover some 212 stone slabs depicting an extraordinary diversity of wild animals. Stories of animals slipping through rocks, elephant, rhino and the famous ‘five toed lion’ with a kink in it’s tail.   Giraffe, ostrich, graceful buck species parade along the slabs.  A seal here, and there flamingoes, creatures that exist some distance away from this inland place.  A young zebra foal suckling from it’s mother.   Our guide leads us through the ‘galleries’ theorising and giving context to the scenes.   Hunting scenes – spoor, geometric markings symbolising the rituals and beliefs of the hunter-gatherer people of the San.  Imaginings of a different realm, a spiritual trance world where animals were people and there was a connection between man and animal.  If only the rocks could talk what legends we would learn!

 

Twyfelfontein: The Organ Pipes along with baboons

The rock formation is aptly named –  the basaltic lava colums rise like organ pipes some standing 5 m high.  The valley is small, though the rocks have a lofty appeal.  The harsh light throws an unforgiving cast and the colours reveal shades of ochre and tan.  There are four of us negotiating the downward path, stepping carefully as there is loose scree.   There is a strange vibe here and the first bars of Edvard Grieg’s grand orchestral piece “In the Hall of the Mountain King” plays through my mind.  I imagine Peer Gynt striding through the scene as the sound of falling rock shatters the calm.  Into view comes a troop of baboons!

We spot baboons nine separate occasions through the trip, but they immediately clear out, vanishing from view. Not this time  – they take up seats in the pews above and we’re being scrutinised.   We, the interlopers to this geological attraction take care not to be too intrusive, guessing that they want to descend to find water in the damp sand.  It’s hot, searingly hot and i notice that their fur is fine and sparse and that males don’t have the magnificent ‘manes’ that the coastal species have.

There are about 25 – 30 in this troop; not large by wild standards but in this tough environment you’ve got to admire how they adapt to survive in the harsh conditions.

We let them be and head back out on the opposite side; the encounter adds a layer to the timeless mysteries of the area.

 

 

WPC: Serene


Twilight in Southern Africa is a short affair – 45 minutes after sunset and evening rustles in. As birds and animals come in to roost there’s a gradual lessening of ‘chirp’. Here at the Kunene River Lodge the wind subsides and the water takes on a heavenly appearance to perfectly reflect the sky and clouds. It is remarkably serene – for about 15 minutes before the night chorus cranks up. Cicadas, crickets, frogs, night jars all tune up and deafen the night in syncopated symphony.
WPC: serene