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.