Namibia - part 2

Discussion about places West of the Rockies
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netllama
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Namibia - part 2

Post by netllama » Sun Dec 22, 2019 8:09 pm

After 3 years, I returned to Namibia earlier this month. There aren't many countries that I've revisited (I can count them on one hand). But Namibia has held a special place for me, with stunning desert scenery, good infrastructure, and a remoteness that discourages large numbers of tourists from flooding the country. I also visited Botswana, Zimbabwe & Zambia on this trip, but this post is about Namibia. Its fascinating how much does and does not change after 3 years.

The relative lack of tourists, coupled with the dry climate certainly helps to preserve things. Despite that, I still noticed some subtle differences. The past few years have apparently been excessively dry, even by Namibian standards. Global climate change is causing their typical summer wet season to grow shorter, with higher average temperatures. This drought was most obvious to me in Fish River Canyon and again, later in Etosha National Park.

The Fish River has always seasonally run dry prior to their summer wet season, but this year it never fully flowed through Fish River Canyon. This negatively impacted the wildlife that lives in the region (antelope, ostriches, birds, and some large cats), reducing their numbers & reproduction rates. However, there was never a huge number of animals wandering about, so the reduction wasn't that obvious now, as compared with three years ago. Additionally, plant life has also been impacted. Despite the fact that all the plants of the region are well adapted to the hot, excessively dry climate, they still need some water. The unique quiver trees that only grow in southern Namibia have died off in alarming numbers. It was one of the first things that I noticed when I revisited Fish River Canyon. The number of trees that died, and fell over was startling. Despite that, as these trees were never that numerous, and all had a distinctive, unique appearance, I was still able to locate some of the same trees that I encountered 3 years earlier.

Etosha was the opposite. Plant life didn't look dramatically different, but the number of animals was blatantly reduced. Last time, I was spotting zebras and giraffes non-stop all day long. I couldn't drive more than a few minutes without running into large animals doing what they do. This time, we'd drive for an hour or more and not see anything. Or see a few zebra here or there, but rarely large herds. Giraffes were genuinely challenging to find. Despite the impacts of climate change, I still had another fantastic trip.

What follows are some of the photo highlights of the trip.


ImageRoad from Fish River Canyon

ImageThe canyon

Imagethe canyon lodge

ImageDescent

ImageThe (dry) Fish River

Imagesunrise

ImageKolmanscop Ghost town

ImageThe forbidden (diamond) zone

ImagePamona Ghost town

ImageRain!

ImageTortoise

Imagepals

ImageDrinking

ImageWandering

ImageBogenfels

Imagesouthern terminus of route D707

ImageD707, miles from everything

ImageCreepy crawly on the Caprivi strip

ImageLook out


For the curious, I've posted over 500 photos from the trip HERE, and I've written up a detailed day by day trip report HERE.

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Re: Namibia - part 2

Post by bbb » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:54 pm

Fantastic pics, as always.

How organized are your trips to some of these places? Do you go on a pre-planned route with a guide usually?

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netllama
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Re: Namibia - part 2

Post by netllama » Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:15 pm

bbb wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:54 pm
Fantastic pics, as always.

How organized are your trips to some of these places? Do you go on a pre-planned route with a guide usually?
Thanks!

Every trip/country is unique. My trips are usually well planned far in advance. I don't have the luxury of being on a trip for months, where I can figure it out as I go, and afford to waste a day. I create a detailed, day by day itinerary, booking as much as possible before I even leave home. There have been some exceptions, like last year when I was in Western Australia, and was camping 90% of the time, and started to run way ahead of schedule. But that's uncommon, and usually I keep on schedule, as I always have a flight home booked.

Ideally, I prefer to drive myself everywhere. But that's not always feasible for numerous reasons (safety, laws, driving conditions, etc). As for this trip, I drove all 6049km over 3 weeks. The overall route was pre-planned to match the itinerary.

However, some places didn't permit self-driving, or it wasn't even possible. There's no public access to the road into Fish River canyon, so we had to pay for a guided drive. The Sperrgebiet (literally German for "forbidden area"), is still an active diamond mining area, and was only accessible with a guided full day tour (which was fantastic). The lodge where we stayed in the Okavango Delta in Botswana was only accessible by chartered flights (via 6 passenger plane!), so we relied on guided game drives twice/day.

Still, Namibia has really great infrastructure for the most part. Paved roads are in good condition, the unpaved are graded frequently, and gas stations are (mostly) up to Western standards. They even started taking credit cards at the gas stations (which wasn't a thing 3 years ago). South Africa is likely the only other country on the entire continent with comparable infrastructure. A year ago when I was in West Africa & the Sahara, it was a vastly different experience, with some truly awful roads (or no road at all).

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Just now viewed all images for second time - even better!

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:03 am

Oops, somehow two days ago I posted my reply in your previous Namibia thread, so I'm updating and adding more now.

The images and trip report are top-notch and for someone who probably won't be able to afford such international adventures, I love traveling there in your shirt pocket as being the next best thing to actually living the experience. So thanks for taking the time to organize and share.

With those abandoned building shots that eery feeling is the same around the vintage Death Valley mine works. You can almost hear the voices of past people amongst the shadows. Your trip report brought to life the vintage diamond mining operations of the area. (of which I knew nothing about, so thanks for the history lesson)

This image should be in some photographer's magazine contest for the best composition/perspective. Just looking through those doors and the window draws me right into the building and those waving plank shadows make me lean to the right and almost fall over. It's so cool how the sand partially filling the room adds such distortion. A timelapse video from dawn to dusk would be over the top cool.


The variety of your wildlife shots is expansive. Thanks again for all of this eye candy!
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Re: Just now viewed all images for second time - even better!

Post by netllama » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:10 am

Death Valley Dazed wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:03 am
Oops, somehow two days ago I posted my reply in your previous Namibia thread, so I'm updating and adding more now.

The images and trip report are top-notch and for someone who probably won't be able to afford such international adventures, I love traveling there in your shirt pocket as being the next best thing to actually living the experience. So thanks for taking the time to organize and share.

With those abandoned building shots that eery feeling is the same around the vintage Death Valley mine works. You can almost hear the voices of past people amongst the shadows. Your trip report brought to life the vintage diamond mining operations of the area. (of which I knew nothing about, so thanks for the history lesson)

This image should be in some photographer's magazine contest for the best composition/perspective. Just looking through those doors and the window draws me right into the building and those waving plank shadows make me lean to the right and almost fall over. It's so cool how the sand partially filling the room adds such distortion. A timelapse video from dawn to dusk would be over the top cool.


The variety of your wildlife shots is expansive. Thanks again for all of this eye candy!
Thanks for the praise! It would indeed be interesting to capture a time lapse out there, but alas access was heavily restricted, and I only had a short period of time to explore & photograph.

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