Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shadows, curves, and sunsets... in the Namib.

if you love negative space (big shadows), especially in your photographs, the Namib is paradise.

high contrast in certain landscape images is the cat's ass. if you add the curvaceous sand dunes of the Namib, you're looking at some real stunning photographs.

the photo above was taken as we were retreating from an attempted late day assault on sossusvlei.

it's nearly impossible to get "magic hour" pix of this area because it's too far away from sesriem (about 60 km). the park gate closes at 6 PM, and you have to be back at the campsite or something nasty will happen to you. ok, i just made that last part up.

travel tip of the day: bring plenty of water if you're going to traipse around the desert. being really really parched (because of poor planning), like i was on this little expedition, is not a good feeling.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!!!! Or, Life's a Flip Flop...

Flip flops in the sand...

First, I want to wish the loyal readers of BTOG a happy new year! Hey, it's been a stormy relationship but I love you all.

2009 will either be really really really big year or a really big dud as per usual. Stay tuned, if everything works out I will undertake a journey of biblical proportions. A journey that could possibly overwhelm me physically, mentally, logistically and spiritually. This journey will bring me closer to the people and landscape than ever before.

It's still in the planning stages but I can tell you it could possibly be a bike ride. A very long bike ride. Hopefully I can get out of here either this spring or fall. If I miss this window in time, I'm not sure if I can do it in this life.

As for this blog, I'm not sure what to do with it in the meantime. I've been thinking of converting it to a foodie blog. But, I hardly eat out (some people sure eat out a lot, eh?). It might turn into a bit of a bike blog. I'm not much of a gear head though. It could turn into one of these travel tip/advice blogs. That'd be very boring though.

I do have lot of travel photos as you can see. I've got some stories. I will keep posting them along with what ever ideas that pop into my brain.

Anyway, have a great 2009!

Tell me about your adventure this year.

Namib Poo Purri of Pix...

Just when you thought the Namib was devoid of carbon-based lifeforms...

Coming home from Dead Vlei, we spotted this family of ostriches (Struthio camelus australis) surfing down a sand dune.

Gemsbok (Oryx gazella) at sunset.

Beetle bug in sand. Damn those bugs. They're going to outlast us all.

Hey look what we found! Acanthosicyos horridus, commonly called the Nara plant! Protected by horrific sharp spines (2-3 cm), the succulent Nara melon (approx. 15 cm in diameter) is an important source of sustenance for wildlife (eg. Gemsbok) and people (the indigneous Topnaar) alike. This particular melon is a bit raw still and caused a horrifying burning sensation in my mouth. Holy forbidden fruit, my friends...

Ok, I had to sneak in another dead tree picture. I love that one in the background.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dead Vlei - Namib Desert, Part 4. - One more dead tree.

Namib Desert Factoid of the Day: The Namib is approximately 55 million years old, making it the oldest desert in the world.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dead Vlei - Namib Desert, Part 3. - Even more dead trees.

Dead Vlei Factoid of the Day: Vlei is pronounced like flay...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dead Vlei - Namib Desert, Part 2. - More dead trees.

Dead Vlei Factoid of the Day: you can't tell from the pix, but the Atlantic Ocean is a mere 50 km to the west.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dead Vlei - Namib Desert, Part 1.

The cool, comforting breezes of the morning twilight are short lived in the Namib. for not long after sun rises the ambient temperature soars. A heat that is searing, palpable, and daunting.

It's hard to imagine water surviving in liquid form in this inferno. Yet, there is geomorphologicial evidence abound of intermittent bodies of life giving water in the Sesriem region.

One obvious evidence of once running water is the braided scrub-lined riverbed of the Tsauchab. Fed by rare rain falling on the nearby Naukluft mountains, then cascading through the slot canyons of Sesriem, the Tsauchab suffers a premature death just 60 km from Sesriem, blocked by giant dunes of Namib.

Driving to very end of the Tsauchab valley, tourists can visit two famous vleis (an Afrikaans word referring to shallow ponds or in this case dry salt pans): Sossusvlei and it's surreal neighbour, Dead Vlei.

Dead Vlei. Get there early in the morning. I would imagine it gets murderously hot here after 10 AM.

Dead Vlei is appropriately named. Something calamitous happened here about 900 years ago. People speculate that a combination of encroaching dunes blocking the flood waters of the Tsauchab and climate change resulted in the parched lake pan and it's population of Salvador Dali-esque dead trees that we see today.

Just drape some floppy, flimsy clocks over the branches of these sun-scorched remnants of acacia trees and, voila, you have a surreal, yet real life, Dali painting.

most of these trees aren't exactly twig-sized. if you look on the dune to left (and over my head) you'll see some really really tiny humanoids climbing. the dune on the right is nicknamed "big daddy". at around 245 m, it's one of the tallest sand dunes in the world.

View Larger Map
Map marks the location of Dead Vlei.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Drivers start your engines... Dune 45, Namib Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

view from the top of Dune 45...looking east.

view looking west towards sossusvlei AND the nearby atlantic ocean.

we sat on top of 45 for a long while, watching the colors of the dune (and its neighbours) change minute by minute as the sun rose. i loved moments like this. notice the humanoids on the spine of 45.

View Larger Map
Map points to Dune 45. A typical star-type dune in a sea of sand, it happens to be the most accessible dune along the road from sesriem to sossusvlei.

at the crack of dawn, the desert campsite at sesriem, normally peaceful except for the occasional howling breeze, awoke to the rumble a single overland truck. slowly, one vehicle after another came to life until the cacophony was difficult to ignore from within my toasty sleep bag.

it was time to rumble. my sleepy-eyed friend ahmed and i clambered out of the tent and joined the que of vehicles at the namib-naukluft park gate.

the long standing tradition of racing against the rising sun to Dune 45 was about to begin.

the gates magically swung open. off we went, speeding along the great flood plain of the once mighty tsauchab river.

half hour later we arrived at Dune 45.

sweat poured off our brows as we scrambled to the razor sharp ridge of 45.

was it worth the effort?

i don't post alot of pictures of where i bed down when i travel but this is the campsite at Sesriem. in the foreground is the rental vehicle. man we trashed that poor car. notice the missing front hub cap.... long, long story my friends... anyway, from this site we're about 45 km east of Dune 45. hmmm...45 km. could that be a cowinkydink?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

old, dead, lonely tree in the Namib...

dead tree growing at the foot of Dune 45 in the Namib Desert. it's only a matter of time before it's swallowed up by the 300 ft. high dune.

World's Greatest Job...

Winter getting you down especially here in Canuckistan? Tired of the dog days of winter... or better yet, tired of working a lousy job day in day out?

Or do you just need a job?

Check this out: the Aussie answer to the World's Greatest Job.

Makes me want to learn how to swim properly...

What a day...

Was visiting my friend Steve this aft. Spent a good hour digging out my car after I stranded it front of his house. The quicksand-like snow banks of Calgary's side streets are abominable. Thanks for helping me out Steve.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tropic of Capricorn

s23 30.019 e15 46.308.

Here's a photo for all the geography nuts out there (What is geographically significant about the Tropic of Capricorn?). Not often do I get the opportunity to stop and take a photo like this. Usually I'm whizzing by in a bus or plane.

This crossing of the T. of Capricorn was in the middle of nowhere in Namibia.

View Larger Map

Another amazing BTOG factoid.

On my trip through Africa 2007, I crossed the

Tropic of Cancer: 4 times.

Equator: 4 times.

Tropic of Capricorn: 4 times.

International Dateline: once (ok, it was in fact a round-the-world trip.)

Tell me what line(s) have you crossed lately?