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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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Thursday, 28 October 2010 22:21

Namibia’s highways and byways


I have spent three weeks with my colleagues in Namibia doing geological research but as usual, there was always some time to get a few snapshots during the trip. Was it highways or rather byways trip? Well, if one defines highway as an asphalt road then it was more byways journey – if we have not had the reliable 4x4 Toyota with us, we would probably still be stuck somewhere in the Namib dunes or on the Orupembe „road“ that cannot simply be passed given the physical laws!



Evening silhouettes at Purros




Geological fieldtrip of course is not intended to be a photographic sightseeing tour but I used every extra time to do a little of photography. It is necessary to say that due to the schedule we mostly were staying in very arid areas with minimum of wildlife so the famous Etosha Park or the great bird localities around Walwis Bay were unfortunately left far behind our car. Everyday sunshine and high temperatures did not make this much better so I tried to use the sunrise and sunset light as much as possible. I was happy always when the camp has been set up in the place with a few tress or bushes – at least a decent chance to see some birds in the morning... So take this article as a kind of trip report to Namibia and the very first familiarization with this south African country, it will not be about birds today...well at least not only about the birds ;-)…


Roadmap of our Namibia trip



My very first visit of South Africa went well from the very beginning of the trip – the flocks of birds outside of the arrival hall at Johannesburg airport made the day for me! Right after we arrived to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, I took my camera and started to chase the poor birds dwelling in the bush in the backyard of the Steiner family house, where we were housed for the first few days. Every bird was new for me so I got quite excited and was looking forward what the next days in the wilderness bring…


Steiner family house backyard – White-backed Mousebird (Colius colius)



On the way north we have observed Rollers and Shrikes sitting on the poles around the road as well as other birds that I was not able to identify. Our very first night out of the big city was the campground near Outjo – the evening stroll around the campsite made me realize that the birds in Africa are no less shy then their relatives in Europe – it was a little disappointing until I have found that the best access to the birds is in the camp itself as the birds are used to live nearby people.


A little shy Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus lugubris) outside the campsite



The other day morning we continue west and leave the tarmac road behind – two weeks cruising the unpaved roads of arid Namibian coast are ahead of us. Eventually we also meet the local large fauna – one spot on the road between Outjo and Palmwag teems with the life and we see heard of Zebras, Springboks and a few Giraffes…




The first night in wilderness nearby Sesfontein, still less and less vegetation and wildlife …


Sunrise nearby Sesfontein



Dirt tracks winding through savanna towards Purros …


Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)



Purros – what seems to be a city on the map is in real a bunch of shacks next to the dry riverbed. The river turns into the rocky terrain and creates Hoarusib valley known for its Lion population. The precious water and vegetation attracts other mammals too – we meet Elephants feeding on the Mopane trees…



We overnight on the desert not far from the coast – the vegetation is very scarce. In the morning we pass the borders of Skeleton Coast Park and head towards Cape Fria area where we will spend another 5 days. Before we set up the base camp, we make a trip to the sandy beach at the coast of Atlantic which is some 10 km west from the camp. This is the best experience so far – desolate coast tens and maybe hundreds kilometres around us, no tourist tracks, just the wilderness! It all is possible thanks to the nature of the Skeleton Coast park that requires special permission to enter the area in combination with the remoteness of the places we have travelled to.


Cape Fria


The unique of the place, where just stonecast from the big waves begins one of the most hostile places on Earth, lies in the combination of cold upwelling ocean streams and wind blowing from the continent that cause just a sip of the moist reaches farther into the continent... On the coast we watch the crabs hiding in the surf and find our first and the only scorpion of our trip. My measures on the dangerous animals in Africa slowly disintegrate...


Crab in surf





During those five days in the desert terrain I only saw 4 bird species – Swift, Reed Warbler, Lark and Crows. To do photography during the hot days when the direct upper light creates unpleasant contrast was not worth doing, so I was grateful for one day when we lingered in the field for a little longer and the evening sun began to shape the landscape…


Evening landscape at Cape Fria



On the way from Cape Fria towards Angolan borders we drove through the first larger dunes of our trip …



I had a good luck when this Gemsbok entered the scene without noticing me …


Gemsbok (Oryx gazella gazella)


And right out of the dunes Jan found this beautiful chameleon …


The first half of the trip the moon was in its dark phase and hidden behind the Earth so the lack of the luminous smog made the night photography a real joy …


Our camp in canyon beneath Milky Way



And the silhouettes of the canyon in the first morning light


The Northernmost point of the trip was the Kunene river creating natural border with Angola. Although a fresh and green oasis, it is not advisable to swim in the river because of the crocodiles.


Kunene river and the evening light lit mountains on the Angolan side


View towards South - arid Namibian desert



The way back to Purros was the worst part of the whole trip especially because of the Orupembe road I mentioned at the very beginning – I have no clue how we could have passed that „road“ even with the strong 4x4 car. But there was a good compensation for the trip in the evening when we found a nice camp place nearby Orupembe – the dry river bed with trees. It was great place for some landscape photography including the morning clouds – the only really nice sky of the whole 3-weeks trip as well as my first encounter with the Bee-eaters…


Morning landscape near Orupembe


Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (Merops hirundineus)


The campsite in Purros appeared to be a luxury hotel – we could get a shower again after 10 days in the wilderness and it was again a bit more life around. The morning stroll around camp reminded me of the Outjo experience – while birds in the bush were quite shy, many birds occupied the trees around our breakfast table waiting for some crunchy bite. The Hornbills were even so confident that they tried to inspect our car boot…


Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)



After exhausting days in the arid areas it was a great relief to be at the sea again – the first stopover was at Torra Bay – the desolate campsite was not the best choice at the end as the sand kept blowing into our meals and a flock of Cormorants showered us with its droppings from time to time.


Desolate camp at Torra Bay – the water tower hosts a flock of Cormorants during nights



Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas)


The other day we drove to Swakopmund with a short stop at the famous Cape Cross Fur Seal colony that hosts more than 100 000 Seals…


Brown Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus)


The very last point of our trip was the famous Sossusvlei valley in the Namib desert – the place is frequented by tourists from all over the world but still it made the strongest impact in my mind – the huge dunes and the valley of dead trees Deadvlei were just magic places! There is nothing more to say. It was pity we only had one morning for the whole park but you will read more in one of the coming articles…



Sunrise in Deadvlei




Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 08:51
Comments (30)
  • Petr Bambousek  - Povedené!

    Moc fajn článek, Jirko! Ten chameleon je nádhernej!!!

  • Jirka

    Diky Petre! Ten chameleon byla vicemene nahodna ale krasna podivana - mam roztresene video, kde se pomalu sune piskem a meni barvu az zustane ve strnule poloze dokonale maskovany s okolim - uzasny tvor!

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  • Pavla

    Jirko, techto par fotek me silene natesilo na zbytek obsahu tveho fotaku z Namibie - to bude podivana!!! Chameleon je fakt povedenej (a to je videt ;-), moc se mi libi sakal - zajimalo by me jak daleko byl.

  • Jirka

    Diky Pavlo! Bohuzel na foceni opravdu nebylo moc casu a prilezitosti, bylo spatne svetlo takze tech fotek uz tolik nebude ale jeste se neco najde - urcite dva clanky o ptacich a jeden o foceni v dunach - tam to bylo najkrasnejsi - viz posledni fotka. Sakal se drzel min 30 m daleko ale zde jsem mel stesti - lehnul si na pisek za dunu takze jsem se k nemu mohl nenapadne priplizit - dostal jsem se tak na 12 metru, pak zase zdrhnul...

  • pali hradisky  - pekné

    pekný článok ... keď budem veľký, tiež pojdem do Afriky ... na slony

  • Jirka

    Diky pali, ja az budu velky, tak pojedu na Sibir...na ptaky :-)

  • Honza Veber  - Skvělá

    reportáž a mně samozřejmě udělala největší radost ta vlha vlaštovčí ;-), ale i jinak nádherné fotečky!! jo, Afrika, to je fakt diagnoza...

  • Jirka

    Pochvala od africkeho profika potesi Honzo ;-) Ty vlhy byly opravdu krasne, samotneho me prekvapilo, jak me dostaly svou krasou a eleganci!

  • Tomáš Hilger

    Paráda Jirko.

  • Jirka

    Diky Tomasi, byla to zajimava zkusenost a rozhodne zeme, kterou stoji za to navstivit.

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    I have spent three weeks with my colleagues in Namibia doing geological research but as usual, there was always some time to get a few snapshots during the trip. Was it highways or rather byways trip? Well, if one defines highway as an asphalt road then it was more byways journey – if we have not had the reliable 4x4 Toyota with us, we would probably still be stuck somewhere in the Namib dunes or on the Orupembe „road“ that cannot simply be passed given the physical laws!

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