Quad bikes roaring over the desert is so not Veirs-Reese, but here in the adventure capital of Namibia, we have to give them a try. Leslie prudently declines and heads downtown in search of Namibian art and artifacts, even though she had gone through all the work to put this activity into our schedule. So, off we went with a family from South Africa. It was fun and at times a bit scary as we followed our guide carefully staying on the blowing sand and carefully avoiding the semi-permanent playas at the foot of their surrounding dunes. It felt at times as if we were being tossed by the heaving sea — in this case an elegant panorama of shifted sand.
Next we set off early in the morning with a guide promising to show us life in a desert that at first and second glance appears lifeless. Careful observation and excavation showed us creatures we would never have found ourselves. Here are some photos of the White Lady Spider shown with her web/sand door thrown open by our guide, a gecko and a sknk, including a 30 cm Sidewinder Namib Adder. Our guide was especially excited by this find as these desert dwellers are quite rare here. We also saw this dollar plant, a succulent which opens its leaves at night to gather water from the fog and it stores an amazing amount of water in its leaves and is part of this fragile dune ecosystem.
Liam is here having a conversation with the Austrailian ambassador to Namibia and South Africa who was on our nature tour.
Leslie again declined the thrill of sliding down tall sand dunes at high speed. So, Liam and Val headed off to the one dune in this national park where sandboarding is permitted. This is a star dune that is perhaps 100 m tall. The star form yields various slopes, some much steeper than others. Liam learned how to descend on a stand-up snowboard. Sidestepping was great, turning left to cross the slope in the opposite direction was OK, and the turn to the right was hard. Val slid down lying on a little sheet of masonite. The highest speed they each reached was 56 km/hr on the lying-down board. At one point Val turned a bit too sharply (dragging a toe) and caught an edge at 45 km/hr, resulting in a spinning tumble with a few moments of extreme dizziness, but luckily no injury.
Our final activity took place south of Swakopmund at Pelican Point. Our excellent and efficient guide, Jeanne, picked up a English family with three boys plus us, and we bumped, slid and bounced to the kayaking site on Walvis Bay. Along the way we watched flamingos and salt production and black backed jackles and needs of sleeping southern fur seals. After launching, we played and cavorted with hundreds of young Cape Fur Seals as moms slept nearby on shore. These six-month old seals are used to interacting with kayakers; they nipped at our paddles, loved having their tummies rubbed with a paddle, and flew out of the water in front of our bows. When we paddled backwards, they followed us in huge flotillas, splashing us as they leaped and dove. These seals are part of many huge colonies on shore, and the kayaking experience was indeed a magical one.
(Posted from Etosha National Park surrounded by elephants and antelope!)