Northern Damaraland

Northern Damaraland is divided into Conservancies and Consession Areas. The Conservancies, as in the South, are run by the local people who live on the land. The Concessions are put out to tender to large tourism organisations and are not populated by the Damara people.

We stopped at Palmwag (pronounced Pal-um-vag) which is the largest of the Concessions and lies to the East of the Skeleton Coast.

During the evening thousands of redbilled queleas flew into the camp and dived down to roost in the reeds.

One morning we went for a walk . It was fascinating thanks to our excellent guide, Mo, who was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area.  He was able to show us different footprints and explain how many of the trees are used – by local people as well as animals

 We were lucky enough to see plenty of zebra, oryx, springbok and a steenbok. 

The walk was for 3 hours altogether.  Mo told us that normally the ground in the area is very rocky but, because of 3 years of good rains, the ground is currently covered with grass.

This is called the Shepherd's Tree as its leaves are very dense so it makes an excellent shelter, from the hot sun, for the herdsmen.

 

 

At the lodge we noticed an alternative 4x4 route to our next destination, Sesfontein which would take us a couple of days.

We spoke to Jason, one of the guides, who encouraged us to do it (and said that if he'd not heard from us by Monday lunchtime that he'd come looking for us as it's not a route that's regularly used).

 

To start with we were travelling through bush and dry river valleys.

Driving Westwards there were wide grassy plains and some rocky sections...

 

... until we were back in the desert where we turned north towards the (dry) Mudorib and Hoanib river valleys.

 

Once in the river valleys there was more vegetation and naturally more birds and animals.

Giraffe browing the bushes in the valley.

An Auger buzzard.

Having left the lodge at 9am we finally arrived at the 'campsite' at 4.30pm having covered about 170km.

From a rocky outcrop we could see oryx, springbok and giraffe in the valley to the North.

Later we saw an elephant (at least 1 km away). The next day we realised that it must have been at the only waterhole for miles around.

Our campsite in the Mudorib valley.

Around 3am this morning I woke up and could hear branches being broken.  I quickly shook Kevin awake.  At first he couldn’t hear anything but then there was a really loud crack from very close by.  It could only be elephants!!  We both decided that it would be best to retreat to the truck (which was beside the tent and between it and the trees).  We put shorts and shirts on, opened the tent zip as quietly as possible and sneaked out – we could see one of the elephants the other side of the trees – and then slipped into the truck, Kev in the front seat and me behind.  The moon was nearly full so we could then see the elephants through the windscreen as they slowly moved up the valley stopping occasionally to browse – a wonderful but rather scary time!! Once they’d disappeared we went back into the tent but it was quite a while before I got back to sleep!

The next morning it was misty - a sea mist had rolled in as we were only 50km or so from the coast.

The tracks made by the elephants in the night were very clear and we can now even 'read' the direction in which elephant are moving from their spoor.

As we drove Eastwards the mist disappeared and we had another lovely bright day.

 

 

The beautiful Hoanib river valley was a wide sandy valley with several tracks to choose from.

Mind you we could see how deep the water had come up to in the floods the previous year from the debris around the trees.

We were lucky enough to see a couple of lionesses (one with a location collar). They crossed from the track to the side of the valley and found a shady bush.

 

As we drove further up the valley we did come across some water in the valley.

This was a fantastic 2 days and we were so glad that we'd decided to give it a go - definately one of the highlights of a briliant trip to Namibia.

 

The next stop was Ongongo camp near Sesfontein where there is a deep clear pool filled by a waterfall (at the back of the rocks). The pool is warm as it's fed by warm springs.

Kev swimming in the pool.

Michelle under the waterfall.

1. Namib-Naukluft National Park - south
2. Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swapokmund
3. Namib-Naucluft National Park - north
4. Skeleton Coast
5. Southern Damaraland
6. Northern Damaraland
7. Kaokoland
8. Etosha National Park
9. Waterberg
10. Caprivi
11. back to Richmond via Botswana
Diary (Word '97 document)

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