Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Southern African Safari - Part 1

I am in southern Africa right now on a three country safari. The camps are remote and it is difficult to post pictures. However, October has arrived and we are at Victoria Falls Zimbabwe where there is an excellent connection. I will put up some quick pictures without many captions. Further pictures and more detailed captions will likely have to wait until I return home. Here is Part 1.

Our aircraft is a Pilatus-12, manufactured in Switzerland and original developed for mountain rescues in the Alps. The need very little runway (800 meters or less).

On this 15-day safari I get to sit in the cockpit with our pilot, Pierre Luies of South Africa. The seating in the cabin is for six persons.

We land at very remote air strips - this one in Luderitz, Namibia.

The airport.

Passing through Namibian customs from South Africa.

 The Namib Desert is something special as you will soon see.

On the dirt air strip at our first stop at Little Kulala near the Sossusvlei sand dunes.

However, even in this desert there is much game. This is a springbok (antelope).

These odd circles are everywhere in the Namib and their origin has proved elusive. However, the best going theory is that termites eat the roots of grasses causing them to die.

Namibian sunset.

Rays of light.

Colors in the sky.

Out lodges are fantastic and very remote.

A herd of gemsbok or oryx roam beneath the dunes at Sossusvlei.

Hiking the dunes.

Sossusvlei means "place where the water terminates". that is because the dune complex has a seasonal river running through it that is blocked by the dunes. You will see the results shortly.

Dead acacia tree and dunes.

On the hike to Dead Vlei.

Where the dunes have crossed the river bed, a lake has formed in previous times. Here are the mud cracks formed in the lake deposits.

When the lake holds water, acacia trees can germinate and grow. But drought has caused the trees to die, creating the other worldly scene at Dead Vlei.

On the lake pan.

Stark landscapes.

In the sand sea.

Ostriches are quite plentiful. The game was outstanding here, even though it is a desert.

Named a World Heritage Site in 2011, this place will likely see a tremendous increase in international tourism.

The slot canyon at Sesriem.

Hiking down into Sesriem.

On the canyon floor.

In the slot.

Group shot at our second "sundowner", a southern Africa tradition with drinks and game meats.

Our guide Arnold was fantastic and shared much of his knowledge with us.

Before leaving Sossusvlei, we had the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride over the dunes.

Inflating the balloons.

First with a fan....

....then with hot air.

Group shot before lifting off. This was my first time in a hot air balloon and it was much more than I thought it would be.

Lift off!

Springbok herd with shadows on the ground.

The fabulous Namibian landscape at sunrise on September 27.

The other balloon flying over the red dunes.

John was a fantastic pilot and could place the balloon just about anywhere he wanted.

The river flowing into the horseshoe-shaped dune field.

We nearly touched the ground in order to take advantage of winds moving downstream.

Support vehicles.

Touch down and champagne breakfast. End of Part 1.

4 comments:

Gaelyn said...

Oh yea. This just makes me more excited about my return trip to South Africa including Namibia.

Toni Kaus said...

Wow!

Toodles said...

Your photos are amazing, as always! I hope to see at least a small part of Africa some day.

Toodles said...

Your photos are amazing, as always! Loved the balloon ride photos, what a neat thing to do. Some day I hope to see at least a small part of the African continent.