Saturday, March 22, 2008

Down to Southern Africa

We transitioned to southern Africa on March 18 visiting Namibia and South Africa.

Namibia in places looks a lot like the Mojave Desert (one of my favorites). The Namib Desert is typically drier but just as interesting.

Here you can see some of the black dikes that course through the light colored granites. The dikes were intruded about 120 million years ago, when the southern continents were rifted apart. The granites were formed about 560 million years ago in a huge mountain building event.

Look at these fantastic folds in the granite and gneiss!

Here is one of the most interesting plants found in the Namib - the Welwischia. It can be over 1,500 years old and is found only in a narrow band of ground a certain distance from the coast. This was one we came across on our 4X4 desert tour.

Here is a close-up view of the Welwischia. There are only two leaves on each plant and the border of the two here split left to right in the photo. The wind splits them apart making it seem like more than one leaf.

We also took a scenic flight over the dune fields of Namibia. Our planes were agile and low flying. This was certainly not for sissies!

A number of old abandoned diamond camps were seen on the flight. This coast has lots of placer deposits of diamonds - those are fields where ancient rivers transported diamonds to the beach.

Look at these coastal dunes! Awesome aren't they? Well, this could be a modern analog for what environment the Toroweap and Cococnino sandstones were deposited in over 275 million years ago! I love time travel!!

A view of our lovely hotel in Swakopmund!

I put this photo in the blog for my friends Norm and Don and Bill back home who all love to go camping in the desert! We saw this great sunset and I thought of them! Beautiful high cirrus clouds at sunset.

Desert dancers greeted us at a night time dinner in the desert, complete with a flame show. I put this one in for Helen so she'll know how much my love still burns for her, half way around the world!!

We got to fly from the capital at Windhoek out to the Namib in an old and restored DC-6. She was a beaut!

Look at those engines whirring away over the mist shrouded desert.

Granite landscape in Namibia.

More From The First Half of the Africa Adventure

Lome, the capital city of Togo, sits on the southern coast of West Africa. It is just west of Nigeria and Africa's geologic "elbow". There are colorful shoe shops here!

We visited a fetish market and saw these primate skulls, used in voodoo ceremonies. Shame to see such religious superstition which unnecessarily kills wildlife.

Like many African nations, Togo got it's independence in the year 1960 and this is the Independence Monument in Lome.

A Voodoo dance.

A look at a home of the Tamberma people in northeast Togo.

Here's a close-up view of one of the dancers in Togo.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dogon Dancers

While we were visiting the Dogon Country, we got to see one of their dances. They are quite colorful as you can see.

Here is a close-up of the masks detail. The dance was not scary or weird, it was lively and interesting.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Images from West Africa

Here we go again. I'll try here in Cape Town, South Africa.

This is a baobab tree. They are found all over Africa but this is the first time I've seen them in Mali. We were driving out to the Dogon Country when I snapped this shot. During the rainy season it will sprout leaves.

We finally arrived at the edge of the cliff. The air quality was really bad as you can see as there had been a whole summer of Sahara wind storms. Anyway, the cliff of sandstone was phenomenal.

No, this is not Mesa Verde in Colorado! It's actually a Dogon village in the country of Mali. Wow. Looks just like an Anasazi cliff dwelling. A very interesting stop indeed.

Here's a closeup view of the next village we saw and it's called Ireli. It is located beneath the cliff n just like the previous shot. Amazing!

Here you can see one of our 4X4 vehicles driving at the base of the escarpment. I was in heaven for sure. It was composed of a coarse sand and I guessed it's age as Precambrian or Cambrian. We'll see when we get home.

The town of Mopti is located on the banks of the Niger River, one of the planets largest and most important rivers. We visited during the low, dry season but that didn't stop the lively traffic of people and goods moving along the river. I don't think I've seen anything as exotic as scenes like this.

Here's a last look at a man piloting his river boat on the Niger.

Checking out for now but perhaps back later!