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Namib Desert and Swakopmund, Namibia

May 11, 2009

Day 9

Armored cricket by my watch

We woke around 5:00 so that we could be on the road at sunrise. It was still dark when Lori went to take a shower. She came back about 5 minutes later saying that she couldn’t take a shower because there were too many bugs in it.  At first I thought she was probably making a big deal about a few small insects, but I would soon find out she wasn’t.

There were two small showers, and since the lights had been left on all night, they were full of grasshoppers and crickets, including a couple armored crickets, some really big, nasty ones (see picture to the right of one of them next to Lori’s watch) that give you blisters if you touch them according to our guides. As soon as I went into the shower, they all started jumping around and landing on me. I started flapping my towel around and knock a few out before turning on the water and taking a quick shower.  By the time Lori came back, a lot of the crickets were gone but there were still quite a few that she had to contend with while showering.  By the end of it, we felt like we had been on Fear Factor. Without the money.

After finally getting cleaned up, we packed the tents and spent most of the day in the truck driving to the Namib Desert and the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Day 10

We left the camp around 5:30AM in order to be at the sand dunes in the National Park by sunrise. The area we were in is called Sossusvlei, and is famous for its large sand dunes, which are a red in color. We spent the early morning climbing up this sand dune and watched the sunrise. We could only go very early in the day because the desert gets to be over 100 degrees in the middle of the day. In addition, there is a significant amount of iron in the sand, which causes the sand to heat up very quickly when the sun shines on it.

After climbing the sand dune, we had a guided tour throught Sossusvlei. Our guide was a local bushman who really knew about the local plants and animals, including these little lizards, which he informed us the local bushman eat live in order to preserve their water.  The guide also dug up a few spiders from underneath the sand and gave a lot of information about the local plants.

In the middle of the sand dunes are several “dead vlei.” These are the areas where water once pooled in times of flood, which ocurrs about every 10 – 20 years, but which water can no longer reach. The areas can be several kilometers across.

After visiting Sossusvlei, we made a quick stop at the Sesriem gorge. This is one of the few places where there is always water in the Namib desert, and as a result, many animals can be found. While we were there a troop of baboons was watering.

Day 11

We broke camp early and headed for Swakopmund, which is still in the Namib desert but is along the Atlantic coast. Along the way, we crossed the Tropic of Capircorn and were able to get out and take some pictures. After this, the drive was really hot and dusty until we made it to the coast, where the ocean breeze finally cooled things down a bit. By the time we made it to Swakopmund, we were all pretty tired, hot and dusty, and so we relaxed around the hotel most of the afternoon. This was the first time we had an real bed since Cape Town, and so it was very relaxing. We didn’t really feel like going out to dinner either. Luckily Jae and Eui treated us to a feast of traditional Korean noodles that they brought with them all the way from home. The dinner really hit the spot.

Day 12

Swakopmund is a city known for offering all sorts of adventure activities for visitors, so there was no resting today. We booked the Quad biking/Sandboarding combo and headed for the dunes at first light. I was a little leery of the whole thing when we booked it, but it really turned out to be a lot of fun.

Wait for the wipeout:

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