Posted by: megandnath | January 24, 2011

Day 44, 45 – Damarland, bushman rock engravings and the Namibian coast

After leaving the Himba tribe we drove south and soon left the wet, lush landscape synonymous with the wet season rains. By the time we had reached our campsite that night our surroundings had changed dramatically.  Damaraland is the home of the Damara people who also use the click language made famous by the ancient san people, or bushman.

Western Namibia, as it stretches from Angola in the north to South Africa in the South gets considerably drier the further south you travel. Damaraland sits in between the wetter northern area and the beginning of the Namib desert thus making its landscape an ever changing environment. Despite sitting almost right on the Atlantic coast it is one of the driest areas in Africa and the ground is covered in rocks, stones and sand every shade of red, orange and yellow imaginable. Small shrubs and grasses try to grow but the sun and lack of rain dictate life in this area. Small herds of springbok can be seen nibbling on what nutrients grow here and the elusive desert elephants and rhinos wander around searching for water.

Dotted around in every direction huge piles and towers of rock reach skywards creating small mountians, it was in these natural shelters tens of thousands of years ago the nomadic bushman created their stunning rock paintings. As they moved throughout the harsh landscape searching for food and water they would stop at these rock outcrops to rest, the paintings and engravings created by them depict the animals seen in the area and the experiences the bushman had in the area. They also used them to teach their children what each animal looked like and where to find water.

Our first stop was at Twyfelfontein, Namibia’s fist world heritage site which was actually added to the list at a committee meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand. Here over 2000 carvings can be found chipped into the soft sandstone rock and it has the highest concentration of rock art found anywhere in the world. Elephants, Rhino, Giraffe, Zebra, Lions and various antelope can be found engraved everywhere throughout the rocks along the well made trails. That night we camped at a brilliant spot and celebrated a group members birthday with cold drinks, a great meal and a specially made birthday cake that our expert chef created on a fire!

The next day we headed to The Brandberg mountains, home to Namibia’s highest mountain and the famous white lady bushman paintings. The 1hr walk took us up a dry river bed with rock hyrax (a rat/guinea pig type animal) and orange/blue lizards scurrying everywhere. The horribly hot sun burns everything it touches and the landscape here was an even more dramatic display of bright red rocks, orange sand and whithering trees. Eventually we made it to the bushman paintings, although somewhat faded over time its incredible that they have lasted thousands of years of rain, sun and sand storms.

After leaving the dry interior behind we made our way towards the harsh dry coastline and onto the Cape Cross seal colony. Home to between 80-100,000 seals the smell was absolutely terrible but the small seal pups and grumpy mothers did provide some comic relief. As we pulled into the once German town of Swakopmund the sand dunes of the Namib desert could been seen on the other side of the town, our destination after our 3 day stop in Swakopmund. 


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