swakopmund fauna

Where’s Swakopmund?

It’s a shorty ride form Windhoek

But really dramatic. The vegetation has thinned to nearly nothing and the temperature is dropping. So far in Namibia the temperature has been a fairly consistent 34 – 36C, a few days to 38. Now, for the first time, it’s cooling off.

There’s nothing out here. This coastal desert is called the Namib. According to Wiki it may be the oldest desert in the world, between 56 and 80 million years old

It looks a bit like the coast of northern Peru. The horizontal dark line below is the railroad

Into the town of Swakopmund. It’s touristy and nondescript

And of course ride on through to the water. I haven’t seen the sea in a couple of months. It smells strongly salty, like the Atlantic does at times


We’re here for a few reasons. One is to do the “living desert” tour that everyone recommends. Here we are, riding around the dunes

I hang out with this group. They’re all together. They’ve won a sales contest in South Africa with their finance company employer

Time to explain Namibia’s main feature, the dunes. In total the Namib is 1800 miles long, starting from Angola and continuing into South Africa. The central Namibian dunes section is protected in a park and are 500K by 150K. The dunes are the highest in the world and at least 5 million years old.

Now here’s a sobering thing: The dunes originated as particles in the river silt, in particular the Orange River, swept along the coastline, then a grain at a time blown up from the beach inland. That’s how long 5 million years is. Amazing.

So, back to our story. We drive through small lower dunes looking for wildlife

Our guide, Tommy, is superb. The best wildlife guide I’ve come across yet, and I’ve used many good ones.

Here he’s holding up a sand viper (Cerastes vipera). A tiny lilt thing, full-grown. He found it by digging at a spot he saw markings on the sand surface

Here’s an astonishing video of it re-burying itself

A skink

A chameleon

And the coolest thing. A gecko (Pachydactylus rangei) that he’s dug from the sand with completely transparent skin. You can see all the body organs. It has webbed feet for digging and running on the sand

Tommy is a hilarious guy. Here he is telling a joke, after our truck takes some big dips and jumps. Volume up

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