Dunes, Delta & Falls, Boots n’all in the Bush
Dunes, Delta and Falls Discoverer
Boots n’all Adventure Travel Shop has launched its Dunes Delta and Falls Discoverer, which, as the name implies, is a journey through the western quadrant of Southern Africa, combining the best of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls.
The trip kicks off in Cape Town, which at your leisure you can explore before jumping on the truck. From there it is north to the first stop of Lamberts Bay on South Africa’s Atlantic coast, which is a charismatic and often quite rustic appendage to the better known South and East Coasts. Here the focus tends to be less on sun and surf and more on whale watching, seafood, perusing the seasonal Namaqualand wild flower displays, and likewise the seasonal spectacle of some 30 000 Blue-eyed Gannets concentrated on Bird Island.
From here it is north into the arid regions of the Namib Desert fringe with an overnight stop on the frontier between Namibia and South Africa along the Orange, or Gariep River. Activities are centered on the river, but also the surrounding scenery with it’s focus on a diversity of succulent plants for those interested in such things. The trip really gets cranked up, however, upon arrival at Fish River Canyon, the largest of it’s kind in Africa, and one of the most interesting and rewarding hiking destinations in the region.
The next day the journey into unique desert landscapes continues with a visit to Sossusvlei, which is a largish salt pan situated within the central Namib Desert, and protected by the Namib-Naukluft National Park. It is predominantly a red dune landscape with the haunting silence of a dead zone, but only deceptively dead, as a walk through the dunes with a local guide will soon reveal. Stunted trees, however, are fair testimony to an extremely harsh landscape, some as much as 900 years old.
Hereafter it is a relatively short road journey (Namibia has a superb road network) through the Naukluft Mountains to the town of Swakopmund, where, being as Namibia has smallish cities with a conservative outlook, you are unlikely to trip the light fantastic, but it is a pleasant coastal town at the mouth of the Swakop River, and abutted to the unique African Atlantic Coast, and also something of a showcase of German colonial architecture.
The next phase is a longish haul to the world famous wildlife sanctuary of Etosha Pan, where the few words of a grizzled local overland driver once fairly described what can be expected here: ‘Etosha Pan is always surprising.’ There is no doubt about this. One can always expect the unexpected at Etosha, one of Southern Africa’s principal wildlife destinations. In Particular you will very likely see numbers of elephant, but also at least a couple of the big five, and a wide selection of antelope and other little oddities that, surprise, surprise, will surprising you.
From here it is a quick return to Windhoek, national capital, in preparation for heading east across the Kalahari Desert towards Botswana. The objective is the delta jump off point of Maun, and another of region’s principal wildlife destinations, and moreover a phenomenon of life in the desert that is unique not just in Southern Africa, but in the world.
The Okavango Delta is in essence the waters of the Okavango River in northern Bostwana that leach into the desert creating one of the only inland river deltas in the world. The effect is an oasis on a grand scale, and in Africa the word oasis runs synonymous with an explosion of natural diversity on a scale seen almost nowhere else in the sub region. Bird life, plant life, animal life, and, not least, human life, center on the delta in a celebration of living that is only possible when surrounded on all sides by the waterless wastes of the Kalahari. The signature excursion here is a mokoro (dugout) trip through the extensive wetlands and narrow reeded channels to sojourn for a day or two in utter and natural seclusion.
From Maun the next stop is Chobe, yet another of the principal wildlife destinations of Southern Africa. The author, having visited Chobe many times, recalls most vividly fighting off birds of particular rarity, those that ornithologists can spend a fornight in search of, stealing the scrambled eggs off my breakfast plate. That is Chobe. The midnight and midmorning snort of hippopotamus, the sudden rush of a monitor lizard, and the unexpected sight of an elephant strolling through camp, are all spectacles not to be missed.
To round off a great trip through the heated heart of southern Africa is your arrival at Victoria Falls, the unabashed adrenalin capital of Africa. My own experience of the Zambezi white water rafting was that my neck muscles hurt for a week afterwards after clenching my jaw for six solid hours as our raft plunged over one graded whitewater pot boiler after another. And if that is not enough then leap off the Vic Falls bridge on a bungi cord and see if that lights your candle. If it does not then a micro-light trip through the mists of the falls itself, a booze cruise up the upper Zambezi, or yet more game viewing in the Victoria Falls National Park. It is all there, so go forth and enjoy.
Photo: Thanks Flickr