Part two of the Namibian adventure.
We had a decent breakfast and packed all of our things back into the bakkie and headed out to the dunes to see if we couldn’t find a few more horned adders before we left Swakopmund.
I took quite a few photos of the medium-sized Horned Adder basking on top of the small mound amongst the vegetation and the snake was laying dead straight and flattened out in attempt to maximize it’s basking efforts. Both Francois and I got some good shots and we then moved on to look for more specimens.
We carried on looking amongst the bushes and other small rocks, I walked some 100m out to a large piece of concrete and next to it was a rusted can where I found a Horned Adder sheltering under the almost rusted through can.
I looked around and in the hollow of the slab of concrete and initially didn’t notice anything. Then saw just the head of another Horned Adder nestled just beneath the sand.
After a lengthy photographic session and boots and pants now filled with sand we headed to the snake park to drop off a few things and Francois examined a few Cobra’s which had come in from the local port as stowaways. In an attempt to correct the ID’s they’d been given but I don’t recall if we ascertained the species. We stayed a little longer than we planned too much exchanging of stories much like fisherman stories after a long day at sea.
Before heading out to the White Lady Lodge in the Brandberg we stocked up on some food and snacks for the trip. Needless to say Namibia is not the most vegetarian-friendly place when it comes to getting “healthy” snacks. I entered a very old (read institution) take away joint and left with a toasted cheese $10 and $36 slap tjips.
The drive was quite uneventful and we didn’t see much at all. temperatures were cooking and I really expected that we’d see more DOR life on the roads besides a few birds and mammals but those were less interest to use so we didn’t stop for these.
We arrived after dark at White Lady Lodge after a really long drive on some bad bone-shaking roads not sure if it was a good idea although we scored a really impressive sunset on out way in. We were checking in we’re told not to venture around too far from the lodge at night as the desert lions and elephants has been seen a few nights prior and are very much out and about – GREAT!
Camping seemed like a bad idea in a mild oversight, we had neglected to include bowls, cutlery (besides a plastic fork I had from earlier) so I had a makeshift cup from an old water bottle and a bowl from a 5l water bottle. Although our food supplies were kept cold by the fridge/freezer Francois had hooked up in the bakkie – LIFESAVER.
We pitched the tent only to again discover that both the stretcher and the bedroll will not fit in the tent – problem! But Francois thought sleeping out in the open would be fine…until the reminder that the lions are around so scrapped that idea.
After a quick make shift dinner with my skillfully made cutlery, I made some couscous and wraps which would become the standard over the next 2-3 days we spent here.
I found a two Pachydactylus scutatus in the opened topped shower and bathroom ablutions which was a great sight as I’d not seen this species previously. Shortly after that, I found a Turners geckos on the tree right at our tent.
We walked around the camp sites in the now pitch dark gingerly as picked up more Pachydactylus scutatus and Chondrodactylus turneri and heard many Barking geckos (Ptenopus garrulus garrulus) but were unable to locate any despite our best efforts.
At 23:58 we’d had enough and called it a night, Francois landed up sleeping in his bakkie as the thought of becoming Lion food during the night seemed less than ideal.
After an uneventful night’s rest, I woke up relatively earlier prioritising my life and making some tea first before I began to photograph a few geckos we had collected on the walls of the buildings around the campsite – while keeping an eye out for larger mammals!
We scoured around the hills around the camp, seeing several lion and elephant spoor on the way the receptionist’s words to not to go too far from the camp wasn’t a bad idea.
After a good few hours on those outcrops and mountains in the searing heat by 10:30am we had found very little – it was simply too hot and dry. I managed to catch a nice looking Agama planiceps a few young Chondrodactylus turneri and a handful of Rhoptropus boultoni.
This female Agama’s aren’t nearly as striking as the males but I only managed to get hands on a few females and juveniles on this walkabout.
Went for a drink at the bar around lunch time, bu now it must have been in the mid 30’s and being outside felt like being inside of a large dry convection oven. We spend a few hours talking about species and hearing some of the barman’s snake stories. We headed back to our camp fired up the bush braai had some lunch and tea of course in the aluminium kettle Francois bought just before we arrived.
Later that afternoon when the temperature died down to a little we went on another walk towards some distant mountains. We found very little but I chased a Pedoplanis around for 20mins only for it to drop its tail! A total rookie move, but soon found another larger specimen and it posed beautifully for a few photos.
Walked around the granite koppies saw a large agama couldn’t catch it and it evaded capture. But these Agama’s are everywhere so we weren’t too phased. We were just before dark and probably not a great idea so we made our way swiftly back to the lodge and drove back to our base. On the way down I thought I heard some frogs calling but disregarded it as being the pump from the few small ponds around the reception. Walked to the abolition blocks and found several more Large Scaled Geckos.
I made a very basic dinner of couscous from my customised 5L container bowl – keeping it classy in the Brandberg! Photographed a few geckos on the tree next to camp, more Large Scaled Geckos which were becoming more and more like the Hemidactylus back in Durban – EVERYWHERE.
After dinner I heard a Barking gecko quiet close to camp and found one about 20m from our site! This was the first time I’d seen this species so finding another beautiful female was a bonus when we took a short drive in hopes to spot some horned adders or any other snakes on the move – but besides the Barking geckos we saw very little.
Headed up to the lodge and walked around looking for more geckos didn’t find any except a few more Day Geckos out and about. On the way down I heard the same “calls” from the previous night and now I had to investigate. I called Francois over and I spotted a few Mottled Rubber frogs in the ponds! Not something I was expecting to see in the middle of the Brandberg especially being so dry. We were both chuffed, until it came to photographing them had a good laugh as someone else was struggling more than I was for a change.
At 00:05 we headed back to camp and again Francois was going to sleep outside but decided against it (good life choice here).
I woke up early again made a quick fire so I could get some tea made and photographed some barking geckos from last night before and released them again at the entrance of their respective burrows.
I photographed another agama and a day gecko I caught on the tree next to our tent as we were packing up. We made a quick breakfast, showered finished packing and we are off the way.
We stopped at a large boulder on our way out and I caught a Ground Agama. Francois then realised left his shoes so we tuned back – hassle of note on the bad roads! But being Namibia the staff has his shoes ready and waiting for him. SO we started the trek on the awful roads again.
After a long drive from Brandberg through to Otjiwarongo where we refueled and bought a few things from the local supermarket. When we finally arrived in Kamanjab in the Kunene region after a really long drive we were hit with the intense heat – this place is hot!
Francois introduced me to Renee who was gracious enough to host us for the next three days in their cottage on the farm. Renee and her three daughters stay on the farm where they have all sorts of large free-roaming game including a large herd of elephants where were frequent visitors. We had some tea together and went scratching around and found loads of day geckos and a few skinks.
We had a really great dinner with the family (the first real meal we’d had in days!) Renee and her daughters really prepared a fantastic meal. Shortly after dinner, we headed out to the koppies behind our cottage where I saw a small black snake moving alongside the bottom of the rock face. I quickly grabbed it without much thought and was happy to see it was a Damaraland Thread Snake. We saw plenty of Bibrons Geckos, Day geckos and Large Scaled Geckos.
After a quick photo session, we boiled some water had some tea and went out again to inspect the campsite just down the way from our cottage to check out some geckos. We found an abundance of Marbled Rubber Frogs in the toilet cistern and bowl! We then walked around the farmhouse found more rubber frogs (in excess of 20) and Damaraland pygmy toads! We had a long photo session until around 2am. I landed up losing the pygmy toad after a few photos before Francois could photograph it – hopefully, we’d have more while we are still here. We landed up going to bed around 02:30 – a standard day it’s begging to be.
I woke up early and made a quick makeshift breakfast, photographed some agamas behind the cottage and a few more and day geckos then scratched around in the rock outcrops with little results saw a dwarf plated lizard but didn’t manage to get hold of it.
Walking around the farm near the waterhole which was covered with elephant footprints we spotted a few large Tree skinks but they were quick to duck into the tree hollows and there is no fishing them out. We took it easy as the heat is just too intense and we sat out for the rest of the afternoon under the thatching We had a full-blown Italian pizza lunch made by Victoria Rene’s eldest daughter who was also vegetarian! Not sure there are too many vegetarians in Namibia. We has quite a lot to talk about and was nice not being the butt of all the jokes for once.
We walked around the koppies but again didn’t turn up much but I found another Pygmy Toad just outside the farmhouse right where the irrigation system seeped into the flower bed.
We had another long day and after staying up ay the farmhouse we went back to our cottage and only got to bed at 2am!