Return to Namibia -- South Africa
June 26 - July 3, 2014
by Anne Stoll
The return to Namibia -- this means visiting a good friend, very easy. We landed in Windhoek, rented the car, and after a few hours on Namibia’s excellent, nearly empty main highway, we checked in to our B & B in the coastal town of Swakopmund. The coast was already shrouded in its famous wet fog, cool (it’s winter there), slightly pungent and sticky. The fog is a regular visitor, a fast-moving gray blanket that brings moisture to the creatures of the nearby Namib Desert. The next day we drove into huge Namib-Naukluft National Park headed for our remote lodge, the Wüstenquell Private Nature Reserve. En route we passed through the Welwitschia Plain and marveled at these crazy, ancient plants. The one in my photo could be 1000 years old!
We stayed three nights at the Wüstenquell, relaxing and (of course) looking at archaeological sites. It is a lovely middle-of-nowhere place with several special features.
(click Read More, below, to continue reading and see photos)
Return to Namibia Part 3
By: Anne Stoll (Part 1 and 2 were in the September 2014 DE Newsletter)
Still pondering what we had seen, we bid Olli and the Wüstenquell farewell, packed up the rented Nissan X-Trail, and moved on to our next lodge, the Rostock Ritz (all lodges booked online, by the way). Except for a few short stretches of sand, dirt roads in the Khomas Hochlands west of Windhoek are easy and almost empty. Only an occasional pickup truck appeared, coming from a ranch or from one of the three big uranium mines in Namib-Naukluft Park (the Rossing Mine is the big employer at present). Namibia is amazingly rich in mineral resources, as several big Asian countries know very well indeed. We headed southwest through Kuiseb and Gaub canyons to reach Kücki’s Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge, another surprising, delightful place with rock art. Our room is No. 2 on the right.
(click Read More for story and photos)
April 24 - May 6, 2015
by Anne & George Stoll
This was our third trip in as many years to this amazing country. In a short ten days we saw and learned so much, and although the long hours on an airplane seem to get harder with each trip, we came home invigorated and excited by what we discovered – so much so that I quickly became involved in an international effort to get the Zimbabweans some help with protection of their archaeological sites. This help is urgently needed – the country has been ravaged by the years of fighting and political upheaval. Though it’s calm there currently, their archaeological sites have been sadly neglected and some rock art sites have been damaged and vandalized. Trying to help with this has meant lots of email and assorted consultations – and while we still want to be supportive, I’m now trying to back away from writing proposals and the like in order to focus on what we saw and more upcoming travel. So before I forget how wonderful Zimbabwe was, let me share just a bit of it with you. We were accompanied by our two Shona friends and guides, brothers Willard and Farai Nyambiya (pictured with George below). We traveled east from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, into the countryside and for days never saw a white face. People everywhere were friendly and polite and many speak English which is taught in school from an early age. The U.S. dollar is the official currency in Zimbabwe, and our crisp greenbacks were much appreciated. In the countryside, food is quite cheap and fresh and as this was harvest season, people with extra to sell sat along the highway with heaping bowls and buckets of fruits and veggies for sale. We stayed in two decent motels with good plumbing for $60 a night each and were happy for the rooms, as we needed electricity to recharge camera batteries. The whole country lost power for a day while we were there. It apparently happens a lot. These people (below) are harvesting peanuts – pulling them off the green plant and letting them dry in the sun. The round house in the back is the kitchen (above) with interior walls plastered with dung, water in buckets and highly polished floor. The cooking hearth was in the floor just out of sight. People used to grow a lot of tobacco but the old brick drying barns are not much used now. We drank a lot of mahewu – hard to describe the taste but it’s delicious and very nutritious. It’s a thick liquid made from slightly fermented “mealie pap” (corn meal) and was often our lunch while on the road.
June 18 - July 13, 2015
by Anne & George Stoll
Dear DE friends,
This was our year for Australia. With the exchange rate of greenbacks to Australian dollars so favorable to our side, we couldn;t pass it up. So off we went to the Northern Territory or “top end” on a trip planned to see as much rock art as possible. Of course, we saw and learned a lot more, this being our first time Down Under. After flying Virgin Australia from LAX to Sydney to Darwin, our first stop was Max Davidson’s camp on Cooper Creek near Mt. Borradaile, Arnhem Land, Australia. This was such a special place and it might be off-limits in the future because all arrangements with Aboriginal people are in flux at present, especially in Arnhem Land. A long story, very political, no end in sight. Anyway, Mt. Borradaile became one of our all-time favorite places. We approach one of the sites by water, cruising up Left Hand Billabong. to a most remarkable cave.
Happy summer from Anne & George
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Desert Explorers in the Gobi Desert
by Nancy Maclean
This year, Desert Explorers returned to the Gobi Desert, as Ron Ross and I travelled there with Overseas Adventure Travel to add one more Desert visit to our “bucket list.”
As we flew from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaan Baataar to Dalanzadgad (DZ) in the Gobi Desert in our little Hunnu Air propjet, the landscape looked like we were flying over the Arizona or Nevada desert. It is a desolate area with no roads and no signs of civilized life for a long time; it gives you a feeling of just how big this desert area is. As we got closer to our destination, I began to see pockets of water…what looks like muddy lakes. And as we start the descent, we see some greenery in the valleys, potentially some creeks or ground water for plants to survive on.
We collect our luggage and exit the tiny airport where our nice four-wheel-drive vans are waiting for our group. We are all excited to see what kind of adventure awaits us here. Down on the ground, the place looks like the foothills of Wheeler peak in Nevada: fairly high mountains with broad flat valleys. DZ is a town of 15,000 inhabitants with traditional ger tent districts. Many families have a small brick home and a traditional ger tent right next to it.
Shortly, we are out of town and turn off on a bouncy two-track dirt road. In our thoughts are 40 miles of this to our camp!!! Soon we stop at a guest ger camp for lunch. It is a nice lodge with beautifully carved bar and crystal chandelier and sconces on the walls.
(click Read more for the rest of the story and photos)