Damaraland expedition (2): loneliness, danger and death

We didn’t know if we had got lost. We were completely out of the maps, with no possibilities of calling anyone and at some point we realized that we had not seen any car in any direction, nor any person, for the last 4 hours. Fortunately, after driving up a hill and managing not to fall through the cliff on the left-hand side, we spotted a human building down there. It was just a house size building made of stones.

Messum Crater seen from outside

We parked our car and we saw the sign: “Welcome to Elephant and Rhino World”. There is a family taking care of this refuge and they manage the “Save the Rhino” NGO. Inside the building there are some pictures, photos and texts that explain the work they do in the zone. You can learn about the fauna of Damaraland and how important it is to protect the rhinos in Damaraland. We asked about the state of the “road” towards Twelfontein and the guard told us that crossing the Desolation Valley to Twelfontein was about 4 hours through the same kind of “road” as the one that took us there for the last hour.

Heading towards Save the Rhino Camp

We calculated the time we had left till the sunset, it was less than 3 hours. In our plan we wanted to reach Twelfontein next morning. We could have tried to cross Desolation Valley next morning and sleep that night in the Save the Rhino camp. However, we preferred to be conservative. Four hours driving in that kind of terrain was really dangerous. Considering the fact that our lives could be in danger in the middle of the Desolation Valley, without any possibility of calling and knowing that if something happened no one could find us in the following days, the best decision was to go back, drive one hour through that kind of landscape instead of four, and try to get to Uis before dark night.

Save the Rhino Camp in Ugab dry riverbed

In order to reach Uis we had to take another road which is not covered by the insurance that the rental car company provided. This road surrounds the Messum Crater, an old volcano, from west to east. The landscape continued to be surreal, the different colours of the stones under an almost horizontal light from behind were a pleasure to our eyes. However, I was the driver and I could not go faster than 40 km/h because of the extremely corrugated road. My back was starting to feel pain after so many hours driving through impossible roads.

The colours of the desert

My mind was exhausted too but at the same time stimulated by the landscape. And suddenly I saw many vultures. They were flying in circles some hundreds of meters in front of us. We approached them as close as we could and could see how they were landing at some place in the rocky landscape. I took our binoculars and found out a laying zebra being eaten by the predators.

ZOOM: A Zebra being eaten by vultures

How could a zebra end up in the middle of nowhere with no water, no plants, no trees? Maybe it lost its family, started walking with no direction and just died of starving or the lack of water. Now it was the turn of the vultures that lived on the walls of the Messum Crater.

The hard landscape of Damaraland

I saw on the rearview how the sun disappeared behind the crater and we didn’t know yet how many kilometres were needed to reach Uis. Time was against us. But just when the last few crepuscular rays reached us, already with some stars in the sky, we saw some electric lights in the horizon: Uis!!!

Red, black, yellow… Damaraland

Uis has nothing interesting for travellers a part from being the closer town to the virgin lands of Damaraland. In order to get you an idea: from Save the Rhino Camp to Uis, there are more than 100 km through highly corrugated roads sometimes, wheel tracks other times or no road at all many times. Our satellite images saved us. Being conservative saved us. Uis is important for the mine industry and there is one campsite where we could spend the night. After that first adventure through the deadly landscapes of Damaraland, sleeping in a campsite was like a 5 star hotel! From Uis you can go to see the White Lady rock painting in the Brandberg mountain, the tallest peak in Namibia.

To be continued…

Two Traveling Texans


4 thoughts on “Damaraland expedition (2): loneliness, danger and death

  1. Wow, that sounds stressful and amazing at the same time. So weird you found that zebra. Glad you guys were conservative about things. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    Liked by 1 person

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