Monday 21st of August. Year 2017. Uis.
It was not in our plans to spend a night in Uis. Therefore I didn’t look to the satellite images from that part in the border of Damaraland. Uis was in the road map that we had, but let’s say it is not easy to find the roads when there are no signs. We left the town thinking that we were going towards Twelfontein but after driving for more than 100 kilometres we realized we were going in the wrong direction!
We realized because after 100 km we saw the first road sign telling us that in 10 kilometres there was a crossing of two dusty roads. That crossing didn’t appear in the road that we thought we were following. What a mistake! Instead of driving back we took the crossing to the left and lucky us that the new road was not corrugated. We could reach 120 km/h with no bumps for almost 150 kilometres.
One of the things that we wanted to find out in Damaraland were the desert elephants. And in that road was the first place were we saw danger road signs because of the possibility of having an encounter with the biggest land mammal on Earth. Desert elephants are adapted to walking on the sand of the desert, have the knowledge of finding water where you and I wouldn’t find it and when they eat they don’t break tree branches because they know that damaging trees in the desert could mean killing them, which would mean no food for next year. They are found in Damaraland basically in the dry riverbeds. However, the guard from Save the Rhino Camp told us they were far from the places we wanted to drive through. At that moment they were in the mountains.
After five hours driving, the last two just for 40 kilometres, we arrived to Twelfontein. This is a World Heritage Site in Damaraland where the Bushmen did spectacular wall engravings. We booked a guide that explained us the history of that place in the hottest day of our travel to Namibia. We were sweating while the guide told us that the Bushmen used those engravings to teach young people about the animals of the zone and how to hunt them. There are giraffes, lions, rhinos, elephants… And in some rocks there are maps where the Bushmen used to indicate the waterholes of the zone. Those engravings are older than 3000 years.
It was midday and we were hungry. We didn’t want to cook because we were tired and we decided to try the restaurant of the Twelfontein Country Lodge. The lodge is incredible. It is found behind some big red rocks, it has a waterfall, some grass to lay down and the building itself made of wood and straw is the perfect retreat. We had self service lunch, which is something typical in Namibia, and we ate different kind of meat, rice and fruit.
We also wanted to see the Burnt Mountain, which was at the exit of the Desolation Valley before reaching Twelfontein. However, because we had to change our plans, we could not see this geological feature in Damaraland. But the next stop was the Petrified Forest.
This was our last spot that we wanted to find and we could. Close to Khorixas, the Petrified Forest, is a massive desert site with full of petrified trunks laying on the land. They were sequoias in the old continent of Gondwana which was formed by the actual Africa, South America, India, Australia and Antarctica.
Some million years ago, when Gondwana already existed, it was located in a wetter position on the Earth. Big sequoias grew between the actual Tanzania and Botswana. In a massive flood through an old river those trunks where transported thousands of kilometres till were now you find the Petrified Forest. The trunks were buried and a chemical process transformed them in stone. It is also known that some of these trunks can also be found nowadays in South America.
We spent the night in Khorixas, a little bit north than our planned night stay. The next day we had more than 400 kilometres to drive towards the north of Namibia, to Opuwo.
Tuesday 22nd of August. Year 2017. Khorixas.
As we were farther north than planned we had time for a last visit in the border of Damaraland: the Vingerklip. It is a geological feature like the ones you can find in Monument Valley, USA. It is not far from Khorixas and it is spectacular.
If you ever sleep close to this place, go there. After passing by some incredible tall termite nests we considered the end of our Damaraland expedition, without any doubt one adventure that we will never forget. Those landscapes, those colours, the loneliness, the lack of communication, the lack of resources, the lack of everything…