Swakopmund once again made it easy for us to leave with its fog and very unfriendly weather. We spent the morning to get all the groceries that were still missing. Relaxed and well prepared we left the city and drove in the direction of Henties Bay along the coast before we turned left at some point between Henties Bay and the road to Uis and made our way cross-country through nowhere in the direction of Messum Crater. We followed tracks in the Dorob National Park, sometimes turning left and sometimes right and after several hours of driving we arrived at our destination. Although the track was in a awful condition and had not been maintained for ages, we resisted the temptation and drove in the tracks. It never rains in this region and newly made tracks remain permanently visible. This crater, about 25 km in diameter, gives a very special feeling, very difficult to describe. Despite the great barrenness you experience deep satisfaction. On closer exploration of the immediate surroundings we found droppings of hyenas. Due to the environment, this could only come from a brown hyena.
Through the Messum Rivier to Brandberg
The next morning we drove through the Messum Rivier towards Brandberg. In the rivier there are many very old Welwitschias. These incredible plants reach here partly enormous sizes. How old they are here we don’t know reliably but in the moonscape near Swakopmund there are specimens that have been dated to 4000 years. What we already noticed in the south of the country continues here: the land is green or yellow and full of grasses. The closer we got to the Brandberg, the more colorful the landscape became. What a great luck and privilege to be able to enjoy the country in this splendor. The beautiful thing about Damaraland and Kaokoland is the fact that you can camp here quite wonderfully on your own. We never left more than our foot and tire tracks and enjoyed this freedom very much. Arrived at the Brandberg, we stayed overnight in a side valley and had the great fortune to be able to see the Spitzkoppe in about 90 km distance very well with clear view.
The elephant curse
The next morning we witnessed again a beautiful sunrise. If you can enjoy something like that with a coffee, how can you be in a bad mood? Exactly, it can’t and therefore we continued our way towards the White Lady Lodge in a good mood. This lodge with attached campsite is located directly at the Ugab River. This river is home for several groups of desert elephants. We have seen elephants at every stay so far. Twice in the riverbed when we were actively looking for them and once at the campsite when they were marching through the camp some distance from us. Geli and Uwe have a kind of curse on them: whenever they come to such places, the elephants disappear, leaving nothing but excrements and big footprints. It was time to break this curse.
We sat in the evening on our common campsite and had parked the cars next to each other. It was already dark but by the prevailing waxing moon, we could see well. We drank a final nightcap and talked comfortably when it happened. Geli asked what kind of noise it was and Guido saw an elephant running next to the cars. We shorten it: in the end a whole herd of about 15 animals ran along next to our cars and the majority even went through our camp, between the cars. We stood about 2 meters away devoutly, enjoying the spectacle. One elephant took advantage of the large tree we were standing under to noisily scratch his flank. He was pawing left and right and back and forth. What events that took place right in front of our noses and grinning mouths. Elephants are magical animals and they manage to plant a deep feeling of happiness in your stomach area by their mere presence. There are no photos of this visit, because the cameras are stowed away in the dark, but that’s how it is. Now your imagination must help you and we have an incomparable memory 😉