Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday November 3, 2015: A Day in The Living Dunes

We awoke to temperatures in the lower 50’s – We definitely have to layer clothing today as it will be warm when in the sun. 

Our schedule activity of the morning is to see the living dunes – in other words, we are going to explore what appears to be barren dunes for life.  The tour picked us up at 8:30 and off we went into the mountains of sand.  Two vehicles were together with a group of 6 tourists and 2 guides.  Today they hope to show us the “small five” – in comparison to the “big five” in Game Parks. This coastal desert is completely different from in-land deserts.  Due to the fog which is present most mornings of the year over this coastal desert, the plants and some animals obtain moisture from this fog.  Other animals obtain their moisture because they eat other creatures who are full of water.  During the day the sand is hot on the surface but within a few inched under the top it is cool.  The few plants that are there, shade the sand which keeps moisture at its roots.  While the one guide was explaining the habitat to us, the other one was off looking for life.

The first one they found was the “sand-diving lizard”, which looks like a very small snake, but is not a snake.  He can be on top of the sand and in a split second he can be hiding under the sand where it is cool. They found a “Sidewinder snake” – very interesting – he was not very large, but he could move.  He hinds under desert plants – his body is totally buried in the sand and only his two little eyes are exposed. They can see he tracks in the sand and follow him to the bush where he is buried.  The “Palmato Gecko” was interesting.  It’s web feet are like sand shovels.  It burrows tunnels under the sand. The poisonous “white lady spider” was not easy to find, but our guides knew just what to look for and where to look.  If any sand was disturbed in anyway, or if they saw the smallest of tracks, they knew what to find.  These guys were good!!

Swakopmund from the Dunes

Blind Sand-Diving Lizard

Location of Palmato Gecko Hiding in the sand

Palmato Gecko

Returning to the sand

Dollar Shrub

Notice the Dollar shaped leaves

Poisonous White Lady Spider

Notice her eight eyes
The “tok-tokkie beetle” which is shaped so they catch water as it runs off its back, is full of water, so this is a great source of water for the chameleon who does not get moisture in any other way.  You would see the beetles running on the sand and the guides caught 3 beetles and kept them in a jar until we found the chameleon disguised in the bushes.  The guide took one beetle at a time out of the jar and held it in front of the chameleon.  After the chameleon felt comfortable with this arrangement he stuck out his looong tongue and grabbed the beetle from the fingers of the guide.  They fed all three beetles to the chameleon. 

They looked for a scorpion, but did not find one this morning.  These tours always go in the morning, as by afternoon the winds are blowing the sand.  After finding the animals, off we went on a 4x4 drive across the dunes.  We noted the tires on the vehicle were somewhat deflated.

Shovel Snouted Lizard - can run around 40 km/hr

A view of the dunes

Four wheeling through the dunes

Buried Sidewinding Snake - Can you find his head

Poisonous Sidewinder Snake

Namaga Chameleon

Chameleon ready to eat a tok-tokkie Beetle

Boarding down the dunes

4x4 in the dunes

It was an extremely interesting morning, after which we went to Café Anton for coffee/tea and a sweet - our lunch.  Before we returned to the Guesthouse we went to the Kristall Galerie.  This is both a museum and sales room for gems found/mined in Namibia.  It was interesting, but no money was spent other than entrance fees for the museum. 

The route we chose to walk on our way back to the Guesthouse was by the beach.  Interestingly there are no sea shells – no beach combing! The water is indeed very cold – you can tell by the wind coming off the water – you do not need to touch it!!  After you walk several blocks away from the beach, you already notice how much warmer it is. This temperature difference is amazing!! 

Tonight we have reservations at the Brauhaus – it will be a good German meal. The number of German tourist in the area is also amazing.  You can hear them speaking German or if they speak English you can tell by the accent.

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