Besides the odd strange visitor like yours truly, the desert is home to some fascinating creatures. Creatures highly skilled in desert survival. Snakes. Lizards. Spiders. Scorpions. Chameleons. And I am sure I caught a glimpse of a Fremen from Frank Herbert’s masterpiece Dune.
Surviving in the deadly inhospitable desert requires centuries of finely honed skills. As much as I like to call desert home, reality is I would not last long! At dawn and dusk the desert is the most magical place on this planet. At noon it is a harsh hot deadly inhospitable place where sand temperatures can easily reach 75 degrees and the sun kills you by dehydration. You do not notice at first because you do not sweat much, there is no moisture and the warm wind and sun evaporates the sweat from your skin. You do not realise you are loosing precious water, you just taste the dry desert in your mouth. You are getting killed by the desert! I can pretend I am a Fremen, call desert home all day long but I would die in an instant compared to the experts of the desert! Experts that fortunately I managed to get a few photos of:
Classic windswept dunescape, just outside Swakopmund. I am sure there is a Fremen here!
Sidewinder snake. Small highly venomous 30cm long desert adapted snake. Buries itself in the sand and waits for prey. Sidewinding movement not only means it can climb sand dunes it also means the least amount of skin touch the warm sand during forward movement.
Web footed gecko. Practically transparent as it has no pigment in the skin, rather unpractical for a desert creature. 20 seconds of sun kills it right away. So it adapts and buries itself in the sand using webby feet and only comes out at night.
Photographer (me), pretending to be a Fremen at the ‘Moon Landscape’ outside Swakopmund, now to be renamed Flemming’s Mars Landscape as this looks much more like Mars!
I shot the snake and gecko images on a trip with a wildlife expert who spots the tracks and finds the animals in the dunes. You have little chance of spotting these yourself unless you step on a buried sidewinder. We found 4 sidewinder in one morning, as I am a big snake lover I was very thrilled and very happy to get some snakes in the wild shots! I am impressed by their speed, I was running up a dune next to it trying to keep up, focus, compose and shoot while not tripping over my own legs. Great fun!
Same wildlife expert told me that once the sun in Namibia has burned your skin, you are hooked. Addicted. Gotta come back. Soon. I believe it. Happened to me. Addicted. Hooked. Gotta come back! Soon! Magic of the Namib. Namib Dreaming. And I still have hundreds of desert images to develop and show you from this first trip! Capturing the African desert is my new project!
- Africa is not for sissies! Neither is African Rugby. Was watching a rugby game at Jo’burg airport and 9:54 minutes into the rugby game (a game where players larger than Hulk crash into each other at full speed protected only by much-too-small T-shirts and shorts) two players have already been seriously injured.
- Africa is not for sissies! You can only really rely on your family and friends so there is a very tight bond and people really help each other. In many ways it’s good, you have to really take control of your own life. No expecting society to do everything for you. There are downsides of course. Government and Police can be an up and down experience. Public transport is your feet. Another police story I heard is a person calling in a crime and the officer on the phone says “Can’t help, I don’t know that street”. The person has to explain that “it is the same street your police station is on, you’re in the street already!!!!”
- My escape from the next Danish Winter may very well be to a Namibian farm, family of my friend, where I have been offered work. Something I may seriously do! Stay tuned as this blog switches from landscape photography to tutorials on farming and feeding farm animals!