Man was born in the desert. Desert is home. The words are Bruce Chatwin, I heartily agree with him. No landscape could be more alien to a Danish farm boy like yours truly and yet at the same time be so fascinating and possess a strange power. Desert is home.
I have just spent 4 days in the Namib desert. I am lost for words. To say it’s magical does not come close. I have never seen nor experienced anything like this. Even the vast outback of Australia seems a little smaller, a little less empty. The Namib desert is the oldest in the world with the largest sand dunes, up to 400 meters tall and it does truly boggle the mind to see these. But as spectacular as the dunes are, they are just one part of the whole Namib desert experience.
Space. There is so much space. So much it does not really fit in my brain. The sky seems a million kilometres away. Horizon is always at infinity with perhaps the odd tree or mountain in the far far distance. So much space. Composing an image here, even on a 17mm wide angle, is like attempting to fit the universe in a shoebox. So much space. Not Into The Wild but Into The Nothing as seen here:
We drove from Swakopmund to the sand dunes of Sossusvlei for a 3 night bush camp. On the map it does not look like much. In reality it is a 8 hour 360 kilometre road trip on bone rattling corrugated roads through the most incredible ever changing desert country. Sometimes a moon landscape, sometimes ancient mountains, sometimes wide open desert plains with perhaps a herd of springbok. So much space. Namibia is a huge country with a population of only 2 million. So much space. You could easily loose the entire country of Denmark in the desert and never find it again. You could also easily loose yourself. So much space!
Our mode of transport was a Nissan 4WD work pickup truck, no fancy frills, all performance. Our trusty truck had no air con, with the windows open we could truly feel and taste the desert, the dust and the hot wind adding to the experience. If Namibia the country has a flavour it is the warm dry dust of the desert. We named the car Nissi and she runs like a tractor. Bit rough, but tough (‘we breed ‘em tough here, Africa is not for sissies’ – a popular saying) and she never let us down (she did blow a tire and ran hot but not her fault!)
I really am lost for words and also time, so for now I’ll just leave you with a few very quickly developed jpeg previews from Namib Naukluft National Park. Shooting here was a fantastic experience and difficult, will be the topic of many a forthcoming blog post. The Canon 5D Mk II performed perfectly and I seem to just attract good light and interesting clouds at the moment!
Sunrise at one of the thousands of dunes; we were lucky to get clouds
A lone oryx walks proudly in front of the dunes
Dead tree at Deadvlei on a morning with extraordinary cloudscapes. I was so lucky this morning, nice soft light, beautiful clouds where as the norm is boiling hot harsh light from a blue sky.
And lastly, me & my shadow at work in the dunes. No I am not scratching my head!
- Spare batteries for the Canon 5D Mk II are impossible to find, so it’s fortunate that the battery performance is brilliant. Managed over 1000 shots on a single charge!
- In the desert we were stopped by a Namibian police officer. He was lost. An accident had been reported, 150 km out of Swakopmund towards Windhoek (which was not the road we were on). Had we seen the accident he asked (no you’re on the wrong road). Oh and did we have mobile reception because he didn’t (no of course we didn’t either and I can’t believe he doesn’t have a sat phone). And had we seen his mate in another police car because he had lost him as well by outrunning him (no to that as well). My friend had to show him a map and really spell out directions for him. He thanked us and we drove on, a few minutes later we met his mate, the other police car, coming towards us, and a few minutes after that, the ambulance. I hope the people in the car crash were ok or dead or they’d be suffering for a long time. My friend tells me that was an insight into how the government can work here. Oh btw the amount of idiots doing 120 km/h on the corrugated dirt road are staggering. No wonder there are accidents!
- Forgot my torch. I own 2 expensive torches and forgot them both. A torch is the essential item for camping, can’t believe I forgot them. Bloody city boy I am turning out to be!
- Namibian mozzies are stealthy bastards. Don’t hear them. Don’t feel them. Until you wake up with 10 new bites! Promptly installed a mozzie net over my sleeping bag on day 2 but still slept outside under a million stars, the only way to camp!
- Hospitality and friendliness of my Namibian friends, the family Eckleben is overwhelming. I can only offer a million thanks. I am now installed in my own house in Swakopmund and have my own bicycle to get around (incidentally also runs and feels like a tractor!). I truly am Bicycle Repair Man – a select few will know what I mean.
And sorry for lack of responses! I am online very little, so no emails etc. at the moment and few updates. Actually it’s nice to be offline for a while, kick the internet drug for a bit. Concentrate on photos and experiences. See ya!