Day 274, Thursday 04 October 2012 – Spaar Farm, Namibia
Today was one of those days, when everything was awesome. I could have spent a day in Dead Flei alone, easy!
I took half a sleeping pill for the first time in a long while last night and slept like a dead man for six hours, fabulous ! Even with the pre-dawn start I still felt OK and was up and on the truck nice and early along with everyone else at 5:20 AM – we were warned in the pre-trip notes that there would be some early starts.
The reason for the early start was to get to Dune 45 for sunrise. Dune 45 is one of the larger dunes in the Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. Dune 45 is the only dune open to the public to ensure the dunes are kept clean and tidy. There is nothing special about the naming of the dune, it is just the 45th one in the series. It is a magnificent dune !
The rising sun was pretty spectacular as we climbed up the spine of the dune to take photos. There were a large number of other people on the dune also watching the sunrise, including a very grumpy old man with a walking pole who would not stand aside to let people pass, forcing us slipping and sliding down the side of the dune, wrecking the lovely clean lines.
The dune was pretty special and the views were cool, but I just loved the trees the most. They are camel thorns, which are the only trees able to grow in the area, their roots go down as far as 80 metres to look for water. I took a lot of photos of the few trees scattered around the dune.
While we were yomping about on the dune Ibron was preparing the first cooked breakfast of the trip, there was bacon, sausage and eggs and coffee – lovely stuff.
After breakfast we made our way to the car park at Dead Flei to wait for the parks four wheel drive vehicle to come and collect us, it was a bit of push and shove to get on as there were a lot of people waiting and only a couple of vehicles. Our group had to do a gang charge on a vehicle just to get on ! A flei is a marsh, there is an underground river that surfaces every now and then and it used to pass by Dead Flei until a giant dune blocked its path and the river moved a kilometre to Soussusflei.
As the air is so hot and dry with a harsh drying wind to add to the fun there is no bacteria to aid in decomposition, the dead trees here are over 900 hundred years old. To say I LOVED Dead Flei is a massive understatement, it was absolutely stunning, the clouds above were amazing and the light was moody, perfect. I went straight to the far end of the flei and had to wait a bit for the more stupidly dressed (bright orange and red) people to leave before I took some shots. I was surprised to find I had a large chunk of the site to myself for quite a while, and shooting at 16mm meant I was up close to the trees. The trees are just so cool, I just loved them to pieces and the background was just superb, added with that moody light it was a photographers dream. Sadly I had a bit of crap on my sensor so all my shots have a dot on them, I have badly cloned it out on these ones.
I was dragged kicking and screaming away from Dead Flei and we walked on over to Soussusflei 1.1km away. Soussusflei was not as interesting, but the dunes were cool and the water allowed for some good reflections.
We were lucky in that the tractor and trailer arrived to take us back to the carpark soon after we were done otherwise it was going to be a long wait in the sun.
We went back to the campsite for lunch and to pack up the tents before heading off for our next stop in the ‘town’ of Solitaire. Solitaire is basically a petrol station and shop and a cafe run by Moose Macgregor. Moose has been here for many years and has been made famous on a couple of TV programs for his apple crumble. He bakes 100-150 kilos a day and it was damn good – as was the much welcomed coffee. Once you engage Moose in a chat, prepare to spend some time….
There is also a great collection of rusting old car bodies outside and I could have spent a bit of time there taking photos, it was a lot of fun.
An accidental hi-key shot, but I really like it.
I said it was a shame they had stopped recording the rainfall this year on Mar 27 – and was advised they hadn’t, it just hasn’t rained since then!
It was just a great place to walk around.
On the way to our camp site for the day at Spaar Farm we saw a couple of road side ostriches so had to stop for a quick snap, not the best, but the first ostriches in shooting distance, and you never know there may not be another opportunity.
We arrived in Spaar Farm late in the afternoon, we were originally scheduled to do a tour of the farm but it was getting late and the Nomad truck people were still on their tour and we ended up with a bit of time to ourselves so I wandered around and took some photos in the late afternoon sun before joining Will, our driver for a couple of beers in the bar.
The camp-site is great, there are only three camp spots and they are a reasonable distance apart, it was quite dusty on the site with a strong wind so we had to peg the tents down for a change.
It was such a good day !