Driving through Damaraland

Not only our day starts with breakfast, apparently the day starts the same for Rock Dassies! An entire family was feasting in the green gras and the greenish trees surrounding the lodge in the early morning sun. If only they could enjoy the scenery like we do!

It is moving day for us, and we are destined to drive only a small distance through Damaraland to Palmwag, starting at Twyfelfontein. As we didn’t have time to do the things to do around here, we have them scheduled for today. Palmwag is a really deserted place, with only the lodge in the wide vicinity. So, off we were to the Burnt Mountain, the Organ Pipes, the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings and finally the Petrified Forest.

Not all destinations are as envigorating as their names would make you believe, the Burnt Mountain is a really dark oversized hill and the Organ Pipes are an odd geological phenomenon where long vertical rocks were formed and are now exposed as a rives ate through them. The other two destinations can only be visited with a guide, and we started at the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings. The region has been inhabited by the San people for thousands of years, and the engravings found at the site are estimated to be between 2000 and 6000 years old. Yes, really, really old. They are chiselled out of the soft sandstone rock, and do not fade like the paintings in Australia. As such, the are really well preserved and look very accurate. They depict the animals the bush people hunted, and include oddities such as a Seal, a Penguin and a Flamingo. Mind you, we are in the middle of a desert here, the sea is 150km in a straight line away. The San have seen those animals during the hunting and salt gathering trips, and created the pictures to show others what they’ve seen. This site is a World Heritage site, and has been since 2007, so it’s only a young addition to that list.

The official Petrified Forest has logs washed down in a giant flood 280 million years ago, which started somewhere north of Angola. They are Pine logs, which didn’t grow in Namibia back then, but were only found a few thousand kilometres north. That must’ve been a gargantuan flood! Several unofficial Petrified Forests can be found along the road the the official one, but we were advised to visit the state supported one as the others are usually villagers trying to gain money off of naive tourists. Our guide did not speak highly of them, and applauded us for choosing the official one. Yeah, right. 😉

We also had a setback today, as the left front tire blew out and had to be switched. This was done quickly, but it left us without a spare tire in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Also, cell phone reception is spotty, so getting hold of someone at the rental company proved to be difficult. We finally managed, and had to call back on Monday to get accurate directions on where to go to get a new tire. So, more tomorrow!