An Ongoing Journey through Africa & The Middle East [PIC HEAVY!]

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  • captnemocaptnemo Depth defying Posts: 166Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 3, 2013
    Prezwoodz wrote: »
    The island is also covered in some very cool birds. Anyone know what kind of bird this is?

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    The bird version of "What the heck?"

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    And then, "oh its just you."

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    Disappointed he didn't eat the bird? Ya, I was too.

    That's a yellow billed stork (mycteria Ibis) (I cheated, I asked my dad, after 40 years in Africa he knew what it was.
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 3, 2013
    ian - every now and then I feel like a local.

    nemo - Thanks! We wondered if that was it.
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 6, 2013
    Ok I was sitting here rueing this post a bit. Mainly because it's going to be such an undertaking! Oh well, here we go!

    My last post ended in the middle of our first day in Etosha National Park. Which is going to encompass a ton of photos so I won't commentary them all!

    Giraffe

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    There were lots of Giraffe at this watering hole.

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    The funniest thing you will find at a water hole is a giraffe drinking. They get real close and then splay their legs out and bend down to the water. Then when they are done its a big wet slurp.

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    Most of the terrain in Etosha is flat great visibility. If it's standing, you'll probably see it.

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    Sometimes if it is laying down as well.

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    Oh and this is a Gemsbock, they are beautiful!

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    When we were at Kruger National Park we would head to the watering holes where there would occasionaly be animals. The problem there is that they have a lot of water located in the rivers and so the watering holes are not always so populated. In Etosha, you can easily just drive to a watering hole and wait the day away watching what comes to drink.

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    Its just amazing to watch everything come and go. In a few minutes the scenery changes to a whole new set of animals.

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    And they don't always get along. For example, this angry little warthog.

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    He went after everyone.

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    Not everyone was fighting.

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    A Kudu, it seems impossible for hunters to look at this animal without making a gun with their hand and pretend shooting at it.

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    This gal wanted to jump in and surprised everyone.

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    Springbok

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    Lots of them...

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    We were going on one of our normal drives, where we would leave the camp and be gone until the gate closed, when we ran into this guy. We came around the corner and he was walking directly toward us. I waited until he got pretty close then backed up until he decided to head off the road. That is really intimidating!

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    We went to another watering hole and found some elephants. That always makes Shasta happy. If you ever have a problem with an elephant, DONT honk your horn. It sounds like the babies to them and they will rip your car open trying to find them.

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    The elephant equivalent of NO PICTURES!! NO PICTURES!!

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    As we rushed to make it to the camp in time, if you don't get there when the gate closes it is a big fine, we found a Hyena eating a turtle! Definitely worth some pictures.

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    This is what the drive back to camp looked like.

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    Short intermission!
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 6, 2013
    Ok where was I.

    Our first night in Etosha we stayed at Numatoni Camp. There are three camps within the park all spelled incorrectly by me as: Numatoni, Halali, and Okakuhejo.

    We woke up the next morning to try and see some lions or another leopard. Instead it was a quiet morning at the water hole with some endangered black-face impala.

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    It was our first experience of seeing an Eland, which is Southern Africas biggest antelope.

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    Etosha Pan is well known for its mirages.

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    Zebra are not always nice!

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    Here a springbok is pronking. Its what they call it when they bound along.

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    This amazing and small mammal is called a damara dik-dik. They have very large eyes.

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    While we were in Zambia we met a few people who lived in Africa. One of them was named Longinus. He lived in a small village north of Oshakati in the northern areas of Namibia. He invited us to his house and we took him up on it. It was quite the experience! Here, i believe it was one of his cousins, is grinding the marula nut into a paste which was added to some oil. It was then added to chicken and pap (which is almost like a heavy paste of grits.)

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    In these areas the whole family lives in one "village" which is enclosed by a wall. This is where we stayed.

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    Here is Longi and his grandmum. Who seemed pretty spry. When we arrived we gave her a loaf of bread as a gift and had learned the proper way to greet with respect in their language. It went like this.

    Walala po meme?
    Ehh
    Nawa?
    Ehh

    It is basically like saying:

    How are you?
    Good
    You are good?
    Good

    Only with respect.

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    Because she was so happy with our gift and that they had visitors, we were given a live chicken.

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    Shasta was told to carry it back to our side of the village.

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    We took it back where Shasta and Longi's mom killed it and pulled the feathers. A few hours later we were eating it with our crushed marula nut oil. Delicious!

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    The view from our room, also the fire and dining area of the previous night.

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    Nature.

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    They use their crops for many uses.

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    Heres a little story I forgot about that previous day. We had tried to get into Angola. We previously hadn't planned on it but Longi said he liked to go up there and that it wouldn't be a problem, so we decided to try. We pulled into the lot and instantly got hassled by a few guys who were even making Longi uncomfortable. We walked into the customs office where the customs guy yelled at us "Watch those men! They are trying to rob you!" In the end it was a fruitless venture, as you need to apply for a visa ahead of time to get into Angola. Oh well, next time!

    That morning after being in the village we stopped at a street vendor and ate Copani. Which is just beef. The red in the upper portions of this image is where they are cutting it right from the cow. Now that is fresh! And it was amazingly delicious!

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    We dropped Longi off at his work in Ondongwa and then headed back for Etosha National Park. Two days there was simply not enough! So here's a bunch more pictures of animals!

    Goshawk

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    I believe this is a Large spotted Genet. It was hard to tell has he was hiding.

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    I had no idea that elephants rest their legs this way.

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    Sometimes spotting game in the park was a real trick!

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    Other times, it was impossible to miss.

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    You stay on your side...and I'll stay on mine.

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    The sunset routine is something like this : Just keep taking pictures, you are guaranteed to get something good.

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    We stayed that night at Onguma Lodge, as we had before. It was a great place and we were happy to return for our cheap camping. The sign had some odd advice however...

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    The next morning it was back to driving around. These days of driving the park are great but they have one huge drawback. For the most part you are never allowed to get out of the vehicle unless you are at a camp. That includes just stretching your legs. Here's part of the reason why...

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    And they do get close.

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    They were eating something and the Jackals were wanting in on it.

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    Random Zeb.

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    Steenbok

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    Red Hartebeest

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    Zebra's...reflected in a Zebra eye.

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    Laying down on the job.

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    And that is all I have uploaded for the moment! Tonight I am going to set it to upload and hopefully I have much more to post tomorrow. I have my favorite lion photos of the entire trip still to come!! Thanks for reading!
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 6, 2013
    Damn! What a collection of animals!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkPosts: 50,151Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 7, 2013
    Bravo!! You really had a great time, eh? Loving the photos, well done.
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 7, 2013
    This is going to be a big post. I apologize for those of you who have a bandwidth limit.

    Remember earlier when I said we stayed on the Okavango? I finally got those pictures up. So here hey are!

    This is a view from our tent.

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    Crocs and Hippos live in those waters.

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    Perfects evenings.

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    We managed to find a place on Etosha Pan where you could drive onto the pan and actually get out of the vehicle. So we stayed a while and played around.

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    These are my feet. And this is what they look like since I arrived in Africa.

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    We jumped around a lot too. We don't get out of the car much so we took advantage.

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    Alas, we had to continue the drive.

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    Ravens.

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    More Jackals.

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    We were getting ready to head back to our camping area but figured we had enough time to check out one more watering hole. As I was driving down the road I spotted something sitting under a tree. It was a lion!! Finally!! We quickly slowed down and pull right up next to the lions as they were hanging out under the tree in the parking area.

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    There were two females and a big male.

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    I was very excited to finally get such close up pictures of wild lions!

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    As I was taking the shot above Shasta followed the females gaze and out of the trees walked 4 females and 3 cubs! We felt incredibly lucky to see 10 lions at once and we were right in the middle of them.

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    We looked out eachothers windows and snapped hundreds of pictures. The lions under the tree were less then 15 feet from our car while the others were on the other side at the watering hole.

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    Theres a lot of lion pictures...but I was so excited to take them that now I have to post them!

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    This little one was getting a little to close to the water.

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    So this one came and dragged it off.

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    This one was just watching. It's interesting because I really should have put my lens hood on but I liked the effect so much I just went with it. At time's its a bit much but overall, I'm happy.

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    The big male tried to mount a few females and then he walked around our car and gave us a good view from a different angle.

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    Had enough lion pictures yet? No? Oh good, me neither...

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    Okay I'll end this lion experience with the money shot. Color or black and white? I can't choose.

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    Okay, that was a ridiculous amount of lions! We drove back to our campsite, coming in a few minutes late due to a big bull elephant in the road who nearly charged a camper truck, and woke to another beautiful day. We were excited to see if the lions were still there so we went back to our water hole. I think it was spelled something like Neaumses. The lions were still there but they had moved off further away.

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    This bird was there too.

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    As were the Guineafowl. Because they are everywhere...

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    We continued to another watering hole, Reitfontein, and pulled up to find another 4 lions. These were further off but how lucky could we get!

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    To say there were a lot of animals at this watering hole would be a huge understatement. They were all a little skiddish.

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    So were just about to leave, figuring we've seen all the lions we will see for the rest of Africa. Then two big males come walking out of the bushes.

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    And now everything is acting a little more nervous.

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    After a while we decided to take a drive to find wild dogs. Which we wouldn't...so don't anyone get any hopes up because from what I have seen in pictures, they are unbearably cute. But we did find giraffe bones.

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    And the squirrel species called Chuck Norris Squirrels, on account of their giant nuts.

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    But there was someone nearby trying to take him on.

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    Yellow Mongoose, big carrier or rabies. How unfortunate for such a pretty weasel.

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    Okay, so were counting ourselves extremely lucky to have seen 16 lions in just two days. Were heading back and we decide to go to a place called Oliphant something or another (If you are really curious, I'll look it up proper). Once we arrive we see another lion. This is just getting to much!

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    What is he looking at? Oh, of course, its another male lion walking out of the bushes. He came right from where we were two seconds ago!

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    And behind him is another male. Thats 3 big males at this one watering hole!

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    Would you want to be attacked by this? Seriously, stay in your car.

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    That was a lot of lions. 19 lions in 24 hours. It was time to head back for our last nights stay in Etosha.

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    It was finally time to leave Etosha. I have to say I am sad to have to leave! I could spend another week in there driving around and seeing all those amazing animals. But there is a lot more country to see. So we continued our drive and stopped in a town who's name has escape me. We decided to go to a small crocodile farm and check it out.

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    They had lots of crocs at different sizes. Especially hungry ones.

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    We continued the really long drive toward Spitzkoppe but didn't quite make it before dark. We stopped at a place called Buschhotel and instantly Shasta and I fell in love with the place. We were the only ones there and it was an amazingly quiet, clean, safe, place.

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    If you go there, make sure you get room #3, it was the coolest room and only $50 per night for two people. We still camped, hey $16 is hard to beat, but we really wanted to do the room. But we are also pretty much out of money and coasting through Africa at this point! Just saving enough for gas and accommodation.

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    Dining on swinging tables.

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    Seeing weird trees.

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    A very german house and building. Reception is in there.

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    And then we arrive at the most awesome campsite yet and area. Oh and some rock climbing for those itching for some out of the car adventure!

    It's the Spitzkoppe!

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    This is our campsite, there are bolted climbs on those rocks behind our tent. It took 5 seconds to get to or first climb of the trip.

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    This was a view to the right of our tent.

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    And from straight out.

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    This is the Spitzkoppe form the "easy" side.

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    Whew, that may be enough for tonigh. We'll see!
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 7, 2013
    I'm really digging the sunset pics. Spectacular. And the wildlife? That's pretty awesome too...you guys are doing awesome!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • DonFischerDonFischer Major grins Posts: 128Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 9, 2013
    The place I've always had a passion to go hunting has been Africa. But older now and still want to go but do all my shooting with a camera. A brother and his son recently got back from a photo safari there and sounds like they brought back in the neighborhood of 25,000 photo's. Going there next weekend and start looking at them.

    This is one of the best post's I've ever seen! Don't care for cities much but the shot's in UAE were great! It's amazing as you drive around how a lot or most of the older areas have so much to photograph. Easy to drive by it.

    Great post!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • coldclimbcoldclimb Outside the Lines Posts: 1,169Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 10, 2013
    Okay this needs to go to the next page, cause it took me a long time to load this time. How many more replies do we need? Keep the photos coming though.

    (Edit: Ah, perfect!)

    Oh, and we climbed in the rain in Hatchers today for the first time this summer, but then it dried up. You're missing a good one.
    John Borland
    www.morffed.com
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 17, 2013
    Thanks Everyone for the posts!

    John - Just a few days ago we did the largest commercial bungy jump in the world. I may not be there, but I'm not missing it much! hehe

    We’ve spent the last week attempting to get internet and its been a total failure for the most part. We got just enough to reply to some emails and that’s been it. We finally get a place that has internet and they forgot to pay their bill on time, so its been shut off and they estimate 6 hours before its on. Sometime around 2am. Which is the usual speed for anything to get done here in Africa, or as they would say “just now-now.”

    Sometimes this is how things must be done in a country where you are not supposed to leave your hostel at night. I am writing this into Microsoft word, then I will transfer it later to the net and insert pictures there. Not always the easiest, but sometimes it is what works!

    So, I think we were just getting to the Spitzkoppe? Well we didn’t waste any time and climbed a few routes our first day. Although I didn’t take any pictures of that climbing. It had been so long since we got on some real rock we were actually feeling pretty rusty and spent the day finding out how to move again. But where better then in the mountains to find a groove again!

    Climbing in the Spitzkoppe is excellent. The rock is a very sticky granite much like Joshua Tree and there were plenty of fun sport lines on the massive boulders around the camping areas. Still, we wanted to climb something bigger. The guidebook quickly let us know that we would need two 60 meter ropes for almost any descent (we only had one) and trad gear was preferred (which we didn’t have). So it was slim pickens on the big routes. We decided on just doing a hike/scramble up a peak called Pontok 3, the nice big dome in this picture. There is an excellent looking trad line up the middle of the face.

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    We started our hike on a ridge and found the travel to be fairly easy.

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    We trudged on through some cactus and large boulder hopping that reminded us of home and Hatcher Pass in Alaska. The final portion of the hike is the best, it is easy 5th class scrambling up to the summit over slightly exposed faces with excellent views.

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    The mountains in Namibia seem to come from nowhere and suddenly rise to the clouds.

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    On top we found a rather old and nice summit register. There was even an entry from someone who carried their 8 month old to the top!

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    There are some really fun climbs on this section. Approaches are minimal.

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    At the end of the small road is a camping site. One of the many nestled amongst the rocks.

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    Local plant life taking over.

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    We decided to do some climbing on the formation that I showed in the picture above. At this time we were pretty tired after the hike. Especially since we had been sitting in the car for the last month taking pictures out the window! But it was great to be getting back into it. Shasta didn’t feel quite as confident on this one however.

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    It included moves like shoving yourself into a bulge head first and seeing if you could get out. Very awkward!

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    Then more fun moves to some bigger holes and another spot to shove yourself into.

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    Then a thank god jug and all is well!

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    Sort of…

    But the approach was brutal. It took at least 5 seconds. But that was only because I parked so far away.

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    Many of the formations can be easily scrambled to the top for excellent nighttime viewing.

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    They also have some cool arches!

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    Shasta kissing a shadow.

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    And heres is a few more of the arch…because they can be quite beautiful.

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    I believe this is the tallest mountain in Namibia, Brandenberg Peak.

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    More Spitzkoppe Peak.

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    Some night time fun.

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    Pontok’s 2,3, and 4

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    The Rhino’s horn. Awesome! (John, are you thinking what I am thinking?)

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    By our final day our fingers were feeling quite tender from the very solid granite. So we decided on an incredibly easy (South African Rating 15) 3 pitch route up this lower face.

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    I got to the bottom and once again discovered I had left my climbing shoes at the car. It was fine though because I was wearing my New Balance Minimus shoes and they sure seem to grip the rock well!

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    Although to be honest some of the slabby sections seemed a bit steep for those shoes, and the 15 -20 foot runouts in a few sections made me feel a little nervous. But all went well. Shasta seemed to be enjoying it too.

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    A lot of not-yet-polished rock that reminded me very much of Tuoulmne Meadows.

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    It was a quick walk down and back to the car. One more shot of the face and the surrounding area.

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    As sad as we were to leave, it had to be done. There is still so much to see and our 4 days in the Spitzkoppe gave us a good light introduction. It was time to head to the coast!

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    Swakopmund is on the coast of Namibia and was highly recommended as a place to visit. When we got there it was mainly foggy and damp. It stayed that way the whole time we were there, but it was nice to see some water again. The first thing we did was visit a gems gallery where they housed the Worlds Largest Quartz Crystal on Display. It was pretty huge.

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    We only had a short time in Swakopmund so we decided on a boat and 4x4 tour that would be around 6 or 7 hours. The boat tour was interesting and included interactions where the seal would swim into the boat and then walk around. You could feed it by hand. There were a lot of them.

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    There were also a lot of very friendly pelicans which would land in the boat and then walk around looking for fish handouts.

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    They had very colorful red eyes!

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    Is that enough pictures of Pelicans? Probably....

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    But since they were posing so nicely. Here's just one more!

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    We also saw dolphins.

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    And Pelicans! Oh wait...

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    Get out of here pelicans...were on to dolphins now.

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    As you can tell by the weather it was a bit cold! Who knew we would be cold in Namibia?

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    We were in Walvis Bay which is apparently world famous for oysters. Here are some oyster farms.

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    They are very proud of their oysters and say they are less slimy and more meaty. I didn't notice to much difference but I'm not that well versed in oysters.

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    What is that....?

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    Ok guys seriously?! You had your turn pelicans...ok that is pretty cool.

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    Oh and there were seals. But we would see many more of those later.

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    And Humpback whales. A very active day for wildlife!

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    We then landed back on shore and hopped into a land rover with a few other people to be driven to Sandwich Bay which, we had heard, was supposed to be excellent. On the side of the road were flamingos! I had been wanting to see flamingos this entire time! So here's a bunch of pictures of them.

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    Greater and lesser flamingo's!

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    That should be enough for now! I was going to post more but just found out that I don't have any of the next photos online! Somehow I uploaded some from later but missed those. Double darn!

    Hopefully I can post some more soon!
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 17, 2013
    The Pelicans look pink. Very cool!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 17, 2013
    Thank you John for bumping this to the next page because this page is going to be ridiculous.

    Finally the hostel got its internet running again. Time for a big post.


    My last picture was of flamingo's.

    Our drive continued from a paved road to a dirt road, then a salt road, then something consisting of sand which resembled a road. Namibia is one of the only places in the world where the sand dunes meet the ocean and it was this sight that I most wanted to see on the 4x4 trip.

    As was normal with our Swakop trip, the clouds obscured most of the view.

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    But when the clouds opened.......it was an incredible sight.

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    Behind Shasta as she climbs the sand dune, is the Atlantic Ocean.

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    And there are so many!

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    The sand dunes further inland are much more red (pictures of these later) because the dunes contain iron, which has further oxidized at that point. Now it's fresh and a bright orange.

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    Sandwich Harbor

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    Awesome shapes.

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    The atlantic ocean, Sandwich Bay, and the sand dunes of the Namibian desert.

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    More shapes, and iron deposits.

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    Shasta giving thanks to the mountain gods.

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    Then trying to fly, because that's what we do off of every dune!

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    I like this one.

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    But this ones great!

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    On our drive back our guide took use driving across the dunes and we parked on top of this one. The dunes in Namibia are the tallest in the world. It's amazing how they sweep down so steeply.

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    But there is life out there.

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    We decided to do something I've wanted to do since I was a kid. Visit the Skeleton Coast! I mean, who didn't want to when they first heard about it? Right away we come across a wreck. While it wasn't an especially old one, it was helping give name to the coast.

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    We continued along the coast which is wide open, with some hills and mountains off into the distance. The scene is barren and seems lifeless. But along the coast, this is anything but true!

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    This is the Cape Seal Colony. It's huge, smelly, and noisy!

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    But, as with all the other animals, here's a bombardment of photos!

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    Oh it smelled so bad....

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    You could not pay me enough to club one of these baby seals....How could anyone do that?!

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    Except that one....he's scary.

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    And mean!

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    But some are so cute! Here is Shasta being daring.

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    They love the water too.

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    And talking back.

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    And synchronized land movements .

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    But not fishing line...think about that before you toss your excess line in the ocean!

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    We stayed the night about 108km down the Skeleton Coast and the next morning drove back toward civilization. Along the way we saw Meerkats! Another animal I had been wanting to see! It was quick, but they posed just long enough for a shot.

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    That was the end of our fun along the coast of Namibia, it was short but very enjoyable. We decided to drive the paved roads through Windhoek and south to a small town called Sesriem. We could have shaved about 200km from our drive by going along dirt roads, but the risk of flats are high and we wanted to avoid that if possible. Our trip through Windhoek (the largest city in Namibia) wasn't generally unpleasant and after a quick lunch we continued along our way. We did stop just outside the city at a war memorial that was pretty cool. It was being worked on and we parked in the center of the main square. I'm pretty sure that wasn't right but I had no idea where else to park.

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    And the drive continued on. We drove many of these types of days, around 500km or more. This one was over 650km.

    Ol' Bluebear is looking a little rough.

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    Oh and we stopped that night at a place called Hammerstien Lodge. It wasn't exactly what we expected but it was pretty cool. Here is a leopard, her name is Lisa.

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    Had enough leopard photos? No, of course not! It's a Leopard!!

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    And a Caracal! There like really big cats with small heads and big ears.

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    The money shots.

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    Why yes, I would appreciate it if you posed there and looked off into the distance.

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    And nearby was the fastest land mammal.

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    Those eyes make you feel like lunch.

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    And the claws make you feel all minced up.

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    Camouflage.

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    This was Shasta's favorite bird of the trip. The red breasted shrike.

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    Break Time!
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 17, 2013
    I like Shasta's butterfly wings! Awesome thumb.gif
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 18, 2013
    Thanks Ian! I was really happy with them as well!

    This is my last morning in Africa and I am in Durban, SA. This place is known for having over 320 days of sun per year! And over a total of 7 days, we've had 3 days of rain. Doh! Oh well, good for continuing the post!

    After Hammerstein Lodge we continued along the dirt road toward Sesriem and a park area known as Sossusvlei. We had heard great things about this area so we expected much.

    Have you ever seen a picture where you immediately thought "I have to go to that place, and try to take that picture"? Well the picture of Namibia that made me immediately do that was a recent one from a National Geographic Photographer. It was the image here:

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/namibia-park/behind-the-photo

    Now, before I go into these images I'll admit that I wasn't about to get the shot. Not for lack of trying though! But I'll go into that later.

    We arrived in Sesriem and got our campsite all figured out then headed on a drive into the park.

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    These are the red oxidized dunes that I was talking about earlier. This area is considered the oldest desert in the world!

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    The area is very well known for its "vlei's" which are pans of water that dry during the dry season and for its dead trees that are left after the dunes pass over them. Some as long as 600 years ago.

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    The desert was teaming with life.

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    Our first day there we only had a few hours so we took a short 2km hike over the sand to an area called Hidden Vlei. This pan was very quiet and the were the only ones there.

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    AFter the hike, which took longer then we hoped and sure felt like quite the slog, we headed to an iconic dune called Dune 45. Which was really windy!

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    Just taking my camera out in this probably added a new layer of dust to my lens/sensor.

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    But how could I miss out on these views?!

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    Such amazing shapes of beautiful red dunes.

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    And the way they seem to instantly disappear into the valley floor.

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    If you've seen postcards from this area, they probably looked like this, with this dune.

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    We went back to camp and spent the night looking at the stars though our tent, since we had still never used our rainfly. The next morning we were up at 5am to be through the gate by 5:45am when it opened. We drove with a convoy of other cars to the end of the road and paid $10 each to get a drive by 4x4 into the Deadvlei parking area. Unfortunately an unusual mist had settled over the dunes and turned into clouds. But we pressed on.

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    And this is the reason I couldn't get that iconic shot. It was made by waiting for the morning sunlight to fall down the dune until just where it reached the pan. We had even light until well after the sun was up. Oh well, maybe next time!

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    And now we get to the point where there are going to be a lot of images of dead trees and sand dunes. If you really just don't care about them then I urge you to scroll quickly!!

    We decided to hike the biggest dune in Africa, which they claim is the tallest in the world. Not sure about the specifics but we'll go with it even if google doesn't.

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    It's called Big Daddy (seemed like a terrible name for such a feature) and we did our usual antics from the top.

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    Deadvlei from above.

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    This dune is really big! I was very excited to run down at full speed off the tallest dune so I set a timer and ran for it. It felt like it took forever and my legs were exhaused by the end! It was like a full sprint downhill! My clock said 8 seconds but I think it broke. Was more like 20 or 30 I think. Who knowsl but it was awesome!

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    The pan.

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    Shasta all bundled up! Always a smile on her face, best girl in the world!

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    Those tiny dots on top of the dune are people.

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    And then we finally got a little relief from the clouds and the sun decided to make a visit. I was able to shoot some images that made me happy and I was thankful for that.

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    We spent quite a bit of time there.

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    A few other souls climbing their way up Big Daddy.

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    While I didn't get the shot I was aiming for, in some ways I feel we were quite lucky for the weather. It was unusual and that made the shots interesting.

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    See you later Big Daddy and Deadvlei.

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    Breakfast Break!
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 18, 2013
    In an effort to catch up with the country I am in before actually leaving it, here is another post!

    After the dunes we headed into Sesriem Canyon, which felt like a slightly less strong Maple Canyon.

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    It is a popular hike with 0 difficulty.

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    Quite the feature!

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    We spent a few hours in the canyon then continued our drive along random roads in the park. Then we stumbled on something we had previously spent almost an entire day trying to find, bat eared foxes!

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    The cuteness is nearly unbearable.

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    The next day we debated on stopping at an area called Fish River Canyon. Until we had seen the Travel Namibia book we had never even heard of it and how impressive could it be anyway? Well we decided to check it out and wow!

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    I had no idea the second largest canyon in the world was in Namibia.

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    This is a necessary image. Did you know that here in Africa they make cereal that is basically just choco squares filled with nutella?!

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    John, I made this image as an homage to our Grand Canyon trip. Although I can't find that image right now and will have to dig it up later.

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    Then I saw something really awesome to walk!

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    Thanks Shasta for snapping the images!

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    There is an 80km hike through the canyon that I am very much planning on doing next time!

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    This is where it starts.

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    We stayed at a campsite that was 10km away from the rim called Hoba Campsite.

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    That is a huge canyon.

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    The dragon.

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    Our plan was to continue on to a campground called Ai/Ais where they supposedly had hot springs to swim in. We got a flat on the way though and a nice family that stopped to help us told us the place was a real resort fest with way to many people. We decided to check it out and they were completely correct. We got our tire fixed there and drove right on out. The hot springs are swimming pools now. You couldn't tell they were hot springs any more then you could tell they were heated kiddie pools. What a shame. We did see this really cool armored cricket though while waiting for a ride.

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    We decided to push on through to Aussenkehr where the climbing guide had listed some fun looking stuff. The drive was also quite beautiful and our tire patch was holding up well.

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    We stayed at a lodge called Norotoshama Lodge. A totally awesome place! Really great priced camping, with internet, boats to use at no extra cost, and they provide a ride for you to get into the canyon and climb! They didn't even charge us for the ride! Definitely stay there if you get a chance, its right on the Orange River and the fishing is good.

    The next day we headed into Aussenkehr Canyon for some climbing on the oldest rock I think I've ever climbed. It's said to be 2 billion years old.

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    The climbing routes are strictly enforced and you have to talk with the farm manager before any new routes go up. Thats because of the large amount of crappy rock that must be bypassed to find some good routes.

    As you can see here, some of the routes look pretty darn scary! Those blocks are precarious!

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    But it was a really beautiful and quiet place with only two cars going by in the 6 hours we were there climbing.

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    We thoroughly exhausted ourselves by climbing 10 routes as fast as we could and then waited the 10 min we had left for our ride happy as could be.

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    Then headed back to Aussenkehr for our last night in the town.

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    I am going to end this post here because the next day we would be heading back into South Africa and toward more awesome climbing. We were still very much out of climbing shape and the next few days of fun would have our fingers fully tender!
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 18, 2013
    idk what to say. Spectacular? Nah, better than that. The dunes at Sesriem reminded me of parts of Colorado. The oxides really make for colorful photos. Many different views of the dunes, I especially liked the trees at Big Daddy. Those remind me of Bristlecone Pines-which have seen so much time go by. And the scale of the place! Especially the people on top of the dunes.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • AkzukeAkzuke Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited July 18, 2013
    Wicked pics
    Nice pics prez, Looks like an awesome journey!
  • coldclimbcoldclimb Outside the Lines Posts: 1,169Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 18, 2013
    Love the desert shots. Gotta frame a couple of those!
    John Borland
    www.morffed.com
  • jasonstonejasonstone Fire& Grin-stone Posts: 735Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 19, 2013
    I couldn't resist I had to go and check out a couple of the other 500+ photos from each location on your smugmug account thumb.gif

    looks like you're travelling heavy when it comes to camera gear - f2.8 70mm, f2.8 200mm, 400mm shots - what did you pack for your trip and do you carry it all the time? the benefits of using a car I suppose...
  • coldclimbcoldclimb Outside the Lines Posts: 1,169Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 19, 2013
    jasonstone wrote: »
    I couldn't resist I had to go and check out a couple of the other 500+ photos from each location on your smugmug account thumb.gif

    looks like you're travelling heavy when it comes to camera gear - f2.8 70mm, f2.8 200mm, 400mm shots - what did you pack for your trip and do you carry it all the time? the benefits of using a car I suppose...

    Jason: This is Kelsey on one of our photo excursions, hunting sheep. mwink.gif

    Edit-25-L.jpg
    John Borland
    www.morffed.com
  • CuongCuong SoCal grins Posts: 1,515Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 20, 2013
    Just awesome, and those dune shots bowdown.gif

    Cuong
    "She Was a Little Taste of Heaven – And a One-Way Ticket to Hell!" - Max Phillips
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 20, 2013
    Thanks Ian! - I have many more pictures of those tree's too. Everywhere you turned was another good view!

    Akzuke - Thanks! It's been amazing, Africa is wild for sure.

    John - Yea we debated staying longer just because the photo opps are soooooo goood. But it would have meant missing a climbing day and you know what always wins out with me! I am thinking I'll probably frame some for the office though! Oh and thanks for posting that pic of our sheep excursion. When I get home I'll have this 2.8 lens for another week if you want to go on another photo excursion!

    Cuong - Thanks!

    Jasonstone - Usually when I travel it is quite light as far as lenses go. Normally I just have one, not so expensive lens. The 18-135 kit lens that comes with the canon 7d. Generally low quality lens but really nice results. That lens kinda sucks here though because it is not weather protected! The stablizer doesn't even work anymore because its so dirty. But this trip I've travelled with a lot of electronic gear and it's all come in handy. Heres what I've got.

    Canon 7d
    70-200mm 2.8
    Canon 2x Extender
    18-135mm 3.6?
    UV and Polizer Filter
    Canon Timer Trigger
    Gorillapod Tripod
    Thinktank Camera Bag
    Timbuktu Travel Camera Bag
    Macbook Pro
    Ipad Gen 1
    Ipod Gen 3

    The Ipod we just left in the car. All that driving can make me crazy without good music.

    Its not necessarily light and having the car has really helped although my previous trips I had all the same gear minus the 70-200mm and the 2x extender, plus I didn't have a car. So it's not really to bad as long as you have the right backpack!

    Ok -

    Time to cross the border back into South Africa and, for he first time, head back in the direction we started.

    We drove from Aussenkehr to the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa trying to get to Rocklands. We instead ended up 60km on a dirt road at a place called Cederberg Oasis, you see we were trying to get to rocklands but googled sport climbing. I'm not much of a boulderer. And it brought us to this area of the Cederberg. It all turned out though because the rock in this area was amazingly featured! We drove into a place called Truitjies Kraal where the sport climbing was and climbed about 8 really enjoyable routes.

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    We were still feeling tired from our climbing the other day at Aussenkehr but the routes had such large holds it didn't really matter!

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    After pulling the small roof, Shasta is glad to find the good holds.

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    Looks like she was holding on pretty tight!

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    The surrounding area. There is a huge amount of route potential. Unfortunately, the current program worked out with the park service and the mountain club goes as such "If you want to put a route in, you have to take one down."

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    After climbing most of the day we decided to explore around a bit. There are awesome caves all over the place.

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    Then I got a little artsy with it. As a photog I noticed the light in the caves was amazing with the angle of the sun. So heres me just appreciating the beauty of Shasta, and the caves.

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    I am pretty lucky to have this girl to travel and be with!

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    Awesome features.

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    Bushman paintings.

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    The landscape here is awesome! It's the first place in South Africa we really felt we could actually live, if we didn't already love Alaska.

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    This is the view from our campsite at Cederberg Oasis. If you are in the area definitely go there. Great place with super nice people and they have the biggest dinner of ribs I have seen yet. Over 900kg of ribs imported from France! You picked up the bone and they fell right off it....mmmmm....I would have a picture of it but neither Shasta nor myself were willing to go get it with those ribs in front of us. Plus it was only $11 US.

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    The roads are dirt and steep, but good quality.

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    Our tent surrounded in orange trees.

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    The bouldering potential here is amazing. Lifetimes worth. This isn't even a climbing area in the photo.

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    This one is the size of a cabin.

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    Probably undeveloped walls.

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    The road up.

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    Well we knew had not yet been to Rocklands proper so we decided we had better do that. To do so we had to drive the 60km back up the dirt road, then into a different section of the park. We drove into Rocklands proper, which is all paved now by the way, and all the way to de Pakhuys campsite. de Pakhuys is the climbers camping area for the most part. They rent crashpads and sell climbing guides as well as gear. We found a somewhat slopey area to put up our tent and then headed into the park to check it. We checked out the other camping areas and found out that Klien Kliphuis is run by a really friendly elderly couple and was almost completely empty. They have nice campsites and really good tea so we decided to move there. The social life of climbers can often be a bit much for us since we prefer the quiet and don't drink. Then we went bouldering at an area next to Kliphuis Campsite around the Flagship Boulders.

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    We had rented a crashpad for $2 US per day.

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    And put it to use.

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    Awesome landings and amazingly featured boulders, its easy to see why this place is so well known.

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    Quick approaches too.

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    Also there's a few rocks out there.

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    A lot of them.

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    We climbed until our fingers were shredded and then headed back to our campsite.

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    I started a fire to cook and saw a big spider crawling around in our rock made cook area. It was just a harmless one though so I mostly ignored it. Then I looked again later and said "Oh the spiders crawled into the top now" as I saw him near my hand in a crack. Shasta made the note of pointing out that the original spider was still where we saw him before on the side of the bbq area. So I looked closer and noticed claws. Hmmm...

    I lifted the rock that moved near the spider and dropped in on the ground in time to see a scorpion crawl out. First scorpion I had seen in Africa! Since he wasn't an especially deadly variety I threw him off into the woods.

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    We know we didn't give those climbing areas their proper time but alas, we were running low on time ourselves. So we continued south a few hours and drove into Cape Town. Cape Town is known as an area with tons of things to see and do. We were staying with friends but had only one full day there. What do you do in just one full day?! Well, I had never seen a penguin in the wild so that seemed like a good thing to do. Although in the wild may be a relative term...

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    Walking around and looking at penguins is like a continual moment of "ooooo's" and "aaaahhhh's" and "Their so cute!"

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    The babies are dark and fluffy.

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    Then they become regal.

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    Being a poser is actually a good thing in photography.

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    Word.

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    Whiny babies.

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    The walkways to the viewpoints.

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    From Simonstown we drove through the mountains and along the coast back toward Cape Town. What a beautiful drive!

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    And we continued onto to Table Mountain, which is next.
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 20, 2013
    Were nearing the end!

    Originally we had wanted to hike up Table Mountian. I actually wanted to do the climb but we didn't have any trad gear and that is what it takes. So we settled on the hike. Then we took our nice enjoyable drive and penguin viewing and ate up most of our day. So we had to settle even further on the tram.

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    Cape Town

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    We drove along this road earlier to get to Cape Town.

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    Table Mountain is a pretty awesome feature.

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    This is the trail we probably would have taken up if we had time.

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    Clouds were forming on this peak.

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    We were already running low on time when we took the tram but couldn't miss the opportunity to run over to the actual top of the peak which took about 30 min.

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    Oh and do some quick easy bouldering along the way! These rock formations were awesome with very sticky rock.

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    The beauty of being on the top when the sun went down was catching the most amazing sunset.

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    Beautiful.

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    Unfortunately that was the end of our cape town time and the next morning we drove toward Bloukrans, which touts itself as the highest commercial bungy jump in the world.
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 20, 2013
    Might have to add the word "Epic" to your thread title. Every time I think I've seen the most amazing stuff, you pull something better out of the bag :)
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 21, 2013
    Thank you everyone for coming along with the journey. It's been a really enjoyable one that has definitely opened my eyes up to Africa! I really appreciated all the excellent replies!

    Mirounga horribillis - Is that a Elephant Seal Bear?

    So this is it, this is my last post of Africa (for now). Although I do still have about 40 panoramas I shot here that I won't stitch until later where I have a better program for it.

    We drove to Bloukrans Bridge from Cape Town which was about a 6-7 hour drive. Bloukrans Bridge bills itself as the highest commercial bungy in the world, at 216 meters. Regardless of its current status it was awesome!

    Heres the Bridge. They wouldn't let us take any pics of the jump because they charge for those.

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    The next day we drove over 900km into the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho. We figured that, since we had 3 days left, we should drove an extra 600km or so through Lesotho just to get in another country. It was a very long drive but quite the beautiful place! The next day we drove 300km through the countryside on what has to be the most windey paved roads in all of Southern Africa. That morning we woke in Malealea Lodge, a great place to stay!

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    And the views were amazing.

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    Poor Bluebear, feeling the strain!

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    On our drive we stopped by the house of a famous missionary. We really just wanted to see this house built in a cave. Cool place!

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    More awesome views. You can see the road on the right side of the mountain cutting across the landscape.

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    Some climbing potential.

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    We continued our drive and arrived in a town on the border of Lesotho and South Africa called Qachas Nek. The next day we drove back to Durban and after a few nights at Nomadic Backpackers we flew out of South Africa saying some sad goodbyes to our kit and car from the trip. An 8 hour flight put us into Dubai and then a 14 hour flight over the north pole and were back in Seattle. I'm spending a few days here with my brother before heading back to Alaska. Then it's time to grab he rack and some running shoes. We've got some travel pounds to work off and some climbing to do!

    Thank you all once again for joining on this journey. John (coldclimb) can also be thanked for hounding me to make sure I write this as I travel and not just when I return.

    Here are some facts about the trip.

    Time in the Middle East: 7 days
    Time in Africa : 67 days
    Countries Visited: 8 - United Arab Emirates, Oman, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia, Namibia, Lesotho
    Driving in Middle East: 2026km or 1258mi
    Driving in Africa: 16496.9 or 10250mi
    Total Driving: 11,508 miles
    Highlights: Was in a wedding with friends, Saw the big 5, Climbed in Namibia and South Africa, Saw the stars brighter than I can ever remember, no muggings, no robbings, only hit one other car with ours (we shook hands and continued on our way), Learned to drove on the other side of the car and road, first bungy jump, saw Dead Vlei, Saw the dunes meet the sand, no gear was broken or lost, WE LIVED.
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,295Administrators moderator
    edited July 21, 2013
    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing journey!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • EaracheEarache Unsharp and Oversaturated SO CALPosts: 3,533Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 21, 2013
    Amazing thread/photo-journal.... WoW! and all the other possible superlatives apply - X2 clap.gif
    I am astounded at your mastery of exposure and composition - are you merely mortal? mwink.gif
    Your skill at photography and storytelling is exceeded only by your spirit and generosity to share those things here, with Dgrin - to say thank-you, is inadequate. bowdown.gif
    Eric ~ Smugmug
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,159Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 22, 2013
    Incredible journey! bowdown.gif Thanks for taking us on the ride. Some day I'll get back there again...
    Chris
  • PrezwoodzPrezwoodz Alaska Grinnin Posts: 1,147Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 22, 2013
    Earache wrote: »
    Amazing thread/photo-journal.... WoW! and all the other possible superlatives apply - X2 clap.gif
    I am astounded at your mastery of exposure and composition - are you merely mortal? mwink.gif
    Your skill at photography and storytelling is exceeded only by your spirit and generosity to share those things here, with Dgrin - to say thank-you, is inadequate. bowdown.gif


    Thank you everyone for the replies!

    Earache - Thank you as well for the praise! I really appreciate it and find myself not worth of such high praise! But Thank you all the same!

    Dgrin has done so much for me, it would be a real shame not to share with all my friends here!
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