excursion to southern africa, pt. 4 – welwitschia plains and swakopmund

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day 4 of the excursion started with breakfast, which – let me quote barbara – “we preferred to ingest while standing due to the low temperatures”. the weather was, as it is known for swakopmund, cold (around 10 °) and foggy.
we soon got on the bus and went east to welwitschia plains [G] – an area which accommodates one of the most fascinating plants (for botanists, anyway):

welwitschia mirabilis

welwitschia mirabilis, a so-called “living fossil”, can become hundreds of years old and only ever develops two leaves1. these leaves continuously grow at their base, and the tips eventually die.
its looks are often described with the words “compost pile” in travel guides.
welwitschia is a gymnosperm plant, so it’s most closely related to conifers like spruce (picea abies) or fir (abies sp.). its reaches 3 to 4 meters deep into the ground, and the root system can develop a radius of up to 15 meters. the species is endemic to the namib desert in namibia and angola.
more information can be found in wikipedia: [de] [en].

after this extensive stop (apparently, our driver noah kept asking what was taking us so long, after 30 minutes. we were there for more than an hour.) we drove on to walvis bay to find the falmingo colony. there were not as many birds as usual, though.
we had the afternoon off, and while most of the others went shopping or sightseeing in swakopmund, aaron and i decided it was the perfect opportunity for a quadbike-trip. :-)

quadbike-trip in the golden dunes near swakopmund

we booked a trip with outback orange, and since there were no other clients for the afternoon, it was just aaron, me, and our guide willy.
we went up and down the dunes rollercoaster-style, up to 80 km/h, and also did some jumping etc.
i had no horizon for my orientation, so i got really seasick. after about an hour of driving, we took a break and drank some lychee-juice (which most likely added to the sickness). with hindsight, i think the greasy burger i had had for lunch, right before the quadbike trip, was a bad idea too.
i ended up puking in the golden dunes near swakopmund. twice.
BUT it was a fun afternoon, and i would do it again (just without the burger).
a member of the crew picked us up at the base and gave us a lift to our accommodation. he told me it was cool to finally meet somebody who got sea-sick in the dunes, because up until then, he had only heard about those people (no kidding!).
 

[view photos: swakopmund and welwitschia plains]

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  1. over the decades, the leaves become so wide that they get ripped/slashed, and it looks like there are more than just two. []
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