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the giant’s playground
While exploring the Giant’s Playground, a vast and rugged expanse of balancing basalt and dolerite rocks in Namibia, we were fortunate to encounter one of the region’s rarest creatures.
chibi totoro, master tracker
Thanks to the keen sense of smell and sharp eyesight of Chibi Totoro, who tracked the animal for us, we were able to approach this extraordinary beast entirely undetected…
… until we were in a suitable position to get a good view. Behold, the elusive and enigmatic felis silvestris igneous!
felis silvestris igneous soaking up the sun in its natural habitat
Back home in my studio resident felis catus and amateur zoologist Gira is intrigued by the pictures we snapped of felis silvestris igneous, and feels a strong kinship with his distant relative…
… something in the eyes, perhaps?
golden crown & bark of a quivertree
… these are a few of my favourite things.
And there was much opportunity for the gathering of these favourite things on our recent roadtrip across Namibia.
folded, rippled, wrinkled (fish river canyon, african elephant)
elephant petroglyph | subtle mineral colours, dolerite columns
fine forms, more mineral hues
black & white, circles & stripes
bone dry, desaturated
earthy harmonies, rounded rhythms
bright brandberg hills… and a mystery paint spillage in the desert
perfectly patterned, eminently engravable | ancient petroglyphs
desert car wreck… adorned
a decaying structure’s textures & patterns (goageb ghost town)
lines (looking up: hot air balloon cables,
looking down: wildlife highways & byways)
namib desert sands: infinitely intriguing colours, forms…
… and patterns
pleasing points (rondavel thatch, starling silhouette)
all these elements coalesce in the simplicity of a dead tree at dusk
a giraffe enjoys a mopane leaf snack
The road signs in Namibia will alert you to the possibility of wild animals crossing…
.. a lot!
And one should indeed take care…
… travelling “dead slow” when called upon to do so.
Hurrying your journey, as with many things in life, is ill-advised…
ground squirrels sharing a secret
… you might miss something hidden, something magical.
[female steenbok | red-crested korhaan]
the strutting of stuff
a proud kudu with his elegant harem
a southern pale chanting goshawk on the lookout for a tasty morsel | sociable weavers gather nesting material
red hartebeest chillin’ | black-faced impala playing
[giraffes | blue wildebeest}
[burchell’s zebra (and a distant springbok) | blue wildebeest]
sweetwater, the stuff of life
[burchell’s zebra | springbok]
dassie sentry, keeping watch over the youngsters
(it’s hard to believe that the dassie’s closest living relative is the elephant!)
african elephants and a black-backed jackal in the golden hour
more warnings: warthogs and kudu crossing
Wishing y’all a wild weekend!
dawn breaks over the quivertree forest (namibia, may 2016)
it is mysterious and beautiful in dawn’s gilded light
this forest spirit is enchanted
and the sociable weavers seem to like it too
as the sun rises, the scaly bark of the quivertrees…
… appears as hammered copper and gold
good morning, dassie
good morning, quivertree
excerpted from ‘Namibia’, by Chris McIntyre, published by Bradt
“The quivertree or kokerboom, Aloe dichotoma, occurs sporadically over a large area of southern Namibia and the northern Cape [South Africa], usually on steep rocky slopes. Its name refers to its use by the Bushmen [San] for making the quivers for their arrows – the inside of a dead branch consists of only a light, fibrous heart which is easily gouged out to leave a hollow tube.
The quivertree is specially adapted to survive in extremely arid conditions: its fibrous branches and trunk are used for water storage, as are its thick, succulent leaves, while water lost through transpiration is reduced by waxy coatings on the tree’s outside surfaces. Roots, though, are shallow, making the tree vulnerable to high winds and, in common with most desert-adapted flora, its growth rate is very slow. Its beautiful yellow flowers bloom in winter.”
southern border crossing (south africa –> namibia)
I’ve been away, soaking up the winter sunshine, on a ±5,500km roadtrip through Namibia’s vast, arid, ever-changing & starkly beautiful terrain. (In case you’re wondering, as anyone unfamiliar with the lay of Africa’s land might be, Namibia is situated in southwest Africa, straddling the Tropic of Capricorn and alongside the South Atlantic Ocean. It shares its borders with South Africa to the south, Angola & a sliver of Zambia to the north, and Botswana to the east.)
heading north through the southern kalahari
balancing basalt rocks, the giant’s playground
fellow travellers, etosha pan
vingerklip (afrikaans: rock finger), a natural obelisk sculpted by the wind,
and the iconic flat-topped mountains of the ugab valley
tiny termites build mighty mounds
desolate damaraland scape and split red sandstone slabs at ǀui-ǁais (damara/nama: jumping waterhole) a.k.a. twyfelfontein (afrikaans: uncertain spring)
the burnt mountain (black shale shimmers amidst the dominant sandstone) and the organ pipes (angular columns of dolerite formed some 120 million years ago)
closing in on the brandberg mountain,
a ravine-split massif of granite (and namibia’s highest mountain at 2573 metres) that dominates the surrounding desert plains
into the desert
crossing the tropic
magical mountain colours, mighty oryx (gemsbok)
desert camp, near sesriem canyon
over the namib desert and sossusvlei’s…
… red star dunes