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The Giant's Playground, Namibia, May 2016

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 explores The Giant's Playground, Namibia, May 2016

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…

Cat Rocks, The Giant's Playground, Namibia, May 2016

… until we were in a suitable position to get a good view. Behold, the elusive and enigmatic felis silvestris igneous!

The Giant's Playground, Namibia, May 2016

felis silvestris igneous soaking up the sun in its natural habitat

Gira in the studio

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…

Gira & Cat Rock!

… something in the eyes, perhaps?

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

dawn breaks over the quivertree forest (namibia, may 2016)

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016
quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

it is mysterious and beautiful in dawn’s gilded light

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

this forest spirit is enchanted

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

and the sociable weavers seem to like it too

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

as the sun rises, the scaly bark of the quivertrees…

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

… appears as hammered copper and gold

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

good morning, dassie

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

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.”

quivertree forest, namibia, may 2016

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

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.)

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

the fish river canyon

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

heading north through the southern kalahari

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

balancing basalt rocks, the giant’s playground

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

fellow travellers, etosha pan

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

vingerklip (afrikaans: rock finger), a natural obelisk sculpted by the wind,
and the iconic flat-topped mountains of the ugab valley

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

tiny termites build mighty mounds

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

desolate damaraland scape and split red sandstone slabs at ǀui-ǁais (damara/nama: jumping waterhole) a.k.a. twyfelfontein (afrikaans: uncertain spring)

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

the burnt mountain (black shale shimmers amidst the dominant sandstone) and the organ pipes (angular columns of dolerite formed some 120 million years ago)

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

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

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

into the desert

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

crossing the tropic

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

magical mountain colours, mighty oryx (gemsbok)

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

desert camp, near sesriem canyon

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

over the namib desert and sossusvlei’s…

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

… red star dunes

namibia roadtripping, may 2016

homeward bound

early morning mist floats over the Ardennes hills

From Limburg we headed further south, into the Belgian Ardennes and to higher ground. The woods here, and the hills that stretch as far as the eye can see, are tranquil and beautiful (it’s hard to believe that this region saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the Second World War, but the many monuments & memorials encountered along the way serve as poignant reminders of this fact).

Never a fighter, always a lover, Chibi Totoro was eager to explore the enticing nooks and crannies concealed within these wooded hills…

a perfect nook

perfect forms

ancient moss covered woods

if neighbours aren’t your thing…

tangled and splintered

‘moth-bombing’ in the hills above the town of La Roche-en-Ardenne

balancing act

If you live in the 13th-17th Century castle pictured below (and apparently somebody does!) near Epen, in the Netherlands’ southern-most province of Limburg, then the answer is very green indeed!

We recently returned from several excellent days of walking in Limburg and parts of the Belgian Ardennes. Living practically below sea level (e.g. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is 4 metres below sea level) sometimes has me yearning for higher ground – the gentle hills of Limburg and somewhat more rugged hills & mountains of the Ardennes were just the lift (pun intended) I needed.

These pics are from a late afternoon/early evening, and a morning, wandering in the astonishingly verdant heuvelland near Epen, Limburg.

Chibi Totoro approves of the ancient mosses in Epen’s woods

matching cat and cow (at dusk)

good country to be a ruminant

extraordinary qualities of light

horse hills

crucifixes (affixed to trees, barns, fenceposts and just about anything else ‘affixable’) are a very common sight in these parts… there’s no mistaking you’re in the Catholic South now!

shelters in the woods

decision time

ramblers’ rewards

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation


All images and words on this site are © suzanne norris / sakurasnow unless otherwise specified.


Happy birthday to my Mum! (Pictured here in the very late-1950’s / early-1960’s?) I guess I know where my penchant for furry felines comes from 😍🐈💖... - #happybirthday #mum #cats #smudge (?) #1950s #1960s #mybeautifulmum #family #old_family_photos #blackandwhite #patina #catsofinstagram -
Birthday cake for my favourite skull-lover. Nothing says happy birthday quite like an almond and chocolate encrusted skull! - #skull #mementomori #happybirthday #chocolate #cake #vegan #baking #veganaf #almonds #hazelnuts #nordicware #handpainted #plate -
Late night train from Rotterdam Centraal... - #pattern #colour #circle #stripe -
Thinking about all the good times spent with this handsome guy, who would have been celebrating his 7th birthday today. Happy birthday Gira! (30.03.2012 – 07.11.2017) - #gira #rip #best_fur_buddy #studiomate #grey #cat #greeneyes #russianblue #catsofinstagram #catsofholland #fuckcancer - The artwork featured in the 9th photo is by Charles Burns from his book ‘Permagel’ #charlesburns @fictopicto #permagel #nitnit #doug #inky #giant #paws -
Fist bump! - #fistbump #respect #grayson #grey #cat #ThinGreyDuke #onelungedwonder #MegaLung #paw #blackandwhite #pattern #makotokagoshima #GraysonTheGreat #russianblue #catsofinstagram #catsofholland -
When you thought you'd play some records but discover there's a new sentry on duty... and you're not privy to the password ✋🚫 - #vinyljunkie #grayson #grey #cat #greeneyes #ThinGreyDuke #onelungedwonder #custodian #protector_of_the_phonograph_records #blackandwhite #pattern #GraysonTheGreat #russianblue #catsofinstagram #catsofholland -

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