01 Jan 2006: Update

01 January 2006: Henk and I started off in different directions this morning, Henk flew over to Windhoek international to meet up with 2 of his guests, from there he headed via the coast to Swakopmund where the remaining two guests awaited his arrival. I flew over to Witwater on my own to pick up my 4 guests, as it was still early the flight was quite smooth.
03 January 2006: André started off in Windhoek for his 4 day safari with 4 guests.
Windhoek to Swakopmund:

Weather:
03 January 2006: It was cloudy and cool, but at the sea patches of open sky teased the eye and sparkled on the still waters below.

Animals Sighted:
03 January 2006:
Oryx: At the Kuiseb Canyon André and his guests saw a herd of 30 – 40 oryx grazing on the plains.
Hyena: Just south of the Eduard Bohlen ship wreck a Brown Hyena was spotted scouting between the seal colonies, scavenging for some carrion.
Fish: The ever increasing size of fish schools were clearly seen from the air.

Wolwedans/Sossusvlei to Swakopmund:

Weather:
01 January 2006: It had heated up quite some by the time I had arrived at Witwater, by the time we were airborne the temperature had already reached 38°C. It turned out to be a bumpy and warm flight, but we opened the window for some fresh air. Once at the coast a more pleasant temperature of 24°C was awaiting us with no fog.

Coast/Sea:
01 January 2006: The ocean was calm and quite clear, allowing us to view schools of fish from the air, in some of these schools we spotted seals feeding.

Animals Sighted:
01 January 2006:
Seals: We saw plenty of seals basking on the sand and leisurely floating in the water. Now after the breeding season, there were plenty of yearlings who had joined the juvenile colonies. As is experienced every year a large number of these yearlings are too week to make it on their own, so the beaches are littered with their carcases. South of Swakopmund and north of Meob Bay the colonies are primarily juvenile non-breeding colonies, though occasionally a newborn pup will be spotted amongst these colonies.
Jackal: There were quite a few Jackal (black-backed) roaming within the seal colonies, scavenging on the dead yearlings.

Birds Sighted:
01 January 2006:
Flamingos: We were surprised by a flock of about 70 flamingos flying in a southerly direction, we saw them south of Conception Bay. They boasted bright pink colours. At Sandwich Harbour we sighted the normal large flocks of Flamingo, the juveniles still not as pink as the fully grown Flamingo.

Swakopmund:

General:
01 January 2006: I landed with clear skies, and warm temperatures for our refuelling stop. We all made use of the new facilities now available at Swakopmund airfield, while the aircraft was being refuelled, then hurried to join Henk who was waiting for us at the Ugab Formations.

Interesting Sightings:
01 January 2006: As we were waiting to board our aircraft, the Skydivers provided us with their usual entertainment, filling the skies with their colourful canopies and the air with their excited shrieks.

Swakopmund to Kuidas :

Weather:
01 January 2006: Still clear and barely any wind to talk of.
03 January 2006: André noted that there was quite a rain shower falling at Gaiais (southeast of Kuidas). At the coast there was quite a wind, which took some of the lettuce laid out for lunch and added some of the famous “Desert Spice” to the food.

Coast/Sea:
01 January 2006: The Sea was still so calm it resembled a lake, the flying also very smooth.

Animals Sighted:
01 January 2006:
Seals: The breeding colony at Cape Cross proved to be exactly that, with large numbers of new-born seals dotted around in the colony.

Birds Sighted:
03 January 2006:
Strandloper: (White-breasted Plover) When André landed on the beach for lunch he found a nest with 2 eggs in it, a little too close to the aircraft, so with the help of the guests he moved the airplane away to a more acceptable distance. To prevent any future mishaps, André discreetly placed some rocks round the area of the nest. The adult Sanderling, who had been playing injured to divert the danger away from the nest now promptly returned to its brood and sat on the 2 eggs.

Plants and Flowers:
01 January 2006:
Hoodia: At the Ugab formations the Hoodia was covered in little flower buds, waiting for possible rain so they can bloom. One bold but small flower had already completed the cycle, and was dried out. Sometimes, even without rain the Hoodia will allow one flower at a time to bloom, though smaller than when there was rain.
03 January 2006:
Hoodia: At the Ugab formations the Hoodia was still covered in little flower buds, but all signs of any flowers had already been swept away by the wind.
Welwitschia Mirabilis: The Welwitschia at the Ugab formations were in full bloom.

Interesting Sightings:
01 January 2006: Ugab Formations: After meeting up with Henk and his guests, with some afternoon cake, we flew over this amazing geological sight enjoying the diversity of colours, even though the sun was hidden behind some clouds.
03 January 2006: Spring: At the Ugab Formations the small spring boasted a large quota of water, probably from rain in the previous 2 days.

Kuidas:

Weather:
01 January 2006: We arrived at our Kuidas Camp well before sunset, with a fair amount of wind from the coast to welcome us. Towards the East the clouds were building up.
02 January 2006: We woke up to a grey sky, bringing a promise of rain. Actually not only a promise, while walking and driving we were constantly reminded of the impending rains, only a few drops, but it was wet. After lunch, just as we were ready to leave we experienced a cloudburst, which of course delayed our departure. It only lasted about 20 minutes, and gave us nearly 2mm (YES 2mm). Janson, our camp manager reported that an additional 9mm of rain fell after we left.
03 January 2006: André arrived at camp in the late afternoon, it was cloudy and humid.

Animals Sighted/Heard:
01 January 2006:
Oryx: Our “resident” Gemsbok were there to greet us as we arrived at the camp, they lifted their heads for a second and then carried on grazing.
Springbok: From our dining area we watched as few Springbok slowly make their way over to a water hole to drink. The evening sunlight breaking through the clouds painting the Springbok with an evening glow.
Lion: Henk heard a lion roaring during the night, but we were unable to locate it in the day.
02 January 2006:
Oryx: On our drive we encountered a few Oryx sporadically spread out.
Jackal: We saw one black-backed Jackal quite close to the camp as we set out on our drive.
03 January 2006:
Lion: André heard a lion roaring during the night, though it seemed to be quite distant.
Oryx: Our “resident” Gemsbok with 2 of their young (about 2-3 months old) stole the show when André drew into camp.
04 January 2006:
Lion: On the southern side of the Huab River some fresh lion tracks were spotted, but no sighting of the lion.
Jackal: The black-backed Jackal was still about, it appears there may be a den close by.

Plants and Flowers:
02 January 2006: Grey desert bush: All these bushes have been and are still in bloom, also known as a Black Storm bush and used as a laxative by the local inhabitants.
Euphorbia Damarana: The plants are starting to bud.
Euphorbia Verosa: These plants are currently showing signs of new growth, and will soon be in bloom.
Welwitschia Mirabilis: The Welwitschia in this area are all in the early stages of blooming, and there are only a few mature Welwitschia bugs present at this time.

Interesting Sightings:
04 January 2006: The Huab river had come down in flood, but was only knee deep, so it was still crossable with a landrover. A green shimmer has started covering the red lavas of this area in response to the rain received.

Activities:
02 January 2006: At lunch time we celebrated a birthday the true Namibian way, using the Bushman Candle on a cake on a plate of Basalt.

Kuidas to TerraceBay:

Weather:
02 January 2006: It was still pretty overcast as we left Kuidas, but it was a smooth flight to the clear coast, though we did encounter some rain drops on the way.
04 January 2006: The sun was breaking through the cloud-enshrouded coast, throwing its rays into the sea, reflecting them back onto the heavy grey clouds, lighting up an otherwise eerie shadow.

Coast/Sea:
04 January 2006: The sea was still quiet and clean.

Animals Sighted:
02 January 2006: Seals: The colony at Palgrave Point seems to be increasing in numbers and it appears it is becoming a breeding colony. There were quite a number of new-born pups there.
04 January 2006: Oryx: An lonesome Oryx was standing contemplating the ocean when André flew past, just south of the Henrietta ship wreck. An active imagination could come up with all sorts of stories, from such a unique occasion.

Interesting Sightings:
04 January 2006: André flew along the Huab river for about 20km from the camp when they reached the front wave of water which was heading towards the Atlantic ocean. It is rather an exciting experience to watch the water swallow up the dry riverbed on its journey to the sea.

TerraceBay Dunes:

Weather:
02 January 2006: There was a very slight north-westerly wind, but barely 2 knots. The sun was shining on the dunes.
04 January 2006: The sun was able to make its mark on the dunes in places, but the still wind and dry sand made for ideal playground conditions. Fun was had by all as the dunes were made to roarrr.

Activities:
02 January 2006: Henk and I had great fun with our guests in these fascinating dunes, a sandpit for all ages.
TerraceBay to Purros Camp:

Weather:
02 January 2006: We flew to Purros in the late afternoon, through some rain and under some pretty thick clouds.
04 January 2006: The low clouds forced André to take the “low road” to camp. Which proved very fruitful, with many animal sightings.

Animals Sighted:
04 January 2006: During the late afternoon flight to Purros André showed his guests a variety of animals, spread out on the plains in response to the rains that wet the desert earth. Oryx, Springbok, Giraffe and plenty of ostrich.
Purros :

Weather:
02 January 2006: The skies were full of clouds and in the distant west as we watched the sun setting, it peeked through the black clouds washing the skies with a golden-red halo, while to the east the electric air was flashing its lightning, dancing between the clouds bringing a promise of rain. During the night we had a few drops.
05 January 2006: Still overcast.

Animals Sighted:
02 January 2006:
Elephant: As some of us were still having our sundowners and others were taking their evening showers, our big bull (Skewe Tand) came into our camp, followed by the younger juvenile. Using the “bush telephone” all were informed to stay in their tents, and to indicate when they were ready. Henk then introduced a “taxi” service, transporting all members of the group to and from their tents as was required. The elephant slowly, rather unperturbed, moved through the camp peacefully grazing between the tents.
03 January 2006: While I flew over to Opuwo to refuel the aircraft, Henk went on a game drive along the Huarusib River valley.
Elephant: Henk was fortunate enough to be the first to show his guests the latest addition to our Elephant herd. He said the calf was still very dark in colour and the herd was very protective of it, allowing only a brief viewing. Henk did however catch the footprints of the calf on camera.
05 January 2006: Elephant: The big bull (Skewe Tand) once again laid on a visit, but this time he waited till all were in bed in the early hours of the morning. On the game drive later on Skewe Tand made a show of bathing, then dusting himself after which he took to the cover of the dense bushes. A cow and her 3-year old calf also made a pass, before disappearing into the thicket.
Giraffe: Three of the seven resident male giraffe were seen browsing on the acacia pods.

Activities:
02 January 2006: Tonight we celebrated the birthday with a bottle of Champagne – YES the real thing.
03 January 2006: Henk showed off his driving skills when he managed to plant the Landrover in some mud, just as the elephant were on their way past them. All evacuated the Landrover and moved to higher ground, while the elephant suspiciously eyed the obstacle in their path. After careful scrutiny they moved on their happy way leaving the party of beings to their next ordeal of freeing the Landrover from the grasps of the muddy Huarusib.
05 January 2006: At the Himba Village the ladies decided to dance an “Aeroplane Dance” for André, they gave no further explanation.

Purros to Hartmann Valley Kunene Camp):

Weather:
03 January 2006: We left the clouds at Purros and flew on to clearer skies at the coast, with a gentle wind helping us on our way north.
05 January 2006: It was mainly cloudy at the coast, but where sunlight broke through it lit up the clear waters.

Coast/Sea:
03 January 2006: The sea was clear and calm, a rare treat for us on this treacherous coast .

Animals Sighted:
03 January 2006:
Sharks: We searched the waters and were rewarded with quite a few sightings of sharks in the shallows, where the white water breaks.
Fish: Schools of fish could be seen from the air, casting dark shadows in the clear waters.
Dolphins: Henk saw a pod of dolphin hanging in the water alongside a school of fish, feeding blissfully.
Seals: The colony at Cape Fria is also increasing in size, and as at Palgrave Point, appears to be now breeding. Many seals were scattered in the water either feeding or lazily floating and basking in the sun, always with one fin in the air as if waving to us.
Turtles: We did see some of the Leather-backed Turtle round the Kunene river mouth.
Crocodile: Flying along the Kunene river we spotted a few crocodile on the sand banks.
05 January 2006:
Fish: Schools of fish dotted around the coastline made for interesting viewing.
Turtles: André was fortunate to see about 12 – 15 Leather-backed Turtles at the mouth of the Kunene River, ducking and diving for food in the muddied water.

Birds Sighted:
05 January 2006: Vulture: A Lappet-faced Vulture was seen feeding of a seal carcass at Cape Fria, an unusual sighting.

Kunene Camp:

Weather:
03 January 2006: The clouds were ever-present, and in the early evening started spitting a few drops, just a taste, later during the night they gave us 2mm at the airfield.
04 January 2006: In the morning we were greeted by a dark low cloud, slowly releasing its weight into the parched desert.
05 January 2006: André reported a few drops of rain, but certainly not enough for germination of seeds yet.
06 January 2006: This morning all woke up to a brightly shining sun with clouds hugging the nearby mountain tops, far enough away to look beautiful yet cast no shadow.

Animals Sighted:
03 January 2006: Oryx: On our route via the dunes to the camp by Landrover we saw some Oryx patiently waiting for the rains they anticipate.
04 January 2006: Crocodile: Henk and his guests were startled by a crocodile as it surfaced with a fish in its mouth then slowly sank away into deeper waters to enjoy its catch.
05 January 2006: Oryx & Springbok: Most of the animals seem to be moving away as there has been more rain further east, so they will be looking for greener pastures. A few “diehards” were still in the Hartmann Valley. André noted one fresh Oryx carcass, we believe the Oryx to have been older and unable to cope with this dry season.
06 January 2006: Crocodile: On the morning boat ride André reckons they saw just about ALL the crocodiles in the area, probably as a result of the sun shining after a few days of cloudy conditions. Sweetheart was close to the camp with a younger crocodile sharing the sandbank. Further upstream they even saw one of the larger specimen feeding on a dead goat. One Crocodile was sharing his sand bank with a Water Monitor Lizard, apparently quite a large one.
Baboon: While on the water quietly cruising along André and his guests observed two baboons halfway up a cliff face cavorting and playing. On the peak of this same cliff was a third Baboon, who was obviously not impressed with the two jokers, so he promptly picked up a rock and threw it at the two below him, causing quite a ruckus as this rock initiated a minor rock slide. The rumble woke up more baboons who all voiced their disdain in high pitched shrieks.

Birds Sighted:
06 January 2006: A number of birds were sighted as they went on their merry way feeding – Paradise Fly Catcher; Pied Kingfisher; Goliath Heron; Augur Buzzard; Olive Bee Eater; Osprey. The more common birds were also present doing their thing.

Activities:
03 January 2006: Henk and I negotiated the valley of a thousand dunes. The vista is quite breathtaking with the background of dark clouds hanging over the desert sky.
Hartman Valley to Windhoek:

Weather:
04 January 2006: Henk flew of in an easterly direction towards Etosha to drop off two of his guests at Ongava. He then had an interesting time dodging the thunderstorms scattered in the interior, to get the other two guests back to Windhoek in time for their connecting flight. I took the more friendly path skirting to the west of all active storms, landing back at our Kuidas camp for coffee and cake, then on the final leg the aircraft was washed in a few showers.
06 January 2006: The entire route back to Windhoek proved to be a dodging game as scattered thundershowers were distributed over most of the interior, just a few miles from the coast.

Interesting Sightings:
04 January 2006: RIVERS in FLOOD.
Kumib: There was just a little more than a trickle as we flew over.
Huanib: A gentle rush of water was on its way to the delta.
Huab: It was in “flood” but not a full flood, more of a stream than a river.
06 January 2006: RIVERS in FLOOD.
Kumib: There was still some water, but it was not strong enough to reach the sea.
Huarusib: was now in full flood, and would more than likely reach the sea by nightfall.
Huanib: The water had reached the delta, and a second boost may well send it to the ocean.
Huab: Still flowing but somewhat receded.

MARTIN KASAONA
Martin will be leaving for Durban on the 23 January to start his new endeavour of a Masters degree in Nature Conservation.
Should anyone be interested in offering a sponsorship, could you please contact Tanja Dahl at the Skeleton Coast Safaris Office.
Tel: +264-61-224248
Fax: +264-61-225713
E-Mail: info@skeletoncoastsafaris.com
P.O. Box 2195
Windhoek
NAMIBIA