Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.
After a day of gemsbok spotting, we camped at the Tiras Guest Farm. We’ve heard and read good things about guest farms, and I wanted to try one.
Guest farms are what the name suggests: Farms that accommodate guests. Ranch owners tap into Namibia’s tourism efforts to supplement farm income. Tiras Farm is owned by German-Africans—not surprising, since Namibia was colonized by Germans—and it is a working farm.
Rooms and B&B service are available near the farmhouse, but across the road behind a rocky hill are some more isolated, self-catering campsites.
Very nice ones, in fact, complete with private toilets and showers, picnic area, kitchen counter and sink, braai, and, for us, the only campers on site, an elevated patio overlooking a large plain where cows and gemsbok graze.
Fairly certain that it wasn’t going to rain, we set up our pads and blankets on the patio and slept out under the stars and a not-waterproof, stick, shade roof. I thought briefly about a snake slithering down from the rocks to sleep with warm us, but having seen all of two snakes during past three months, I decided the risk was minimal and acceptable.
When I checked in with the farm owner at the house, the kind woman asked hopefully, “Do you still speak German?” Both Weber and Funk are German names, I know, but “I never spoke German.” She didn’t turn me away.
She gave me a homemade book with maps, photos, and descriptions—in German—of natural history features on the farm. She apologized for my not being able to read the book, but I assured her I was pretty good at reading pictures. We were encouraged to make ourselves at home and drive around the farm roads, and we were directed to a particular loop with interesting rock formations.
We returned to the C road the led us here, crossed it, and opened the first of many farm gates. I did a good bit of getting in and out of the truck that night and the next morning.
As we approached the beautiful campsite-on-a-hill, we were greeted by three klipspringers. Unlike the klipspringers (we think—Mike’s more certain than I am) we saw in Etosha, these stood still long enough to get a good look and confident ID.
We even got a video of one springing up into the rocks above the campsite.
It was such a lovely place, we considered staying another day, but in the end we decided to continue on.
After setting up camp, we headed out to the cool rock formation loop. We were not disappointed.
For whatever reason, we both find piles of rocks to be beautiful and interesting. I want to scramble around the rocks and see what’s living in the nooks and crannies.
These appear to have been piled up by a giant tidying the landscape rather than worn away by rain and wind.
And what a nice, smooth cut the giant made here, while slicing rocks. It’s a rock bun awaiting its black-bean burger.
In addition to cool rocks, we saw a couple more klipspringers and several hyraxes or what’s known locally as rock dassies.
They look like guinea pigs and call to mind Alaska’s marmots and pikas, which are cute, short-legged, furballs that live in rocks at home. However, despite living in a similar rocky environment and looking something like marmots and pikas, these animals are not even closely related. Knowing that much, go ahead and guess what the hyraxes nearest relative is.
Really. Take a stab at it. Look at the things, and guess.
Did you guess tortoise? Well, you’d be wrong. (A tortoise isn’t even a mammal, dude.)
Did you guess giraffe? Wrong again.
Did you guess elephant? Too bad, because you’d be right.
Did you guess manatee? You’d be right with this one, too.
Crazy, no? Not only does it share an ancestor with the elephant, but it has similar teeth, toes, and skull structures. If you look closely at the first not-very-good image, you might be able to see something like fangs protruding from the animal’s mouth. These are large incisor teeth that grow out to be tiny tusks, just like an elephant’s.
I’m calling these rock hyraxes, but there’s also a yellow-spotted hyrax, and one of our pictures shows a yellow spot on the back of the animal, so I’m not entirely sure which hyrax this is. I’m still dassled (no, that’s not a typo or spelling error) by the the elephant relatives, though, and am not too worried about this detail.
Driving around the farm roads was so much fun, we kept going until the sun had set and it got dark. We saw cows, gemsbok, and a jackal, along with pretty rocks, this quiver tree, and a lovely landscape. Apparently, natives used branches from this tree as quivers because they are easy to hollow out. Some quiver-tree trunks look baobab-ish to me, but if you ask me the stronger resemblance is to coral polyps.
I got up a few times during the night to take a look around with the night-vision binoculars. As far as I could tell, it was just the klipspringers and I up and about.
In the morning we made another trip around the rock formation loop to see the rocks and hyraxes in different light, and then we were on our way to Luderitz, where the farm owner said the people would all be sleeping because it was the weekend.
Is it not a bit strange how, in the last two photos, the horizons is almost perfectly flat? (Looks kind of like that giant came along and pruned the mountains!)
Indeed! The giant did prune those mountain tops!