It isn’t only the off-road driving that brings excitement to an overland trip. Nature itself sometimes throws a spanner into the works!
On one of our recent 4×4 expeditions to the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, the ladies in the group took some time to get used to the lack of facilities, and to start making use of the wide-open spaces when nature called. By the third day, though, they had adapted well and made use of nearby sand dunes when needing comfort breaks. The desert was massive and there were no other people around, so we felt quite comfortable finding a quiet spot among the dunes to do our business.
It was a common sight to see someone heading over a dune with a spade in one hand and toilet paper in the other. We knew very well that we had to avoid the places where the footprints stopped and turned around! In the desert we burn the toilet paper, otherwise the wind will blow it from the sand and toss it around the desert for ages.
One morning, we saw a lady disappearing over a dune and knew that we had to leave her in peace. After she had found a quiet spot, she used the spade to make a shallow hole. She squatted, expecting to enjoy the experience in the big Namib Desert. But it was not to be.
During the night a lonely sidewinder snake had dug itself into the sand to shelter from the cold. It was still half asleep when the lady dug her hole close to it. When she sat down next to it, the sidewinder found her too close for comfort and wriggled itself out of the sand. The snake was so confused by this early-morning intrusion that it did not know which way to flee. Unfortunately, it headed straight for the squatting lady.
We heard a frantic scream from behind the dune. The lady still had her underwear around her ankles and when she tried to run, it tripped her repeatedly. She shouted for help, but when a couple of men approached, she chased them away in embarrassment! Eventually, her husband was allowed to rescue her.
Even though it was early in the morning, we had give the lady a serious shot of whisky to calm her down.
The story soon got out, and I am now forced to take a chemical toilet on our trips. No one liked it at first. It was cramped and uncomfortable, so everyone preferred to use a nearby dune. Now things have changed. The chemical toilet suddenly seems like a good option. Without it, many of the ladies would refuse to join us.
CREATURES OF THE NAMIB
The Namib might appear barren at first glance, but it is actually teeming with life. Here are some of the creatures that call the Namib home.
- Though it is difficult to believe, there is a substantial lion population in the desert. These animals lead a nomadic existence, searching for prey.
- There are 12 species of gecko in southern Africa, and many of them can be found in the Namib. One of the most interesting species is the barking gecko, which gets its name from the distinctive sound it makes.
- The oryx, or gemsbok, is often seen, and so is the springbok.
- Many snakes hide under the sand. Species include the sidewinder, the Namib sand snake, the western keeled snake, Beetz’s tiger snake, Cape cobra, black spitting cobra and horned adder.
- The golden mole is a burrowing animal that lives in the Namib. It is covered with fur, and ranges in size from 8cm to as much as 20cm.