Sometimes you have to go off the beaten track to discover something new!
The ephemeral Kuiseb River starts just outside of Windhoek in the Khomas Hochland and meanders its way through the landscape to the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes the river runs through flat landscapes, and sometimes it’s found between mountains and valleys. A pre-boot camp was done, to see if hiking along this route is plausible. We started to head into the dry Kuiseb riverbed about 15 km north of Homeb village in the national park. For access here, a permit needs to be obtained before the time.
The hiking bag was of course packed with water bottles and enough food to snack on. Comfortable clothing and hiking boots were worn, otherwise the hot sand and rocks will harm you. Hats and sun lotion is a must in the desert, as you don’t want to get fried by the sun! And of course, most importantly a camera, to capture the experience and scenery.
We walked down into the riverbed, which is flat and opens wide into the landscape, some lone Welwitschia plants were found on the side of the river and the Euphorbia virosa, also known as milk bush, stands tall on the sides of the river banks.
There were some distinctive rocks in the vicinity that were shaped by the force of nature. One specific rock that we found was shaped like a mushroom and we also had fun capturing photos of the Euphorbia virosa plant. Firstly, everyone had to get onto the rock. The last person had to set the camera on timer and race to the rock, getting a hand by the others already on top, before the camera’s timer went off. It took three changes before we got the perfect shot.
The moment we got into the actual Kuiseb River, we were surrounded by high walls. One could see over years how the water forced itself through the rocks and formed a canyon. The walls were as high as houses and the rocks still provided some much-needed shade against the early sun. As it is in the desert, it gets hot quickly, and one appreciates every bit of shade.
The riverbed continued between the high walls and the closer we got to Homeb, dunes became clearly visible on our left. It was a fantastic walk and it would be even better to see that area with water. So, if it does flow again, another trip needs to be done in order experience the different scenery.
And as the pre-boot camp was a good hike to do, two weeks later the boot camp was done with university students. Firstly, to have a bonding experience and secondly, to appreciate the desert they will be working in for the next six months. But I am sure they’ll have fun!
Author: Jessica Sack