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Namib desert Day Tour

Exploring the Swakop and Khan River Valley - Namibia

Leaving from your accommodation in Swakopmund at approximately 08h30, this tour takes you inland into a unique ecosystem of gravel plains, sweeping dunes and river valleys. The first part of the tour focuses on a variety of classic dune formations with magnificent views, providing perfect opportunities to photograph the scope, shapes and colours of the Namib Desert. It is also affords a fascinating insight into a world of reptiles, birds and insects living among the sand dunes. We'll probably be able to track some down for a close up view of geckos, lizards and harmless snakes - all uniquely adapted to surviving in the burning sands of the desert. From the dunes we travel across last century's railway lines and back in time to a place known as the 'Horse Graveyard'. Here the mass slaughter of South African military horses signaled the turning point in South West Africa's involvement in the First World War. It is also a good platform from which to take a brief historical perspective of the area and get an insight into the key role played by the Swakopmund and Walvis Bay enclave in the development of Namibia.

We venture deeper into the desert and the massive Namib-Naukluft National Park via the Swakop River valley and the Moon Landscape, formed over 460 million years. Botanically, this is like landing on another planet: 1 500 year-old Welwitschias, lithops, hoodias and mist-gathering lichens are unforgettably surreal. So, in quite a different way, is the historically-loaded oasis of Goanikontes. Once an important stop over for travellers heading inland from the coast, the palms and blue gum trees which still haunt this 19th century Schutztruppe garrison, symbolise man's doomed efforts to re-order the desert.

As we head into the lower reaches of the Khan River Valley, there is a chance to see oryx, springbok, kudu, klipsringer, steenbok, ostrich and jackal set against the harsh rocky landscapes of the pro-Namib. Geologically, this area is of huge significance: from countless small-scale mineworks of hand-hewn tourmaline and rose quartz, to the largest open-cast uranium mine in the world. Their mineral treasures apart, these geological formations are stunningly beautiful: marble, mica, spider-web dolorite and granite cliffs provide interesting short walks and climbs to explore the area. On the way back to Swakopmund, we see yet another side of the Swakop River: an established community of small holdings lining the riverbed. These range from asparagus production, date plantations and olive groves, to small stock husbandry, riding stables and a 'camel farm'. As with all our day excursions, this tours returns to Swakopmund at about 17h00. Our delicious picnic lunches, taken in splendid scenery, are not to be missed - nor is the exciting 4x4 dune-driving necessary to reach the best panoramas

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