Saturday, February 9, 2008

47: Moon landscape

One of the things that we did during our stay in Swakopmund was to take "The Welwitschia Plains drive" which is a self-guided car drive through part of the Namib Naukluft Park that takes around four hours to complete. To get a permit for driving your car within the park (and to get the description of the numbered beacons that you will see along your way) you have to visit Namibia Wildlife Resorts office in Swakopmund.

Part of The Welwitschia Drive goes through "Moon Landscape", which is a spectacular geological structure formed by the Swakop river millions of years ago as waters of the river were cutting through the softer surface deposits:

I changed those two pictures into black-and-white ones, as I thought that it makes the valley look even more dramatic. For comparison, here is one photo in natural colors:

At a first glance it would seem that the Namib desert is a dry and barren region, but when you look more carefully you will notice that the ground and stones are covered with lichens. Lichens depend for their survival on the mist that moves in from the sea over the desert at night and in the early morning. Because of the Namib's exceptionally misty nights, the lichen fields here are more extensive than anywhere else in the world. Some of them look like fragments of dead plant material or soil: they are gray/black and they lie loose on the surface. However, if you place them in water they will unfold and change color.

Here Jochen is experimenting with water and lichens: