Climbing the Dunes
Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
33Trip End Jul 17, 2013
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Where I stayed
What I did
We had a bit of a walk to get to the start of the dune. I left my shoes in the car (I made the poor choice to not carry my backpack and just my camera instead), so Beth (who wore shoes) had a much easier walk to the dune than I did. Do remember that nothing good comes from any of the plants due to the thorns, burrs, etc., and the ground had plenty of plant-like objects covering it. Thankfully, by some strange coincidence, few of them were actually painful when stepped on.
Of course, a quick hike to the car would be too simple.
Beth and I decided we didn’t want to climb up a small dune to get to the car, so we continued walking along the flat area. We knew we passed at least one other area with the dead trees, so when we got to one, it wasn’t surprising. We continued on, thinking surely we would see people cars at any time. We walked forever and weren’t sure why we hadn’t reached Matt yet. Keep in mind, I was still barefoot during this whole duration, hiking over rocks, through course sand, etc.
At one point I saw a very large insect. I wasn’t convinced it was dead, despite how still it was, so I didn’t stop near it to take a picture. It had to be about 1/3 – ½ the size of my foot, and looked like a cricket with a transparent shell/body.
Eventually, we realized that there were no longer human tracks in the sand and only animal prints (primarily what appeared to be oryx based on what we saw during the drive into the park). We were quite certain we went too far, and this was confirmed when we were surrounded by sand dunes.
On the way back, I kept hearing this awful animal noise. I looked around repeatedly, convinced that it was probably something that was going to eat me, and finally found a crow sitting atop of a bare tree. Phew!
We turned around to head back. I had to stop four times to pick thorns out of my feet. Finally, we heard people, climbed up the little dune we originally didn’t want to climb, hiked the 20-minute walk back to the car, and, an hour later than it should have taken, we arrived at the car and told Matt of our endeavor. He laughed and said we were the first people to get lost.
Only five minutes later, from their much longer and more strenuous hike, Ali and Pia arrived at the car. Beth and I couldn’t help but laugh at how long our detour took (we should have been able to climb another smaller dune before they got back…oops).
This was also around the time that I learned about a few events that took place while Fiona and I took a different path down the canyon than the others had yesterday. Apparently Sven had stood atop of a big rock/boulder while everyone took a break. The boulder was only about a meter from the cliff’s edge, and, right as Sven began to step off to the side, the boulder rolled backwards and fell several hundred meters down the canyon. Everyone is convinced Sven almost died yesterday. He had no idea it was even happening. Also, Beth slipped and fell a ways down the canyon. I am so thankful I didn’t know any of this yesterday; otherwise I’m sure I would have been certain I was going to die.
We headed back to Neuras. The other part of our group (they are going to Sossusvlei on Thrusday) worked on a little craft project. On Friday we are going to Solitaire, which is a cheetah conservation site that Matt and Kate used to work at before they were relocated to run Neuras. Solitaire has several captive cheetahs that live in a large enclosure (so large that we get to track them by their collars in order to see them and check on them). In order to provide them with a bit of fun and exercise, the volunteers make “prey” and stuff it with horse meat. The cheetahs get to tear apart the prey and get into the compartments in order to eat the meat. It is known as “enrichment”. The group that stayed behind (Alison, Sven, Chris, Matt, Maria, Brittany, and Fiona) made an octopus with six legs… so really a hexapus. It’s quite impressive and has 8 compartments for the meat (six legs plus the head and the body). We will make our enrichment creature on Thursday while the other group is at Sossusvlei.
Supper time… we had something similar to macaroni and cheese with mushrooms. It was quite good, but I tired of the texture quickly. This was paired with a salad. Conversation again turned to countries’ foods, and the same arguments arose…. This time it was a bit more dynamic as more people were involved: A German (Sven), two Canadians (Brittany and volunteer Matt), three Americans (Duke Matt, Maria, me), four British (Chris, Neuras Matt, and Alison), a Swiss (Pia), an Australian (Fiona), and an Italian (Ali). Thankfully, the conversation turned to words that Americans and British pronounce differently and quickly Australians were added into the mix. We definitely exploded with laughter and conversation. I have to say that I think my favorite part of my experience at the N/a’an Ku Sê sites is the conversations we have at supper at Neuras. I laugh so much and feel right at home with these people. Everyone is likeable, and I enjoy being around them.
Now it’s bedtime. I’m quite sore and tired after the dunes. Maybe I’ll read a bit.