When we arrived Swakopmund we booked the Living Desert Tour right away to have something to do the following day we had on our own in the town.
Our driver Doug from Living Desert Adventures picked us up around 8 o’clock in the morning, and at the activity center we met the rest of the group. Altogether we were about 15 people in two cars. Christopher Nel was our main guide.
There is so much life in the desert although it may look like there’s completely dead with only sand and dust in the desert. In fact it is alive with a fascinating variety of little desert-adapted animals, which are able to survive on the life-giving fog that consistently rolls in from the cold Atlantic Ocean. Chris taught us how the area’s plants and small animals can survive the harsh climate, and how they obtain water for life.
We drove around whilst Chris and Doug scouted for living creatures in the desert…
The first thing they found was a Namib Dune Gecko. They come in a variety of colors and patterns with an almost transparent skin, which has visible blood vessels beneath the skin. Their eyes are without eyelids, which they keep clean by licking with their long tongues.
Chris taught us the different between lizard and gecko: Lizard has small eyes since it’s a day animals and it also have claws. Gecko has no claws and can walk on glass, and have big eyes to see in the dark. So if you’re not sure if it’s a gecko or a lizard you should throw it on the window and see if it sticks to it (that was a joke, please don’t do that).
We then kept on driving further into the desert, and suddenly Chris stopped the car and jumped out and grabbed something underneath the sand. It was a small legless lizard (Fitzsimon’s Burrowing Skink) that actually looks a bit similar to a snake covered in a glossy layer of wax and can swim through the sand. It is blind and spends most of its life below the surface of the slip face of dunes. And it was so weird, because we got to hold it and when we got it in your hand it became more glas-like.
The next one out was a Chameleon, then a Shovel-Snouted Lizard (again, unbelievable how they can find this tiny tainy thing among all the sand. He almost stepped on a Horned Adder, before we found a Black Scorpion. The last one we found was the dancing White Lady spider. They can see a small different in the sand, as the size of a coin, and then start digging. And they found the spider a couple of meters from the hole.
It’s pretty amazing how they do it – they can see where the creatures are hiding under the sand, dig for a while and then find them, every single time!
Chris is enthusiastic in presenting the “Little Five” and has a deep respect for nature, and you can really see that he loves his job, sharing his knowledge on the fauna and flora of Namibia. Chris has been involved with tourism and conservation for over 10 years. Chris was also involved in the establishment of the Dorob National Park in 2010 along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, and he has done so much for Namibia, and you can read an interview with him at the Official Blog of the Namibian Tourism Board.
Both Chris and Doug was amazing, and we would really recommend to take a tour with Living Desert Adventure.
Price: N$ 650 per person.