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Archive for the ‘Damara Mopane Lodge’ Category

From close by it resembles a climbing wall for free climbers: Vingerklip is 35 metres high, about 15 metres wide and dotted with protruding stones. In 1973 the rock stack in the valley of the seasonal Ugab River, some 40 km east of Khorixas, was indeed conquered in free climbing manner by Udo Kleyenstuber, who ascended on its east side. The hooks which can still be seen were left by American mountaineer Tom Choate who is credited with the first ascent of Vingerklip in 1970.

For geologists, on the other hand, the erosional rock formation is like a book in which they can read stories that happened millions of years ago and shaped this landscape. They are captivating stories about sea levels dropping and rising, wet and dry phases of the climate, torrential rivers, chalky soil and rivulets that cause rocks to split. Even laypersons will notice that Vingerklip consists of different layers – layers of large stones alternate with layers of fine sand. They testify to the fact that at times the Ugab flowed rapidly enough to drag rocks with it, while at others it was so sluggish that sand was deposited in its bed.

Vingerklip/Outjo, issued in 1986, artist: Johan van Niekerk

Vingerklip/Outjo, issued in 1986, artist: Johan van Niekerk

Knowing this much it already becomes clear that it was the Ugab River that sculpted Vingerklip. These days a seasonal river which comes down in flood only after sufficient rainfalls, the Ugab rises in the western foothills of the Otavi Mountains, then passes south of Outjo and north of Brandberg Mountain to reach the Atlantic Ocean about 180 km north of Swakopmund.

Some 120 million years ago, as the southern supercontinent of Gondwana breaks up and South America drifts away, the southern African plate rises and so does its gradient to the sea level. Thus the erosional force of the rivers increases further. Southwest of Outjo the Ugab cuts its course deeper and deeper into the rock. Then, towards the end of the ice age 20 to 10 million years ago, the sea level rises again and a wetter climate prevails. The Ugab River fills the valley, which it created earlier, with rocks and sand. Layer is deposited upon layer, up to a height of 100 m.

The Vingerklip in the Ugab Valley, some 40 km east of Khorixas. Photo: Gondwana Collection

Two million years ago, during the ice age in the northern hemisphere, the sea level drops again and the Ugab once more cuts deep into its course which it previously filled with rocks and sediments. Parts of the wide riverbed fall dry. As the water evaporates, minerals precipitate – most of all lime because the Ugab and its tributaries drain the soil west of the Otavi Mountains and around Outjo which contains carbonate. The precipitated lime works like cement and binds rocks and sand into a conglomerate which is as hard as concrete. The deeper the river cuts into its original bed the narrower it becomes, forming several terraces over time.

The ‘cement’ in the conglomerate, i.e. the lime, is dissolved again by rain. This results in rivulets and streams which gradually cut into the terraces as if they were a cake. Erosion continues to gnaw on the edges of these pieces of cake, causing them to shrink and the gaps between them to widen as time passes. Vingerklip is the remainder of one such piece of cake, albeit not the only one: from its base another two, larger terrace islands can be seen in the Ugab Valley.

Furthermore, three different terraces can be distinguished. There is the ‘old’ main terrace, the plateau of which now rises some 160 m above the current riverbed, while the surface of a younger terrace lies about 100 m and that of the youngest one some 30 m above the Ugab.

Since this area does not experience much rain, chances are that Vingerklip will remain for years to come. It sits on a sound wide base with a circumference of 44 metres – in contrast to the Finger of God in southern Namibia, which collapsed in December 1988.

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Here is a hot tip for all Namibia fans: the new road map ‘Gondwana’s Classic Routes’, fresh from the printers. This map features fascinating routes plus recommended accommodation and many exciting stories about interesting places. At the same time it is also an ordinary road map with all the essential information of the official Namibia road map by Prof. Uwe Jäschke and the Roads Authority of Namibia, which is sold by book stores and souvenir shops.

On the map which has now been published by the Gondwana Collection routes for exploring the country’s south and north have been highlighted. The routes are laid out in manageable daily segments with Gondwana’s lodges and campsites marked as overnight stops. Additional accommodation establishments recommended for the north are Mushara on the eastern fringe of Etosha National Park and Waterberg Wilderness on the south-eastern slope of Waterberg Mountain. These are places where Gondwana does not offer any accommodation but which lend themselves as a destination along the route. Pictures and brief descriptions of the lodges on the side of the map help with the choices and increase anticipation.

Namibia map with routes, lodges and stories

Namibia map with routes, lodges and stories

The 40 numbered dots which mark particularly interesting places and sites are a special feature of this map. They include grand sights like Sossusvlei or the Fish River Canyon but also places which have a fascinating story. These places are described with a few lines and a picture on the reverse of the map. Many of the stories are taken from the ‘Gondwana History’ series of books.

The road map Gondwana’s Classic Routes is available free of charge in English, German and Afrikaans – from the Windhoek office and all the lodges of Gondwana, from Mushara and Waterberg Wilderness.

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Imagine Travel | Luxury Tailor-Made Holidays to Africa, the Indian Ocean and Latin America

1. Hot air ballooning over Sossusvlei

Take to the skies and witness the awe-inspiring views of Sossusvlei (The largest sand dunes in the world). A unique and romantic way to tour the dunes and one that will inevitably leave most of you wanting more.

2 : Quad Biking the Dunes

If it’s sense of speed that you are looking for why not try scaling the dunes on a Quad bike. Intense thrills at high-speed and another great way to visit the worlds largest sand dunes and the Namibian desert.

3. Hiking and cycling The Fish River Canyon

Namibia is a great place for guests to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities including hiking or cyling The Fish River Canyon. This is a great way for guests to spend part of their holiday doing something pro-active and they will also get to witness the stunning views that the canyon has…

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Just in time for the first anniversary of Damara Mopane Lodge work on two hiking trails was completed in early November.

The Mountain Top Route (4 km) requires some climbing, over a total altitude of 118 metres, to reach a hilltop in the vicinity of the lodge. For the scramble over sharp rocks you can borrow protective gloves from reception. This is a challenging tour and the reward for your mountaineering effort is the gorgeous view of the surrounding Damaraland scenery. The trail is lined by some interesting trees, including the large-leaved Sterculia, the Moringa and Maerula.

Swimming pool and bar area at Damara Mopane Lodge

By contrast, the Valley Walking Trail is a leisurely 4-km-walk through diverse vegetation such as Mopane forest, grassy plains and thickets of Trumpet Thorn. There are many different birds to observe: Monteiro’s Hornbill, cardinal wood peckers, babblers, robins, Guinea fowl and weavers, to name but a few. Lively little sunbirds are particularly active in spring and summer. Ecologically speaking they are Africa’s counterpart to the Kolibri (hummingbird) in the Americas. Sunbirds are not quite as agile, however, and they cannot hover in midair for quite as long.

Bungalows and gardens at Damara Mopane Lodge

Bungalows and gardens at Damara Mopane Lodge

On both routes look out for lizards, geckos, chameleons and agamas taking a sunbath. With a little luck a warthog or Damara dik-dik may cross your way. Snakes are also part of the Damaraland fauna. Usually they give way before the hiker has even noticed them. If nevertheless you happen to have a surprise encounter with a snake – keep your distance and slowly retrace your steps.

Both routes are clearly marked. For the environment’s sake you are not allowed to leave the trail or remove any plants. After your hike the large pool of Damara Mopane Lodge beckons for a refreshing dip and a thirst quencher is ready at the bar.

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