Thursday, 6 April 2017

Namibia 2017 Part 23. In search of the Little 5!

Once again we had an early pick up at 7.00am, right on the agreed time and there were only two more people to collect and we were off to the sand dunes outside Swakopmund.
My original choice of tour operator had been fully booked for this our last day and in hindsight we were so lucky. Just four of us and as it turned out an extremely dedicated and excellent guide.
This was the company logo
The Little Five safari
Taken from the side of their vehicle and those are my sandals!
The Little Five safari
Loads of space, a guide between four of us, things looked much better than the other tour operators set up who we happened to pass. They were full to overflowing !
Would our guide measure up?
Well it certainly seemed so. He gave us an introductory talk about the deserts, the source of water from the sea mists, the moisture retaining plants and the "muesli" of seeds and plant fibres that blow about self seeding plants and providing food for a variety of creatures that make what seems an inhospitable environment their home.
I'll never look at sand dunes the same way again !
Look closely and you will be amazed at the number of tracks in the sand, each individual to the creature that left them. Our guide used them all to find our target species. He was better than Tonto ( if you are under a certain age you won't appreciate how good he was!)
First off he found us the endemic Palmato Gecko as shown on their logo.
Palmato Gecko
He was careful to make sure it found a new hiding place safe from predation before moving on in search of our next target, the venomous Dancing White Lady Spider 
Dancing White Lady Spider
You can see why she is so named when she rears up on her legs as if in a dancing move.
Dancing White Lady Spider
She's one of a male's worst enemies as she eats her partner after mating. Charming.
Once again Nico, our guide, showed amazing compassion and set up a shield to ensure the spider managed to tunnel a new burrow before falling victim to a bigger predator .
Next up the burrowing Skink. You have to be fast to catch them too, they don't half shift. They look just like the Slow Worms we have in our garden at home.
Fitzimmons Burrowing Skink
Three down , two to go but this one wasn't included.
The Sand Diving Lizard.
Sand Diving Lizard
Nico had found a great spot for them. He threw a few meal worms out of the car window and down the dunes they came to gobble them up. Not nearly as impressively as the next one though. 
The Desert Chameleon, what a reptile! Not only does it change colour.
Namaqua Chameleon
to suit the surrounds
Namaqua Chameleon
It's a superb photo challenge too!
All that's needed is a camera that shoots 14 frames per second, a meal worm and a bit of luck!
Namaqua Chameleon
That tongue is something else!
Namaqua Chameleon
It's all happens in the blink of an eye.
Namaqua Chameleon
A great challenge too!
Namaqua Chameleon
Having done the single frames I wanted to try video! Not easy as the viewfinder is the rear screen and with the sun behind you it's difficult to see what you were doing. I'll try posting something separately.
If that was fun the next was slightly scary! 
Peringuey's Adder
The Peringuey's Adder ( also known as a Sidewinder) hides in the sand with just it's eyes and tip of it's tail showing. It waggles the tail to make it look like a grub and strikes at anything that takes a fancy to maybe eating the said grub! 
It's not usually fatal if you get bitten but it's most painful and unpleasant. I kept my distance!
That was the Little 5 completed!
We also came across a new bird for me too, the Tractrac Chat.
Tractrac Chat   Cercomela Tractrac
This one too responded to a tossed mealworm, hence the close views!
Our guide was excellent, he told us about the mineral content of the sand and showed us how to extract the iron that gives the sand a dirty appearance in some places and told us about the purple sand which is actually made of tiny Garnet stones. All interesting information.
We also got a dune tour and ride thrown in too!
Swakopmund Dunes
Maybe not the high speed or steep drops we had achieved the previous day but in many ways more rewarding to savour the views rather than see them disappear in an instant at speed.
Swakopmund Dunes
No for my money, all 700NR or £43pp, this was the highlight not only of Swakopmund but the whole holiday and I think Claire has exactly the same thoughts. The tour only lasts half a day but that's fine, it left us time to pack etc etc but what a great way to end our trip ! 
Not only that but dinner in The Tug with the best seats in the house, what else could you want?
The Tug  Swakopmund
Of course this wasn't quite the last day, we had set aside a whole day to travel back to Windhoek and that I'll keep to tell you about later!

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