A dry place in a wet time 2011


Namibia, rivaled only by the Chilean Atacama, is one of the driest regions in the world. Much of its western coast, located in the southern  reaches of the African continent, rarely, if ever gets rain. Some of these areas are only sustained by the seasonal nightly fogs. Due to these unique conditions, it is in some of these very arid, Mojave desert-like landscapes, where many of the worlds most unique plants and animals can be found.


Similar to the infrequent rainy El Nino years that affect our California and Chilean coasts, Namibia had an extreme summer rain fall this last January thru April 2011.It is reported that this was one of the heaviest summer rains ever experienced in Namibia.


Our objectives were to visit this amazing country in this unusually wet time when the plants and scenery may be different than what most explorers might normally experience. We were in luck and our timing was perfect. When we arrived, the last of the torrential rains were spiting and sputtering off into the eastern reaches of the country. Windhoek, the capital of the country, was green and the weather looked promising. Needless to say, unlike some of our other friends who had visited the country the previous month, we were blessed with open roads and passable river crossings. The weather stayed sunny, warm and accommodating for the entire three weeks.


From Windhoek we took a giant clockwise loop to the south and then did the same  from Windhoek to the North. We experienced the succulent rich areas to the Orange River, and from there we migrated up to the famous Luderitz Bay. The Richtersveld  vegetation in these southern environments  included many fantastic plants from the statuesque Pachypodium namaquanum to the many jewel like mesembs. One could spend a life time studying all these different genera, some of which included: the Lithops, Sarcocaulons, Tylecodons, Conophytums, Othonnas, Aloes, Hoodias, Cerarias, Haworthias, Titanopsis, Adromischus, Pelargoniums, Crassulas, Avonias, Larryleachias and  many, many more. On our northern loop we traveled to the west towards Swakopmund and then up to the impressive Epupa Falls on Namibia‚Äôs northern border to Angola. From there we eventually meandered our way back to Windhoek. On this northern journey we encountered a very different group of succulent genera. The plant taxa generally became larger and often very sculptural. We saw: Cyphostemmas, Pachypodiums, Welwitschias, Commiphoras, Sesamothamnus, Adansonias, Moringas, Aloes, Hoodias, Adenias, Adeniums and so on and so on. We also stumbled across many wonderful animals, not in the game reserves, as well as some of the most beautiful indigenous peoples. The Herero and Himba tribes were both unexpected cultural highlights of this amazing trip!


I took over 10,000 photos, and a few  have found their way into this presentation. Be prepared to see the trip of a life time and the total of Namibia, edited of course!


Wendell S. (Woody) Minnich