Day 17: Desert Tour with Tommy

For the first time in 17 days … a later start. I was still up at 6am but had plenty of time for breakfast and to enjoy the view up the Atlantic coast before we loaded up into 4x4s at 8am for a desert tour.

We’d driven past the distant dunes and through the desert (the Namib) yesterday on the way to Swakopmund. Like I said then, I couldn’t see anything but sand and scattered bushes, so I wasn’t expecting to see a great deal on the tour.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Tommy’s desert tour was a huge eye-opener. Driving into the dunes was cool enough, but then every few minutes Tommy would jump out of the vehicle he was driving (sometimes before it had come to a complete stop) and jog barefoot and hunched over into the dunes, following signs and tracks invisible to us.

At one point he started scooping up sand and, hey presto, there’s a legless lizard in his hand.

At another abrupt stop, our driver, Herman, told Tommy he’d seen signs of a sidewinder. As we all walked over to check it out Tommy called us to stop. We’d all just walked straight past a tiny chameleon on the gravely sand. It was about 5cm long and light grey/pink in colour … at first. As it moved closer and onto Ron’s boot the colour change was quick and remarkable.

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Fascinated by the chameleon, we’d forgotten about the sidewinder. When we walked over to the bush with the snake “signs” near it (nothing but sand if you ask me) Tommy gave some background about the little reptile and pointed out that it was “right there”.

Everyone leant forward. Huh, where?

There! And he slid his snake hook under the sand and it surfaced with a sidewinder draped over it. Ok, very impressive.

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And watching it wriggle it’s way back under the surface when he put it down was just as impressive.

Leaving the snake to submerge again we moved on to track down a bigger chameleon. Whilst driving and searching, Tommy jumped out of the car again and jogged up to a small sand hill. We joined him and he started digging around a small hole.

Nope, couldn’t dig faster than the first one … whatever it was.

Started digging another hole.

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This time he cupped something in his hand and stood up. We crowded around and he opened his (shaded) hand to reveal a small, almost translucent, sand gecko (Palmatogecko?).

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Finally, after more searching, they found a bigger chameleon. What a crazy looking creature; curled tail, regularly changing colour to match it’s surroundings (just like a chameleon), and eyes that move around independently of each other.

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And watching it feed on worms produced a cracker of a photo.

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The drive back to town through the dunes was a great end to the tour.

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After the desert tour we had a very lazy afternoon; we needed it. We ordered room service and watched the sunset over the Atlantic through the huge port-hole-like window of our room.

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