The Moon Landscape:
The stark, bare and inhospitable
looking Moon Landscape has become a favourite with the film industry
over recent years which regularly visits the area for location
shoots. This group of Damara Granites pushed upwards through the
earth's crust some 500 to 460 million years ago. This previously
high mountain range has been eroded through time down to the
foundations which over the past 2 million years have experienced
further erosion through the actions of the Swakop River changing it
into what is known as a "Badlands". The view points are well
situated, but take care - there are no safety barriers.
A visit the Moon Landscape and
Plains is well worth the effort if you are staying in one of the
coastal towns. You should plan about four hours for the 140km round
trip. If there's mist along the coast it should be burning
off in the area of the Moon Landscape by 10h00. If you drive out
earlier - above left is what you will see. Below right you can see the early morning mists burning-off on left-hand side of photo
to reveal the stark badlands surface.
Sometimes Obscured By Early Morning Mists
10:00 mists burning away
The tour route lays within the Northern Namib Naukluft Park and a
permit is required for driving on all roads except the C14, C28, D1982
and D1998. Permits are obtainable for a nominal fee at the Ministry of
Environment and Tourism Offices in
and you will be supplied with a map indicating points of interest
and overnight desert camping sites.
Entry Fees Payable
Moon Landscape Getting There: Drive the B2 road from
Windhoek. After 0.5km you will see
the 'Martin Luther' Steam Engine on your right hand side. At 1.2km you
will see the road sign 'Namib Park C28 Khomas Hochland'. The gravel roads are
suitable for saloon cars. There are no fuel stations or shops on the
route, so be prepared and take some refreshments and drinks. Turn
onto the C28 gravel road.
|To untrained eyes the surrounding
desert may seem empty and barren, but if you look for signs of life
you will see plenty of desert shrubs, many of which are several
hundreds of years old, and in places lichens. The reference points on
the map relate to stone numbered signs that are placed alongside the
road at points of interest. Visitors are requested to stay on the road
as the desert surface is considered an eco sensitive area. Lichens
grow less than 1mm per year.
Lichens: The Ordovician Period was the second
period of the Paleozioc Era (488 to 444 million years ago). The
super-continent of Gondwana (Africa, South America and Australia)
had taken position over the Southern Polar Region where and a great
Ice-Age spread over much of the land. It was in the Ordovician
period that the first Lichens crept out of the seas to begin their
colonising of the land. They are an extremely hardy life form that
can be found nestling on rocky arid surfaces from the polar regions
to the tropics. Their presence provides a protection for the ground
surface from water and wind erosion and thus a critical factor in
the evolutionary process. In the dense forests that circle the sub-arctic
regions of the northern hemisphere and spreading across the vast
tundra thick mats of Lichens blanket the land again playing a
critical roll in the food chain.
Lichens are not a single organism, as
with most other life forms. It was the English author Beatrix
Potter, famous for her Peter Rabbit books, who in addition to her
writing of children's books made a study of Lichens over many years
first proposed that Lichens were two different life forms living in
symbiosis.( Lichens comprise of two organisms living together in
special association.) The larger part of the lichen is composed of
fungal filaments amongst which lives a, usually green, algae.
Take care not to step onto what might
appear to be dead vegetation.
What may appear to be dead plant life can in fact be lichens. When
water is poured on them they unfold and change colour.
Dollar Bush -
referred to for its' coin shaped leaf. Named after a German
geologist named Stapff who was prospecting the Kuiseb Valley in
1885-1886. You'll find plenty of Dollar Bushes on the gravel plains
of the northern Namib Desert.
Old Wagon Wheel Tracks: Here you can see tracks left by the oxen-wagons that
plied the Old Bay Road from the coast to the hinterland over 100 years
ago. It will take centuries before these tracks disappear.
Take a detour for a couple of kilometres to the oasis
at Goanikontes. It lays in the 'dry' Swakop River bed. There's
plenty of Eucalyptus and Palm trees that offer shade for a roadside
picnic. At the turn of the 19th century the farm used to provide
Swakopmund with much of its fresh produce requirements.
You will find a pleasant
Rest Camp bungalows and chalets for overnights and a restaurant where you
can enjoy coffee and cake. Braai / picnic areas. Day Visitor Fee N$20 pp
Scrap Metal: In 1915
the Union of South Africa troops camped at this point. The rusted
remains of petrol cans and an early form of steel vehicle track can be
seen. Visitors are asked not to remove any of the parts.
Dolerite-Dyke: During the time of the break-up of
Gondwana, as Africa and South America began their drift apart,
great stress cracks appeared in the nearby earth's crust. Molten
magma forced its way into these cracks and solidified while still at
a sub-surface level. Over millions of years the surrounding 'softer'
rocks eroded away leaving long ridges of rocky 'outcrops' having a
dark, almost black 'backbone'. A good example of this can be seen
while driving down the road towards the Swakop-River. You will pass
through a man-made cut that exposes the dolerite dyke. It is an
|Camp Sites by the Swakop-River there are shaded with bbq area. No electricity, no water and dry field toilets.
Tranquil and away from it all, a night or two out here under the stars with
no light or noise pollution will make for a memorable experience.
The camp areas in the national park can be booked through the Swakopmund office
of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. contact details and Entry Fees Payable
Tour Part 2 Welwitschia
Acknowledgements and further reading:
GV1, P1, P2, T4, T5.
The Moon-Landscape and Welwitschia Plants lay within a
National Park area, so there are entrance fees payable to the Ministry of
Environment and Tourism. Entry Fees Payable
Of Interest: It is estimated that Lichens are
the dominant vegetation on about 8% of the Earth's land surface.