Last night, David, the French Guide and myself, sat beside the Orange River until 00h30 talking (and drinking beer). Fortunately, we didn't need to be up until 08h00, but even so, most of us were up by 07h30.
Although my phone had developed a fault and none of the buttons worked, I managed to charge it so that I'd at least know what time it was.
After a late breakfast, David disappeared back to the border in the hope that his work permit had finally come through and, in the meantime, the French Guide and myself, patrolled the camp site trying to take photographs of the birds. We were trying to capture a picture of the Orange River White Eye but these little yellow birds seemed to have too much energy and didn't stay in one place long enough!
Finally, David returned having been granted permission to guide and so, at 11h00, we left the camp. As we were now in Namibia, the clocks went back and hour, matching British Summer Time, so it was now 10h00.
With the extra hour, we rejoined the main road and began the long climb northwards through semi-desert, the low cloud
hiding the view from us. Eventually, the clouds grew black and rain appeared to be falling on the adjacent hills. Sheep grazed in the poor grass whilst shepherds attempted to keep their flocks together.
About an hour after leaving camp, we pulled off the main road (which was tarmaced) and set off along a gravel side road towards Ai-Ais (meaning hot hot
. These hot springs, at 60C, have reputedly been known by the San for over 10,000 years. Heading west, we were accompanied by blue sky, with brilliant white cloud hanging like cotton wool. The temperature was also increasing.
All the while, the landscape was gradually changing and now became almost barren, with rocks and sand as far as the eye could see. Telegraphs poles lined the road and wire fences ran mile after mile. Every now and again we'd slow down and cross cattle-grids before resuming our journey.
Finally, we pulled into Ai-Ais and found some shade under some trees. In the sun, the sand was far too hot to walk on. Brunch was served and afterwards most went swimming in the waters.
Resuming our journey up the Fish River Canyon, we stopped in the
middle of the desert road to look at the scenery. Bushes spread to the horizon with an occasional Quiver Tree providing some height amongst the blackened rocks strewn in the sand.
A short time later, we arrived at our camp for the night and, whilst thunder rumbled around us, we erected our tents in the sand. No sooner had we done this than we were back in the bus and heading for the canyon and a little walk. Even though this is the desert, the heaven's opened and the parched land took on a different colour.
Despite the rain, we disembarked and went to the first viewpoint, watching our bus drive away. The rain began to fall yet we did manage a couple of photographs of the canyon in the gloom. Setting off along the rim, we aimed to make it to the second viewpoint where we could watch the sun set although we were all expecting to be disappointed due to the lack of sun.
With thunder and lightening all around us, it looked as though we were to be left wanting but then we saw a faint rainbow. As we watched, the sun slowly began
to get stronger and the rainbow brighter. Before long, the whole canyon was lit with fresh sunshine, totally transforming the landscape. Against the black sky, the canyon looked stunning.
Arriving back at the bus, we grabbed a bottle a bottle and went to the viewing platform where, unexpectedly, we did get to enjoy a magical sunset.
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