We went into the desert by bus to go and see the Welwitzia plants. They are very sensitive and you can damage them by just walking closely past them. The oldest one that they have in a fence is estimated to be over 1500 years old.
This plant is truly a wonder for botanists, in fact earning the scientific name of Welwtichia Mirabilis (mirabilis meaning marvellous). It can live up to 2,000 years - which is a real feat considering they live in harsh desert conditions. It has just two leaves which keep on growing into swirling shapes coiling around the plant throughout it's lifetime, making the leaves the longest living ones in the plant kingdom. It is thought that to improve its chances of survival, it changes the chemical composition of the soil around it so as to create an inhospitable environment for younger plants - I never knew plants could be devious :-)
It relies on wind for seed dispersal and they only germinate in perfect conditions, usually after some 'substantial' rain - which is a rare occurrance. These plants also grow extremely slowly, with 10 year old specimens barely being an inch long.
These plants are best seen in the aptly named Welwitchia Drive near Swakopmund - there are some nice large specimens, including one aged about 1500 years.
in a moonlike landscape,with rare and solitary plants!at first sight,desert landscape looks abandoned,without any form of life!Dusty whiteness of a naked immensity.
when in nature drive,follow the arrows.You'll meet quickly a deep and amazing moon valley...as in cappadocia,turkey....and further,rare plants called "welwischia mirabilis"...... circumference:2 meters...only 2 leaves,never stop growing,winding round itself while drying;reason why its appellation of "fossil plant".
able to live hundreds of years....
ENTRANCE FEES to be paid IN SWAKOP TOURISM OFFICE! (city center)
MIND if arriving SAT or SUNDAY afternoon:tourism office opens THESE DAYS only 9-11am .....maybe,then,you have to visit without permit:you do it at your own risk:fine of 300N$ .....
we did it,luckily without any fine...
on the site,dusty but good roads...visit needs 2 hours time.
Relatively inconspicious but definitely extraordinary: Welwitschia mirabilis, a plant that only exists in Namibia.
Looking like a wilted plant in the middle of the desert, it in fact can become up to 2000 (!) years old. Its roots can go up to 3 meters to the ground.
Well worth a visit!
Quiver Tree is a "tree" that can be find at south Namibia and that can reach up to 300 years, but there is only a place where you can find a Quiver Tree Forest and that is about 14 kilometres north-east of Keetmanshoop on the farm Gariganus, declared a National Monument.
They are known as trees but the are not so, but a aloe plant.
If you come down here stay at the forest camping, this forest gets its better moment at sunset and sunrise.
It is really a nice place ... but I only recommend coming here if you are passing by for going another place.
The Quivertree is not really a tree but an aloe that grows as high as a tree.
It has a special bark that is said to have been used by the san as a quiver for their arrows (hence the name).
The quivertree is found all over Namibia but it only grows as a forest in 2 places, both close to Keetmanshope.
In the evening sun it's bark glows golden-red and is a beautiful contrast to the blue sky. You can walk right through the area which is really beautiful.
The sight is very spectacular, so a lot of people come out the 14 km gravel-road to the park (and campground) only to watch this.
But they leave soon after the sun is down.
If you can (with a roof-tent or tent or camper) stay the night on the campground. It is a wonderful view you have on the quivertree forest while dining and when having breakfast.
And in the morning: don't forget to take the short round-walk through the "giants playground" (see next tip).
Just outside Swakopmund you can enter the Nauklauft Park. you have to get a permit but it is easy to get it and not very expensive.
I think you get it at the intenal affairs offices.
On the map there are roads marked out for normal cars and then ones for 4x4's.
We went in with the hired car but the roads are more for 4x4's.
The first area that you should visit is the moonlandscape.
Then the welwitchias are a great attraction.
It is ugly plants but they are 100's of years old and have only one leaf. It looks like many but that is the way it was torn over the years.
You don't find them anywhere else if my memory hasn't lost me again.
The drive through the amazing dunes and landscape is worth it even if the roads are not too nice.
It is very unspoiled and there are no restaurants or facilities so you have to take lots of water as it gets quite hot.
Strange plant of little beauty but of long life and that is only find at Namib desert.
The male is the one that have flower, and the female one has large cones, so It is easy to separate female and male plants. They get up to 500 - 600 years old, but some of them ar of about 2000 years.
They are able to survive without water cause they are able to get it from the fog through its leaves and from there to the rest of the plant. They open under the fog and closes during the hot day so no water is evaporate.
About 13 km north-east of Keetmanshoop is the spectacular Kokerboom or quiver tree forest. It is on the farm Gariganus, which was declared a National Monument.
The quiver tree is a typical tree of the hot and dry southern part of Namibia. The plants are succulents and can grow as high as 9 m!!!. They have adapted to the extreme heat and lack of water by storing water in their trunks. The tree blossoms for the first time after 20 to 30 years and can get 300 years old. The wood is very light and spongy inside. As the trunk and branches can be easily hollowed out, they were used as quivers by the bushmen - so that is why they are called Kokerboom or quiver tree.
What is unusual about this place is the large number of quiver trees in one spot. They usually only grow one in the area, so this is very unuasual to find more than one in one spot!
When we arrived on the farm, there was this wonderful sunset - so we all took pictures like crazy. Me, too - until I found out, that I had forgotten to put a film inside!!! Well, but next morning I got up early and experienced a just as beautiful sunrise! And I did have a film in my camera, too!!!
These fossilated Trees are about 280 Million years old.
As the ones in Amerika, you can still see that they were actually trees, they have the year-rings and sometimes the bark is visible. But they are from stone -achate I think.
Nobody knows where they come from, the most common theorie is, that a huge floodwave took them with it from way north.
It is a national monument, so do not take any souvenirs with you, here.
You will need a guide to come with you (and watch that you don´t take anything). They can be quite persistent. The guide costs around 20N$ but he will not tell you much about what you see.
What I found interesting is, that the famous Welwitchia (see: Welwitchia-drive from Swakopmund) grows here also. That is not written in the Travel books. And you can see them more easy than on the drive...
The picture shows the plant Welwitchia mirabilis with a petrified tree.Damaraland, west of Khorixas
D2612 will bring you there
The Welwitschia mirabilis is a very special plant that is only growing in this area and nowhere else on the whole world.
Two people discovered this funny plant almost at the same time, but the Austrian Friedrich Welwitschia was a little faster, so he got to name it.
The plant has only 2 leaves that grow right out of the ground. The leaves split because of the animals that eat of it and because of the wind. This plant needs very little water and grows up to 10-20cm in a month if it has enough water.
For the Welwitschia Drive from and back to Swakopmund you take around 4 hours. This is with all the stops included.
You need a permit for it that you can get in Swakopmund. You will also need a permit if you do not intend to stay on C28 but take the side-roads when going to or of Swakopmund. If you come from Soussouvlei or Windhoek you have to get the permit in advance at an Information Bureau there!
Things you can see on the Welwitchia Drive:
- Lichen on the stones: don't walk on them.
- Dollar-Bush and Ink-Bush, two typical adapted plants to the Desert.
- Moon landscape. Well it looks like it. Dark and vast Hills and Plateaus. Quite impressive, too.
- Some things that the south-african troops left here 1915 when they were after the Germans.
-Dolerit-Bands in the Hills. Dolerit is a dark, hard Rock that erodes slowlier than the rest of the Hills, so it stands out.
- Camelthorn Tree (acacia erolaba).
- and finally: the Welwitchia. Looks like someone has splattered that plant on the ground and just left it lying there.
The oldest and biggest Exemplar is the last on the route. Over 1500 years old and really huge.
BTW: if you do not have time for this drive, you can also see the Welwitschia around Twyfelfontain: on the way to Khorixas is a petrified forest and these plants grow there, also.
But what you cannot see there is the Moonlike Landscape. - and that alone is worth the drive.
Some of these 50 petrified trees, complete with bark and tree rings, are estimated to be around 260 million years old! They are not believed to have been growing in this area, but thought to have been transported here during a flood.
Admire one of Namibia's strangest plants : the Welwitschia.
But be careful, keep some distance because otherwise you could destroy it's tender roots.