After driving through the dark we woke up in Brandberg. The rocks next to the campsite main buildings were actually the edge of the huge Brandberg rock. Last night we apparently had a desert elephant in camp. It was a lonely bull we were told, and this afternoon I saw a huge pile of elephant dung in the middle of the campsite. Unfortunately, most of the elephants are 150 kilometers away – and we explicitly came here to see them. In daylight, not sneaking around the campsite at night.
Last night I went to find the bathroom, some 50 meters away from our car. Right next to the bathroom, in the thicket, I saw a bunch of eyes gleaming in the light of my flashlight. My mind raced from oryxes to huge lions, until I realized they belonged to docile donkeys. Apparently we have a herd of donkeys at the campsite, too.
The Brandberg area is a geologist’s dream and a big, red rock jutting up from the plains. But it is also a nature watcher’s dream, and even now, three months after the last rains, we drove through puddles so deep that they wet the inside of our safari rangers. There is water underground and when it rains the area becomes marshland. And this morning we saw ducks and blacksmith plovers – in the deep desert!
Namibia has had very little rain the past years. Most part, Damaraland included, saw no rain for 4 years until last December 2016, when the rains finally came. Our guide said that there are currently very little animals around because so many did not survive the long draught. The desert elephants got so hungry and thirsty that they would break into campers’ cars and trashcans, and drink from swimming pools. Sometimes they would even smash car windows in hunt for something to eat. Desert elephants are the largest elephants in the world: imagine a size or two up from the normal African elephant.
Now that the rains came, the elephants have sufficient food but have acquired a new behavior, which worries the campsite staff. I would definitely not like to be woken up in my tent by an elephant trying to break into the car underneath me.(Brandberg, Namibia; July 2017)