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    • toine
      Puros, October 2019 Day 8 – 10 October: Puros We had chosen Puros mainly because we wanted to visit a traditional Himba tribe village. Also the campsite was a very nice place to relax a little and enjoy some of its comforts, while still being completely in the bush. A traditional Himba village, near Puros. This is not a tourist destination and people live here as they’ve done for thousands of years. There were only a few women and children when we visited. It turned out that most of the men work weekdays in nearby Puros. Also most of the kids stay in Puros to go to school and usually stay with family. They all come back for the weekend. A traditional Himba village consists of a few different small huts, each with their own purpose. A Himba woman preparing a traditional perfumed red paste, Otjize. The Himba women use this on their skin and hair, against sunburn and simply to look more beautiful. The paste is a mix of red ochre, butter, fat and scented with myrrh. A daily morning ritual. Son takes care of the back.               The best souvenir of all…? The aromatic mixture of fragrant wood ash and herbs! The Himba burn this mixture and “bath” themselves in the perfumed smoke. We left the village and decided to explore the Puros riverbed. Elephants roam around here as well, but the day before we had seen a lot of giraffes and we wanted to particularly see more of them.     This giraffe really has a completely different pattern than all others. I’m not sure whether or not this is a different species… Mega loves giraffes, but it’s not easy to get anywhere near them. Particularly when outside the car…   We spent midday and lunch relaxed at the camp, fo a change. In the afternoon we decided to explore another part of the Puros riverbed and to go watch sunset from a huge granite rock outcrop in the middle of the valley.       In the distance the traditional Himba village we visited this morning. How isolated can you live…! The Puros riverbed. We’ll be back, to explore further upstream, northwards towards eventually the Epupa Falls, at the border with Angola. Sundowners with an awesome 360 degree view over the Puros riverbed! Back at our camp we were surprised by this rather relaxed giraffe, who was casually wondering through the campgrounds. A perfect end of the day. What else do we want… Well, we were hoping for some elephants to pass by, but they didn’t. You can’t have it all….  Last photo of the day, with an UV flashlight. It turned out there were dozens of scorpions hiding in the bark of the tree in the middle of our campsite. Day 10 – 12 October: Puros – Palmwag Concession Today we were heading for the Palmwag Concession, where we wanted to camp inside the concession, rather than outside. But first we wanted to see some more giraffes.     And that was Puros, land of giraffes and Himba. Beautiful scenery, hardly any other tourists. It’s a little bit a wild-west out there; not an easy life for the locals, as there are not many jobs. So the locals spend most of their time hanging out in few local bars and the only little shop in the village, often drunk…
    • toine
      Thanks @mtanenbaum, coming..! Over the next few days..
    • toine
      Thanks @Treepol it's an amazing experience...! Was supposed to go again next month, but I guess we'll have to postpone a bit...
    • toine
      Hoanib Riverbed, October 2019 Day 7 – 9 October: Opuwo – Sesfontein – Hoanib riverbed We left Opuwo early morning for Sesfontein, taking a bit more time than the day before, to admire the gigantic Baobab trees along the road. It’s quite a spectacular sight! Less than half an hour west of Sesfontein you see the Hoanib riverbed valley open up in front of you. It’s hard to miss. And as soon as you leave the gravel road you know you’re in for some serious off-road driving…! Here and there the riverbed consists of half a meter deep white sand powder and it almost feels like driving through water. You don’t want to get stuck here and you have to be very careful not to hit anything hidden under the powder or perhaps drive into a hidden trench… Not for newbies! We passed the recently opened Elephant camp, I guess a good alternative starting point. The riverbed narrows to only a few dozen meter and for the first time we see water flowing in the river. The muddy riverbanks are covered in thick high reed grass and quite challenging to navigate. Dozens of dead cows laid around in this part of the valley, not a nice sight… But clear signs of how hard life can be here.   Lunch in the middle of the riverbed. We hadn’t seen much wildlife yet and I was getting a bit worried that we may have left the Huab riverbed too soon… Less than half an hour after our lunch things started to change and look a lot better.       I was really worried too soon…! We caught up with this large herd of desert elephants, including a young baby of just a month old. Despite the baby they were very relaxed and it seemed they didn’t pay much attention to us.    Mom clearly keeping an eye on us…! Time for an elephant nap, so we decided to drive ahead, knowing we’d see them again later that day. As there was plenty of wildlife in the area we decided to stay and catch up with the elephants in the afternoon. Not easy to get to, but a beautiful viewpoint with 360 degrees views of the Hoanib riverbed. We really enjoyed to look into the riverbed from above and see herds of elephant, giraffe, oryx, springbok and flocks of ostrich make their way through the valley. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon around this area and already looked out for a safe place to camp, a bit away from the riverbed itself.   The herd had caught up with us. Mom tried to encourage her baby to forage for some roots, but I think that was a bit too soon… Suddenly we ran into a herd of panicking springbok, clearly spooked by something… We drove onto the sandy riverbanks and sure enough, we soon found fairly fresh lion tracks! Would a dream come true…? I had spend a lot of time reading about them, and their distribution, and I had chosen our route of these couple of days with deep in my mind the hope to see these elusive cats… Even this giraffe was clearly weary of danger. We followed the lion tracks, which clearly led in and out of several patches of bush, but eventually into some bush where no tracks led away from…! Would the lions be sleeping in those bushes..? We couldn’t see anything from the car, but I was almost sure they were… I marked the place on my GPS and the plan was to come back later, around sunset, hoping they would come out… The sun started to set; we were hoping the elephants would come this way. We didn’t have to wait long! I guess the elephants also knew there were lions in the area and with a baby elephant it was much safer to spend the night away from the riverbed on the more open plains just north.   An increasingly spectacular scenery evolved… By now this herd was completely ignoring us and allowed us to slowly follow them, further away from the riverbed.     Too perfect… And time to leave the herd alone, hoping to find them again the next day. We drove back to the lion tracks. It was getting dark fast we decided to just wait in the car for it to get completely dark. So there we were, in the small sand dunes on the Hoanib riverbank, patches of bush all around. Engine off, flashlights ready, adrenaline slowly increasing. An eery silence… I thought “no way”… What are the chances to actually see desert lions? But there are fresh tracks nearby…! It was almost dark. All of a sudden I thought to see a dark vague shadow slowly move in front of our car… It was too dark to see what it was… I switched on the lights of the car… Oh my god…. We couldn’t believe it! Right in front of our car, a big female desert lion! She stood still, looked at us and continued her walk. Twenty meters further she decided to lay down, in the soft desert sand. A second female lion appeared, a bit more skittish. She didn’t like the flashlight, so we tried not to bother her. We spend about half an hour with the two lions. They initially moved slowly through the dunes, regularly laying down and at one stage chasing a springhare. They got clearly more and more into hunting mode, and it was time for us to leave them alone… What an unforgettable experience! We drove to what we thought was the safest spot to spend the night camping, away from the riverbed and surrounded by a sea of sand. We had dinner around a campfire, while every 5 minutes I scanned the area with my flashlight, just in case…. Another perfect day and night in the Namibian bush! Day 8 – 10 October: Hoanib riverbed – Puros First things first! Back to where we saw the lions last night! Well, it didn’t take long to find their tracks. We followed them, to only find out that he had followed our car tracks, to literally the edge of the riverbed itself, a few hundred meters away from where we had camped… I guess they were curious, but not curious enough to cross the open plains, completely exposed. Tracks on tracks. We followed the lion tracks for an hour, but eventually lost them… Time for breakfast, keeping a close eye on the surrounding bushes…! And sure enough, the herd of elephants made it back into the riverbed. We spend some time with them and then decided to make a move, towards our next destination.     We said goodbye to this friendly herd of elephants, which we had now followed for about 24 hours. What an absolutely incredible experience. I could probably do this for weeks! And we’ll certainly be back for more. Today we wanted to continue through the Hoanib riverbed and then drive north to Puros, through the so-called Puros Gorge. The plains between the Hoanib riverbed and the Puros riverbed further north are a spectacular land of nothingness. I believe these are the Ganias plains, but am not sure. Arriving at the Puros riverbed. The Puros Gorge. During the dry season the riverbeds in north western Namibia look completely dry, but water is actually flowing fairly close under the surface and here and there reaches the surface.   Our campsite for the next two nights, the Puros Ngatutanga Camp. What a spectacular location, on the edge of the riverbed. Hot showers, toilet and a kitchen setup, what a luxury! No electricity, but that was no problem.
    • Treepol
      Really enjoying your TR, you certainly found the Namibian wilderness and had it all to yourselves, what an amazing experience. The photos of the desert eles in the dust storm are very special. 
    • Antee
    • Antee
      BOLIVIA From Santa Cruz there is a 5-6 hour drive to Kaa Iya nationalpark where I spent my next 4 nights. This is a rarely visited nationalpark, only around 20 people each year visit this remote place far away from everything.   It is a sort of permit madness to get here and it is impossible and illegal to just show up without all this permits. There is only one road inside the park. A road for the oil pumps in the middle of Kaa Iya. It is long though, around 100km. The oil company owns the road and you also need permits from them to explore this area.   I used: https://www.nicksadventuresbolivia.com/  to arrange everything and had a superguide named Saol, an old Bolivian gentleman who had spent years inside this park. Also a cook and a driver. We stayed in two different places. In the park ranger house and also at the oil company further inside.    Lunch stop with our car at San Jose on the way to Kaa Iya.   Kaa Iya is a "feline heaven" and you can see four different species quite easy. Should be one of the best places as I know about in the world to see Jaguarundi and that was the most important target here.  Jaguar, Puma and Ozelot are also all present in good numbers here. And alot of other cool stuff of course.   The first gate. An old rusty sign indicated that we now enter Kaa Iya   Kaa Iya is a very dry area. This is the dry chaco. It is flat and the thorny bushes make this place inhospitable. As you can see there is not much of a view beside the road but you can see far in the front and the biggest chance is to have something crossing or walking along the road.    Typical Kaa Iya landscape. Dry chaco.   The time was mostly spent at night as usual with felines but Jaguarundi you need to find early morning or late afternoon, even in the middle of the day as they are active during the day.   My species list from Kaa Iya nationalpark:   1. Jaguarundi --- Already on our first evening we got the most important one - Jaguarundi!  Usually they are seen quickly crossing the road for just a second which leave you without a photo but this one I got into my camera!  The light was almost gone and the photos are very bad but still, it´s a Jaguarundi in my camera!    We could see it´s eyeshine far away and waited him out inside the car   After this sighting I got two more Jaguarundis during my stay in Kaa Iya. Both for just a second crossing the road in front of our car and then gone.    Jaguarundi sniffing the bushes     2. Ozelot --- Another lifer feline for me. A few were seen but this young Ozelot was by far the best sighting of them.            We stepped out of the car and stalked it a bit on foot and got a lovely view when it hid inside the bush.       3. Jaguar --- One Jaguar seen. I felt grateful to spent time with this creature far, far away from the crowds in Pantanal. Not a single human being for hours away. Outside Pantanal Jaguars are still rarily seen but Kaa Iya is a good place to spend some time with them on personal basis... My 24th feline species.   Jaguar walking the road     Became curious about us     Turned around and walking towards us. Eye to an eye with a Jaguar!     Lovely sighting far, far away from the crowd madness in Pantanal     4. Crab eating fox --- Common at night. 10 individuals seen.       Crab eating fox     5. Tapir --- A very special and rare sighting of a mother with a newborn. Actually they didn´t let us pass the road and we didn´t want to push them either and kept our distance and while them walked into the darkness of Kaa Iya we turned around the car.   Suddenly this showed up on the road     Newborn calf   They simple didn´t let us pass the road     Such a lovely and rare sighting!     Kaa Iya truly delivers!     Another Tapir was seen later on drinking water from the road after some unusual rainfall.       6. Three banded armadillo --- Only one armadillo seen.         7. Gray leaf-eared mouse --- One of the smaller creatures of the night in Kaa Iya.       8. Conovers tuco-tuco --- One of the day active mammals you can encounter is the weird looking Tuco-Tuco. I don´t know what he was up to in the open and exposed to predators but he seemed confused.       Conovers tuco-tuco     9. Molina´s hog-nosed skunk --- Two of those quite nice looking skunks were seen.        Molina´s hog nosed skunk     10. Gray brocket deer --- Three seen. All very shy. I guess they have their reason...   Gray brocket deer hiding in the thick bush     11. White coated titi --- This dry chaco species is fairly common i Kaa Iya and we saw groups of them 3 of 4 days.    White coated titi     12. Black howler monkey --- On the way back outside the nationalpark we encountered a pair of Black Howler on a big distance. Male and female.  Why couldn´t every mammal have different colors when it comes to male/female, it would make it so much more easy     Male Black howler     Female Black howler   13. Chacoan Mara --- The only mammal I didn´t managed to take photo of as we only saw a couple of them the first day.     There is alot of other things than mammals here as well and here are some other cool creatures.   Red footed tortoise     Boddaert´s tropical racer     Tricolor hog-nosed snake   Yellow-tailed cribo     Bolivian black velvet     And some noticeable birds at the end...     Little nightjar     Blue-crowned parakeet     Turquoise-fronted amazon     Tropical screech owl     Great horned owl     Outskirts of the nationalpark. This is where we saw Black Howler monkey     Finally a Homo-sapiens. Me!       Stuff I missed I missed the Puma. Just minutes behind one as we had Puma scats on the road on the way back some 3 minutes after we turned around.  But 3 of 4 felines were seen and photograph and Kaa Iya is a real "feline heaven" and a true wilderness far away from everything. I still often thinking about this place and how I appreciate real wilderness.   Next portion from another place in Bolivia...
    • mtanenbaum
      Thanks so much for posting! Looking forward to the rest of your report. 
    • offshorebirder
      Thanks for taking the time to put together this excellent trip report @TonyQ.    Gorgeous photos and useful trip planning advice!
    • Tdgraves
      Day 6, Morning drive, Nossob, 22/1/20   It was again 16 degrees on departure and I had the 5D. It was time to try going South again, but we didn't get far. We were only just out of the gate, I was the passenger and as I looked out of my side window, there was a male lion, right next to me!! A lot of the sand roads are much lower than the verges, due to the constant grading, so it seemed even more imposing than it actually was! By the time I picked my camera up, he had disappeared into the bush, but his partner was there...   7T4A9513a by tdgraves, on Flickr   So we had to reverse back, much to the consternation of the vehicle behind us. They were flashing away and eventually their convoy of three passed us. Don't they know why people reverse on safari? Their loss. Although they did eventually work it out, I guess that they must have seen one of the lions when it entered the riverbed. There was a male and two females.   7T4A9524a by tdgraves, on Flickr   We were able to turn around and it seemed that they were off to the camp waterhole, so we went back into camp, parked up and waited. As we arrived at the hide, a couple who had been having breakfast there were leaving. I told them to turn around, as three lions were coming, but they carried on, only to return a couple of minutes later, presumably as the translation filtered into their consciousness....    Unfortunately, it was still pretty dark as they approached, but still pretty awesome.   7T4A9549a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9569a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9575a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9590a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9601a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9604a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9609a by tdgraves, on Flickr   A couple from the OH with the 7D   J19A1368a by tdgraves, on Flickr   J19A1348a by tdgraves, on Flickr   We decided to go back out South again, this was by the gate...   7T4A9619a by tdgraves, on Flickr   The rest of the drive was pretty much only birds   7T4A9623a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9642a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9643a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9645a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9687a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9694a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9700a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9707a by tdgraves, on Flickr   Including quite a lot at the Rooikop hole   7T4A9719a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9759a by tdgraves, on Flickr   7T4A9762a by tdgraves, on Flickr   This wildebeest was very nervous when approaching for a drink and as it was getting very hot (33 degrees), we left it in peace   7T4A9800a by tdgraves, on Flickr   When we got back to our room, we were joined by a jackal buzzard, who landed right in front of us   7T4A9826a by tdgraves, on Flickr   Time for breakfast
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