Text Rièth van Schalkwyk
Text Rièth van Schalkwyk
I t is rather daunting to be the first contributor for a new series to grace the last page of Travel News Namibia in future. I spent many hours contemplating the perfect topic to write about. Should I try to be witty, sentimental, clever or preachy. Often in situations like these, when one wants to create a masterpiece, the outcome is determined by the pressure of the deadline. To choose an example of what to share with you as being “My Namibia” from a lifetime of experiences. What made the strongest impression on my heart and my eye during the past year? Will that vivid memory which left a lasting impression on me, also entice you to look for it? Namibia is beguiling. It give meaning to the concept of multi-faceted. To isolate one experience will not do justice and neither will a few hundred words explain Namibia’s soul and multi-layered character.
I was born less than a hundred kilometers from Etosha, the famous pan with its white chalk dust and pink sunsets. I think there is something of that atmosphere etched into my DNA, because I cannot resist a sunset. Regardless of where I am in Namibia, in what season, the sunset is always exceptional to me. Stop, and be still. Watch the magic. Look i the opposite direction to admire the warm glow on the mountains or the golden reflection in the water, in the sea or on a building. The more dust, clouds, rain or dramatic weather, the more spectacular the sunset. What makes it so extraordinary is the visual drama minutes before the sun reaches the horizon, and especially after it has disappeared. If you have not experienced it yet, there is something magical to look forward to. Those dark blue, almost purple clouds above the eastern horizon, with the magical glow of the setting sun that lightens up whatever is in the foreground.
Sunsets this past season have been idyllic. The relief of a long drought brought thunderstorms and delivered the most extraordinary cloud formations. Regardless of which part of the country I travelled, the intensity, contrast and colour made me wish I had the discipline to travel with better photographic equipment than just my iPhone. A mesmerising setting among Marula trees a few kilometers from Ruacana, close to the Angolan border; that purple-blue storm advancing towards the setting sun over the Etosha pan, with dust devils faintly visible and the dramatic chalk white silhouette of the Chudop elephants against that backdrop; the reflection of the setting sun in the wake of the boat on the Kwando river; the most intense, deep, vivid cerise pink reflection on the water in a Windhoek street after a rainstorm.With thousands of sunsets stored in my memory I chose to share a place I have been for the first time this year. The image is of the eastern face of Brukkaros Mountain in southern Namibia. I took the photo on a hike to the centre of the former gas volcano. On the way out I was caught in a rainstorm, when for a few moments the clouds shifted, leaving me in awe. A double rainbow. I could see where it ended between two ridges. If it had not been so steep, and so wet, I could have found the pot of gold. This rainbow ended in Brukkaros.
I have travelled the B1 south for decades, taking the mountain for granted.
In March this year, the spectacular scene and touching experience was my reward for walking into its heart.
This article was first published in the Travel News Namibia Winter 2017 issue.