Namibian Nature in SpringSeptember 30, 2013
Birding hotspot Namibia: MahangoOctober 1, 2013
Awakening to a warmer season …
Text and photographs by Annabelle Venter
Spring is my favourite time of year because I truly feel I’m waking up from a cold winter slumber. When September arrives, there’s an almost immediate change in the air, with a promise of warmer weather to come. We look around and suddenly along roadsides all over the country the acacia trees start blooming in shades of creamy yellow. The shepherd’s tree has its moment of floral glory as its puts on a beautiful show of fluffy green flowers.
We can slowly start bringing out our summer clothes and enjoying longer days, but don’t stow your woollies away just yet! Inland during September we might still experience a last cold snap, and unsuspecting gardeners might fall prey to a spot of late frost. Up in Caprivi in the north-east, spring takes off a tad earlier, with the arboreal flower show starting in earnest in August.
SPRING FULL MOONS
The days are becoming longer, with 22 September marking the spring equinox. Derived from Latin, the word equinox means that the days and nights have more or less the same length around this date.
The first official day of spring, 1September, coincides with our time change this year! Namibia enjoys summer daylight saving and on the first Sunday in September, we set our clocks forward by one hour.
This means that we can now enjoy more daylight in the afternoons, until the first Sunday in April when we change our clocks one hour back.
So Namibia is currently on GMT +2 hours, the time Caprivians retain throughout the year, preferring not to change their clocks with the rest of the country.
- Springtime presents the lowest risk for malaria, as the country is at its driest before the summer rains begin. That said, there is always a risk when you travel to the northern regions of Namibia – anywhere north of Etosha and especially in the vicinity of the rivers – so consider taking prophylaxis or avoiding these areas if you are pregnant or have children under five.
- Pollens drifting off the blooming acacia trees can cause respiratory allergies and hay fever; so don’t forget to pack the antihistamines.
- As spring moves towards summer, the weather can become oppressively hot and the risk of sunburn is great. There is little cloud cover, especially in central and southern Namibia, so don’t forget to pack long-sleeved shirts, a hat and sunblock with a high protection factor.
- Dehydration can be a problem too as the days become hotter, so be sure to drink enough fluids.
SPRING SHOPPING AND ECO TIPS
- This is a good time to buy game-meat products, as the hunting season has just come to an end at the end of August.
- At the Saturday bio-market at Stephanus Church in Uhland Street, Klein Windhoek, you can buy fresh organic vegetables and dairy products. You’ll also find a wide variety of farm products, such as meats, breads, quiches, cheeses and jams.
- For a selection of Namibian-made gifts, visit the Namibia Craft Centre (NCC) in the Old Breweries complex, and the Pure and Simple outlet opposite the Garten Street entrance to the NCC.
- Take your own shopping bags, preferably made from fabric, to cut down on plastic ones, a major environmental pollutant. The Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society, contact number +264 61 30 6450, sells locally produced shopping bags for N$30.00 each. Annabelle: PHOTO? – I have one.( ? for shopping?)
- This year Namibia is experiencing a drought, so please do your bit to save water. For example, closing the tap while you brush your teeth could save as much as a whopping 11 litres of this precious resource!
You can probably leave most of your winter wear at home at this time of year, as once spring sets in, it rapidly becomes warmer. By October is already very hot.
- Pack a warm jacket for nights and game drives in open vehicles, and summer wear for the daytime.
- Remember to protect your skin against sunburn by wearing long-sleeved tops, ideally made from cotton.
- Don’t forget to pack your bathing-costume, sun-hat and dark glasses – the glare can become intense.
- Take closed walking shoes along for wandering around the desert and over rocks.
- It is advisable to wear long pants and socks at night to guard against those pesky mosquitoes!
What are the best places to visit in spring? For me there is just one – Caprivi!
The ideal time to visit is before the rains begin. It becomes warm here sooner than down south and by September it’s already quite hot, as temperatures build up steadily towards the ‘small’ rainy season in November.
You can swim at the lodges and feel the warmth of the approaching African summer; explore the rivers on a boat; do a spot of tiger fishing, bird-watching and generally enjoy the laid-back pleasures of Africa at its best. Once the rains start, some roads in the remote areas may become waterlogged and the mosquitoes will start arriving.
Heavy dust and smoke in the skies make for dramatic sunrise/sunset photography and the plethora of colourful birds will keep you busy! Large herds of buffalo that you won’t see anywhere else in Namibia will be roaming along the flood plains. Visit the Mahango area of the Bwabwata National Park to add sable and roan antelope to your sightings list, and take in the large flowering trees, some of which – baobabs and sausage trees – are found only in this part of Namibia.
This article originally appeared in the 2013 Spring Travel News Namibia publication.