Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ruacana Falls

Ruacana Falls is among the largest waterfalls in Africa both based on volume and width. The Cunene (or Kunene) River drops 352 feet (107m) over a broad semi crescent shaped, angled scarp into a narrow gorge which straddles the border of Angola and Namibia (the falls are listed in the database as being within Namibia because the primary viewpoints are found within that country). At times of peak discharge the falls may stretch over 3500 feet wide, but because the volume of the Cunene River varies greatly from season to season the actual width and volume of the falls varies greatly.
Additionally, the river has been harnessed for hydroelectric production immediately above the falls. During the dry season the river is syphoned off entirely and the falls run dry. From roughly December to June the annual monsoons provide ample sustenance to the river basin that the hydro project maxes out and the falls return to their impressive natural state.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Desert Elephants of Namibia from the Ugab & Huab Rivers

Mama Africa is the biggest herd in the Ugab basin and takes its name from the matriarch, a distinctive middle-aged cow. Its defined by 6 cows, 5 sub adults and 2 babies.

Mama Africa herself is a strong matriarch and this herd is the most stable and relaxed in the basin.

A group of well developed and mature cows of whom the matriarch is named The Dowager, easily recognised by her long even upturned tusks. Possibly due to the small size of the group they can often be found in close proximity to Mama Africa. The herd consists of 4 cows, juvenile and a baby.

The most volatile herd in the area with no clearly defined matriarch, there are 5 cows, 1 juvenile and 2 babies. All the cows are of a similar size and age but the juvenile Stella, is easily recognised by his slightly deformed back right leg which was broken when he was a baby.

Huab elephants, unlike the Ugab elephants are habituated to cars due to the large number of lodges in the area and stand as a testament to the benefits of tourism as a conservation tool. They are both relaxed and healthy and breed regularly. There are 6 cows, 2 sub adults and 4 babies.

Visit Huab Lodge in Damaraland

Huab Lodge, situated in Damaraland Namibia, began as an idea to generate funds to save Namibia's desert–dwelling elephants from being harassed and shot. Since 1992 awareness has increased, as has tourism and the “value” of the elephant is changing. The original farmland is a small, unique area called Monte Carlo which boasts stunning views bisected by the mostly dry Huab River. The former rest camp which accommodated tourists in the 1970s now houses the lodge’s staff.   At a special site just down river from the old rest camp, where the Germans built the so-called German Bath in the late 1800s, Huab Lodge was erected.
Despite its size the unique main building blends well into its surroundings. The irregular thatch roof mirrors a mountain on the opposite bank. The lodge's stone and thatch bungalows spread along the elevated north bank of the river ensuring a private and magnificent view – even from the shower!
Huab-Lodge-Namibia-managementHuab Lodge with all it has to offer and being off the beaten track is not a place for a single night-stop. You should allow several days to enjoy and absorb the tranquillity and quiet, the welcoming and comfortable atmosphere, and the many activities at the lodge. There is an airstrip directly nearby the lodge.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Henties Bay Attractions

Unlike many towns in Namibia that pride themselves on their German heritage, Henties Bay does not have historical buildings or museums, or a rich diamond history, or even ghosts to speak of, but we do have some interesting happenings and sites as well as a fascinating desert environment that are worth discovering by fun and nature lovers.

The Fish Festival is by far the most important and biggest annual event in Henties Bay and many people from all over Namibia and even South Africa flock to our small town to join in the festivities and jolly atmosphere.  Make sure to attend this happy event that is presented each year around August.

A strange but very attractive phenomenon is a fresh water fountain that is situated almost on the beach in the Valley, an old tributary of the Omaruru River. Apparently this fountain served as a live-safer to many early explorers, one of those being our own Major Hentie van der Merwe who discovered it in 1929. 

Since its earliest years Henties Bay was primarily an informal holiday settlement that gradually attracted more people every December who initially camped in tents but later on set up small informal wooden houses in the so-called valley, an old tribute of the Omaruru River.
Because there was no infrastructure or somebody responsible for cleaning services, it was a battle trying to keep the area clean, probably leading to much bickering amongst holiday makers who are responsible for the mess and who should clean it up. Eventually in 1978 two of the first permanent residents of Henties Bay, Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers, who respectively settled here in 1969 and 1971, fixed an old tree stump with a rope and noose as a “friendly but firm” warning to keep the town and beach clean - or else….!  This gesture is typical of Afrikaner humour and seen as such without any negative connotation reflecting on obscure happenings such as real hangings or slavery (which is, by the way, not part of Namibia’s history).
The gallows, an interesting landmark for more than 20 years is probably the most photographed item in Henties Bay. It became a popular tourist attraction and in 2001 the Municipality had the following inscription affixed:
THE GALLOWSErected in 1978 as an appeal to keep the town and beach clean.
Initiated by Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers, who respectively settled here in 1969 and 1971 as two of the first permanent residents of Henties Bay.

Probably one of the most beautiful spots along our coastline is Solitude Beach or Farilhao Bay as it is officially known.  The bay is situated south of Henties Bay and boasts a rocky shore visible at low tide and the hummocks, dunes formed by the accumulation of sand around the plants living in this extreme arid area.
This stretch lends itself excellently for long strolls and is known as the Jakkalputz Walking Trail.

Desert Lion Conservation in Namibia

Desert-adapted lions in Namibia occur mostly outside protected areas in the Kunene Region. The unique landscapes of the northern Namib Desert, abundant wildlife, and high levels endemism, makes the Kunene Region an important area for tourism. The lion is an important flagship species for the growing tourism industry.
Although the desert-adapted lions are valuable to tourism, the local communities have to share their land with these free-ranging large carnivores. Lions often prey on domestic livestock and farmers respond by shooting or poisoning lions, to protect their livelihood. The local communities have to bear the costs of living with lions, but they do not always share in the benefits from tourism. There is a need for sustainable-use of lions through eco-tourism, with tangible benefits to the communities, and for proactive management of human-lion conflicts.

The conservation of lions in the Kunene Region is therefore essential to address Human Lion Conflict, and to conserve a flagship species for the tourism industry. The Kunene Lion Project contributes to this process by studying the density, demography, and population ecology of lions. Through applied research and monitoring, the study collects sound scientific data to guide management strategies and the implementation of a National Lion Conservation Strategy.

Kolmannskop Ghost Town

The former diamond boom town of Kolmanskop, finally deserted in1956, is now a ghost town and lies crumbling in the desert 15 km inland of Luderitz, gradually being weathered by the wind and buried by the sand. It is a fascinating place to visit, offering as it does a glimpse into an exciting part of Namibia's history.

Following the discovery of diamonds at Kolmanskop in1908 and the ensuing diamond rush the German colonial authorities declared a Sperrgebiet or 'for bidden zone' along the coast. This area extended from the Orange River in the south for 360 km northward to latitude 26S and inland for 100 km, and is known today as Diamond Area No.1.
Exclusive mining rights from this area are held by NAMDEB, owned jointly by Namibian Government and De Beers, and it is forbidden to enter the area without permission.

Even where the Sperrgebiet becomes part of the Namib - Naukluft Park, access is strictly controlled and visitors are required to remain on the road at all times.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kabeljou Fishing On The Namibian Coast!

Silver Kob, Mild Meagre, Daga Salmon (Afr: Kabeljou - Deutsch: Afrikanischer Adlerfisch - Holands: Kabeljouw)

The silver kob is a robust fish and is one of the most largest yet delicately coloured fish of the kob family. The overall body colour is silvery and live specimens have a striking pearly pink sheen on the head, flanks and dorsal surface. Underwater an arrow of brilliantly silver "portholes" can be seen along the lateral line. The fins are translucent or dusky. The head and body is silvery, becoming a green or brown with a bronze sheen dorsally. The inside of the mouth is pale yellow to yellowish grey. The silver kob belongs to the family Sciaenidae. The sciaenids are also called croakers or drums because they can produce a variety of sounds by means of muscles that vibrate the gas-filled swimbladder. In the silver kob these drumming muscles (along the inside of the body cavity) are only present in males.

Southeast Atlantic: Namibia southwards around the Cape of Good Hope and northwards at least as far as the Kei River in South Africa. Between Cape Agulhas and the Kei River the adults are rarely found in the surf zone or estuaries, but are commonly caught by ski-boaters and trawlers at a depth of 10-120m. West of Cape Agulhas and up the west coast to Namibia silver kob are found in the surf zone.

Subtropical - benthopelagic, oceanodromous, brackish, marine. In cooler waters along shallow sandy shores or mostly moderate/low profile reef. Rarely enters estuaries or the surf zone, but becomes more abundant in the surf zone on the west coast of South Africa. Silver kob prefers temperatures between 13-16°C and follows the water layer of 12-19°C, which expands offshore during winter.
Summer: Inshore (<60m depth="">Winter   : Offshore in response to oceanographic patterns.

Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 to 4.4 years. Main spawning season extends from August to December (in Namibia October to March) with a peak in spring. On the Namibian coast spawning adults migrate south in summer to spawning grounds at Sandwich Habour and Meob Bay. The larvae drift north with the current to nursery areas off the west coast recreational area. When juveniles reach about two years of age they move further north to adult feeding grounds in the Skeleton Coast Park waters. At the end of the spawning season adult Kabeljou leave the spawning grounds and return to the adult feeding grounds. Females mature at about 31-38cm and males at 29-31cm.

Seasonal Movement:
Seasonal movements of silver kob in Namibian waters: A seasonal migration pattern for silver kob, Argyrosomus inodorus is elucidated based on tag-recapture data. Spawning adults start migrating southwards against the north-westerly surface currents at the beginning of the austral summer from the northern end of their distributional range to their spawning grounds, Sandwich Harbour and Meob Bay, at the southern end of their distributional range. It is suggested that after spawning larvae drift north with the current to the nursery areas, the West coast Recreational area (WCR). When juveniles reach the age of approximately 2 years they will gradually move north towards the adult feeding ground, the Skeleton Coast Park (SCP) waters. At the end of the spawning season when the surf-zone water temperature decreases to about 15 °C adult silver kob complete their spawning cycle by returning to the adult feeding ground, probably moving slightly offshore and with the current.

Silver Kob feeds mainly at night or in turbid milky green waters. Kabeljou like to feed over sandy areas and their diet includes small pelagic fish, crabs, squid(chokka), cuttlefish, shrimps and prawn.

 Weight:  Avg 15kg / published 73.5 kg (SA Record)
Max Size:  145cm (avg 60cm)
Depth Range:  1-100m (Restricted to a depth of 1-20 m in Namibia, due to anoxic conditions beyond  
                           this depth).
Capture:  All year - (day and) night
Rod:  11ft - 14ft (14ft with stiff tip is recommended).
Line:  12-17kg line is recommended with a 140-170 gram (5-6 ounce) lead sinker. Set your drag to
            a third of your breaking strain.
Hook:  The hooks used for kob should be sharp and on the larger side, such as 7/0 to 9/0, and a basic
              fixed trace can be used. Use a number 8/0 hook and a whole pilchard for 13kg to 20kg sized 
Hook placement of live baitBait:  The kabeljou takes a variety of soft baits. Live shad, mullet, karranteen and mackerel is excellent if you can get them, and whole dead baits of the aforementioned species also work well, as do fillets and mixed grills. Your best baits will be fresh squid (chokka), pilchards(sardines) mud prawns, When using fillets, make the bait large and compact, and guard against throwing it too deep. Obviously, a whole, fresh sardine is a good bait too and is best hooked in the way illustrated in the "dead bait hook placement" figure on the right. Make sure all your baits lie on the ground. Live baits are most productive for the 12kg to 20kg fish and should be attached to the hook as shown in the figure on the right. Large kob from the shore demand patience, rugged tackle and rigs capable of hurling a big bait plus several ounces of lead far out to sea. If a giant kabeljou is cruising nearby then you will have a far better chance of attracting his attention with a massive hook offering than a couple of scrawny little worms more suited for a dab.
Remember, the bigger the bait the bigger the kabeljou you will catch!
bloodworm (worms are prohibited in Namibia) and slowly retrieved lures (spoons). Mussel is a good bait fished over rocks, but you need to make a big parcel of several mussels all bound together with elastic thread. Record sized Kob can also be caught with freshly skinned octopus leg, Sardine or Sardine and Tjokka(Squid) combinations.

Where:  Kabeljou is mainly caught by shore angling over sandy areas, in estuaries or out at sea. They will sometimes be taken in exceedingly shallow water just behind the shore break, where they feed on their prey. At the bottom of deep channels and gutters or steeply shelving beaches are good spots in which to try, especially if there is an access channel to deep water nearby. In the sandy sections of the surf always look for ginger beer water, or patches of discoloured milky green water, where small fish will hide, as you will very seldom make good catches of kob in clear blue water. Also look where the sand is being disturbed by wave action - as this uncovers the worms and other little organisms on which the smaller fish will come to feed.

When:  Firstly, your timing has to be spot on for going fishing. The best time will be during the rising tide. The correct spot is another important factor. Not to rocky and the current should not be to strong. The sea water temperature must be between 13-16°C for catching kabeljou. For success with kob, you need no special tackle, but rather an understanding of how kabeljou operates and when it is most likely to feed. Kob spend most of the day hiding in gullies and deep holes, safe from predators and waiting for an opportunity to hunt their prey of choice. Kabeljou prefer to ambush their prey as they are not as speedy as garrick and kingfish, and therefore prefer to hunt at dawn and late afternoon to dusk, when visibility is poor and they have the advantage. Best catches of these sought after fish are made at night.

Wheather:  The weather should be calm, 3 days after the south-west wind has been blowing and a water temperature of around 14°C.

Tides:  The biggest spring tides falling twice each monthly cycle always provide the best of the action. Try to fish hardest on the tides rising towards the peak spring. Kob can still be taken as the tides drop back after the peak, but the results are not as good. Neap tides can produce kob, but rarely from the shallow marks. If you must fish neap tides, try to go for deeper water over rough ground.

Cast:  Kabeljou is normally found when casting deeper. A bait at 90m stands a much better chance of catching a kob than one at 70m. Casters capable of putting a decent lug of bait at 120m will increase their catch rate accordingly. Good casters can really make their skills shine when the weather is at it's most foul with strong onshore winds. They'll punch a bait 70m out in to a raging sea and catch kob. Average casters struggle to make 50m and are fishing baits in the surf tables and wash which carries plenty of weed, but few, if any kob. Realistically, if you can manage to cast a maximum of 70m, which is the average cast, concentrate on the deeper steep beaches and rocky gullies where the fish are closer in. Only if you are consistently putting baits over 100m should you think about fishing the shallower beaches.

How:  Kabeljou is a vigorous feeder with a hard bite, a strong fighter and very strong on the line. No matter which bait is used, the Kob has a very distinctive way of feeding. Usually the bite of the kob is a series of hard pulls, followed by a few quiet seconds and then a series of jerks. Even when using live bait the fish may be struck almost immediately. Sometimes they will feed very timidly, especially when the water is calm. Then you may have to wait for the bite to develop, or provoke a firmer bite by moving the bait slightly. Count to 10, lift the rod, don't strike vigourously and do not strike too soon!

Notes:  Kabeljou form huge shoals and occur mainly in the surf zone between Meob Bay (24°31'S, 14°36'E) and Cape Frio (18°00'S, 11°48'E), but more predominantly in the southern region. Kabeljou is generally sluggish, does most of its hunting in turbid or dirty waters detecting prey with its unusually strong sense of smell and its highly sensitive lateral line system. Silver Kob are therefore well equipped to feed at night and in dirty water. It will often take a bait, but then spit it out before finally seizing it. Kabeljou move around in shoals and are very rarely seen single. The worms that are sometimes reported to infest them are both rare and harmless to man if the fish is properly cooked.



Bag Limit:

10 pphpd (total combined bag limit of Kabeljou, Steenbras, Dassie, or Galjoen is 10 fish).

Min size :

40 cm TL (heavy fines for undersized fish).

Max size :

70 cm TL (no more than 2 kabeljou larger than 70cm).


Fish must be transported in its whole state. You may however gut the fish. You may transport no more than 30 fish (Kabeljou, Steenbras, Dassie, or Galjoen of which you may only have 8 Galjoen and no more than 10 of a species).

Closed season:

None (Paalties may be closed in the near future).

Rod & Hooks:

No more than one fishing rod or hand line per permit holder and no more than 2 hooks per line. See the regulations on line fishing at the Ministry of Fisheries.

Spear fishing:

By snorkel only.


Fishing permits cost N$14 for one month or N$168 per year.


N$100 for each kabeljou above bag limit (more than 10).
N$100 for each kabeljou under size (less than 40cm).
N$100 for each kabeljou over size (you may only harvest 2 bigger than 70cm).
N$300 for fishing with more than one rod and/or hand line and/or 2 hooks.
N$300 for not holding or not being able to produce a fishing permit within 21 days.
Refer to the Government Gazette document for latest Marine Regulations (pdf).

The Tigerfish!!

The tigerfish is a fierce and wily creature that demands respect from all forms of life that may happen across its path and is regarded by majority as being the best freshwater game fish in Africa. In this page you will find: the description, distribution & Habitat, general behavior, breeding patterns, lifecycles and a look at the feeding habits of the tigerfish of the upper Zambezi.

The tigerfish is best described by its Latin scientific name Hydrocynus vittatus which when translated means “Striped Water dog” - a most fitting description indeed.
The tigerfish has a blue-silver fusiform shaped body with red & yellow pointed fins which have black trailing edges. The head is large with extremely bony cheeks and jaws. The 8 teeth per jaw are conical & extremely sharp and are used more for grasping prey than tearing bits of flesh from it. These teeth are replaced at intervals throughout the tigerfish’s life. Males and females are similar in form and coloring but males are generally smaller reaching +_ 500mm at maturity while the females are much larger reaching over 700mm at maturity. Tigerfish Found in the fast flowing waters of the Upper Zambezi can reach 10kg in weight.

Distribution and habitat
The tigerfish is found mostly in the warmer, well oxygenated fresh waters of Southern Africa and are most abundant in the Zambezi, Okavango and Pongola river systems.  Tigerfish are also found in the Congo River, Lake Tanganyika and some other North and West Africa river systems.

General Behavior
The tigerfish is an aggressive predator that relies on other fish as its staple diet for most of its life. Only when the tigerfish is really young does it feed on small insects, crustaceans and plankton. The tigerfish moves and hunts in like size shoals and only the larger specimens are found living on their own. The reason “like size” fish shoal together is because a tiger will not hesitate to make a meal of a smaller version of the species if the opportunity was to present itself.

Breeding and Lifecycle
Although very little is known about the breeding patterns of the tigerfish of the upper Zambezi, it is thought to occur over the flood period when waters are the highest from March, April and May. Spawning occurs on the flooded banks of the main channel and backwaters. Fecundity is high within this species so it’s a good thing a large female can lay as much 780 000 ova. Males reach sexual maturity between the ages of 2-3 years while a breeding female will exceed 400mm.  In the first year of development a young tiger can grow as much as 160mm – 200mm, and up to 300mm in its second.

Feeding habits and patterns  
As I have been trying to drum into anybody who reads this website is the fact that the Upper Zambezi stretch between Vic falls and Katima Mulilo is a constantly changing environment. For half the year we have rising waters and for the other half we have receding, this means the tigerfish have to be constantly changing their feeding patterns to stay in line with water levels, water clarity, and the different variety of food that becomes available to them as the seasons change.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Discover the secrets of Waterberg Plateau Park

Travelling to the Waterberg Plateau Park resembles a journey back in time. This holds true both in a geological sense and in the context of Namibia’s history.
From a scientific perspective a visit to Waterberg feels like a trip to the past, providing a rare glimpse into the genesis of the earth. The birth of the ancient sandstone formation can be traced to the Triassic period up to 200 million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the planet. Some of these prehistoric reptiles left their legacy in the form of foot impressions embedded in the sandstone on top of the plateau, a permanent testimony to the millions of years the massif has endured.

Created when pressure in the earth’s crust lifted the so called Karoo layers millions of years ago, the plateau owes its elevated position to the resistance of the hardy sandstone against the forces of weathering. As a result the table mountain towering about 200 meters above the surrounding plains remains as a relic of the sedimentary rock that was raised above the landscape below. The product of the seismic forces that gave rise to the Waterberg is imposing and visible from afar: The table mountain is about 48 kilometres long and between 8 and 16 kilometres wide – impressive measurements by any standard. The most striking feature of the formation is the vertical cliff that surrounds the plateau like a halo and divides it into two separate and clearly visible strata. These two layers comprise a lower one of about 350 meters consisting of a conglomerate of various sediments and a top section of sandstone which forms the perpendicular cliffs of between 70 and 75 meters en-circling the plateau.
This characteristic Geology is generally considered to be responsible for the name Waterberg. It refers to the phenomenon that the permeable sandstone of the plateau absorbs rain water which seeps through the porous rock until it reaches the impervious clay layers beneath and emerges further down the slopes in form of various fountains. It is this steady flow of water which supports the seemingly subtropical flora on top of the highland giving it a lush green appearance contrasting sharply with the acacia savannah at the bottom of the plateau.

The Secret of The Fairy Circles Uncovered

The mystery surrounding the bare patches in the grassy plains on the eastern fringe of the Namib has finally been solved. The 'fairy circles' are created by termites as part of a water storage system. It is a sophisticated concept which can also teach man a thing or two about sustainable farming in areas where precipitation is low. These are the findings of a long-term study conducted by German biologist Professor Norbert Jürgens. They were published in the latest edition of Science magazine.

According to the study the 'sand termite' Psammotermes allocerus clears the sandy soil of annual grasses so that rain water seeping into the ground is stored instead of being used by the grass. In areas with an average annual rainfall of 100 mm the sandy soil underneath the bare circles always holds more than five percent of water by volume – even after years of draught. Professor Jürgens obtained his data by taking readings in fairy circles found on the grounds of Namib Desert Lodge south of Solitaire over the course of several years. The lodge is part of the Gondwana Collection Namibia, which has supported the professor’s research projects for years.

The water storage system keeps relative humidity at 98 percent in the tunnels of the termites’ nest. This is essential for the survival of the insects. The storage system furthermore allows perennial grasses to take root around the circles. These grasses in turn are a secure food source for the termites in years of drought when annual grasses no longer grow because of lack of rain.

Psammotermes allocerus lives completely underground. Since it is active at night and early in the morning this termite is rather inconspicuous. This may explain why researchers did not solve the riddle of the fairy circles much earlier. Possible reasons that have
been offered included theories of the ground being poisoned by Euphorbia and of natural gasses with the effect of herbicides. The circles even fuelled fantasies of little green creatures from outer space and dancing fairies from the realms of fairy tales.

The idea of termites causing the circles is not new, but so far the type of termite had not been identified and the presence of termites in the circles had not yet been proven. What is new and totally fascinating is above all the realisation that tiny, insignificant creatures are able to create an artificial eco-system and thus conquer a habitat which otherwise would be fatal for them.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Honeymoon... or Romantic Getaway...

Where to BEGIN?  Where to GO?  Who to CALL?

are the right people to contact!

       Mauritius ...the dream you can afford    
   Reunion Island ...oh la la

 Seychelles...another world