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Namibia - Dinosaur tracks

fossilised footprints

28th September Windhoek

We felt we had seen most of the interesting parts of Windhoek already, and had 2/3 of tomorrow there, so we decided to take a scenic route back and visit places on the way. We had missed out seeing the dinosaur tracks south of Windhoek, but knew there were some good ones with a slight detour on the north of Windhoek.
So, instead of heading directly on the B1, a great tarmac road we assume as it has a B latter (almost motorway equivalent), we turned right onto the C33 towards Kalkfeld, A more interesting route, still on a good road, going through the mountains, and with no traffic. At Kalkfeld, a small town or large village, we turned off the main road, left onto an OK road D2414, with no signs and just a hope it was the right way. Across the plains and into the majestic extinct volcanic Erongo Mountains, of which Mount Etjo being the highest in this area. We finally spotted a tiny track to the left and it seemed right, so we drove down, trough a gate and a dry stream to arrive at a small campsite Guest farm Otjihaenamaparero. The owners (Adele und Reinhold Strobel), who spoke no English, gave us a leaflet, charged us the equivalent of 1€ each and made us fill in her visitor log.
We walked through the campsite (not sure about the big cat tracks we spotted) to the larger area first. This was about 1km over layers of uplifted dried petrified lake or riverbed. http://www.dinosaurstracks.com

The tracks occur in sandstones of the 190 million years old Etjo Formation. The sands formed these sandstones accumulated under increasingly arid conditions as wind blown dunes similar to the Namib Desert today. Numerous reptiles lived in the inter-dune areas, but as the climate became drier, these animals were forced to concentrate near waterholes, small lakes and rivers fed by occasional rainfalls and thunderstorms. Inevitably, their feet left imprints in the wet sediment around the water. Later these imprints were covered by other layers of wind blown sand, and were preserved as trace fossils when the sand solidified into rock due to the pressure that built up as they were buried deeper and deeper. At Otjihaenamaparero, two crossing tracks consist of more than 30 imprints with a size of approx 45 x 35 cm. The longer tracks can be followed for about 28m. There is a distance of 70-90 cm between individual imprints as well as some tracks comprising smaller imprints of 7 cm length and spaced 28-33 cm apart. All tracks show the form of a three toed, clawed foot very well, and from their arrangement it can be deduced that they were made by the hind feet of a bipedal animal. Unfortunately, no fossils of creatures that could be responsible for the tracks have been found in the area so far, and one can therefore only use comparison with other sites for identification. From these it can be concluded that the dinosaur who left the footprints at Otjihaenamaparero possibly belonged to the large order of Therapoda, which comprises all the carnivores; the larger ones from a creature in the Ceratosauria and the smaller ones of a Syntarsus. The dimensions and the depth of the imprints suggest a dinosaur of an appreciable size. Due to the unfavourable changes in climate, it is assumed that the animals became extinct not long after they left their footprints. There are a number of localities in the Etjo Sandstone that contain dinosaur footprints, but as Otjihaenamaparero is the most impressive, the site has been declared a national monument and the footprints are protected by law. The age of the tracks is approx. 219 million years.
We spent a while admiring both the dinosaur tracks and the beautiful scenery, then retraced our steps back to the smaller dinosaur tracks. Both were fascinating and worth the detour.
Waterberg Sand Lizard (Pedioplanis rubens) is endemic to the Waterberg area. It is a small species and the tail is over twice the length of the head and body. They are terrestrial and shelter in a small tunnel burrowed in soil under a rock slab or within a crack in a piece of rock. It lives only in the red sandstones of the Waterberg Plateau in central Namibia. An ambush predator that catches small insects, dashing from cover at the sight of prey. The head and forebody are red-brown, bereft of any dorsal markings or spots on the sides. The hind body and tail are a bright brick-red colour with a lighter coloured belly.
As we left the farm we decided to head left, rather than go back to Kalkfeld. We followed Omaruru river in what was basically a wildness, until we rejoined the main road at the town of Omaruru. The huge Mount Erongo dominates the town. We filled up with petrol and snacks before continuing south to Karibib, skirting Mt Erongo the whole time. Once here we joined the main Swakopmund-Windhoek road, B2, which was a dual carriageway for much of its distance. We joined the B1 (Etosha-Windhoek) road at Okahandja, and after 40 mins we were back in Windhoek.
The Villa Violet had been fully booked, so we were at Elegant Guesthouse https://the-elegant-collection.com/guest-house.html. The Elegant Guesthouse is a modern upmarket guesthouse in the residential area of Klein Windhoek. Bedrooms lead off a peaceful central courtyard, each with en-suite bathroom, a/c, safe and television. The main facilities include a lounge with sofas, library, DVD player. There is a large breakfast room at the heart of the main area; tea and coffee is always available, and there's an honesty bar in the kitchen. No lunch or dinner, but guests are welcome to use the dining room. A secluded swimming pool with loungers is around the side of the guesthouse, and there's a secure parking area for self-drivers.
We had already booked dinner at the Portuguese fish restaurant Kubata Restaurant https://kubata.com.na recommended to us at the start of the holiday. A lovely restaurant with an upstairs gallery for our meal. We ordered some vino verde (well, it is a Portuguese restaurant) and some local fish dishes. We thought about kingklip, then realised it was a type of eel. Then we decided to go for the steenbras, since it had been so delicious in Swakopmund. Ah, sorry, she said, we only have large fillets left and it is priced by 100g. We compromised on a 400g one to share and just about managed to get through it with sides of Mahangu (maize/corn) pap (porridge; we’d tried them before at Mushara and knew we liked it) both mashed and fried. Steve managed a pudding, but I didn’t!

29th September Windhoek/ departure

Our final day. We had much of the day to occupy, so went back into central Windhoek to mosey around. The most interesting thing we found was down from Christkirche (where we parked); a shop full of African curios that looked small from the outside but went further and further in. Almost a museum, it had display cases filled with artefacts (many not for sale) from all over souther Africa. This was the Bushman Art Gallery, https://www.bushmanart-gallery.com The Museum now within the Bushman Art Gallery started off as a private collection of Bushman (now San) artefacts by Mr and Mrs Milke some 30 years ago. The Milkes, fascinated by the San culture, started collecting articles of daily use from the San for their own collection during their travels through Namibia and Botswana. Now the oldest and most beautiful pieces are displayed in the Private Museum in order to preserve them for future generations. Other artefacts equally beautiful and rare from all over the African Continent have found a permanent home in this Private Museum.
We wanted to visit the Parliament Gardens, but they were shut, so we went into the restaurant of Independence Museum to sit on the balcony with a drink. It was nearly lunch, so after a beer we ordered food at the restaurant, officially called Nimms. The traditional dishes looked interesting, but we weren’t sure about the fried mopane caterpillars and stuck to simpler dishes.
After lunch it was time to drive back to Hosea Kuatio Airport, return the rental car and check-in. Farewell to Namibia!

Posted by PetersF 13:56 Archived in Namibia Tagged tracks wine namibia footprints dinosaur windhoek erongo

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