Swakopmund’s Living Desert


It’s easy to be fooled into thinking sand dunes are nothing but – well huge piles of sand – but think twice before you write them off as dead and barren, or worse still drive through them believing your tracks will have little impact on the ecology.

The dunes along the Swakopmund/Walvis Bay coastal belt, while forming part of the Namib Desert, are home to an assortment of unusual and endemic creatures, as Chris Nel demonstrated in one of his Living Desert tours.

It starts with searching for animal tracks along the dunes.2108Chris then literally scoops out a handful of sand and a living creature, in this case a Fitzsimon’s Burrowing Skink (Typlacontias brevipes).Fitzsimon’s Burrowing Skink (Typlacontias brevipes)Later a Dancing White Lady spider …..Dancing White Lady spider….. then a Shovel-Snouted Lizard …..Shovel-Snouted Lizard

….. a Palmato gecko or Web Footed gecko …..

Palmato gecko or Web Footed gecko

Palmato gecko or Web Footed geckoand finally, the poisonous Sidewinder Snake (Bitis Perinqueyi), endemic to the dunes, which Chris reveals by gently blowing the sand from the buried creature.Sidewinder Snake (Bitis Perinqueyi) Sidewinder Snake (Bitis Perinqueyi)Sidewinder Snake (Bitis Perinqueyi)Chris saved the best for last – the Namaqua Chameleon (Chamaeleo namaquensis), a delightful creature who was perched on a Dollar Bush in the midday heat.  It wrapped its’ tongue around a fat worm in seconds.2176Namaqua ChameleonAnd then it was off to tour the beauty of the dunes themselves.  Quadbiking and sandboarding is limited to a single section to preserve this living wonderland.2187 2206 22142035 2042

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