East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam

The Kalahari beckons me
With fingers of red sand
And a promise in the wind
Of a desert wonderland!!
Jane Wilkinson

Have you ever heard that brilliant song by Tom Russell called “East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam?”  It’s on his album Blood and Candle Smoke.  As I’m someone whose roots are deeply embedded in the African soil, the lyrics speak loudly to me and I know exactly how Tom Russell is feeling when he sings these words :

Well I think it’s going to rain tonight
I can smell it coming off the sage
As I sit here reading Graham Greene
I taste Africa on every page
Then I close my eyes and see those red clay roads
And it’s sundown and boys I’m gone
Yeah, east of Woodstock, west of Vietnam!

Kalahari scenery

And nowhere do those red clay roads speak louder to me than in the Kalahari.  This is the land of moody skies, red dunes and waving green grasses that fill the valleys between the dunes.  It’s the land of camel thorn trees and shimmering mirages.  A quiet place, with only the occasional howl of jackals or lions to break the silence of the night, or birds chirping in the bushes during the day.  In certain areas one hardly ever sees another car, so the peace is enveloping and does wonders for the soul.

Beautiful sky and trees

At the end of the day Africa gives you the gift of wonder as you watch the sun drop down slowly from a pastel pink sky.  There’s nothing better than a Kalahari sunset, viewed from atop a dune, after having taken a game drive and spotted oryx, springbok, a couple of lions and some kudu nibbling on the bushes.

Two lazy lions awaiting nightfall

We recently stayed at the Suricate Tented Camp in the Kalahari – a birthday treat for Rob.  Oh the bliss to wake up and gaze out over the water-filled pans whilst a Blue wildebeest walks casually past our tent.  It’s these moments in Africa that draw you back time and time again.

A wake-up treat - Blue wildebeest

In case you’re wondering what makes the dunes of the Kalahari that beautiful red colour – it’s because the sand has very high concentrates of iron oxide.

Red dunes en route to Suricate Tented Camp

The rains in Namibia have been particularly good this year, so the grasses have flourished.  They contrast superbly with the dramatic dunes and the photographic opportunities are endless, not only with the scenery, but the animals, birds and insects as well.  Be sure to check out our blog about the Cape cobra raiding a Sociable weavers nest – we saw this amazing spectacle on this same trip to the Kalahari.

A lone oryx graces the dunes

If the Kalahari hasn’t touched your soul yet, perhaps you should pay it a visit and give it a chance to work its magic!

 

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