Brandberg & White Lady

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Flag of Namibia  , Kunene,
Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brandberg and "The White Lady"

Driving around Brandberg towards the camp we were in for a show. A magnificent sunset with deep tones was yet another highlight of this day.  We have had salt pans, Welwitschias, Rock creatures, vast open space, a crater, the worst road yet, cheetahs and now………this stupendous sunset!

Arriving at the camp, dark by now, we went straight to reception to book a stand. With my back to the door facing the receptionist, something nudged me in my leg.    The receptionist has a little tame springbok.  He was hungry and looking for someone to give it its bottle, hence the nudge. The most petite little thing.  So cute.

Driving into the camp we took the first and best stand. Set up camp in a hurry, ate and went to bed.  Besides, if there are Cheetahs roaming freely, perhaps there are lions too. Best get to bed.

After a goodnight sleep and a late “lie in” we got up and made a nice fire.  Today we are going to have a braai for breakfast.  Just because we can.  Besides, in the evenings it is always cold and one is tired after a long day and don't linger as long as one could around the fire.

Great fun gathering all sorts of sticks and things to put in the fire.  We were both properly “smoked” by the fire by the time the “harde hout” eventually made coals.  With a good breakfast behind us, it was time to shower and go see the famous “White Lady”. 

The White Lady is a bushman painting of a “white lady” in the area.  A gentleman by the name of Richard Marx discovered it and gave it its name. Little did he know that this name would make it one of the most famous bushman paintings ever.  So…who is the white lady, and what was she doing in a bushman painting?

Arriving to the entrance to the gorge, one pays for a guide to accompany you.  It is a 2 km walk.  We should have come a bit earlier.  It is 13h00 and hot as anything.  With lots of water in hand, we got going.  Our guides name is Bafanna.  He is 22 yrs. old and a “stand in” or temporary guide. 

He soon realized that I was interested in plants and started showing me all the indigenous plants used for medicinal and other purposes.  This, much to Carlos frustration.  At the best of times he does not enjoy walking, what less in the heat of the sun. I was drawing it out even longer by asking too many questions and taking too many pictures.  

Not soon enough for Carlos, we reached the White Lady. She is not a “she” after all! Richard did not do his homework before naming her.  Turns out it’s a man.  A medicine man.  He is doing a trance dance around the fire with a bowl of poison in his hand.  The poison is for the arrow tips to be dipped in before hunting.  Why is he/she white?  Because a trance dance carries on for a length of time, this making his body wet with perspiration.  The ash around the fire (they used the same area over and over again) clung to his wet body.  Stamping his feet, the ash would fly up and reach only as high up as his chest. Making him white, up to his chest.  (see pic) The men had the long hair in this tribe – not the women – explaining why Richard identified it as a woman.  The dark figure holding on to the “white lady” is the assistant, training to become the next medicine man.   So much for the Lady! Even so, a very interesting and a beautiful walk, none the less.  The mountain is worth the walk.

Bafanna, our guide, wrote some of the plants names and types of uses down for me……………..see pics.

Back at camp we just got comfortable.  Then, just as we started a fire, a foreigner drove in asking if we saw the elephants.  “No” we said but we saw cheetahs yesterday and we were told that the rhinos and lions were on this side of the mountain.  About 20 minutes later three 4x4 bakkies came by shouting “there are elephants in the camp”. Oh OK, the foreigners were not smoking their socks.  They did indeed mean in the camp itself.

We got up,left everything as is and went looking for them.  At the water hole behind lots of growth –just a little distance from where we camped + – 200 m, we saw the huge footprints of the elephants.

The question was, are we super excited or super nervous!?? At this stage we could see the foot prints but not the elephants.  Did we miss them?  Will we be able to turn around in the soft sand if we come face to face with them?

And then we saw them, about 150 m away.  The dust cloud was a dead giveaway.   A whole lot of them, amongst which a tiny little baby. Hardly able to walk yet.  The mom was pushing it along to make it walk. Knowing that we should keep our distance – specially with a baby around– we hung back a bit. 

Following close behind, we found trace of blood and urine. Does this mean baba was just born?!  We took a chance and went into the riverbed.  Watching them walk along the banks eating and taking dust baths.  We managed to get a number of photos.  A bit tense though. They were walking toward the river bed.  Time for us to turn back.We sat next to the fire talking about the amazing experience. 

That night the dogs barked like mad around the tent and in the camp.  Next morning early the ranger was in the camp checking if all was in order as the elephants passed through the camp during the night. Imagine you go for a “PP” and you come face to face with the elephants!!!!

Having packed up camp we had a good long hot shower, thanks to the “good old faithful– donkey”. Our destination – Rhino Uhab.
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