Back to the Kulalas with the kids and it’s no cooler! This time around we were fortunate to discover some of the lesser known wonders of southern Namibia and my son emerged with a dangerous pet! But more on that later…
Having conquered the infamous Big Mama on our last trip, we decided to challenge the kids’ attention span (15 minutes at the last count and that is being generous, if not the skewed perspective of a wildly optimistic parent) with Sesriem Canyon. Sesriem is the main access point to the Namib-Naukluft National Park and is well known for its canyon – the second most visited attraction in this area after the dunes. It is a natural canyon that was created in the sedimentary rock by the flow of the Tsauchab River and is around one kilometer long and 30 metres deep.
Don’t let the term canyon put you off, the climb down is an easy one for kids and the non-fit alike. Not being of Afrikaans origin, my son wanted to know what Sesriem meant - asking a question that many adults would not even think to ask, with a pretty interesting answer actually! The name Sesriem means "six belts", given by early settlers who had to attach together six leather belts in order to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water. As my son observed, “those must have been dad-sized belts and not mummy-sized belts and anyway, why didn’t they just use a tap?”
It is a surreal moment, having travelled through terrain that is completely devoid of any sign of water, to descend into the canyon and discover pools of it there. Amazingly, there are still fish swimming in these pools; these are individuals that remained behind once the rains subsided and the water levels dropped, leaving small collections of puddles in various depressions in the sand. My children marveled at this prospect… “how does a fish get into a puddle with no beginning and no end after all?”
They of course, immediately wanted to swim with them. During the rainy season (apparently there is one in Namibia but I am yet to see any signs of it) this is a great place to have a refreshing dip, not advised in the dry season as the pools become quite stagnant. Having done a lovely walk along the floor of the canyon, picking up stones and having the guide explain the fascinating geology of the region, we all could have done with a cold swim, which led us to our next destination of the day... the other very exciting aspect of going to Sesriem is that a nearby shop sells delicious ice cream.
Having quenched our thirsts at Sossus Oasis, we all opted to find somewhere to swim. Yes, the idea was now firmly stuck in a five year old mind and was not to be removed. Not to be outdone by the will of a child, our wonderful, ever- attentive guide Johan, told us of a great swimming spot that would be ideal for cooling off and to have our picnic lunch. Always ready for spontaneous adventure, we set off by road and 45 minutes later we had arrived. Wow – we beheld a clear, deep pool of water complete with a waterfall and groovy rock formations. In no time at all, we had all donned our costumes and jumped from the side of the pool into the deliciously cool water of the Tsauchab River. The brave amongst us jumped from the top of the chasm, while the kids and I jumped from half way up… over, and over, and over again – short attention spans clearly don’t apply to jumping off cliffs ad nauseam. This was followed by another perfect picnic… a perfect way to end an interesting day!
Oh but wait – I forgot the scorpion walk after dinner… the fun did not end at our swim after all. Having had an early dinner for the kids (provided on time as requested) the manager offered to take our son on a scorpion walk. The guides and managers at the lodge are all equipped with UV scorpion torches that light up the exo-skeleton of the scorpions, turning them a luminous white colour and making them easy to find in the dark. My son had a blast and learnt a few things about scorpions too… mainly that his mother doesn’t want one as a pet…