We had many beautiful sundowner drives during our recent travels through southern Africa. But one, in Namibia’s Hoanib Valley, stands out as so beautiful and so eventful that it was truly breathtaking.
We had our excellent guide, Frank, all to ourselves, because the British couple who had accompanied us on other excursions decided to relax back at the camp. Frank drove us through the curvaceous valley, bound by low, weather-weary mountains, silent witnesses to hundreds of millions of years of history (the oldest rock formation in Namibia is in the adjacent Hoarusib Valley, dating back some 2.6 billion years). It felt right, for some reason, to lower my voice when in the presence of these ancient mountains.
We traversed the cracked clay covering the valley floor, an expanse of shattered terra cotta where no water had flowed for quite some time. Yet life persevered and even thrived, anchored by acacias with access to groundwater. They formed an improbable green border along the edges of the valley and provided nourishment to many of its residents. Around a bend appeared some elephant, and then several more. “It looks like the two family groups we have here have joined together,” Frank said. A mother elephant appeared with her week-old baby close beside, an adorable little wrinkly thing with a fringe of black fuzz.