What words are there to describe a place that appears as if from a dream?
Namibia is a landscape of extremes, its east and west dominated by desert, and many of its horizons characterized by the stark contrast of terra cotta against the brilliant blue of sky. And there are contradictions in this place; the Kalahari Desert, in the east of the county, isn’t a desert. Though it has the severe, sunbaked look of the desert, the Kalahari in fact gets too much rain to be considered an actual desert. During the rainy season, the Kalahari’s vleis, or pans, can be inundated.
Extreme conditions have led to extreme forms of life in Namibia. In the not-quite-a-desert landscape of the Kalahari, curious life forms take shape. Reading about Namibia doesn’t prepare a person for seeing the place.
Perched near the invisible border where the Kalahari Basin does, in fact, become something approaching a desert, is the Quiver Forest, a landscape unlike any other. The trees that give the area its name are not technically trees, but large, ethereal plants that have the shape and height of trees but look like nothing else. The Afrikaners called the trees kokerboom, but because their fibrous, pulpy trunks are easy to hollow out and were once widely used as quivers for arrows for bushmen, they are known as quiver trees.
The trees are naturally found in only this one relatively small part of Africa, and typically grow alone, like curiously-formed sentinels guarding the landscape. There are fewer than two hundred of them left in the world. That’s why the Quiver Forest is special — it’s the only place in the world where the trees have clustered together to form a forest, and the result is magical, like something conjured from a child’s imagination. Seeing the forest at dawn with a pale pink sunrise breaking over the horizon is a moment of unspeakable majesty and wonder.
|Lens||Nikkor 16-35 f/4|
|Settings||ISO 250, 21 mm, f/8, 30 seconds|
|HDR||Additional exposures for highlights|
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