Secret Namibia, by Marcel Jouve and Lily Jouve

Secret Namibia, by Marcel Jouve and Lily Jouve.

Secret Namibia, by Marcel Jouve and Lily Jouve.

In their introduction Lily and Marcel Jouve describe how they came to write their book Secret Namibia.

Lily Jouve  Marcel Jouve  

We were privileged to live in Windhoek for four years and to be able to travel the length and breadth of Namibia at weekends or on longer trips whenever we could carve out the time. We experienced the country at all times of the year, from the parched and ochre-coloured dry season to the lush and vibrant rainy season. During the dry winters, nature is motionless. At this time, the silhouettes of bare trees are at their most beautiful and the austerity of the mountains most impressive, the landscape dramatically lunar in appearance. In summer, when the rains fall, the land is transformed, metamorphosed into a green wonderland, where acacia trees burst with yellow-and-white balls and lilies along the roadside open to form spectacular carpets of flowers. It is at this time, too, that travellers discover the strange flowers of the many succulents. We were privileged to breathe the air following the first rains, the powerful scent of scorched earth and damp grasses bringing the promise of life.

Rivers flow for just a few hours or even a few days, and short-lived meadows appear in the desert, where animals gather, wild with joy. It is a time of plenty when mothers of almost all species give birth to their young. Nowhere else have we been so deeply moved by rock and sand landscapes. Nowhere else have we experienced this feeling of immense and immeasureable space. Nowhere else have we felt so humbled by nature and - at the same time - so close to it. Perhaps it is because nowhere else does the landscape reveal the history of the earth with such intensity as it does in Namibia. All across the country you decipher landscapes shaped by glaciation, volcanic activity and all forms of erosion. Deep in its canyon, the Fish River cuts into rocks whose origins date back 1500 million years. In the Tiras mountains, in the Spitzkoppe, on the Ameib Ranch and on Wüstenquell Farm, granite formations sculpted by water and wind evoke fabulous abstract or surrealist works of art.

In Damaraland, in the Etendeka and Palmwag concessions, rust-coloured landscapes appear as if from a fairytale. In Kaokoland, in the remote Marienfluss and Hartmann valleys, time and space melt into one another and the adventure transforms into a journey in search of the'ochre people", the Himba. The spectacular dunes of the NamibRand and Sossusvlei, with their incredible reds, oranges and pinks, are home to a microfauna that has developed fascinating adaptations to this harsh environment. We were privileged, during the time we spent exploring the vastness that is Namibia, to meet a great many Namibian people who work for nature and wildlife conservation, whether as professionals or as concession or farm owners. Thanks to an active government policy, more and more communities participate in this undertaking. Namibian landscapes - and the richness of the fauna and flora - owe a lot to these individuals.

Secret Namibia is an invitation to discover, through colourful and poetic images, the secret and spectacular landscapes of this wild country. It is also an invitation to discover unique or surprising features of the local geology, flora and fauna. In unearthing these mysteries and secrets, we have also tried to provide interested travellers with snippets of information that will help them uncover the wonders of these places for themselves. We have selected 18 places of particular interest in Namibia, most of them located along the Great Escarpment that runs the length of the country along the Atlantic coast, from the Orange River in the south to the Kunene River in the north. The escarpment is the most prominent geomorphological feature of Namibia, where the most remarkable landscapes of rocks and sands are to be found. It is worth noting, too, that it is in this 200-km-wide strip of land extending from the coast that most of Namibia's endemic species exist.

The places featured in this book are microregions, each of which can be visited in one to three days. Some microregions are limited to concession areas or guest farms that boast extraordinary landscapes. Some lie far off the beaten track, while others are indeed well known - and, in these instances, we have tried to highlight some of their more unusual aspects. Each of the chapters focuses on a particular area, our intention being to present each one as if it is an entry in a carnet de voyage, a travel journal. In our descriptions we have tried to express, in our own way, the sense of awe and wonder inspired by the Namibian landscape, as well as to offer some practical advice on how to make the most of a journey in this incredible country. The broad introduction to each chapter is followed by a section on the natural highlights, focusing on the geology, flora and fauna of particular interest in the microregion under discussion.

In these subsections, we have attempted to highlight what makes each microregion unique or special. As not all regions lend themselves to a discussion of all three aspects, in some chapters we have done away with a subsection entirely. While the descriptions of local wildlife are generally straightforward, floral species tend to be problematic, particularly when it comes to accepted norms in the naming of individual plants and species, which may vary from country to country. For this reason, we have included both the scientific Latin names as well as the common English names for flowers and trees, where these exist. The final entry in each chapter focuses on how to reach individual destinations, either from Windhoek or from the nearest large town.

However, because distance is not always a good yardstick when travelling on Namibia's roads - it will take you longer to navigate many of the dirt roads than you would the tarred roads - we also indicate the average time it may take to travel by road from one destination to another. At the end of the book, we suggest some itineraries that link the different places featured here, and offer some practical information about the best places at which to stay as you make your way across Namibia. We were privileged indeed to enjoy all that Namibia has to offer, and Secret Namibia is an attempt to share with you our fascination with this remarkable country. Lily Jouve & Marcel Jouve.

This is an excerpt of the book: Secret Namibia, by Marcel Jouve and Lily Jouve.

Title: Secret Namibia
Authors: Marcel Jouve; Lily Jouve
Publisher: Randomhouse Struik
Imprint:  Struik Travel and Heritage
Cape Town, South Africa 2009
ISBN 9781770076945
Hardcover, 23x23 cm, 152 pages, throughout colour photos

Jouve, Marcel und Jouve, Lily im Namibiana-Buchangebot

Secret Namibia

Secret Namibia

Secret Namibia is an invitation to discover, through colourful and poetic images, the secret and spectacular landscapes of this wild country.

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