As we made our way down the B2 highway and past a sea of sand dunes that is the Namib Desert I couldn’t help but wonder how anything could survive it’s harsh conditions. We had just finished our day in Windhoek tour and made our way across the ever changing landscape to the coastal town of Swakopmund where, thanks to Tommy’s Living Desert Tours, I was about to find out just how wild that pile of sand is.
Posh pick up
Our day with Tommy’s Living Desert tour started with a pick up from our awesome accommodations – The Swakopmund Legacy Hotel and entertainment center. Once the towns train station, today is an entertainment complex complete with a casino, restaurants, theatre, and a lovely pool courtyard for guests.
With accommodations this attractive it shouldn’t have been a surprise that are Tommy’s living Desert tour guide rolled up in a spotless Land Rover.
Once all the guest arrived an energetic and shoeless man appeared, as if rising from the sand, to greet us. Tommy, owner and head guide of Tommy’s Living Desert Tours, Is a quirky and eccentric fellow. I suppose you would have to be to play with snakes for a living. He dove into the sand and gave us a rundown on how Tommy’s Living Desert tour works and explained the research his company does as well as what to look out for while walking in the sand. The first being Wheel Spiders which he then dug up and showed us its intricate yet fascinating silk web.
Into the Wild
Before heading out in Tommy’s Living Desert tours custom Land Rover vehicles (more like modified tanks) Tommy and his assistant released a snake and a chameleon into the wild. Very little is known about these lizards so Tommy’s Living Desert Tour marks them with chips to track their behaviours. This is also done to prevent poaching, something I didn’t no was a problem but could quickly see why after holding a chameleon for the first time.
They. Are. Awesome.
We bombed through the desert where we came across a few more chameleons including one large female and one baby. Tommy went on to explain how the Tenebrionid Beetle collects tiny drops of moisture on its back from the morning due to survive the harsh conditions of the desert. Fascinating.
Then he fed them to the chameleons.
Holding and feeding chameleons is worth the price alone on Tommy’s Living Desert tour. The way that the chameleons eyes work independently to spot food and it’s incredibly long tongue it uses to capture its prey is unreal. Then it changes colour. WTF. I knew chameleons blended in with its surroundings but actually watching it turn lighter colours as it ate was mind blowing.
For the Birds
It’s not often you drive through desert and find a bathroom but that is what we did next. Tommy’s Living Desert tour rents and places portable bathrooms at its snack stop. Nice touch. This is also where the bird show up. They have become so used to Tommy’s living Desert tour that they will eat (and shit) out (in) of your hand with a simple whistle.
At one point I thought that Tommy’s Living Desert tour used a bit of trickery to find its creatures. While walking around and listening to Tommy talk, his assistance always seems to find something interesting. Always when her back was turned . Hmmm. Horned Adder snakes, baby chameleons, and Namib Dune Geckos. I was skeptical. That was of course until I watched Tommy jump out of a moving vehicle and wrestle up a snake, getting bit several times in the process.
Steve Irwin your heart out.
Not everything on Tommy’s Living Desert tour was about snakes and beetles. At one point he stopped to inspect one of the many fields of black sand. Using the powerful magnet, Tommy demonstrated how this natural phenomenon is actually iron. Cool.
If snakes, chameleons, and strange science tricks weren’t enough, our time with Tommy’s Living Desert Tour concluded with a thrilling drive through the dunes. We were planning on renting ATVs and driving the dunes ourselves but after racing up and over the area with Tommy’s Living Desert tour we didn’t feel the need anymore. It was that great.
Tommy’s Living Desert Tour – a must do
Although my time in Namibia was limited, I’m so very glad I spent most of it with Tommy’s Living Desert tour. It was a day filled with adorable chameleons, amazing desert scenery, deadly snakes, and a man just crazy enough to tie it all together in a fun and educating way. For that I’m thankful for Tommy’s Living Desert tour and highly recommended.
I will never look at a pile of sand the same again.
Tommy’s Living Desert Tour Good to Know
Tour Cost: 2014 rate N$650.00 per person
Includes: Hotel pickup/drop off, drinks/snacks!
Don’t Miss: Holding a chameleon!