Did you know about the Golden Cave Catfish?

Aright, a few months back we posted a short piece about the Dragon’s Breath Cave in northern Namibia.

If you missed that post, it was all about the largest underground lake in the world. It is called Dragon’s breath because the only way to enter it is through a daunting looking cave that every now and again releases a giant pillar of flames… and that is not true.

Rights to VerticalTrip-Namgrows-2010

Rights to VerticalTrip-Namgrows-2010

The name came from the fact that the humid air that rose from the cave’s entrance looked like a giant beast was lying in wait. And now, enough of the fantasies of Namibia.

"Dragon’s Breath Cave in northern Namibia." Rights to Namibian Tourism Board

“Dragon’s Breath Cave in northern Namibia.” Rights to Namibian Tourism Board

In this special cave, is the only known location of the Clarias cavernicola. What is that? It is the Golden Cave Catfish. This species of air breathing catfish is extremely endangered, and it is thought that only around 200 to 400 of these unique fish are in existence.

Rights to LiveLeak.com

Rights to LiveLeak.com

Because of the lack of light in the underground cave, the catfish’s pigmentation remained untouched, giving it the pale goldish colour.

These little creatures are also not known to grow larger than 16.1 centimetres in length. They also have a layer of skin over their eyes, meaning they are effectively blind.

Rights to ACSI

Rights to ACSI

The fish live off detritus and invertebrates(i.e.decomposing plant and animal parts as well as faeces that can found in the water). Not much is known about their reproductive habits and all attempts at controlled breeding have failed.

Rights to Exotic FIsh WIk

Rights to Exotic Fish Wik

So, these little guys are under severe threat, which is worsened by the fact that the water level of the lake is said to fluctuate every now and again. Affecting their habitat drastically.

Let’s hope these Golden Cave Catfish survive the trials of evolution and continue to add to the unique elements of our gorgeous country.

If you have any other information about these little Golden critters, share them with us in the comment section below.

 Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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Did you know Namibia has its very own Dead Sea?

Hidden within the Namib Desert, a short stretch past the point of no return but a few kilometres short of getting lost…you will find the Namibian Dead Sea. Alright, it is not nearly as mythical as that first sentence made it sound and it isn’t a sea, exactly.

Rights to namibia-click-travel. com

Rights to namibia-click-travel. com

It is more like a pond, or small (very small) lake. But doesn’t a legendary description make it sound so much more exciting?

Rights to Pinterest

Rights to Pinterest

Nevertheless, this special Namibian site is definitely something to get excited about. What was once the Strathmore South Tin Mine has now transformed into Namibia’s very own little dead sea. This is because the excavation site filled with underground water.

Rights to www.geocaching

Rights to www.geocaching

Due to various minerals in the water, the salinity of the lake is particularly high and causes swimmers to float freely in the water – hence the reference to the Dead Sea. Locals claim that the pool has healing properties and fondly call it the ‘Soutgat’ – which is Afrikaans for Salt hole.

Rights to Tracks4Africa

Rights to Tracks4Africa

When visiting, take along enough fresh water. And once you’ve taken your dip, rinse the salt and minerals off your skin with the fresh water. And for the adventurous, follow the C34 track. The road will lead you past old graves and inspire fantastic fantasies about the lives that once lived in the harsh desert world.

Rights to OurNamibia com

Rights to OurNamibia com

And now for the good stuff…how to get there. The turnoff from the C34 is north of the Fishermen’s Inn. Then about 300 metres after the ‘Cape Cross 20 km’ road sign, there will be a pile of rocks with a white arrow painted on it (not very noticeable, so keep your eyes open).

Rights to tracks4africa.co.za

Rights to tracks4africa.co.za

Follow this path for a further seven kilometers until you see a pile of volcanic rock on your right-hand side. Stop on the track and make the short trip by foot.

Rights to Tracks4Afrca

Rights to Tracks4Afrca

A great place to use as a base for travelling to the little dead sea and further along the coast, would be The Delight Hotel in Swakopmund. As its name suggests, this hotel is an absolute Delight and a fantastic place to make your home while visiting Swakopmund and its surrounds.

If you have any stories or information of Soutgat, we invite you to share them in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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Finger of God

The imposing ‘Finger of God’ remains a landmark in the memory of most Namibians, even though it tumbled to the ground more than twenty years ago . . . The 450-ton, 12-metre-high sandstone rock feature was difficult to ignore.

It rose above the arid landscape of Asab in southern Namibia, balanced precariously on a narrow shale pedestal only 1.5 metres wide, looking as if it was defying gravity.

Mukorob

Mukorob

It didn’t escape the notice of two young climbers, who threw caution to the wind in 1973 to stand on the ‘fingertip of God’.

1971.08.26 - Dedo de Deus

1971.08.26 – Dedo de Deus

While studying in South Africa, the two Namibians from Windhoek joined the University of Cape Town’s Mountain Club. They had been introduced to mountain climbing as boy scouts. Rodney Lichtman was only 19 years old at the time and Patrick Evans 17, yet they were bursting with energy and zeal for life, and hungry for adventure.

Rodney Lichtman_19 yrs old

Rodney Lichtman_19 yrs old

Rodney describes the sentiment of the time: “In those days competition in climbing involved opening new routes up a mountain or climbing the unclimbed.

The Finger of God was like an enticing finger beckoning to us.” The pair had no desire for glory or accolades. This was just between themselves and the rock.

They set off early one summer’s day to begin their ascent. The rest of the world disappeared as they turned their focus on the rock and the climb ahead of them, conscious of the fragility of the ancient rock structure.

MUKOROB _R. Lichtman greyscale

MUKOROB _R. Lichtman greyscale

They honed-in on the smell and feel of the rock, the cracks and the foot- and hand-holds, concentrating on every decision, which needed to be precise. Their lives depended on it; there was no place for error.

Each took their turn as lead climber on the rock face. When one of them tired, they switched positions, letting the other tie in and take over the lead.

By late afternoon they had made it to the top to take deep gulps of air and appreciate a view of the gods.

Rights to namibia-accommodation.com

Rights to namibia-accommodation.com

Tired, hot and weary, they climbed down carefully, stowed their ropes and made their way to the Asab Hotel to celebrate and quench their thirst. They told their tale to an incredulous barman.

Namibia street map

Namibia street map

They also decided to recount the story of their dramatic feat to Huisgenoot magazine, who bought the story – and their mind-boggling photographs – paying the students enough to cover the cost of their holiday.

Rights to travelnewsnamibia.com

Rights to travelnewsnamibia.com

On their way back to Cape Town, they made a stop in Asab to drop off a copy of the printed article for the barman.

The Finger of God is also known as Mukorob, derived from its Nama name ‘Mûgorob’ meaning ‘someone saw’. Whether its unusual name stemmed from the Nama legend inspired by the rock pinnacle is anyone’s guess.

Auf pad in SWA book

Auf pad in SWA book

The legend, of which there are several variations, tells the story of how the Nama, who live in the arid southern reaches of Namibia, were visited by a large group of Herero from further north.

Mukorob map

Mukorob map

The Herero, always at loggerheads with the Nama, boasted how rich they were with their herds of fat cattle. “And what do you have?” they mocked. “Nothing but rocks!” The Nama quickly replied that they indeed had a very special rock and that they would be the lords of the country as long as it stood.

Mukurob

Mukorob

Annoyed, the Herero tied thongs together, wound the long rope around the rock and hitched it to their cattle, trying to topple it.

But, as hard as they tried, they were unable to budge the rock. “Mû kho ro!” the Nama
shouted – “There you see!”

Mukorob stamp

Mukorob stamp

Although it was declared a national monument in 1955, Mukorob’s history began many years earlier at the end of the Gondwana ice age, 280 million years ago. As the glaciers began to melt, they formed lakes and swamps in which glacial debris and clay-sand sedimentation collected.

These deposits solidified over thousands of years when the lakes dried up forming the grey shale below and the more weather-resistant sandstone of the Weissrand Escarpment above.

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 8.31.38 AM

With the breaking up of Gondwana 120 million years ago into the southern hemisphere continents as we know them today, the continental edges were raised and slightly tilted to the east. The erosive power of the Fish River intensified in subsequent humid conditions, cutting a steep riverbank.

This was followed by widespread erosion causing the edge of the Weissrand to move further east over a period of millions of years. Impressive rock islands like Mukorob remained, towering into the sky as the escarpment eroded around them.

Mukorob , Finger of God

Mukorob , Finger of God taken in 1970 – Rights to Flickr

An awe-inspiring balancing act, the rock pinnacle towered over the land over the aeons, gradually weathered by the wind and rain at the slow pace of eternity.

Eventually, in December 1988, the last stones of the pedestal gave way and it tumbled down to the ground. There were no witnesses, only the vast landscape and deep blue sky.

Mukorob 1988 - Rights to mapio.net

Mukorob 1988 – Rights to mapio.net

Since then, several stories surfaced, including one that the supremacy of the white man would end when this geological structure fell, and one from the extreme right that God was showing his disapproval.

The legends were, in all probability, embroidered as the country neared its independence in 1990.

Mukorob today

Mukorob today

Geologists have determined that rather than giving any apocalyptic signs, Mukorob merely collapsed under its own weight after millions of years of erosion, a shudder from the Earth and a final rainstorm.

If there is any information you would like to add regarding The Finger of God, please share it in the comment section below.

Author – Ron Swilling

 

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