Tag Archives: barren

On the descent into Walvis Bay

Saturday 21st January 2023, 10.05am (day 4,167)

Near Walvis Bay, 21/1/23

Random African country, 2/2, although unlike Ethiopia, this one — Namibia — was on the original schedule. Walvis Bay is where the Johannesburg to St Helena flight stops to refuel. On the approach, over miles of utterly barren desert, it is inconceivable that there could, or should, be a town of over 60,000 people here, but it seems that Walvis Bay is the one natural harbour for hundreds of miles in either direction, and so is the principal port for the whole country, not to mention handling traffic for landlocked Botswana and Zimbabwe as well. What the construction visible on this shot is, I have no idea for sure, but it might be the top of an artesian well, as almost all the water supply for the town comes from underground.

That’s it for my 3-day perambulation around two continents, and six airports (Manchester, Geneva, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Walvis Bay and St Helena). Two weeks on St Helena will now follow.

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Bare hillside

Thursday 25th November 2021, 5.40pm (day 3,745)

Bare hillside, 25/11/21

Until the 1500s St Helena was covered in forest. Then humanity arrived, and even if people didn’t cut down the trees themselves, they released goats onto the island, which munched away at any new shoots for the subsequent half-millennium. Although some recovery has been made recently, in places, a lot of the lower parts of the island look like this as a result. It’s attractive, in its way, but it’s also dead land. Only about 21% of the island is cultivated with another 11% afforested. 54% is classed as ‘barren’. Two years ago today I was in Java, another steep volcanic island; but one festooned with terraces, every inch used to support the population. The contrast is notable.

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