What defines a forest in Namibia?
How do you plan your travels? Do you look up everything there is to know about the country, the people and their habits? Do those epic instragram snaps serve as the foundation of your custom made road itinerary? Or do you prefer the opposite and do you just put together a rough plan backed up by a 'we'll see it when we get there' mentality?
I know of some people who see pictures as spoilers. They want to lay eyes on the original as a first impression before others can influence it (good or bad).
A nice principle, if you ask me, with certain advantages to it, but ... if you're on a tight schedule - which is often the case on holiday with plenty to see and only a few weeks of time - you want to avoid the 'if only we knew' situations! Which is exactly what happened to us at Quiver Tree Forest and Giant's playground in Namibia...
So far we had hiked the dry namibian landscape (at the Naukluft park), climbed endless dunes in the desert (at Sossusvlei), wandered through a historic, abandoned town (at Kolmanskop) and admired the second largest canyon in the world (the Fish River Canyon). Exploring the Quiver Tree Forest sounded like the perfect extension to a varied activity list!
With Giant's playground right around the corner, we thought we had it all figured out, so when we arrived to the campground (next to the forest), we immediately booked 3 nights. (The Quiver Tree campground is also the spot where you pay the entrance fee to the forest).
According to the schedule in our minds, we could spend at least half a day at Giant's playground and still have 1 to 2 days to do some location scouting in the forest, find the best sunset spot, photograph hundreds of Quiver Trees and whatever surprises they would swing our way (wildlife?).
In reality, it took us but 1,5h to get around Giant's playground...
... and believe me, we did our best to stretch it!
More time in the forest then?
Well here's the part where we really wish we had done our homework on this particular place. You see, when we think of a forest, we think of hundreds of trees densely packed together.
What we saw, were about 250 scattered trees in a rocky terrain.
There were no trail signs to follow...you just walk where you can and after about 1h you'll be back at your car.
Turns out the Quiver Tree (or Kokerboom) usually grows very solitary. Because of the statistically large number on a restricted piece of land (according to african standards), this area close to Keetmanshoop became a national monument in 1955 under the name of Quiver Tree Forest.
Perception is clearly subjective...personally we would have gone for garden instead of forest...(is that harsh?)
And so we arrived at our 'If only we knew' moment ... followed by a dozen imaginary changes to our roadbook. (For example: we should have stayed an extra day at Sossusvlei)!
But this wasn't gonna change the fact that we had too much time on our hands here (and didn't feel like canceling our camping reservation either).
So what more did we do here? Well, we spent at least half a day by the pool, catching up on some writing and reading. We also thought it would be nice capturing the sociable weaver birds flying in and out of their nests high up in the Quiver Trees. That turned out to be a real challenge and quickly became a time consuming activity!
We had a lot of BBQ quality time...
...learned all about the rescued cheetahs of the property and saw them getting fed.
And of course we also enjoyed (and shot) a really nice sunset.
We definitely think the Quiver Tree Forest is worth a visit. If you're driving those long distances from north to south (or the other way around), it's a perfect stop over spot to spend the night.
Just don't make a huge detour for it (we have seen individual Quiver Trees at a few other places in Namibia). And it's a fairly large campsite, so no need to book in advance (but if this scares you, you can always contact the owners online to check availability a few days prior to your arrival).