Hartmann and Marienfluss Valley

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Hartmann and Marienfluss Valley are the extreme northwest of Namibia. The nearest town to stock up before this expedition is the city Opuwo. A visit to these mountains is an unforgettable experience.

The Marienfluss has more soft sand and is greener than Hartmann's Valley. It is covered with light scrub and the odd tree marks an underground river. A most noticeable feature of the Marienfluss is its 'fairy circles', although they are also found, to a lesser extent, in Hartmann's Valley. These are circular patches without any vegetation.

One theory suggests that Euphorbia bushes once grew here. It's thought that when they died, they may have left poisonous chemicals in the soil, which prohibit grass from growing. Another idea is that tropical termites may be blown into the Pro-Namib during wet cycles, starting colonies that kill the grasses. During the dry cycles, these die off leaving the bare circles that we see. A third theory suggests that there are 'hardpans' in these patches. That is, layers of soil through which water cannot penetrate, making plant life impossible. Of course, one other common explanation is that they were, indeed, made by fairies...