We first caught glimpse of the Haurosib River as we drove back inland from the barren Skeleton Coast. Descending into the river plain from the surrounding mountains, I was immediately struck by the wide and productive desert riparian zones. An oasis of greenery in an otherwise rusty and tawny landscape, this river system held relatively large numbers of giraffe and other animals tucked amongst the Salvadora persica and Acacia tress. We camped in one such area along the sandy riverbed and set up our tents in the shadow of a large bull giraffe.
The largest town in this area is Puros, which is an eclectic smattering of houses and trading posts on the flat desert along the banks of the ephemeral Huarsib river. In Puros, the river bed meanders across an open plain, but just upstream, it emerges from impressive canyons tucked in forbidding mountains, before branching and disappearing into similar mountains just downstream. Here, water is life but it is elusive, snaking its way in and out of impassable canyons, leaving just enough open area, woody vegetation, and water beneath the earth's surface to sustain the areas' wildlife and people, tucked amongst the dunes.