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42 Travel Namibia I ' m not sure why, but we're always in the middle of a heated argument when we come here. This must be our fourth, probably fifth, visit, and, once again, we're hardly speaking to one another as we pull up, each of us slamming the car door shut as we get out. It's been a long, hot, dusty day of driving from Walvis Bay to Keetmanshoop, the nearest town, some 14km back down the road where we just about manage to interrupt our ' domestic' long enough to book accommodation for the night and buy cold drinks. Why the niggling? We're both tired and we're racing to beat the light, but it's more that we have to leave Namibia tomorrow for South Africa. A visit to the Quiver Tree Forest has become our customary goodbye. It's not difficult to see why the place compels us. Quiver trees embody everything that draws us to Namibia. Surreal, other- worldly, endlessly photogenic and strangely poignant. The way their sculpted, finger- like branches reach out, stretching to connect across the barren landscape, seems to reflect the sadness we feel to be leaving. But this isn't the time to get misty- eyed; the sun is getting Quiver trees All of a All pictures: Ann and Steve Toon low and we need to get cracking. We take the cameras and agree ( sort of) on who wants what lens before marching off ( pointedly in opposite directions) to explore and photograph this enchanted forest. Quiver trees, part of the aloe family, get their name because the San bushmen used to carve out quivers for their arrows from the branches. Also known as kokerboom, (' koker' is the Afrikaans word for quiver while ' boom' means a tree) they have soft and pulpy, fibrous tissue rather than conventional wood, making the branches easy to hollow out. The ones here, on the Farm Gariganus, have been declared a national monument. Quite often when you're driving through the south of the country you see the odd, solitary quiver tree, like an iconic sentinel in the arid landscape, or occasionally a small stand of trees on the slope of a kopjie. Here there's a whole forest of them bunched together as if they're holding a convention. It's good to see so many quiver trees in one spot, especially when you realise that, with warming global temperatures, the species is coming under increasing threat. Some quiver With its distinctive, quirky silhouette, the quiver tree is one of Namibia's national symbols. Photographers Ann and Steve Toon are repeatedly drawn to a forest of the trees, some of which are reputed to be 300 years old. The place compels us. Quiver trees embody everything that draws us to Namibia. Surreal, other- worldly, endlessly photogenic and strangely poignant

Travel Namibia 43