|2014 African Mineral Safari
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I had some unusual successes - like
the big pietersite, the yellow fluorite
and blue chalcedony, and a couple of
not so good side trips. I rode to Neu
Schwaben in search of the blue
tourmaline but it was way to expensive
to buy. I did get these nice panorama
there though, and a photo of a bush
On this trip I was able to buy some very large boulders of pietersite lapidary rough. Here is a
picture of one of them. This piece has two saw marks and I photographed them wet to show
the interior color and pattern. Once polished this material will look fantastic!
Coffee in the Joburg airport and then some locally made South African KWV Brandy at my
overnight stop in Johannesburg, South Africa. The next day begins in Windhoek where I grab
some road snacks and a big bottle of "BIOPLUS". I wish they sold Bioplus here as it starts your
day off right! A healthy dose of caffeine and B vitamin-complex gets you ready to start the day.
I did the usual trips to the crysal market in Usakos for Erongo aquamarine and Brandberg
amethyst crystals. I'll only put a few new pictures up as I have covered that extensively in
past trip reports.
The road from Usakos to Uis Via Tubussis had a very odd building that was crumbling. I think it was an old school building and I wonder why it got abandoned?
Panorama's of Tafelkop near Brandberg
Below are live and dead
welwitschia plants. They
are thousands of years
I also had another trip that didn't turn out well as far as being able to get specimens but there was a bright side in that I stayed at a great place and
had some good food and saw some nice wild life and other things.
In Omaruru I was able to buy a new find of yellow fluorite from the Okorusu mine! Below are pictures of the yellow fluorite as well as the typically
colored green fluorite crystals with purple phantoms.
After seeing the new find of yellow fluorite crystals and the nice cluster of regular fluorite, I decided to take a
trip to the Okorusu mine. I had not visited the mine in years. Mainly because the mine severely restricts the
miners removing the crystals since they sell the crystal specimens at the mine with the proceeds going to an
athletic program for the miners family. Secondly, this is in the Northern part of the country and is just inside
the edge of the Malaria zone. Yeah, Malaria. There's that.
The Okorusu mine is owned by a company named Solvay and is near the town of Otjiwarongo, Namibia. I
stayed at a superb bed and breakfast type hotel called The Bush Pillow. The rooms are incredible as well
as the grounds. Below are some pictures of the hotel. At night I rambled with a flashlight and saw a wild
looking lizard or gecko as well as a spider. There were a pair of twins that work at the hotel and it was only
when I saw the two together that I realized it was two separate people.
The lizard and spider photos were taken AT NIGHT with my
Samsung Galaxy S5 phone! Not bad, huh?
I like going to the grocery stores in Namibia because everything is different from back home in the USA. The
popular big grocery store in any sizeable town is the Spar. The Spar has a wide variety of fresh fruit. Jungle
grown fruit is very good! The meats and cheeses and bakery goods are a delight to see and sample.
Otjiwarongo is farther North than where I normally travel
because of the Malaria issue. Since there is more water in the
area there is a greater variety of birds. There are a greater
amount of warthogs and baboons to be seen also.
Below is a warning sign for Kudu. My ride, a Toyota Hilux 4x4 (diesel engine)
I picked a bad time to visit the Okorusu Mine because at the time of my visit it
was not operating due to yearly maintenance. Shown below is the sign at the
mine entrance. They made me blow into a Alcohol breathalyzer before filling
out paperwork to enter the mine. This is their policy for anyone to enter the
mine, including visitors, employees, inspectors and vendor deliveries.
Below are some photos of roadside crystal stands near the town of Uis. I bought
some of the springbok horns but the Kudu horns were to big for me to try to
tackle the job of lugging them back on the plane (I've seen people do that!) The
elephants made from brush were interesting. The mountain behind them is
Shown below is a photo of the crystal
market near Usakos.
I stopped in the town of Karibib and noticed a new place opened by the Namibian
government. It said "Gem Center" so I went in thinking it would be a place to maybe buy
stones. Instead it was a place where the Government teaches about mining, marketing, and
also lapidary skills such as faceting. There was a classroom with a lot of old faceting machines
as well as some stuff that I couldn't identify.
Shown below is an abandoned car
wreck and a cat on a table inside
of a restaurant- a typical sight.
In Windhoek I was able to buy some
demantoid garnet crystals and some
green tourmaline crystals (facet rough)
I was also lucky enough to get 2 large
boulders of blue chalcedony!
This trip was taken August, 2014
which is late Spring in Namibia.
Here are some photos of a unique crystal that I brought back from the Brandberg locality. This is a double
terminated quartz crystal that has an unusual inclusion inside it. This inclusion is a double terminated negative
crystal with an enhydro bubble in it. A negative crystal inclusion is a hollow place or void that is in the shape of
a crystal. They can be voids / empty hollow spaces, or it can be completely filled with either a gas or a liquid or
in this case have both a liquid and a gas! In inclusions that have both phases of a liquid and a gas they are
called "enhydro's" or enhydro bubbles. The technical term is "two phase inclusions". Sometimes the bubble is
stationary but usually the bubble moves as you tilt the crystal. As a side note, a three phase inclusion has a
liquid, a gas, and a solid (such as another crystal or a mass of clay).
The quartz crystal to the right has both
a negative crystal with an enhydro
bubble and also a typical enhydro
bubble that is in an irregular shaped
fluid filled cavity.
The crystal below not only has a
negative crystal with an enhydro
bubble but is a clay included "skeletal"
The crystal shown above is an example of a so-called skeletal crystal. These are also called
"window quartz" or "FENSTER" quartz after the German word for window. This is in reference to
the growth habit shown above where the crystal has a recessed surface. The term 'skeletal' is
used to explain that this growth pattern shows what the underlying "skeleton" of the crystal would
look like. It's not very scientific or logical in my opinion. Window quartz is more self-explanatory,
even though 'skeletal' does have a certain coolness factor.
Skeletal faces are formed from irregular growth of the crystal. Ordinarily a simple termination face
would be a triangle. As the crystal grows, if the new layer of growth of the triangle is stopped or
interrupted so as to not completely form a triangle , and then subsequently resumes but starts a
new layer instead of completing the prior one, the result is a recessed skeletal crystal face.
One thing that affects the shape or habit of a crystal is if the heat and pressure during its
formation changes or fluctuates. This results in uneven growth. The Brandberg locality yields
many fine examples of this type of growth. Often the specimens will have clay or mud trapped
inside them and these can be very attractive specimens.
Here is a deep purple Brandberg
amethyst crystal that I brought back
from Namibia. This crysal has
interesting red inclusions that is
hematite (sometimes erroneously