A surprise sighting today of Hartmann Mountain Zebra – a sub species found only in central/southern Namibia. Very exciting.
Throughout most of Namibia roads are dirt, with sealed roads linking only the main centres. Generally they have been in good condition but our luck ran out today and our 350 km trip from Sesriem to Swakopmund took around 5 hours over bone jarring road. There were a few things of interest though which needed a stop. Apart from the zebras, one was crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, another the 2 passes with views over the Namibian “badlands”. After the badlands it was miles of flat grass plains – thought I may have seen more zebra in the distance but could have been one of our constant friends, the ostrich or springbok.
On reaching Walvis Bay (the ocean at last!), we were disappointed to find the flamingos were out on a sandbar and not the beach, so couldn’t get a close up look. This town is the major port on west coast Africa and we counted at least 12 ships waiting at sea. On to Swakopmund, a city with a lot of German heritage – food, language, architecture. They settled the area in the late 1880’s but their colonial rule ended with the start of WW1 when South Africa took control after British pressure. To Bernie and I, Swapokmund reminded us of Antofagasta – the same desert, the same cold sea mist, similar houses. Visited the Crystal Gallery – samples of the semi precious stones found in Namibia (not diamonds though, they keep pretty quiet about them!). There were huge chunks of crystal on display, taller than a person – pretty impressive. Could also watch the cutting of stones, plus the designing and stringing of jewellery.
July 21 Thursday
Swakopmund is the extreme sport capital of Namibia so we decided to go quad bike riding over the Namib dune belt, outside the city. There were only 3 of us plus the guide. Our session was for 2 hours and consisted of hooning around the dunes in single file following the guide with speeds up to 45kmh. Stopped to watch girls sand boarding – basically sliding down big dunes on a sheet of waxed masonite! A lucky find was a side winder snake – the guide saw it’s trail in the sand and found it at the end. Was only about a foot long – always seemed bigger on the documentaries! There were also plenty of jackal tracks.
Needed a shower when we got back to the hotel – plus pants needed washing. Despite a visor, I could sometimes feel the sand hitting my face so can say I’ve eaten Namibian sand. Checked out the shops and Bernie got a haircut – a bit shorter than usual but no-one can see it! – not quite the shaved head look. Visited the local museum – good displays of old tribal ways plus more recent history, plus rocks, animals etc. Spent some time wandering around looking at old German style buildings - some quite elaborate.