Windhoek – Swakopmund; Namibia 2016

Sunrise is at around 06:00 and I get out of bed a few minutes earlier in time to see the sun pop over the horizon, for me the most beautiful part of the day, so full of promise. The day brightens up very quickly at these latitudes and within an hour it is warm enough to take off my jersey; t-shirt, shorts, flipflops are in my comfort zone (not short shorts!). I sit outside, watching the birds come-and-go; in the background I hear a crimson-breasted shrike, a beautiful bird though camera shy. The little finches are still building their nest, but not at the same pace as the first two days. I have not heard the fish eagle for a few days now. Will I see a sugarbird today, I wonder, but no. Instead, we get a thunderstorm and a good dollop of rain (about 7 mm), much welcomed, as Windhoek has a severe drought with some dams only 15% full after the rainy season.

At last, rain…

Planning for a trip in Namibia is a little different; we need to take extra water and fuel (at least 40 L each), also an extensive toolbox, several spare tyres and solar panels (for the freezer). The only plans we had were to spend two nights in Swakopmund, then take the coastal road north towards the Skeleton Coast, leave the caravan somewhere and explore the region in a Range Rover. It is time to make new discoveries in this wonderful country!

On Monday we started our trip towards the coast from a rather damp Kappsfarm (latitude: -22.533; longitude: 17.248; altitude: 1899 m) and took the tar road to Swakopmund;  we needed to get permits to enter the nature reserves and restricted areas (only the main roads are tarred; the dirt roads are more interesting but will also take longer). It is amazing how environmentally unaware some people are, especially those with quad bikes and over-powered SUV’s. On the way to Okahandja we got splattered by liquid manure from a cattle truck, which necessitated a quick stop to clean the car windows before we continued on the B2 towards Karibib and eventually Swakopmund .  After a lunch stop at one of the many roadside picnic stops, we spotter a tortoise trying to cross the road; it is one of the main roads in Namibia and we stopped to help the tortoise across. A few minutes later a truck roared past

Between Karibib and Usakos we got a short shower of rain, but then the east wind hit us with its heat; this wind starts off cold in the east of the country and then gradually warms up as it heads towards the Namibian coast. It got a little hot, to say the least. After Usakos, we started looking for a potential campsite and found a disused granite quarry that would serve our purposes; it would be a “dry camp” with no shower facilities and we would have to use the porta-potty. It was a spectacular sight, though, on the top of a hill, that allowed us to look over the the valley below. One concern were the granite quarry “cut-outs”, which we needed to be careful of lest we fall down a couple of meters. After a spectacular sunset and a dinner of “leftovers”, we settled down to gaze at the night sky to look at the Southern Cross, Milky Way and Orion, counting satellites and “shooting stars”. 

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Campsite, day 1, sunset
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Namib desert, Naukluft area

 

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Southern night sky, with the Southern Cross visible

An early rise to watch the sunrise, walk around the area, then we set off to continue our journey to Swakopmund on the tar road. However, as we were early and did not have far to go (about 150 km), we did some more detours onto tracks along the road (near the Valencia mine turn-off). Here we found wonderful rock formations, quiver trees, aloes that form a “witches circle” (an initial plant produces offspring in a circle around it and, as the circle of plants grows the inner plants die off producing a dark, “burnt” patch) and possible evidence of Khoi activity.

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Sunrise, day 2
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Quiver tree, seemingly growing straight out of the rock face
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“Witches circle”

One visitor to this beautiful country once described the geology as follows: When God made the world there were many small pieces left over, which became Namibia (author unknown, via Leon Schoeman).

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Wind erosion

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On exploring the rock shelter shown below, we also found ostrich shells and flint, the latter not found naturally in this area. Is it possibly evidence of Khoi activity?

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It was time to head out of the Namib desert and get to Swakopmund for two nights, then up the coast…

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