Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Skeleton Coast and Beyond....

[NOTE] We are now back in Windhoek after the 2nd Leg of our Namibian Safari for a few days rest & relaxation before heading to Cape Town. I will now update the blog with what we have been doing since our last post.

After a day looking at various rock paintings and carvings, the following day we headed west towards the famous Skeleton Coast. As the truck made its way down the Great Escarpment towards the Atlantic, the first thing we noticed were the vast gravel plains as far as the eye could see, with an ominous fog bank in the distance. The next most obvious thing was a sudden temperature drop as we went from a hot 30 degrees on the desert plains to a chilly 15 degrees as we made our way into the coastal fog bank, and not long after we caught our first glimpse of the ocean itself.

Mile after mile of uninterrupted gravel desert coastline stretched out in all directions, featureless & lifeless except for colonies of lichen and moss, surviving on the coalescing fog. We progressed north along the coast until we reached Cape Cross, where the 15th Century explorer Diego Cao first planted a granite cross and claimed the land in the name of the Portuguese.

Very close by was the Cape Cross seal colony which you could smell and hear a long time before you could see it. I have never experienced anything like the over-powering stench of 10,000 Cape Fur Seals lazing on a vast stretch of rocky promontory, which literally made me gag. Once you got used to the small the spectacle was immense, with seals and their pups for almost as far as I could see, and I was using binoculars..! Fortunately we did not spend a tremendous amount of time there, and were soon trundling south towards tonight’s stop in Swakopmund.

Swakopmund is a large sprawling seaside town in the middle of nowhere. It was once a bustling port for the German and then South African colonists, but now is a busy town, where many of the wealthier Namibians come to escape the blistering heat of the summer. This night was to be spent in a hotel, as it is generally too cold for camping, and the first thing that Fiona and I did was head straight for the nearest laundrette, which was conveniently situated just round the corner. In a couple of hours we had a nice sweet-smelling pack of freshly laundered clothes to replace our dust encrusted and campfire smelling old ones. Such Luxury....

As this was the last night of the first week of the trip, we had a group meal at a nice pub/restaurant called the Lighthouse (recommended) where Fiona had the fish (Sole) and I reacquainted myself with the charm of eating yet another zoo animal (Oryx). A few beers, a big feed, and a soft bed were all we needed to keep us satisfied. The next day we would spend in Windhoek before heading off on the southern part of our tour of Namibia.

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