Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sea and Sand


The beauty of doing a self-drive vacation is you can pretty much go anywhere you want.  Our itinerary had us camping inland but we really wanted to see part of the Skeleton Coast so we zigged when we were supposed to zag.  The Skeleton Coast encompasses most of Namibia's western border and is so named because of the numerous ship wrecks that have occurred there.  A good portion of the northern part is off limits without a permit so we decided to see what we could see without one.  Eventually, the entire coast of Namibia will be considered a National Park and it will be the only country in the world that can make that claim.

En route to the coast, we detoured to see one of the most famous rock paintings in Africa, the White Lady in Brandberg.  First discovered in 1918, the figure actually depicts a male warrior and was initially believed to depict travellers visiting from the Mediterranean area.  It is now believed that local bushmen painted it about 2000 years ago.

The "White Lady"

The human legs on the back of oryx are symbols of shamanism.

Once we hit the coast at Henties Bay, we headed north to see the seal colony at Cape Cross.  Given the thousands of seals in the colony, you actually smell and hear them way before you see them.

The pups are born in December and January.

Apparently, they fear nothing.

They have no natural predators so the colonies are enormous.

This is a popular area for surf fishing so there are many roads to the beach.

The cold Atlantic.

It was getting late so we drove down to Henties Bay and found a very nice old hotel on the beach for the night.

We headed east the next morning to visit Spitzkoppe, a massive granite dome that rises from the desert that is called Namibia's Matterhorn.  A number of movies have been shot here including The Gods Must Be Crazy and 10,000 BC for which animals were imported that still live in the area.  

The approach to Spitzkoppe.

The area reminded me of Utah.

The area is famous for the thousands of rock art drawings located in the rocks.  We hired a guide who led us around to see a few of the great ones.

This depicts a shaman wearing a headdress confronting a serpent.

We headed back west towards the coast to spend two nights in Swakopmund, a beach resort with a distinctively German feel.   Oswald really needed a bath so we found a car wash run by a lovely South African woman who filled us in on all the must see places.  For the equivalent of about $12 US, the crew literally hand washed the undercarriage, removing pounds of Zambian mud and Namibian sand. 

If we didn't have return tickets, this would be an interesting journey.

Our booked overnights were at The Stiltz, a resort right on the beach where all the building are built on stilts, connected by a boardwalk.  They put us in an incredible two story villa.

Even the shower was cool.

The manager made dinner reservation at a great restaurant on the pier where we enjoyed an amazing seafood dinner.

The next day, we opted to take a boat ride out into Walvis Bay to see the oyster beds and the seal colony.  Given the abundance of seals in the area, the tour companies aren't afraid to involve the seals in the experience.  They just jump into the boat and in exchange for a few fish are more than happy to pose.

Until next time . . .

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