Monday, 26 October 2015

Sand, Shipwrecks, Seals and Spitzkoppe ( A look back at my African Adventure 2010)

 Our trip out of Swakopmund, Namibia, was delayed a short while as we waited for a spare part for the truck but now we are on our way travelling through an endless landscape of golden sand.  The scenery is flat and featureless so we spend the time chatting, joking and dozing in the truck. 

Our truck in the Namib Desert - sand as far as the eye can see

A shipwreck on Namibia's Skeleton Coast
   We stop at the lower reaches of the Skeleton Coast and walk across the sand to view a ship wrecked trawler.  A fairly recent wreck it is an eerie sight, through the mist, as it wallows abandoned at the edge of the breakers.  The Skeleton Coast is named for the bleached whale and seal bones scattered along its length but it is also infamous for the number of ship wrecks that have occurred there over the years.  The combination of an 
inhospitable climate, constant rolling surf and regular sea fogs have made the coast fearsome for sailors and the subject of myth and legend. 

Seals millions of them - smelly!
We can smell our next stop before we even see it.  This is the Cape Cross seal colony, home to approximately 80,000 seals.  At first it is hard to discern them  but as we get closer they become a seething mass lying on the rocks.  A walkway takes us right up to, over, and around them.  It is quite a sight to see but I keep a perfumed wipe over my nose the whole way. Cape Cross was named by Diego Cao, a Portuguese explorer who landed there in 1486 and planted a cross on the spot. We eat lunch a little further up the coast beside great crashing waves and several of us run into the icy water to have, at least, a paddle in the Atlantic. 
The stunningly beautiful Spitzkoppe

After lunch we head inland again, pass through the strangle little settlement of Hientjes Bay, built entirely on sand, and after a while the scenery begins to change.  There is more vegetation and in the distance we can see large red mountain peaks rising out of the Namib desert.  We are heading to Spitzkoppe, the highest at 1728 metres and will camp there over night.  Spitzkoppe, like the other mountains in this area is 700 million years old, solid granite and referred to as the Matterhorn of Namibia because it has a similar shape to the Swiss mountain.  As we arrive at the entrance to the camp site our truck becomes deeply bogged in sand.  We all climb out and the men in our group start digging the truck out.  After several attempts at freeing it, and with the help of a good push from everyone, the truck is free and we continue on to camp.  We drive between the giant red mountains and into a canyon to our stunning camp site.  There are no facilities here, no water or showers and just a long drop toilet but we are all awe struck by the setting and after pitching our tents set out to explore it. 

We spot several hyrax or dassies basking on the rocks.  They are a very cute little animal, a cross between a guinea pig and a rabbit.  We clamber about over the rocks and pose to photograph our own version of rock drawings.  We sit on the warm red rock and watch the sun go down behind the mountains.  The sun is always a bright red ball as it goes down in this part of Africa but we have noticed the colour does not really spread across the sky.  We spend the most magical evening, sitting around the camp fire, chatting and singing and telling stories.  We are in the wilderness and it is wonderful.  The stars in the sky are spectacular.

We make our own rock drawings

Our magnificent campsite

View from our tent