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We next drove from Sossusvlei in the south of the Namib-Naukluft National Park to Swakopmund. The route took us first east, then north, then west to the Atlantic coast.
Swakopmund was founded back in 1892 when Namibia was a German colony. The town has a fair amount of German colonial architecture and I heard several German speaking tourists walking around the town. The next morning we drove a short distance down the coast to Walvis Bay for a boat tour.
The bay is home to a large population of Cape fur seals. They haul out on a sandbar called Pelican Point that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the bay. The sandbar goes on for many kilometers. There is a lighthouse but it is not at the end of the sandbar. When it was built in 1932 it was. But over the subsequent decades sand has blown in from the desert inland and now the end of the peninsula is several kilometers further.
A mother seal and pup. New research indicates a mother can distinguish their pub’s cry as early as two hours after birth.
This pelican landed on our ship and the naturalist on board fed it some fish. He said it was a rescue that had been raised by a person and then released back into the bay. Passengers were amused and took lots of pictures.
We traveled through a portion of the bay that had thousands of jellyfish floating just below the surface. I couldn’t get any good photos because of the sun reflecting off the surface. The naturalist held a bucket over the side and scooped out several jellyfish. I was shocked when he picked this one up with his bare hands. He said it was slightly irritating but he was used to handling them.
The next day we left Swakopmund and drove north along the coast. This is the entrance to the Skeleton Coast National Park. Those are whale ribs framing the entrance.
This stretch of coast has been known for centuries for its danger to ships. There is frequent fog and often strong winds from the shore. There are virtually no landmarks or navigation aids on land. It is very remote. Portuguese sailors once referred to it as “The Gates of Hell.” Until fairly recently if you were shipwrecked and made it ashore you were still very likely to die from the lack of water. This was a relatively recent wreck but there are remains of about a thousand ships going back centuries.
The dirt road parallels the Atlantic with very little traffic. And very little to see as we drove along the flat terrain. One of the most desolate places I have ever seen.
There are a few sites with the remains of previous human activity. I believe this was an abandoned salt processing facility. At the time I thought the area looked like something out of Mad Max. I subsequently learned that Mad Max: Fury Road was filmed along the coast a little south of Skeleton Coast National Park.
This is the turn off from the coast road to head inland (east). I was so glad we didn’t drive this road by ourselves. Miss a turn and you could easily run out of fuel.
Next Stop – Damaraland
There go two miscreants
Interesting series — I knew nothing about Namibia except the name. Really enjoying these pictures.
I’ve been told Namibia and Botswana are two must see places.
Imagine how disheartening it would have been to make it ashore after a shipwreck to then face such desolation.
Seals! Seals everywhere! Baby seals! Pelicans!
What a happy surprise this morning, great way to start the day.
Very interesting re. Skeleton Coast Park. The birds on that shipwreck!
I’ve been to WIndhoek, Namibia, and I’ve been to about 1/2 the sub-saharan African countries; Namibia is my favorite of all, though I confess I never left the city. It’s the only African country I know of where you can drink the tap-water. You may go to a modern supermarket, thoroughly 21st century, well lit, well-stocked, cool with chrome, and find yourself browsing next to a traditional Naimibian woman, wearing a small burlap skirt and topless, smeared head to toe with a red-ochre clay mixture, which is what they use for bathing and deodorant. The traditional people are very traditional! German is the language. Unlike Johannesburg, WIndhoek doesn’t give me the feeling of impending violence ready to break out at any moment.
The terrain looks so stark, yet life likely thrives deep under the soil, or maybe not. Good photos of the seals, with the Skeleton Park entrance, possibly inside as well, being ominous and foreboding. Some welcome sight!
What delighted me especially is your interesting narrative. It brought everything together.