14th – 17th March – Windhoek
It’s my birthday! Yay!
We have another long drive to get to Windhoek. The only reason for being in Windhoek is to pick up my battery charger…….another Yay!
I’ve nursed my batteries over the last two weeks and am now running on empty.
My birthday is spent at Joe’s Bierhouse. A lovely characterful and quirky place with great food. It’s just a pity it’s Sunday as the whole of Namibia is dry and I have to make do with a diet coke over dinner!
The charger arrived in Windhoek on Friday and DHL informed me of its delivery at our hotel on 15th March.
Well it didn’t show up, it got stuck in customs! I drove personally to the DHL office and ended up having to escalate to senior management at DHL in order to avoid another 3 days delay.
I have it now, my batteries are on charge and we are ready for the next stage of the trip.
We filled our time with a visit to the very interesting and creative local craft market – NamCraft in the centre of town; well worth the effort. Emma bought up just about every bracelet on display!
17th – 20th March – Swapkopmund
We’ve booked Hotel Hansa for three nights in the centre of town. It’s a quaint, old historic place with a distinctly colonial feel. The staff are most friendly and helpful and they even delivered a bottle of champagne on the house because we had no hot water on the first morning – how charming and generous!
We spent the first afternoon just chilling with a walk along the Atlantic coast and beer or two at a local pub. Dinner was at “Andy’s” restaurant – fabulous fresh seafood and a nice cosy atmosphere.
The next day we are off on a Tommy’s Desert Tour in the Dorab Desert. Our guide is Charlotte, who offered a very knowledgeable, humorous and interesting insight into the ecology, natural history and animals of the desert. This is highly recommended; without Charlotte we would not have had a clue how to discover the secrets of the desert. It was all conducted with a responsible and sympathetic attitude towards the desert and it’s creatures and the fine balance between responsible ecotourism and the fragile habitat of this natural world.
The highlight for me was discovering five Sidewinder snakes and having the ability to photograph these fascinating creatures close up. Other characters of the desert we were introduced to were the Namaqua Chameleon (now sadly on the endangered list due to poaching), Palmato Gecko, Shovel Snouted Lizard, Tractrac chats (that Charlotte had developed an intimate relationship with!) The time just flew by, as we were entailed by one species after another, mixed with spectacular views of the desert dunes and the ocean. Highly recommended.
We have been working with a Namibia Guide book that’s ten years old. In it, there is a description of a lovely bird sanctuary, just outside town. Sadly, when we got to the location, it was a shopping centre.
The next morning we are off to Walvis Bay Lagoon to try and find the Flamingo’s. We arrived at first light and were fortunate to be presented with flocks of flamingo’s (and the odd pelican) all along the shore line. Many were in flight, seeking out a suitable place to feed for the day. They were a very beautiful sight, many bright pink (the lesser flamingo) as well as the more whitish variety; their reflections in the still water making for a picture postcard perfect photo.
Emma’s birthday was celebrated at “The Tug”, a seafood restaurant, right on the ocean front. This time there were G&T’s and wine to be had, as well as the scrumptious seafood delights they served up.
20th to 22nd March – Cape Cross to Spitzkoppe
We decide to visit Cape Cross seal colony on the way to Spitzkoppe. So many people had warned us about not going due to “the smell”………..oh really, get a life! Try the Sunday League men’s changing rooms after 10 games of football on a Sunday morning!
It was quite an overwhelming sight. I think that due to the lack of visitors, the seals had taken the high ground and occupied the land all the way to the two Cape Crosses that the place is named after. There were literally thousands of seals – as far as the eye could see. Sadly, there were quite a number of casualties; dead baby seals that had died from any number of causes.
Yes they were a little stinky but nothing that would remotely put me off visiting one of mother nature’s phenomenas; it really is a sight to behold.
We had the place to ourselves until an American guy turned up. Oh my, so gung ho! I thought he’d just stepped off an episode of The Simpsons! Fortunately he did not have his drone with him (something he was lamenting). He then advised me that my zoom lens was not required, just as he strolled down to an “out of bounds” location, where hundreds of seals were basking on the rocks and chased every single one into the sea…….so that he could get a photo! I pointed out that he had got way too close, disturbed the seals and scared them away. A zoom lens would have avoided that! Complete jerk.
A jackal turned up and started meandering through the seal colony, sniffing occasionally at something that he found of interest. I was surprised at how tolerant the seals were. He then got close to a baby seal that he thought was dead and must have had a nibble. The baby seal lunged at him and he took off at lightening speed.
We arrive at Spitzkoppe late afternoon. We were only expecting a one night stay but on seeing this amazing spectacle, decided it deserved at least two nights. The imposing mountain scenery is unique and truly majestic. The most pleasant of surprises!
In order to stay at Spitzkoppe National Park (run by the community) you need to be totally self sufficient. They only supply a camping spot and a toilet……period. However, each campsite is set in amongst the rocks, boulders and mountains and offers and incredible otherworldly experience, with the most mystifying starlit nights; you feel you just reach out and grab one of the heavenly bodies.
I spent my time, camera in hand, finding the most impressive locations for sunrise and sunset. The Arch is a must for just about every one. It is what it says on the box! A huge natural arch carved into the mountainside. It offers fabulous views either side for dawn and dusk.
There are plenty of walks and all sorts of activities for the more adventurous. But overall, it just a great place to chill, recharge your batteries and sooth the soul.
Although we had a private campsite, close to the famous “Arch”, we found we were being inundated with people parking inside our campsite to access the Arch. It was quite an intrusive. So………I decided to park the car where it was obvious to everyone the site was occupied. I also put out a table, with table cloth to stake our claim. Guess what? We arrive back from a stroll to find a huge group of Brazilian tourists, having a party and using our table and facilities for the alcohol, food etc! I had to say something, it was all quite embarrassing; especially for them. Not really their fault, they were with with a tour company – LEVO. You would expect their tour guide to have known better.