Day three and we were sad to bid farewell to Moses, Hilarious and Kulala Adventure Camp, our home from home for two nights. We travelled north towards Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, following a route that runs parallel with the sea, taking in quaint points of interest like Solitaire, the hub of this remote area. The little general store is also the local post office, and on display are old-fashioned telephones, mail boxes, typewriters and oddities that just don't belong, but in fact do! There is a classic car graveyard with yellow mongooses and tree squirrels that imitate meerkats (suricates). This is also a popular stop for coffee and home-made cake, and residents are very proud as Pitt /Jolie have made this a favourite too!
We turned west towards the Atlantic following the gravel road through barren moon-like landscapes that boast some of the largest euphorbias in the country – prickly, unpleasant plants that really have no use as very few animals can eat them.
We passed through the Tropic of Capricorn and headed through Gaub Pass and over the Kuiseb River. The pass was made famous by two Germans who hid within the canyon for over two years before falling ill and having to return to civilization. A long road of nothingness is the entrance to Walvis Bay where the dunes meet the sea and heading north we arrived in Swakopmund – home for two nights.
Swakopmund is a quaint town with colonial architecture redolent of its German occupiers. A morning catamaran cruise with a passionate captain whose philosophy on conservation, environmental issues and abuse of a very vulnerable ocean was interspersed with up close and personal encounters with sea lions, cormorants, pelicans and dolphins and an exciting sighting of a rare grey whale.
Day five and Damaraland was our destination – a long transfer day that took us north, passing through little places that do not even have town status. We enjoyed a brief stop in Hentiesbaai and a wonderful stop at Cape Cross Seal Colony that in breeding season can see as many as a quarter of a million sea lions breeding, raising young and just hanging about making a noise!
After our brief visit, which cleared all our olfactory issues, we turned right heading inland towards the magnificent Brandberg Mountain, the highest mountain range in Namibia covering over 450 square kilometres. Heading into the hinterland, Jeremia asked us to trust him as the road seemed unclear and we meandered through valleys, river beds and gullies taking in wonderful sightings of oryx.
Damaraland Adventure Camp was a welcome sight after a very long day, and we were greeted with happy gentle smiles from John and Marta who run the camp that would be home for three nights. Again, crisp clean linen, soft pillows, comfortable beds and hot showers eased any aches and stiffness, and Marta's home cooking filled hungry tummies and a warm bed was much sought after before the night was too old.
Activities in this area include the Organ Pipes, Burnt Mountain, and Twyfelfontein for its rock art, and of course the desert adapted elephant, lion and rhino. Because this is such a vast area, it requires full day activities with wonderful lunches laid out in “open air restaurants” of Jeremia’s choice, only heading home when the sun sets so we do not miss a thing. He filled our minds with interesting facts, questioning, answering and discussing things that we will take home with us as incredible memories. He made us hungry for more knowledge!
Day eight and we bade farewell to John and Marta and carefully scrutinised our maps to see which way our journey would take us. We found ourselves heading north to the amazing and world-famous Etosha National Park, where we were to spend two nights at Anderssons Camp, located in the Ongava Game Reserve, just minutes from Etosha. Alternative-style accommodation featuring corrugated iron decor and galvanised baths in the trendy bathrooms, with large soft beds and comfortable pillows, made for a personal piece of heaven and great sightings at the very active waterhole were our lunchtime treat on day of arrival.
Sunset drinks and a game drive took us through the Ongava Reserve white rhino and lions and fidgety wildebeest were our companions.
Etosha is a full day’s outing, starting early with the rising sun to be in the park before the hordes of visitors. The waterholes play host to a plethora of game that keep coming with very little respite. The thing about Etosha is that there is a surprise at every waterhole and if one sits quietly for long enough drama can unfold…
Day 10 and the journey back to reality began with an unusually quiet vehicle as we all contemplated the incredible journey our Explorations guide had taken us on… indescribable landscapes raw in their beauty (Namibia is not a country for sissies), a showcase of how brutal nature and the elements can be, contrasted by the gentleness of a mother and her young …
The incredible diversity of this magnificent country will linger long in everyone’s minds and memories.
If you missed PART 1 - click here