First thing we noticed driving out of the dock at Walvis Bay were clean paved streets. The second thing was a big sign for KFC. Say what you will about American fast food joints being exported all over the world, but they are a barometer of the standard of living of the average citizen. This small city looks like it could be in California. Except those mountains are sand dunes!
Walvis Bay is the only natural deepwater harbor in Namibia and it has a substantial fishing industry. Settled by the Dutch and Germans, it was formerly a South African enclave. Afrikaner (our guide says it is most similar to Flemish) is the main language but German and English are widely spoken. It’s population is a bit under 44,000. They get only 1/4 inch of rain per year in this coastal area! The plants and animals depend on condensation from the heavy fog that rolls in every night. The temperatures stay mild year round, between 60 and 78.
Namibia is rich in a variety of natural recourses such as gold, uranium and precious gems. Many foreign companies are here to mine them which creates a dilemma between conservation and growth.
Our first day we went out in off-road vehicles to see the Namib Desert. Namib-Naukluft Park is one of the biggest nature reserves in Africa and is said to be the world’s oldest living desert. We drove along the coast next to towering sand dunes!
Then we went a bit inland, an exciting drive up and over the dunes. We stopped several times to look for desert plants and animals.
Here’s a couple geckos. They have no eyelids! And another desert lizard.
This is called nara. In the click language it’s !nara, with a little tongue click at the start. It’s a sweet melon and tastes a bit like pumpkin and the seeds are similar too. The outside is green and spiny.
This coast is home to some 60,000 pelicans. We saw just a few of them.
We finished the day with a drive up the dramatic coast line to the town of Swakapmund, a very pretty town with buildings from the colonial period, colorful parks and a great beach.
The water is straight from the Antarctic and really cold.
A claim to fame here is a local resort where Angelina and Brad stayed while waiting for their baby’s birth.
The second day we headed to the “Desert of the Moon” east of Swakapmund along a dry river bed. This canyon was carved out of the plateau millions of years ago. Looks like the moon!
This is a 600 year old desert tree!
We got very lucky with the weather these two days. Our guide said it is usually very windy which is not a good thing in a sand dune, for people or vehicles!
The constant wind keeps the dunes on the move. These trees could be gone in 20 years!
Namibia has lots more to explore. Our guide talked about Etosha National Park, in the north of Namibia. He claimed it is the best place to see all the major African animals at the huge watering hole there. We’ll have to save that adventure for another trip!