It’s time for my last Namibia post.
Sand meets sea near Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Deserts have always fascinated me, so spending time in the desert was my number-one priority in Namibia. After meeting up with my friend Michelle in Windhoek, we hopped into our rented hatchback and headed for Swakopmund, a popular Namibian holiday destination on Africa’s Atlantic coast.
Swakopmund is a surreal place. In town, we could have been in Delaware or New Jersey rather than Namibia — Swakopmund has the same coastal architecture, seafood joints, and ubiquitous (although not quite as tacky) souvenir shops that you’ll find in most American beach towns. (Side note: We really enjoyed our stay at the Namib Guesthouse. If you’re ever looking for a place to stay in Swakopmund, check it out.)
Swakopmund is much like the beach towns along the east coast of the United States where Michelle and I spent our summers as kids. We felt very at home there and enjoyed the fresh seafood. We also enjoyed our lunch at this cute Starbucks knock-off, the Stadmitte Café.
Kite-flying on the beach.
Half a kilometer outside of Swakopmund, the scene changes dramatically. To the north lies a flat desert moonscape. To the south, mammoth sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
Michelle in the endless desert a few minutes north of Swakopmund.
Michelle on the dunes near Walvis Bay, 30 minutes south of Swakopmund.
Most of the time that we spent in and around Swakopmund involved sand. Lots of sand. In fact, I’ve been home from Namibia for a month and I’m still trying to get the sand out of my camera bag. Take a look at photos and you’ll understand why.
On Christmas Day, we drove 90 minutes north to Cape Cross Nature Reserve, home to the largest colony of Cape fur seals on earth.
Lots of seals and lots of sand.
Crosses in the sand. Portuguese explorer Diego Câo came here in 1486 and put up a cross. The crosses there now are replicas.
There are wooden walkways built around the nature reserve, allowing tourists to get up close to the seals without disturbing them. The seals don’t seem to care much about being disturbed though — one pup pushed himself up against the walkway and insisted that we scratch him on the head through the spokes of the railing.
The cutest seal at Cape Cross.
Cutest seal from a slightly different angle.
We really enjoyed our visit to Cape Cross, despite the mildly unpleasant smell and the fact that there are a lot of dead baby seals laying around. We had been warned about the smell but the dead babies were a bit of a shock. Part of nature, I guess. Cape Cross is an easy half-day trip from Swakopmund and doesn’t require a 4×4.
On Boxing Day, we headed south to Walvis Bay and took a 4×4 ride into the dunes with Sandwich Harbour Tours.
Trucks and sand.
Our guide, Herman, gives us a short sand lesson. This reddish sand is full of garnet — when we looked at it through binoculars we saw thousands of tiny red gems.
We cruised over the dunes in Herman’s 4×4, stomachs churning. Then we got out and walked around. It was beautiful. And sandy. The sand felt great under my feet.
Footprints in the sand.
We got champagne, too. (Photo: Random Sandwich Harour tour dude.)
Champagne in the desert.
Crazy salt flats in the middle of the desert, shot at a crazy angle.
This was a really fun tour.
After seven posts and God knows how many photos, my virtual Namibia tales are finished. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
I’ll miss you, Namibia, and I’ll miss your sand. Hope to see you again soon.