It’s time for my last Namibia post.

sand ocean sky

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.)

fake starbucks

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.

girl and kite

Kite-flying on the beach.

swakop sunset

Ocean sunset.

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 desert

Michelle in the endless desert a few minutes north of Swakopmund.

michelle on dunes

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.

seal colony

Lots of seals and lots of sand.

two crosses

Crosses in the sand. Portuguese explorer Diego Câo came here in 1486 and put up a cross. The crosses there now are replicas.

sunbathing seal

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.

flat seal

The cutest seal at Cape Cross.

flat seal2

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.

cars in the sand

Trucks and sand.

garnet 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.

dunes instagram

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.

climbing the dunes

Footprints in the sand.

heather and michelle on sand

We got champagne, too. (Photo: Random Sandwich Harour tour dude.)

champagne in the sand

Champagne in the desert.

salt pan instagram

Crazy salt flats in the middle of the desert, shot at a crazy angle.

car and footprints

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.

desert road

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