Seals, sand, and springbok!

Trip Start Sep 14, 2005
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Trip End May 2006


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Flag of Namibia  ,
Monday, December 5, 2005

I don't think I've ever seen such a diversity of sights in one week.
They ranged from the towering red granite rocks of Spitzkoppe, to a beach crowded with thousands of mating/fighting/nursing/bathing/lounging seals, to a pride of eleven lionesses hunting grazing zebra in Etosha park, to the endless red and rolling sands dunes of Sossusflei in the Namib desert. I'll put up a selection of pictures, but to be honest it's hard to capture the gagging smell of birthing seals, or the pace of your heart watching the doomed zebra, or the feeling of isolation standing on a dune with sand stretching in every direction..... it's just not possible; you'll have to feel it for yourself. But, I'll tell you, it's worth the trip and I HIGHLY recommend it.

Last weekend Mike and I drove with our host and friend here in Windhoek, Ruth Anne (the country rep. for Oxfam Canada), to the Atlantic coast - completing our coast to coast circuit of southern Africa! We camped one night at Spitzkoppe, which is a red rock mountain that rises magnificantly above the otherwise flat plains. I've never seen better stars. There really IS something different about the African sky. It's bluer by day, brighter by night, and bigger all round than any other sky I've seen. Sounds crazy i know (...there's only one sky pam!), but it's true and hard to explain!

The morning before we left, Mike and I climbed part of the mountain to watch the sunrise. We couldn't help taking a couple cliche shots which we genuinely hope will be published in the Mountain Equipment Coop. catelogue! The next day we drove to Cape Cross where we watched (and smelled) the hundreds of thousands of seals for a full hour. The newly born pups looked like sleek black labrador puppies with the wrong limbs. The male bulls were enormous and disturbingly sexually aggressive. The cows nursed, bathed, and lounged on the sand which was dotted with placentas and pups - sorry to be graphic, but it WAS a graphic sight. We all walked away with a feeling of awe for the rawness and crudeness of nature! But it was fascinating to see!

We drove through a desolately flat desert (one, that to our eyes, was full of nonexistent trees, waterholes and mountains - dreamily reflected in the scorching sand.) to our next campsite at the Brandburg mountains. This site was slightly less spectacular than the previous night at Spitzkoppe, but had a great view of the mountains, and Mike and I were harrassed by a grazing cow in the middle of the night! (always makes for an exciting midnight adventure!)

This past week, Mike and I (somewhat grudgingly) joined two short 3-day tours. We were skeptical about the pre-organized group travel, but it is pretty much the only and cheapest way to see some of the inaccesible but stunning corners of Namibia. From Monday to Wednesday we were in Etosha National Park, where we went for the game drives (or 'safaris' as we don't like to say out loud). As i mentioned we saw a lion hunt, which was certainly a highlight! We also saw a few rhinos, some ostrich, tonnes of zebra and giraffe and antelope (mostly springbok).

Our second tour took us south to the Namib desert to see the imfamous dunes. Neither Mike nor I had expereinced a desert before and we were swept off our feet (sometimes literally by the sliding sand!). It was breathtaking. We climbed one dune (Dune 45) for sunset and watched the rolling red dunes change shape and colour with the changing light. It was unbelievable. We spent a day walking the dunes, including a stop at deadflei and sossusflei. I can't imagine how anything survives in the desert. Never have i felt so vulnerable. It's a different world entirely.

On Thursday, however, we returned to the land of shopping malls, coffee shops, and German boutiques...Windhoek! We have a few more days here before we take the 20 hour bus ride to Cape Town for the final leg of our journey!

In Cape town i hope to climb Table mountain, visit Cape point, and perhaps see some of the wine regions. It's there though, that I'll sadly have to say goodbye to my trusty travel companion. Until then though, we're packing in the fun. .... 'living the dream', as we now say. I am however looking forward to a lovely Prague Christmas with my sista' and friends (will be a cold shock to my system) and of course to seeing my dear Mark in January! Hope you are all well. Love Pam xoxo
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Comments

dickandbarb
dickandbarb on

Are those pictures real ???
Loved this latest travelogue from Namibia, your command of descriptive language is both arresting and compelling....but you know, this may the first instance where the images are just as powerful as the writing
I stared for a full minute at the dead tree in the desert shot. It was so much like a painting, and so unlike anything I've ever seen. We're so glad that you're there and absorbing all this. We're jealous. However, it will be fun to see and hear more when we're finally back together.

One question - and this one to Mark - did you feel the earthquake yesterday ? How are things in Congo ? We're eager for a travelogue update from behind the walls in Goma.

2smn
2smn on

Shivers...
Hello Pam and Mark,

Every time that I hear, read or think about Africa it sends shivers up my spine and I feel its bigness pull me towards it. It has been fun living vicariously from your travel blog. I can imagine you standing in the room telling the story, it's great. Someday I hope to read your book.

All the best.

Shawn

moore1948
moore1948 on

Those photos!
You sold me! I'm going to Namibia ASAP.

The photos were easily the best yet!

Well done. Travel well.

travellingkiwi
travellingkiwi on

its those photos...
wow... the photos are stunning... I keep logging on to check them out again! I just can't believe the colour of the sand, and the contrast of colours with the tree, sky and sand. amazing....!

-Sarah.

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