Edit Blog Post
Published: December 3rd 2007
Estosha Male Lion
Thirsty work being a King
After leaving “Germany”, the next stop on the Namibia circle was Cape Cross about 80 miles north of Swakopmund. In 1486, Diogo Cáo, an early Portuguese explorer, erected a cross on a small rocky outcrop along the desolate and forbidding wastes of the Namibian skeleton Coast. It was battered by sudden squalls and fierce windstorms, blasted by shifting desert sands, baked by a relentless sun and shrouded with dense fogs for about 4 centuries before the coming of the new colonists. Meanwhile somebody else had claimed the area for themselves - the cross now a replica is situated next to the biggest breeding Cape Fur Seal colony in the world.
The numbers at the colony vary according to the time of year, but can apparently reach over 250,000 during the breeding season. If the numbers are down when you visit, the one thing you can be guaranteed to remember about Cape Cross is the smell - the stench is at best, overpowering. In fact, you probably need to retreat back to Swakopmund to keep well out of the "smell" zone. The site is pretty accessible and gives a view not only of the seals, but also the
The waterhole at Okaukuejo
scavengers who live alongside. We had clear sightings of plenty of jackals and a hyena.
We turned inland at Cape Cross, wild camping somewhere between there and Twyfelfontein. I can vividly remember there being absolutely nothing there - just our group, a camp fire and endless bush and desert to gaze over. An Out of Africa type moment. We weren’t thinking that in the middle of the night mind, as there was definitely something prowling around outside the tent - it later transpired to be a group of wild donkeys peacefully plodding around. The scenery is very much akin to that in the last blog as we made our way across to the coast from Sesriem, but words can't really do the place justice and sadly the memory card was full at the time so the best advice is to go and look yourself - if deserts are your idea of beauty, you won't be disappointed. It's probably the closest you'll get to being on the road to nowhere.
The next stop was the rock art at Twyfelfontein (which apparently means “doubtful fountain” or “maybe water”). It is very reminiscent of aboriginal rock art in Kakadu or somewhere.
A Great White Place
After a scramble round the rocks, we gate-crashed the pool at the fancy resort that is established nearby. The rock dassies had already done a good job of bagging all the best spots in the sun. The rest of the day was uneventful, except for the sightings of desert elephants - very weird seeing elephants so far from any apparent water.
We spent the next three days in Etosha National Park, in our retrospective opinion was far better than somewhere like Kruger. Etosha is based around a massive salt pan, hence the meaning of the name - a Great White Place. In the dry season between May and September, the water is concentrated around the three main camps - Namutoni, Halali and Okaukuejo - and the game therefore comes to you. We stayed at two out of the three, but by far and away the best for the wildlife viewing was the latter - just don’t plan on getting much sleep. The tent pitches were a stone’s throw away from the viewing area near the water hole and the temptation is to sit up all night just watching the variety of animals coming to drink. We sadly didn’t see
a predator kill (if you don’t count the eagle owl doing his thing), but there were plenty of rhino by night. The most regular sightings actually in the camp were the jackals, who patrol around like urban foxes turning the bins out and generally picking up anything that is lying around - don’t under any circumstances leave your boots outside your tent. During the day, the elephants dominated. The experience at Namutoni waterhole was altogether different. The wildlife was absent, but there was an old German fort to explore. The rains don’t usually come until November, but alas they came early in 2004. The tents spectacularly failed to cope, so it was a wet night trying to keep ourselves and the packs dry - we failed by the way.
At our next port of call near the Waterberg Plateau, the group had given up on the idea of another night under still wet canvass and opted for the basic lodges at a small supplement - after 13 nights in the tent, it was worth every Namibian dollar….. and so back to Windhoek.
I read an article once describing Namibia's Windhoek as “the nicest capital city in Africa, which
is a bit like being the prettiest warthog in the pack”. It’s probably a bit unfair, but that German mark was here again - teutonic, orderly, safer than most and home of a decent pint. We’d become quite partial to a can or two of those black Windhoek Draught cans. Downtown was nothing much to write home about - a war memorial, a couple of old German churches and enough shops to buy the essentials. We left for Joe’s Beerhouse, which seemed to specialise in attracting the expats, overland groups and leaving you with a good memory or two of your Namibian experience.
Tot: 0.04s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 15; qc: 30; dbt: 0.007s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb