Tag Archives: skeleton coast

Spitzkoppe Bush Camp 100 km

Day 10 Dec. 22 Monday
Much as we loved camping and were happy and content in our tent, we certainly appreciated ‘real beds’. We woke up early, washed and hung the rest of our clothes and went for the breakfast included in our guesthouse stay. We both had a continental breakfast and coffee. Knowing that shopping was on our agenda and that we only had until noon, we packed up as much as possible and headed towards the shopping area a few blocks away.

The previous day, we had decided we would celebrate Christmas Eve by doing the ‘Secret Santa’ game that some of us had done so many times in Christmases past. When consulted as to the best day to do this, either the 24th or the 25th, Dumi, Richard and Mandhla  enthusiastically agreed to participate and that in terms of our travel plans, campsites, and mileages, the 24th would be the best day. That meant we had to find some secret Santa gifts. Of course, we were looking for grand baby gifts too – you never know if the grand baby might turn out to be as much of a gypsy as Mike and I. The Bush Babies were still slumbering after their night on the town so Rhea decided to join us on our shopping spree.

We discovered to our delight, that Swakopmund is a really ‘tourist friendly’  little town with lots of great shopping. I bought a travel mug and a fly swatter for my secret Santa gift; Mike bought a set of plastic wine glasses for his gift and we found a small present for the ‘baby’. Some mosquito repellent cream, sunscreen and Advil cold and flu meds completed the shopping list. We returned  to the guesthouse to pack and put things away, buy water for 2 days and have lunch. Lunch was a Greek salad, bread and melon.

From Swakopmund we made our way north along the coast. The ocean was in view the whole way , miles and miles of sand, surf, and sea.

We even dipped our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped to see a ship wreck and just had to test the waters.

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The Zeila, a fishing trawler, being towed as scrap metal to India in 2008, came loose from its towing cable, becoming one of the many ships which, over the years, have become stranded on ‘the Skeleton Coast’.

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We all were fascinated not only by the ship but also by the waves crashing onto the shore, and the fishermen further up the coast. The Atlantic at its best!

 

 

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We were making our way to the one and only remote ‘bush camp’ of the trip, a place called ‘Spitzkoppe’, translated as “sharp head”, nicknamed “The Matterhorn of Africa”. It’s one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks and as you will see from the pictures, absolutely stunning. This was by far our favorite part of the trip.

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This is what it looked like from afar.

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As we got closer and closer, we started to get an idea of the grandeur and size of these Spitkoppe Mountains.

 

 

 

 

We arrived at our remote, “only place with a long-drop toilet” campsite. Our crew got busy organizing our camp; we got busy exploring. First, the camp.

bcd1This is Richard setting up the first of our tents, always checking for shade and comfort. In the foreground you can see the acacia tree with its many weaver bird nests.

Below – the long-drop toilet! In the shade, no less!bcd2  bcd3

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Our bush camp with the mountains as the backdrop. Absolutely spectacular!

 

 

After exploring the camp and getting things ready for the evening routine, we set off to scramble around on the mountains.

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These big huge boulders were easy to climb up but higher than they appeared and very steep coming down.

Below left, Mike & Jan “getting to the top”, right, the ‘Bush-babies’.

 

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Next, we had a 2 hour walking tour scheduled with a local Damara guide who showed us the bushman paintings done with blood and ‘something something’, a bottle tree and finally ‘the bridge’.

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We made it to the top, right into the arch from where took a picture down, at Jan’s suggestion, of our shadows!

 

 

We continued our walk through the boulders and surrounding grasslands.

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The sun was starting to set so up the mountain for sunset we went, each of us with a bottle of red or white in our arms. What a sunset and what a party! We all made it back down safely, believe it or not!!

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This is what our camp looked like in the evening. By the time we got down it was quite dark and our dinner was waiting for us.

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We had a dinner of fish (Snooke I think it was called, cooked in foil over the fire), an African version of scalloped potatoes, a rice dish, wine, all accompanied with lots of laughs and good conversation. In this remote area without the reflection of lights, the display of stars overhead was brilliant. Mike stayed sitting outside for a long time, fascinated by stars, satellites, and shooting stars.

 

Skeleton Coast 360 km

Day 9 Dec. 21 Sunday
It was early in the morning and once again, we were under way. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool. Leaving the Sossusvlei dunes camp was bittersweet ….. beautiful as the dunes were, I was happy to bid the fine red sand (that got into every tiny space), adieu. We were looking forward to seeing the flamingoes in the coastal town of Walvis Bay and almost equally interested in the larger, German- influenced town of Swakopmund; shopping and a night in a guesthouse – funny how one’s priorities can change.

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We stopped early into the day’s journey at Soltaire for “the best apple pie in Africa” according to Richard. Since my clothes were getting tighter and tighter every day, I declined.

Thoughts of artwork ….. sitting on the bus, taking in the landscapes, thoughts of art projects filled my mind.  I saw such a variety of greens blending together. I saw dunes of every hue, tone, and shade in the red – orange – yellow range  and visualized myself using chalk pastels – smoothing a swathe of red and adding greens. I thought of all the abstracts I could make based on patterns taken from nature.

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It was around 11 am and this was the landscape I was seeing. We were about an hour SE of Walvis Bay and the ocean. It was getting much cooler too … 22 degrees. Finally we were closing in on Walvis Bay and I saw signs for “Dune 7”. I took some pics of what I thought was Dune 7.white dunes

 

 

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At this point, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and couldn’t resist the photo opportunities that presented themselves.

 

 

We lunched beside the lagoon in Walvis Bay, treated to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of pink and black as the flamingoes took off and landed, almost  continuously, on the ‘lagoon stage’ in front of us!

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Entering Walvis Bay, I was fascinated by these trees, which we saw everywhere. I never did find out the name of them.

 

Here was our first sight of the Atlantic Ocean!!

 

 

 

Flamingo Kaleidoscope

 

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mike & flamingoes

After lunch, we continued on our way, traveling north along the coast. It was only about another 30 km. As we drove, we discussed the adventure opportunities available to us in Swakopmund and decided to take a township tour followed by dinner at a local eatery called “The Tug” recommended by our Kiboko crew. Dumi made reservations for both the township tour at 4 and dinner at the Tug at 730 pm.

NadiThe township tour was great. Our leader, a member of the Ovambo tribe, went by the name of  ‘Nadi’. He picked us up in a small bus and as we drove to the township, he filled us in on some of the history of the township, how it came to be, and some other interesting facts:

  • 12,000 people are living in the township which is called the DRC (District Resettlement Colony if I remember correctly).

shantiesThe township is basically a shantytown with no electricity or water. People spend most of the day outside, using their “shanties” only for sleeping in.

 

 

shanties closeupDuring the apartheid regime, blacks were separated according to their tribes: Ovamba, Damara, and Nama. They all lived in the township but were kept separated. After apartheid was dismantled, many stayed living there – building bigger houses – it had become home.

When we got to the township, we walked along a few of the unpaved streets, where Nadi was greeted by everyone we met. He was very specific about where we should and shouldn’t walk and when it was or wasn’t appropriate to take photos. Some of the best subjects were the kids. They were as fascinated with us as we with them and happily posed for us.

township kids township girl township boys babysitters at the hairdresser

After our walk and initial introduction to the township and what we were seeing, Nadi took us to visit a an orphanage in the township.

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The woman we met there was of the Herero tribe; she was in full Hereo dress, characterized most by the horn-shaped head cover resembling the horns of a cow.  (The Herero people measure their wealth in cattle, as do many  other African people,  and this is evident in the  women’s traditional way of dress.) She had the sweetest toddler with her – I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos, hoping to get a good enough one to draw from. There were no there children that we could see – the other children were all off on some outing, I believe.

Our next stop was a local craft shop, supporting crafts made by women from the township where we bought a few crafts …. for us that meant baby clothes for Mike’s eagerly anticipated first grandchild.

Our last stop was the most highly anticipated one –  a local restaurant where we sampled the local fare:  spinach, pap (a traditional porridge  made from ground maize, a staple of the Bantu people of South Africa), chicken, a kind of bean mush, and Mopani worms.

bowl of worms

In the food department, I was definitely not the most adventurous of our group. I didn’t eat anything but the chicken. I tried the spinach but it was terribly gritty, the beans …. I didn’t like the taste of and the  mopani worms …. I could hardly look at them, let alone eat them.

a mopani worm

 

It was hard enough taking a picture of Mike putting one in his mouth and chewing it!!!

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Hmmm ….. ! Do you think he liked them?? Afterwards, Dumi explained to us that there are different ways of preparing the worms and that the ones he likes are deep fried. We had another chance to try them that way and then Mike liked them better.

After we had eaten our fill, we were serenaded by a local African apace vocals group. They were a group of 4 guys and not only was their music great, their energy was fantastic. They pulled a few of us up to dance and share in their fun and love of life. In this next photo of them, you can see each of them making a gesture with their hand …. it is the symbol of Namibia, in the shape of their country. The thumb sticking our horizontally represents the Caprivi Strip, the small strip of land along the northern border between Namibia and Angola, extending westwards from Namibia into Zimbabwe in the north and Botswana in the south. A great ending to a great township tour.

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We bid Nadi farewell and went to our respective rooms for “comfort” stops – a shower and a snooze and after a while, set off to find ‘The Tug’ restaurant at the jetty. It was packed and looked like a the recommendation was well-deserved. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Although a reservation had been made for us, somehow, the restaurant had no record of it. Apologetically and and most helpfully, they sent us off to Kuchhie’s, also highly recommended. We sat at a long trestle-like table and ordered a variety of dishes ranging from a gourmet burger to a dinner of wild game meats served with ….. the ever – present wine and beer of course. In the middle of pre-dinner drinks, who should appear but Dumi and Richard. Originally, their intention was to find us at The Tug but ended up on a kind of treasure hunt, eventually finding us at Kuchie’s. Our invitation to “join us” was accepted and the evening progressed in fine style from that point the  ‘young and the beautiful’ of our group, renamed “The Bush-Babies”,  and Jan  (our Dutch Dancer) went in search of the local nightlife. (Not sure f they found the ‘nightlife’ or became it!!!

The older and wiser of the group, Mike, Rhea and I, wandered home and trundled off to sleep.