Here we are in Namibia, the port city of Walvis Bay.
This is a country we knew little about until the recent Mad Max movie was filmed here. In fact, we traveled on Mad Max Fury Road today.
Much of Namibia is arid or semi-arid. The Namib Desert runs along the coast and is possibly the oldest desert in the world. The Kalahari Desert which most people will have heard of, is located in the eastern part of the country. 53% of this country is designated as national park, which is mostly desert. Small villages sit near the port, plopped down right in the desert.
Our ship arrives at 5:30 am in the dark, with tours starting at 7 AM when we are cleared to go through immigration and board our massive all-terrain vehicle. The temperature is 63 degrees and cloudy and even when it clears later it only warms up to 70 degrees. And we pictured this desert as hot.
There is only one paved road along the coast and one going inland. We see another one under development as the shipping business is big here and tourism is also picking up. Otherwise, the other roads we travel are gravel or sand.
Sea salt is a major product here; Namibia provides most of South Africa’s salt and ships salt all over the world for use as a spice, in chemical plants, and on the roads of Europe. We see some in the port area.
Not too far from the port is a natural lagoon, part of the Walvis Bay Nature Reserve. Our tour vehicle makes a quick stop to capture some pictures of the flamingoes that are feeding in the marshy area. They have white pelicans here as well which we catch a glimpse out the window when we are driving to our next destination.
We pass through Swakopmund, an old German colonial town from the late 1800’s. No stopping here as we head towards the Namib Naukluft Park.
We drive to an overlook to capture the essence of this ‘moonscape’ terrain. The park is huge and has all types of geological formations in the hills rising from the desert. The geology is amazing: A combination of volcanic, sedimentary and metamorphic, with its genesis before the time the South America and Africa plates drifted apart, and shaped and twisted by the strong forces of nature while the plates were on the move. Many of the hills are covered with lichen that changes color when it becomes wet (whenever it rains–rarely).
There is also a very large two-leaved plant that lives for 2,000 years called the Welwitschia plant.
We drive through a river bed that had flowing water two months ago when the rains came and now is just cracked clay.
We stop in the Namib Park at an old vegetable farm called Goanikontes. Chickens and goats are wandering around the property. The owners have turned it into an “Oasis” (yay – toilets!) serving baked goods, finger food and South Africa sparking wine. There are cottages here that you can stay overnight as well. That would be something pretty spectacular, especially at night since there’s no light from civilization or particulates in the air to get in the way of star gazing.
The desert is always something magical to experience. More time here would have been nice. As we drive back to the port, our driver stops at Dune 7 – the tourist dune – for ten minutes. People are climbing it to take pictures and experience it. 10 minutes isn’t enough time for us, either to take pictures or to climb. We will take on the climbing challenge this summer when we stop at the new U.S. national park – Indiana Dunes – not located in a desert but certainly more easily accessible to the public.
An enjoyable day of sightseeing in Namibia. Now we will be on the ship for 8 days at sea. We reach the Canary Islands on April 24, our last port before Southampton. Expect some reflections posts as we start preparing ourselves for the world cruise to end.