To be able to see more of Namibia, after a few days in Gobabis, Trevor, Lyn and I went on a week’s holiday to the West Coast of the country, to a small fishing town of Hentie’s Bay.
It was about 700kms by road on an almost straight trajectory across Namibia from Gobabis via Windhoek to Swakopmund and then 65kms to the North along a salt road. It gets very slippery when damp from the mist which rolls in from the ocean and a number of people have been killed while travelling too fast This area of Namibia is known as the Skeleton Coast due to the number of ships which have been wrecked here.
The salt road to Henties
One of the many wrecks on the Skeleton Coast
Henties as it is affectionately known is mainly a fishing town where a number of competitions are held but it also has a golf course which is mostly sand with grass around each hole. It was quite fascinating to see. Most of the houses are not painted on the outside but covered in tiles because of the wind-blown sand which chips the paint away very quickly.
A tiled house in Henties
It was a very full week discovering lots of places and things of interest on that coast. The beach was wide with high dunes and it was interesting to see the various colours of the sand. From the apartment where we staying we had wonderful views up and down the beach as well as out to sea. Every day there were fishermen doing their best to catch dinner for the family but it was not a place to swim for 2 reasons – the water is very cold and the beach drops away very suddenly.
The daily fisherman
We spent one day travelling north to Cape Cross Fur Seal Island. Wow so many seals it was mind- boggling. This should not be surprising as it is the largest seal colony in the world with around 200 000 seals. They ranged in size (an adult seal can weigh up to 168kg) and shape and the bigger they were the more noise they made. It was also fascinating to watch how they would simply climb all over one another without any problem.
A small group of seals on the island – maybe 10%!
A Bull Seal sits upright
On the island were 2 large crosses and according to the inscriptions they are replicas of one which was placed there by Diogo Cão, a Portuguese explorer, who was sent by King João II in 1484 to find a route to India.
Replica crosses with the viewing walkway in the background
The sign at the entrance to the Walkway
A day in Swakopmund was wonderful. It is still very German in its population and way of life. The best is all the wonderful bakeries and restaurants with filled with delicious German food. Who cares if it is fattening?! We walked along the promenade which was spotlessly clean and an easy walk. From there we visited the Kristal Galerie or Crystal Gallery which was absolutely beautiful. It houses the largest single piece of agate in the world.
Entrance to the Kristal Galerie
Agate as it is found in the ground
Largest piece of Agate or Quartz
Of course there is a shop where one is very tempted to spend lots of money. I purchased 2 wind-chimes of agate birds, one blue as a gift and one green. It was beautiful and sparkled in the afternoon sun for 4 years until it fell to the ground when the string was being untangled, not by myself! A delicious late lunch at a seaside restaurant brought to an end a lovely day in Swakopmund. We returned to Henties on the Salt Road and this time were able to stop and take a look at the salt reservoir and salt sale tables where one could purchase a lump of salt and leave money in the tin in an honour system. Also, there were succulents growing on the small dunes called hummocks.
Salt reservoir beside the Salt Road
Lumps of salt for sale on the side of the road.
Lyn standing on the salt reservoir
We spent a day in Sandwich Harbour, south of Swakopmund with a local guide. On the way there we drove into the Namib-Naukluft National Park and stopped a few times to look at various plants, animals and even human skulls which were as a result of sailors from wrecked ships trying to find their way across the desert.
A plant which appears to have no roots
A plant which is shaped to catch every drop of water
Called Poor Man’s Asparagus the fruit is eaten by the local people
A human skull and scapula in ‘Skeleton Valley’
At the harbour itself one could see a lot of evidence of the presence of flamingos. This included footprints and breeding mounds just large enough for a single egg. Like penguins, both flamingo parents help in raising the young.
A group of flamingo breeding circles
A flamingo footprint
One of a few Black Backed Jackals (BBJ) that we saw
On our way to a suitable dune where we would have lunch the vehicle got stuck on the top of a dune. It took a half hour for all 4 of us to release it. I was surprised when Ernst took a table & 4 chairs, a table cloth and serviettes plus a delicious lunch from the back of the vehicle and set it up for lunch. What a wonderful surprise to eat lunch in comfort and not balanced on our laps while sitting on the sand.
The Land Rover balanced on a dune
Lunch on the dunes
A final activity which we were lucky enough to enjoy was to go out on a boat to see the pelicans and seals in Walvis Bay. We sailed right out to the edge of the harbour to where there seals “are ALWAYS to be found.” Well, it must have been my presence once again as we did not see any seals except for 1 or 2 which apparently follow the boat all the time. We did have a number of pelicans fly close to the boat and Trevor even managed to feed a fish to one of them.
Trevor feeds one of the birds
This whole week at the West Coast was very special and worth all the time spent in travel.
Different colours of the sand dune due to the wind blowing different types of sand
Poor man’s tomato which is verypoisonous
We returned to Gobabis and after a few more days with the family we drove back to Durban using the Trans-Kalahari Highway through Southern Botswana which I have mentioned in previous blogs.
And so the sun set on our first visit to Gobabis