Sunday, November 6, 2016

Flashback: Namibia 2005 - Damaraland and Swakopmund

(Part two of this Namibia flashback. I realize I didn't have a lot of detail so anything in parentheses is my addition now. This leg of the trip was less about animals and more about archaeology and geology. I am truly amazed by some of these sights now and really want to go back and see them again.)

Leaving Etosha we drove into Damaraland and camped at a remote bush camp for the night.  We saw Bushman engravings from 5000 years ago, a petrified forest with pine trees preserved for many million years, and strange rock formations called organ pipes that are 130 million years old.  

(We visited the petrified forest near Khorixas, Damaraland's capital, and then moved on towards our gorgeous desert camp - Abu Huab Desert Camp.  From there we visited Twyfelfontein, home to stunning rock paintings and carvings. The site was declared a UNESCO heritage site two years after my visit, in 2007. I have only the foggiest memories of this visit, but looking back at the photographs I am absolutely blown away by the detail and the breadth of the scenes depicted. I need to go back and visit again. This blog series is inspired, in part, by an article I read recently in National Geographic Traveler magazine - that I can't find online - about a visit to this area. I hadn't looked at these photos or reflected on this part of the trip in many years, and the article got me curious.)

(At the petrified forest we saw some great examples of the endemic-to-the-Namib-desert plant Welwitschia, which are essentially living fossils. It's quite common to find plants over 1,000 years old or up to 2,000 years old. Amazing, really.)

Yesterday we drove to the coast and visited the Cape Cross seal colony.  80,000 female and cub seals on only a few acres.  The smell was awful (though I didn't throw up this time!).  There were lots of fights, lots of barking and braying, and lots of cute poses.  The jackals were around and you could see seal carcasses strewn about. 

Last night I stayed in a backpackers in town, though I have my own room.  After a week camping it feels great to have a bed!  We went out for seafood last night, which was delicious.  I had calamari.

Today was the penultimate adrenalin rush, though.  I went skydiving!!  I did a tandem jump from 10000 feet with a 30 second freefall at 220 km/h and a five minute float to ground.  It was actually far less scary than I imagined and perhaps the most amazing feeling ever.  With bungee jumping I always was terrified, but this was far more natural (if you can believe it).  We flew over the dunes and the ocean, and the scenery on the way down was exquisite. 

(How do I have no photos of this adventure??)

Anyway, those are the highlights.  I have hundreds and hundreds of photos of course.  We are having a last seafood dinner tonight, and then tomorrow I go back to Windhoek by bus and then fly to Cape Town. 

Scenery en route to Khorixas

Oh Namibia and your dirt roads!

Welwitschia plant.

Pieces of petrified wood

Petrified log.

Good examples of the petrification.

More welwitschia.

Rock engravings from 5,000+ years ago.
Giraffes, antelope, etc.

Wikipedia tells me this is one of the more famous slabs called Lion Plate. 

Scenery around the petroglyphs.

The Lion Plate. Notice the lion has human toes. Giraffe, rhino, birds, and other animals abound.

Footprints captured in the sandstone.

Giraffe, gemsbok.

Sea lion! Evidence of contact with people by the seas. 

The engravings are so exposed; it's amazing they've survived so well.

Animals as well as lots of human and animal footprints.

And now human footprints as well.

Penguin! More evidence of outside contact.

Setting up camp at Abu Huab.

Our trusty transport for this trip.

Abu Huab Desert Camp
Main building at the camp

Organ Pipes geologic site

120million+ years old, formed during the breakup of Gondwanaland

Scenery en route to the coast


Cape Cross seal colony
Each black speck in the water is a seal.

Lots of little babies while we were there.

Rock snuggles are the best, apparently.
Lots of nursing babies.

More nursing, more rock snuggles.

So many babies!

This was one of my favorites.

Lovely slumber.

Posing for me.

Her better side.


More swimming seals.

Nursing baby.