jeudi 18 mai 2017

Namibia, Day 5, Wednesday, 19 April 2017. Sossusvlei to Swapkopmund

Today we got to sleep in! Departure at 8:30. Lindy warns us that we would be facing a 6h drive on gravel roads and that we will have to make a pit stop using the bussssh.
First stop an incredible "Café " in the middle of nowhere, literally there is nothing for miles around. However there was good coffee, apfelstrudel, clean toilet and nice garden. How do people have the courage to invest their whole life in such a venture off the grid?
Slowly we are approaching mountains with incredible geological features. One can see the different layers being squashed together and heaved up. In the middle of this very lunar mineral landscape, we stop on a windy little platform to have our picnic lunch. We could walk up a little lookout, and see the Kuiseb river down below. It still had water, its canyon narrow with tight meanders. The rocks were laden with mica and gleamed as if they were diamonds.
We did our business behind the rocks, everybody was cool with that.
After the mountains we entered the coastal Namib Desert.
Namib means "vast place" in the Nama language. With continuous dry conditions for 55 to 80 million years it is probably the oldest desert in the world. It stretches 2000 km up the coast from the Western Cape to Angola, and 200 km inland. The dense fog created by the meeting of the cold Benguela current and the hot air, led to many shipwrecks, hence the name "Skeleton Coast". But it is the lifeline, the only source of moisture, of all the creatures living there.
Swapkopmund is the holyday town for Namibians; beautiful beach, nice shops and restaurants a casino. It is still a very German town, street names and businesses have German names, many people speak it. On the plane I sat next to a 3rd generation German Namibian lady. I asked her if the strong presence of the ex colonizers was resented and created tensions, according to her and to our guide they seem to manage very well.
The Swapkopmund hotel is very nice, comfortable but quite ordinary. There is WiFi, so Andre stayed in the room, the boys and I go exploring the town. (Founded 1892 by the Germans, pop. 44 000) we found a beautiful art gallery and some really classy souvenir shops. Afterwards walk on the beach. The sea is quite cold at this time of the year, there are no sea shells, the sand is fine and stretches endlessly. Lovely pebbles are all piled up in certain places leaving the rest of the beach with pure sand. A bit curious? As usual the sunset is spectacular and the absence of people gives it gravitas.
The supper is a buffet which has the advantage of speed. We go to bed immediately to get rid of the remaining jet lag.

 From the Mirage to Swakopmund, 393km, 1154m drop
 Bye-bye the Mirage... beautiful place!
 8:30 AM on the road to Swakopmund

Giant Weaver nest
 Weaver nest hole
 With Marc-André
 Giant cricket
 What a sky
Male Ostriches
Stop at solitaire
Google Earth view of the Solitaire, in the middle of nowhere
 Ground squirrel
 These colours will inspire me for my paintings
 More colours
 A "formal" group photos at the Tropic of Cancer
Google Earth view of our short walk near Kuiseb River
 Quite rugged
 I love it
 The happy four
We cross Kuiseb River
Kuiseb River
 It's been raining and there's water in Kuiseb river

 Impressive rain clouds
We arrive at Swapkomund hotel at 3PM
Nice set-up
 Swapkomund beach
The clouds are on fire

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