Namibia is an intriguing country, a land of deserts, diamonds, and dinosaur tracks, strikingly reminiscent of the American Southwest. We spent 11 days in the country (almost four longer than we had planned due to the car trouble saga) and in that short time experienced only a handful of the nation’s natural attractions.
Above all, Namibia is a land of superlatives, home of the biggest, the deepest, the longest, and the oldest. Outside Grootfontein, we visited the world’s largest meterorite. From there, we traveled on to the small town of Tsumeb, which is the naturally occurring home of 184 minerals, 10 of which are found nowhere else on the planet. We marveled at Etosha, a vast plain where prehistoric waters once ran, walked in 170 million year old dinosaur tracks outside Omaruru, and gathered rocks at the Spitzkoppe, a 1,728 meter sandstone monolith also known as the Matterhorn of Africa. We descended to the shore and took in the world’s largest seal colony (perhaps the foulest smelling experience of our lives) at Cape Cross on the southern end of the notorious Skeleton Coast. The coast is usually foggy and foreboding, the result of the cold Atlantic sea air colliding with its warm desert counterpart, but our day with the seals proved bright and beautiful. It was on the way back to Swakopmund from the stinkfest that our van, Uncle Vito, gave up the ghost. Fortunately he carried us as far as our lodge before collapsing for good.
Dax and I frolicked in the sand dunes outside Swakopmund, but they were mere molehills compared to the biggest and oldest of the planet’s sand dunes which we visited at Sossuvlei. We ascended Dune 45 to watch the sunrise (some of us faster than others) and enjoyed the 4×4 capabilities of our replacement car as we slid through the sands outside the Big Daddy dune which stands over 300 meters high. We returned to the port town of Walvis Bay, birthplace of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, where Uncle Vito languished in the parking lot of the repair shop waiting for parts to arrive from South Africa. Like its neighbor to the north, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay is a small oasis in the midst of a bleak, windswept desert seascape.
Rapidly running out of time on the continent, we chose to bypass the diamond ghost town of Kolmanskop and sadly skirted the supposedly spectacular Fish River Canyon, second only in size to our own Grand Canyon back home. We did manage on our way out, however, to spend some quality time with a friendly warthog, see the world’s largest quivertree forest, and get up close and personal with a cheetah, one of the big cats that eluded us on our previous safaris.
We could easily have spent a month in this captivating, sparsely populated land, but we only have 11 days left and Capetown is calling.