Travel in Namibia: The Namib Desert and the Skeleton Coast

The dramatic landscapes in Namibia are absolutely astounding!

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Spitzkoppe

From the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, to the spooky Skeleton Coast, littered with rusted shipwrecks, Namibia has an almost other-worldly landscape.

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shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast

Highlights in Namibia have included Spitzkoppe- the dramatic setting for Mad Max: Fury Road, Fish River Canyon- the second largest canyon in the world, Sossusvlei- the world’s largest sand dunes, and Cape Cross Seal Colony- the world’s largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals. ❤DSC_1156

We also made some scenic pit stops to view the Tropic of Capricorn, a peculiar lunar landscape, and meet the Himba people- a traditional ethnic group.

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Tropic of Capricorn: a geographical landmark
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Lunar landscape: eroded hills and valleys carved over 2 million years by the ancient Swakop River
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Himba baby from a Namibian ethnic group

It’s been a whirlwind of a cross-country road-trip, so let’s begin. 😀

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gas station in Namibia

The Namib Desert: Spitzkoppe

Spitzkoppe, also known as the Matterhorn of Namibia, is a collection of granite boulders, located in the barren Namib desert.DSC_1032The scenery here is almost post-apocalyptic. 😮DSC_1061Enough so that it was the filming location for Mad Max: Fury Road. maxresdefaultThe boulders looked almost like molded clay. DSC_1056We were also were fortunate that the rainy season has caused the vegetation to turn a vibrant green. DSC_0104We only spent one night here, but we still managed to fit in an incredible hike across the boulders.

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view of camp from atop the boulders

Now some of the bald peaks are only accessible by rock climbing, but a few, like this arch, are easy to climb and provide a beautiful vantage point of the desert landscape.DSC_0119DSC_0125DSC09131The campsite here was incredibly rustic, with no electricity or running water. We carried in jugs of distilled water, used drop-toilets, and accepted the fact that we would be WiFi-free for the evening. DSC_0100That didn’t stop us from having an amazing experience. In the evening we enjoyed goofing around some more at the campsite while preparing salad with spaghetti bolognese. 😀
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We even managed to take some epic sunset panoramas. ❤DSC_103517357248_1607562189271446_1299390365_o

The Namib Desert: The Himba People of Namibia

The Himba people in northern Namibia are an ethnic tribe whose resistance to westernization has fascinated travelers from around the world. DSC_0044Because of their remote desert location, this group of indigenous semi-nomadic herders has been able to preserve many of their cultural traditions.

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Himba homes made from clay and cattle dung

Himbas maintain their livelihood from their goat and cattle herds. Here they are churning butter from goat’s milk.
DSC_0056The group is most distinguishable by their use of otjize, a paste of butter, fat and red ochre. It’s applied to women’s skin and onto hair on a daily basis. It’s also used to sculpt these unique clay headdress. They believe the otjize protects against insects and the sun.

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the headdress is topped with goat’s skin

Also, instead of water to cleanse their bodies, they use incense, which is a combination of aromatic herbs used as an antimicrobial agent.DSC_0047Overall, it gave the group some insight into a different way of life. 🙂DSC_0037

The Namib Desert: Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world, second only to the Grand Canyon.

DSC_1381During our visit to Fish River Canyon, we took a 2 mile walk around the outer rim, then had cheese, crackers and wine while watching the sunset.

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walking around the crater
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cheese, tomato, cucumber, crackers and boxed vino
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a guy snuck into the girl’s group shot 😛

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The Namib Desert: Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei has a spectacular landscape, covered with deep red sand dunes, a white salt pan, and a range of unusual African trees.
DSC_1317While in Sossusvlei we climbed Dune 45 at sunrise, one of the desert’s most accesible sand dunes. DSC_1301Dune 45 is named as such simply because it’s 45 km to the sand dune from the nearest campsite in Sesriem.

Side note on Sesriem: Sesriem itself has a beautiful canyon filled with local birds. DSC_1270This is a sociable weaver, a small bird responsible for building some rather large nests. DSC_1340

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courtesy of Google images

Now, although we had barely survived a sandstorm while camping in Sesriem the night before, we woke up at 5 AM the next morning to make it to the top of the Dune 45 at sunrise. So worth it for those views! ❤DSC_1305On the way back to the truck, many from our group barrel-rolled down the dunes, while I chose to walk down since I was carrying my expensive camera.

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view walking down the dunes

From there we headed to Deadvlei, a white clay salt pan filled with darkened dead camel thorn trees, giving it the nickname, “the tree graveyard.”17310188_10106528313693907_2451201630008529737_o

Now from the Namib Desert we headed to the Skeleton Coast, where we took in the sights and especially the smells of this stinky seal territory.

The Skeleton Coast: Cape Cross Seal Colony

Cape Cross Seal Colony, where about 100,000 seals reside, has the best-known breeding colony of Cape fur seals in the world. ❤DSC_1152Cape fur seals are endemic to southern Africa, and they are named as such due to their thick layers of fur, comprised of a soft inner layer and a bristly outer layer.
DSC_1087DSC_1084Early March is the reportedly the best time to visit Cape Cross, as there are heaps of seal pups that had just been born that December. 🙂DSC_1190The seal pups are easy to spot, since they’re tinier than adults, and their coat is also much more dark.
DSC_1142DSC_1123Visitors to Cape Cross can walk along the coastal boardwalk to admire the masses of barking seals.DSC_1215DSC_1220As a visitor at Cape Cross, I found many of the seals stretched out trying to bask in the sun.DSC_1165Jokingly, I also felt like many were trying to recover from a bad hangover. 😛DSC_1095DSC_1097Overall, although it was slightly smelly, it was incredible to view such an immense population of Cape fur seals. 17349632_10106508425564877_8619440214504811647_oHere’s a short video of the fur seals at Cape Cross.

Anyway, up next I’ll be reporting on the town of Swakopmund, the adrenaline capital of Namibia, where I took in some high-flying adventures. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 🙂

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