Travel in Namibia: The Namib Desert and the Skeleton Coast

The dramatic landscapes in Namibia are absolutely astounding!


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.

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.

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

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

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.

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. 😀
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.

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.

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.

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


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

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.

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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