Namibia has much to offer the adventurous traveller, and those adventures don’t stop at Swakopmund. Moving North from Swakopmund we ended up at the Skeleton Coast. The Skeleton Coast is a very interesting area in the way that the desert slowly increases in size by taking over the ocean. As the desert winds blow the sand to the ocean the ocean currents return the sand to the shore which slowly builds up allowing the desert to creep into the space that was once ocean. The San People of Namibia have referred to the Skeleton Coast as “The Land God Made in Anger” while Portuguese sailors were known to refer to it as “The Gates of Hell”. The shoreline throughout the Skeleton Coast is littered with shipwrecks caused by a dense fog which often occurs on the coast combined with the desert encroaching upon the ocean. It is an interesting place and truly shows the power of nature. The Skeleton Coast is well worth a visit on any trip to Namibia.
Experiencing some local culture is always high on my priorities when travelling. As we moved through Namibia towards Etosha National Park we were lucky to come across a tribe of Himba selling trinkets on the side of the road. The Himba have fascinated me for a long time, as they live in a harsh climate with almost no water. They cover themselves with crushed red ochre stone as well as use a clay from the stone in their hair. The hair of a Himba woman is beautiful and something you will not see anywhere else. An extended visit with a Himba tribe would be high on my list for my next trip to Namibia. For more information on an extended visit with the Himba check out this great article at Monkeys and Mountains! The article Seven Years with the Ovahimba from Africa Geographic is also a great read on the Himba.
We were on our way to Damaraland and Twyfelfontein which was the reason for our limited time with the Himba. Twyfelfontein is an interesting piece of African history, as it has some of the best and well-preserved drawings of the San people, more commonly known as Bushmen. The drawings were used to show where food and water could be found throughout their territories. After a tour of Twyfelfontein we went to a living museum of the Damara tribe. The Damara have become more modernized and moved away from their traditional ways of life. Young people from their village have opened a living museum where they live a traditional life during the day at the museum in order to preserve part of their heritage. It was an interesting museum and we were shown many of their traditional ways of life such ashow they tanned hides, started a fire, to different games they played and some of the herbs used in their medicine. As we were there at the end of the day it was funny to see all the people from the museum wearing jeans and t-shirts hop in the back of a truck to head back to their village.
Wildlife is a huge passion of mine and spending some time in Etosha National Park was going to be exciting. I had heard great things about Etosha and I was not disappointed. Etosha is famous as one of the best places in the world to spot a black rhino, and within a short time of entering the park we came across one who let us get quite close to him. This seemed strange as black rhino are typically quite aggressive. However, we noticed many claw marks on him and he was limping. Our guide Dylan reported this to the rangers who advised him that the rhino had fended off a pride of lions and that the lions also had their share of damage done to them. Normally the rangers do not interfere with nature and let it take its course, but due to the highly endangered status of the black rhino they were monitoring it and would try to save it if it did not start to heal.
The thrills of Etosha did not stop there as Etosha also lights up the water holes near its accommodation areas for night viewing. We were able to enjoy a nice glass of wine after dinner while watching elephants and black rhino at the water hole along with the odd jackal and the roar of lions in the distance. For a nature lover like me this was heaven! It was neat to see how the bull elephants would battle over control of the water hole, but yet were smart enough to know who would win and lose the battle that the smaller one always left and not one elephant was injured.
The next day we continued to experience the wonders of Etosha as we were treated to near every kind of African wildlife imaginable during our game drives. We also stopped at the Etosha Salt Pan which is the largest in Africa and one of the largest in the world covering approximately 5000 sq. km. It was quite interesting to experience such a vast area of nothing and see the illusions it can create.
From Etosha our journey took us to Waterburg Plateau National Park where to my excitement, just after leaving camp on our game drive a large puff adder crossed the road in front of us! In all the time I’ve spent in Africa this was the first snake I had seen & it made my game drive complete before we even started. The views from the top of the plateau were stunning and we enjoyed some quality time with a giraffe while sitting in a hide. Camping in the park was also a great experience as we opened our tents in the morning to find baboon, mongoose and warthog hanging out in camp with us. There is almost no experience like waking up to wild animals running around camp. The mongoose were curious, and unlike their reputation for being aggressive, the baboons were timid and ran into the bush quite quickly if we got to close.
I love wildlife, and both Etosha and Waterburg National Parks could not have provided better experiences! However, as much as I loved Namibia, its culture, nature and wildlife I am conflicted on thought of going back some day. Namibia continues to issue permits and allows for trophy hunting of highly endangered species such as the black rhino and the rare desert elephant. It is hard for me to support a country that is willing to sacrifice it’s highly endangered and valuable wildlife for short-term financial gain. I look forward to having a very special guest writer and expert on this subject share more regarding the trophy hunting of these rare species for my next post!