Walvis Bay & Swakopmund, Namibia – June 23 – 25
Our late afternoon landing into Namibia quickly brought us to our senses … there was not much of anything anywhere … sand sand sand, the vague outline of mountains (actually high dunes) in the distance. But everyone breathed a long sigh of relief at chilly winter desert weather, a high of low 70s with a stiff breeze blowing. We are no longer in tropical equatorial Africa.
Our 5 star hotel, The Strand, in the historic German settlement town of Swakopmund is situated right on the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was ‘raging’ with great waves rolling up to the beach. The evening fog was thick. We were soon checked in to ocean front suites and a la carte dinner at Ocean Cellar.
Our adventures in Namibia were mostly all jaw-dropping fun … starting with a Walvis Bay lagoon cruise aboard a catamaran. This is the gateway to beautiful Namib Desert adventures. We had an interesting ‘cast of characters’ visiting us along our way. As we enjoyed coffees and Namibia dark sherry, we learned of the fascinating marine treasures along the coast of Namibia. The cold antarctic Benguela current travels up this southwest coastline of Africa … a plethora of unusual fish, seals, and birdlife e live in abundance. In the morning fog we were enjoying the personal visits of unusual new pals, as well as a visit to an extensive (ie. thousands) colony of Cape Fur Seals.
We continued from our catamaran cruiser over to desert 4×4 land rovers, with deflated tires, driving down the endless sandy beaches passing flocks of cormorants and some seals. Like a mirage, a large white tent pavilion appeared on the sands. There was chilled champagne, iced wines, and the largest fresh oysters … the latter a specialty of these cold waters of Namibia. Our beach bar-b-que lunch was a superb assortment of Namibian specialties including lobster and prawns and fresh fish and beef. Soon we were back in our 4×4 vehicles and headed into (and over!) the world’s highest orange red sand dunes. Extraordinary experiences and spectacular scenes of driving through, across and over the vast dunes. Fairly exhausted we ended our exciting day back in Swakopmund with a delicious dinner at The Tug Restaurant on the beach.
One morning, we all enjoyed our “Living Desert & Dunes” experience … our search for the unusual and interesting “Little 5” of the desert. Our guides Chris and Duane taught us the frailty of the desert ecosystem and the extraordinary stories of tiny creatures (some slithery types too). Fascinating how they could look on to the sands and ‘read the trails’ of tiny creatures like spiders, geckos, chameleons, snakes, and skinks. We were rather in awe of their “tracking” skills across the sands. Ending with another glorious drive through the sunny colorful dunes we were soon back in Swakopmund to our beachside hotel.
Our family travellers enjoy afternoon desert dune biking and desert sand surfing … riding ATV bikes along desert bike trails to the high dunes and ‘surf boarding’ down the dunes. Wow!
On our final evening, we drive out into the granite mountains desert moonscape behind Swakopmund. An awesome looking place. A magnificent sunset starting to happen … time for African Sundowners with fresh Namibian oysters … but suddenly NO champagne. What?! How could this happen?! A miracle starts to unfold. A school choir sings beautifully for us. Someone shouts “look up look up”. In the sunset golden light colorful canopies of sky divers are high above us in the blue skies. A beautiful sight. Someone says ‘here comes the champagne’ … and that’s true … “bubbly from heaven” carried by skydivers is a Lakani highlight of the Namibian desert. Chilled Veuve Cliquot no less. Gulp in your martini, James Bond :).
And, from this ‘miracle’ we head on to our next marvel … set into a natural amphitheater among these dark granite rocks we drive into ‘shangri la’ … hundreds of votive candles all around us high up amid all the rocks. A fairy tale sight to behold. Flaming torches light a red carpet leading across the sands to a large “boma” (circular enclosure), within white tablecloth dining tables with crystal and candelabra await. A Namibian acapella choir serenades our arrival and then suddenly drums are beating loudly and above us on the natural rock stage fire dancers appear and perform. We are wow’d.. A sumptuous dinner of various Namibian delights is served. Our youth marimba band entertains us too … and soon all the good music and singers have us dancing under the moon and stars. Yet again, the ‘magic of Africa’ is upon us. We are awed and humbled and enthralled with our hosts. The place that few of us could pronounce is now within us forever.
It’s fond farewells as we jet away from Namibia … jetting southeasterly and into South Africa. Celebrating a birthday on board is fun … cake and champagne. Yes Please! Now we’re headed for a ‘grande finale’ amid the wild kingdom. Renowned Singita Private Reserve, along the edge of the great Kruger National Park. The sumptuous Singita Boulders will be our base camp for these next couple of days. Safari ahoy!
Click here to join us in South Africa for our last stop on this African adventure!