We left Swakopmund bound for Khorixas.
This area is called the Skeleton Coast because of the very many ships that have been wrecked here as a combined result of the frequent fog and ocean currents. So, we dutifully made our first stop en route to see one of the wrecks. It’s obviously a popular wreck to look at because we also had to avoid the waiting bead-sellers. It was, IMHO, less than exciting. Mind you, the weather and, therefore, the lighting was drab. For the record, here’s the ship, now used as a perch for a mass of Cormorants. OK, wreck – tick; now back to the African vibro-massage.
Our next stop involved a minor detour to see the so-called Cape Cross Seal colony. I should clarify. It’s not really the Cape Cross Seal colony that’s a misnomer, it’s the Cape Fur Seal that gives rise to this colony’s name that’s a problem. Not previously being familiar with these beasts, I found out only when we arrived. “Wait a moment”, I thought, “these seals have external ear flaps and walk on their rear flippers; they are clearly sealions rather than seals. I broached this subject with Leader Louis but despite my protestations, he insisted it was ‘t other way around. Wrong, and here’s my authority. This can be the danger of taking a vernacular name too literally. Just because we name it a seal doesn’t make it one. In like manner, we have the so-called Bearded Tit in the UK which is not a Tit. [Happily, it now tends to be more correctly called the Bearded Reedling.] So, here’s some Cape Fur Sealions Seals.
Sinuses well and truly cleared by the pungent aroma of Cape Fur Sealions Seals, we headed back for the route to Khorixas. One after the other, with varying gaps, about a dozen camper vans passed us going in the opposite direction. I’m not convinced I’d like to look after a camper van on these rough dirt roads. Still, they all seemed to be intact. We were treated to the impressive sight of a uncommonly seen Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) sitting on a telegraph pole beside the road.
We were heading inland for Mount Brandberg (Namibia’s highest mountain). As we left the coast behind the weather brightened and the temperature climbed inexorably. We would arrive and first have a now slightly late lunch.
The attraction at Mount Brandberg was a famed white lady painting, supposedly a bushman’s painting dating back at least 2000 years. The temperature was now a blistering 38°C and, on a stomach full of lunch including bread, we now faced a 2-hour walk complete with a final steep ascent lugging an 8kg rucksack so we could record the event and to keep us supplied with now warm water. Some sensibly decided not to try. Willing to give it a go, we set off with the rest in the company of a local, lithe guide. At our first water break, a few of our number decided that discretion was the better part of valour and turned back. We continued but Francine shortly declared that she felt utterly knackered so we, too, turned back, me now carrying both 8kg rucksacks. With one on the front and one on the back, I was actually quite well balanced; not mentally, perhaps, but … Five continued to the painting.
The problem was largely one of timing, I think. Digesting bread is not easy. Blood gets diverted to the stomach for the digestion process leaving muscles rather ill-supplied. I well remember a feeling of lethargy following a lunch sandwich at work. Frankly, doing this sort of activity at 38°C immediately following lunch is barking mad. Once back at base, with a cold, sugary drink, Francine soon recovered.
As well as nattering to our companions about the ordeal, there was a fine male example of our old friend from day #1, a Namibian Rock Agama (Agama planiceps) dressed in his gaudy colours to keep me amused. To be honest, I’m a culture numbskull and don’t do ancient culture; I could care less about a 2000-year-old rock painting, so I really didn’t mind turning back. To be honest, I was probably relieved to do so. This guy, on the other hand, had the required heartbeat and enchanted me.
Two of those completing the trip returned exhausted and feeling faint. They, too, were plied with a sugary drink to aid recovery. The walk was supposed to take 2 hours but had burned up more than 2½ hrs. Adding on some recovery time for the late-returning walking wounded, we were now behind schedule and would arrive late at our overnight accommodation in Khorixas, which was in a so-called Rest Camp run by Namibian Wildlife Resorts (NWR). The highlight of our tardy onward journey was finally getting the chance to snag a small herd of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras (Equus zebra hartmannae), a subspecies which we had seen earlier but only in the middle distance. Every cloud, etc. 😉
The rest camp might be regarded by some as rather basic but we found it perfectly adequate, even if its restaurant had burned down a couple of years ago forcing us to eat in a tent. The cold beer, on the other hand, was absolute nectar.
Swifts screamed at us periodically throughout the night. I love ‘em.