05/2008 - Namibia, 2nd part , Central and Southern regions

12-day trip to Namibia (second part) visiting Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Moon Landscape ( Moon Valley ) , Goanikontes Oasis , Namib- Naukluft Park , Skeleton Coast , Namib Desert , Gamsberg Pass , Kuiseb Canyo , Solitaire , Enchanted Valley , Sossusvlei, Sesriem , Dune 45 , Dead Vlei , Sesriem Canyon , Namib Rand , Duwisib Castle, Seeheim , Gondwana Canyon Park , Fish River Canyon , Keetmanshoop , Giant’ s Playground, Kalahari Desert

I begin the second part of our trip to Namibia showing the beautiful and comfortable hotel accommodation at the Atlantic Villa Hotel in Swakopmund, which is located near the ocean. The photos taken at dawn during our walk along the ocean are very nice.

Swakopmund is the main touristic resort in Namibia; it is a town founded in 1892 by German settlers  and is still influenced by its origins.

We made a short cruise in the natural harbour of Walvis Bay, a few kilometers south of Swakopmund . We could admire some natural attractions such as the colony of sea lions and pelicans

The following day we were busy visiting three sites near Swakopmund.

We started with Moon Landscape (Valley of the Moon), a vantage point from which you can see hills and valleys carved by the Swakop River. Not far, there is the Goanikontes Oasis, surrounded by barren  mountains.

We arrived at the Namib-Naukluft Park, where there is a large concentration of Welwitschia Mirabilis. This is a plant (a tree, as a matter of fact) which is very long-lived (two thousand years) and lives in the desert thanks to its ability to retain moisture which, later on, is transferred to the roots.

Before leaving the city, we spoilt ourselves with a flight over the southern part of the Skeleton Coast .

We could admire the beautiful dunes of the Namib desert , the remains of the fields of diamond-diggers, sea lions’ colonies and salt-ponds.

We left Swakopmund under the same weather condition of our arrival: a thick fog .

We crossed the Gamsberg Pass, then we stopped at the Kuiseb Canyon which is characterized by 45-degree sloping rocks which had been moved  by a nearby fault. We also met several “armed” crickets.

We were inside the Namib-Naukluft Park and arrived at Solitaire….. a lonely  bar in the middle of the desert, located in an area named “Enchanted Valley” .

We ate a good apple pie and there was an interesting “umbrella acacia tree” with a big nest of Sociable Weavers .

We reached Sossusvlei where we stayed in the isolated Little Sossus Lodge, an hotel complex formed by little houses scattered over the plains, nicely furnished and with an excellent restaurant .

We entered the heart of the Namib Naukluft Park from Sesriem entrance; we arrived there before dawn, in order to enjoy the change of the colour of the dunes which are more than 300 meters high.

The dunes have the quality of being dynamic .

We made another stop at Dune 45 (the number indicates the kilometric distance from Sesriem). It is a dune that stands alone and is a peculiarity of the place .

We had several occasions to see the animals that inhabit the park.

We arrived at Dead Vlei quite fatigued, because of the heat and the very fine sand in which we sank.

Dead Vlei is a depression burnt by the sun in the middle of Sossusvlei; it is a huge pool surrounded by red dunes .

Going back towards Sesriem, we visited the homonymous canyon.

It is one- kilometer long and up to 30-meter deep; it was carved by the waters of the Tsauchab river .

It is thought to date back to 15 million years ago. All around there are magnificent views .

We started our transfer directed towards the southernmost place of Namibia , the Fish River Canyon , near the border with South Africa , where we would arrive the following evening.

We crossed the Namib Rand Nature Reserve characterized by magnificent landscapes .

Along the way we killed a puff adder (Bitis Arietans ) with our van, then we stopped at a farm where we could see cheetahs in captivity.

We made a stop in order to visit the Duwisib Castle, in Baroque style , built at the beginning of the twentieth century by a German baron . One peculiarity is that the castle was built also with materials arrived directly from Germany ; the materials were transported , for the final 300 kilometers of desert , by bullock carts .

We reached our hotel (La Vallee Tranquille) which is isolated over a table-land (1.400 meters) and whose owner is a lady of French origin. All around there were many ostriches and several small and colourful birds.

During the way that led us to Seeheim, we met both sharp mountains and stubby ones .

Once in Seeheim, which is a small train station, we stopped for lunch at its historical hotel .

In the afternoon, we arrived at Canyon Lodge, located inside the Gondwana Canyon Park . The Lodge has a characteristic central part inside an old farmhouse; the accommodations are red stone bungalows which resemble small mountain huts , with gardens full of cactus-plants. The surrounding landscape is composed by several groups of red rocks.

 

The Canyon Lodge gardens are decorated with numerous and very colourful local plants. The cacti are particularly important.

We enjoyed the stunning views of the nearby red rocks among which we could see the muzzles of prairie dogs.

 

We made a tour inside the Godwana Canyon park in the late afternoon . The colours and shadows of sunset made us enjoy the plants, the sky and the clouds characterized by very warm colours. I can only express a small part of the sensations I have felt in my journeys through my photos.

The next morning, not far away, we visited the Fish River Canyon entering from Hobas Gate. It is more than a hundred kilometers long and has the characteristic to contain, on its inside, another canyon more than half a kilometer deep.

The Fish River Canyon  is considered the Grand Canyon of Africa. We stopped in two viewpoints (Main and Hikers’) .

We left, as usual, early in the morning towards the Kalahari desert.

We made a short stop at the Naute Dam, a big dam on Lowen River, and went on until Keetmanshoop area where there is a great presence of Kokerboom (quiver tree). They belong to the species of aloe trees and can reach an height of eight meters .

The quiver trees also grow in the Giant’s Playground where square rocks are one upon another and create strange rock formations so that the place is called ” rock garden ” .

In the same area, we could see several fish fossils and some trees with huge nests of Weaver birds .

In the early afternoon we arrived in the beautiful Bagatelle Kalahari Lodge and had the time to take a ride with the jeeps in the bush, admire the sunset and toast with champagne ( they do not know our good “prosecco wine” ) .

The following morning we made a walk in the bush. Our guide explained us what we were meeting : the grass of the ostrich, the marijuana of Son, the high grass of the Bushmen , the yellow broom .

It was all nice and interesting, but we had a strong adrenaline rush when we met, closely, a Cape Cobra which is considered the most venomous snake in Africa.

It was excellent our accommodation at the Kalahari Anib Lodge . Quite interesting also the reconstruction of the life of local primitive people made ​​in the gardens of the Hotel.

In the afternoon we made our last jeep ride in the bush , with a toast at sunset .

The next morning, along the road that took us back to Windhoek , we met some beautiful Marabou storks.

————————-

Our long and complete trip to Namibia is finished.

It was a wonderful journey .

We were not aware that, after a few hours , our enthusiasm would have been cancelled by the superficiality of our guide ( and driver ) that did not control, as he should have, the jeep, thus allowing the theft of all our hand luggage.

 

The photos of this trip can be seen in the musical slideshow through the following link: www.viaggiaresempre.it – Namibia