Namibia unplugged - off the tarmac
Skeleton Coast and Damaraland, Namibia, 2009-10-29 12:00 by Laerke
Our venture into Damaraland started when we left cold and clammy Swakopmund and drove up the salt road on the skeleton coast. We stopped at the Cape Cross Seal Colony, here thousands of seals were basking in the sun and swimming around offshore. It was an incredible sight, and the smell was also truly something else!!! We stayed for a while watching the huge male seals that can weigh up to 300kg try to scare of each other with frightening roars, with the little ones scrambling away trying to avoid getting squashed. Pup mortality is high, and if they aren’t squashed to death by older seals, many other dangers await: In the ocean killer whales and sharks prey on them and at land they have to look out for hyenas and jackals. We saw a couple of dead jackals lying about, so apparently it isn’t fun and games for them either…

We continued up the Skeleton Coast and the scenery got bleaker and bleaker, on one side we had the cold, grey Atlantic Ocean and on the other side sand dunes that was later replaced by flat sandy scrub land. We could see really far on each side and still see nothing, there was absolutely nothing there! Not true, we did pass one or two salt digs and by the side of the road were these little stalls selling salt crystals. We of course had to get one!
After driving way past our turn-off, driving back about 40km and then starting to drive inland the scenery changed, slowly it started to look more hospitable and we saw these awesome plants called Welwitschia; they are in fact trees and can be many thousands of years old!! They hardly need any water and grow super-super slowly only growing 2 leaves in its lifetime (these are however quite big and end up getting ripped into several leaves by wind and animals). Animals won’t eat them as they have some kind or toxic or maybe just taste real bad. At one point we saw this little thing racing along the side of the road a bit ahead of our car, it turned out to be a meerkat! I have always wanted to see meerkats and we got really excited.

The camp site we wanted to go to proved impossible to find and we ended up down some roads that were definitely not for normal sedan cars – still unable to find the place we decided to head to a “near by” town 2 hours of bumpy and sandy roads away… Dusk was approaching and the mood in the car was at this point not the best.
Suddenly we spot a group of zebras! We are not in a national park or anything, we are just driving along one of the county’s D’roads (the roads are marked from A-D, however there aren’t any A roads – I guess that says something about the standard of the roads). Back to the zebras, there they were - real wild zebras not behind any fences or anything. It was a beautiful moment, and the mood in the car got a little better ;-)

We reached the little town of Uis and checked into a lovely camp site with a swimming pool, the next morning after having slept-in we were up and ready to continue our Damara land adventure!