November 9th – Day Forty Six
Waking up pre-dawn under the Brandberg Mountain
A bit of a sleep in today with a departure time of 8am. Those on the tarp all woke up before dawn and seeing as I was awake I got my camera and tripod and climbed up a nearby slope of loose rocks to get some elevated views of the rising sun. The sunrise itself was nothing special but the light just after the sun appeared was golden and softly illuminated the Brandberg slopes so I spent an hour or so moving around and taking photos. The view was beautiful with the peaceful landscape rolling off into the distance on this still morning. While this was happening Joe was getting up and then preparing breakfast so by the time I got back down to the campsite the smell of freshly cooked pancakes was wafting through the still air. Breakfast eaten we packed up and drove off to the place where the others had spent the night.
Bush camp on the edge of no-where
All together again we headed to the coast through an overcast landscape of white sands and rocks which tended to merge into a vista of shifting shades as we drove along. Eventually we came to the coast road and headed up north towards Cape Cross to visit the resident seals and learn a little about the installed crosses which are some of the many crosses found down the coast. Reaching the site we stopped briefly for a toilet stop and then headed down to the seal colony to take some photos. We had been warned that the colony would smell (seals not known for having showers) and it was a bit whiffy but because of the cooler temperatures and offshore winds not to bad. We watched the seals; males asserting their dominance, females watching their pups and the majority of animals just staying in one place and not doing much of anything. There were a couple of females with dead pubs, one protecting the carcass from a ring of hungry seagulls and the other dragging the dead pup with her across the rocks. There was also a jackal ripping into the abandoned corpse of another baby seal, quite unconcerned by the watching people or other seals in the background. We saw seals swimming, coming to shore and leaving again and in the near distance we saw flocks of birds flying low through the troughs of the waves, using the water to keep out of the wind. We also saw one flock of bright pink flamingo fly past which contrasted nicely with the white and black environment.
Seals at Cape Cross
A Jackal eating a dead seal pup
Once done with seal watching everyone headed back to the truck and we had a short drive a little bit back towards the site entrance and we stopped at the picnic area for lunch. It was getting a bit windy by the time lunch was prepared and the cloud cover was quickly being blown away so it began getting hot. Eating fast everything was quickly put away and once more we travelled the roads of Namibia this time heading to the town to Swakopmund.
Our Cape Cross lunch stop
It was a few hours drive, the Atlantic on our right and desert on the left, before we arrived in Swakopmund which is a very western looking seaside town of wooden buildings and wide streets. We headed straight to the offices of Outback Orange, an adventure activity centre near the centre of Swakopmund. Out of the truck we spent a while waiting in a nearby hotel reception (some getting fancy coffees from the adjacent cafe) before all being led into a room upstairs where we watched a presentation on all the activities available to us during our three night stay. I had been wanting to do a balloon ride over the desert and was disappointed to find out that the available flights were over the Brandberg ranges so I declined that opportunity. We signed up for a buggy ride through the desert and dunes and Keryn signed up for a skydive along with five others. Activities booked we had time for some quick shopping and then it was a two minute drive down the road to our accommodation at the Swakopmund Rest Camp and A-Frames.
We all had bungalow accommodation, Keryn and I shared with Bindi and Corey. The first bungalow in our row was used by the crew and this was also where meals were cooked so the first nights dinner preparations were soon underway. Everyone got their gear and rooms organised while also exploring the campsite – the adjacent laundry mart also contained an ancient array of arcade games, convenience food, a pizza restaurant, pool table, nightclub and some noisy childrenâ€™s ride-on vehicles. After dinner most people went into town and spent time at a pub where we tried our best to reacquaint ourselves with civilisation, this being the first non-camp pub we had been to in a very long time. After a few drinks Keryn and I headed back to camp and soon after to bed, sleep always being welcome.