It was still very dark when we left Windhoek. We had decided to visit Swakopmond by car that was a distance of more than 300 kilometres across the vast expanse of the Great Namib Desert. However, the fastest way to travel is to take the tarred main road of B2. It took us nearly five hours to reach our destination.
The vast stretch on this sealed road is a pleasurable drive, interspersed with excitement. Wild animals like eland and Kudu (a sub-species of antelope) wander around freely and one has to be careful so as not to hit or injure them.
Just out of the capital city of Windhoek, as the sun started rising, we passed through rolling mountains followed by desert scrub all the way. As we went further, the scenery unveiled desert sand and mountainous sand shrouded in fog which was absolutely amazing.
Our driver who was roaring down the beautiful expanse of road told us that a cheetah had been knocked down last year. We ourselves saw a big bull lying dead on the sidelines. On the other side was a toppled four wheeler which denoted head on collision.
When we got down to take a closer look, the forest guards would not allow us to take any photo of the dead animal.
Down a few miles, our driver suddenly applied breaks and as our car skidded to a screeching halt, we saw a fully grown adult Kudu sauntering away.
In fact, we saw plenty of game animals as we passed through different kinds of terrain including desert, rocky, sandy plains and moon landscapes. But the entire stretch was so devoid of human population and vehicular traffic that we hardly saw four or five vehicles in five hours.
Before reaching Swakopmond, we halted at a dusty countryside cafe run by a German couple and had a cup of steaming coffee. To our dismay, the couple did not accept our dollars and refused to take any payment.
By 10 am, we had reached our destination which resembled a Bavarian village, albeit sandwiched between the desert and the sea.
Swakopmond, Namibia’s largest coastal town attracts a lot of tourists and merrymakers. The architecture is completely German which looks misplaced against the landscape of the Namib desert. One can really enjoy by either using the sand board or biking across the dunes, dine on the waterfront or marvel at the unusual flora and fauna that inhabit this region.
Another place to visit is the Swakopmond Jetty as the view of the Atlantic Ocean is great and exhilarating.
From the land to the Ocean, one can walk and feel the cool white sand and further make a collection of the marine shells that are found in plenitude.
The walk till the Jetty which seems like an extended beam is pretty exciting and if you have a permit, you can do some fishing here.
It is a great place to watch the ocean crashing onto the beach especially on a stormy evening. After the heat of the Namib desert, the cool breeze is really refreshing.
Swakopmund is a typical tourist town and one can walk along the promenade while looking at the ocean. There is a relaxed atmosphere as people from all over the world and parts of the country come down for a vacation.
The Crystal Gallery here houses the world’s largest piece of solid rock quartz. There is something or the other for everybody, angling, hiking on a hot air balloon, fishing from an ocean yacht or definitely a trip along the sand dunes on a quad bike.
Shopping on the streets is an experience by itself as one can buy malachite (green stone) jewellery or any craft item designed by the bush people. But you have to haggle a lot with the shopkeepers.
Journeying from Swakopmond, we made our way to Walvis Bay that got its freedom from the colonial rulers after a length of time.
Despite the fact that it has an arid climate, Walvis Bay which is one of the driest cities on this planet, is seldom very hot or cold. This is primarily due to the cold offshore currents it is subjected to frequently. Here, we visited a salt factory and an oyster farm belonging to a German industrialist. Apart from salt harvesting on the shores of Swakopmond and Walvis Bay, oyster farming is an added bonus to the main operations.
The Atlantic waters off the Namibian coast are suited for such type of farming as it is very rich in nutrients, clean and the right temperature.
As we went around the massive farm, we saw oysters being cultivated in the first ponds. However, the huge mountains of salt everywhere attracted our attention.
In Walvis Bay, one can visit the area’s salt works where 6.5 lakh tons of salt is produced annually and it is country’s largest salt producer. All along the way on this huge farm, we saw hundreds of pink flamingos, pelicans and other bird species which are commonly found in the lagoon area.
Are you aware of the fact that Walvis Bay having the highest concentration of atmospheric salt, does not support poisonous mosquitoes and insects, so one can have a whale of a time as the place is aptly named as the bay of whales.