September 27, 2005

Namibia FlagBreakfast was at 8 am today, then after settling our hotel bill we left at 9 am for our journey. After a short stop at the supermarket to stock up with snacks, we headed out the coast road to the Cape Cross fur seal colony.

The coast road went across gypsum flats with scattered saltbush plants. We stopped for a few minutes at what was said to be the world’s largest lichen field. This lichen was burnt orange in colour, and it turned greenish when we poured water on it. Normally the only water it gets comes from the mist that comes off the ocean most days of the year.

Carrying on along the coast, we went past some salt mines, then we arrived at the entrance to Cape Cross, where we all jumped off the truck to use the washrooms. Rosemary also bought a necklace that had a carved mokolane seed for N$30. Now we drove one more kilometre down the road to the parking lot near the colony. You could hear the fur seals barking for quite some distance, and luckily the wind was in a good direction because the smell wasn’t too bad. There were a few thousand of them, including a lot of half-grown pups. Many of them were in the water, and there were flocks of terns diving, so there must have been a school of fish around. We also saw a couple of black-backed jackals skulking around and trying to attack the young seals. But there were no really young seals, the youngest being last year’s pups, so they were not having much success.

After lunch we had a few more minutes, so we walked down the beach. There were several fur seal skeletons there, and we saw a mole snake that scurried away as fast as it could. On the road back to Spitzkoppe, our day’s destination, we slept over most of the coastal plain, and only when we started climbing back to the grassy high plains did we really wake up.

At Spitzkoppe the campsites are operated by the local Damara people. We arrived there at about 4 pm and picked up one of them, who had just completed a tour guide training course. His name was Yesso and he took us on a guided walk to see Bushman rock paintings. We were surprised to find that they were no more than 600 years old. We also walked to a natural bridge and climbed up to get some photographs. The whole area is rosy granite, so the large rocks are very easy to walk on. Back at the camp we said thanks and gave him a tip (N$10).

At sunset the air was cool and we could see mist in the air, from the coast nearly 100 km to the west. After dinner (chicken and cole slaw) we laid out our sleeping bags under the stars for the last time; from now on there would be various natural hazards that would require us to sleep in tents.

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