After we left Swakomand we followed the Salt Road north to Henties Bay and then on to Cape Cross where there is a large colony of seals. It was an incredible sight seeing thousands of seals basking in the sunshine and others swimming off the breach. They had even taken over the picnic shelter with one even having a sleep on one of the tables.
There was a not so pleasant smell given off by the seals but it was worth it just the same. As we were leaving the seal colony area we saw three Black Backed Jackals and can only presume that they would feast on the seal calfs. From there we had to back track to Henties Bay and along the way passed a lot of stalls selling pink rock salt.
This area is called the Skeleton Coast and for good reason with many ships that have been washed ashore in storms.
Then turn inland on our way to the Tsisab River region where the White Lady of the Brandberg prehistoric rock art is situated. On the way again we came upon many stalls where they were selling semi precious stones but all these stalls are not manned so when we stopped four young children came running from a hut 500 metres away. We introduced ourselves and the eldest Wesley took charge of the bartering and I must say he was a great kid.
We stayed at a private campground called the Brandberg White Lady Lodge where we were able to camp down near the dry river bank and if you’re lucky you might see some desert elephants who pass along the dry river bed feeding on the nice green trees. After setting up camp we thought we might go and have a drink at the lodge and on the way we drove up the dry river bed hoping to see some elephant. Luck was with us as we saw five elephants and switched off the engine to watch them feed and move along.
We ended up having dinner in the lodge and half way through we were beckoned outside to see some elephants right next to our car in the carpark! The campground is not fenced off at all and the elephant are free to wander through whenever they like. The next morning we decided for a bit of fun to take two Polaris 4WD buggies out to where the walk to see the White Lady started.
It was a 7.30 am start and was great fun, again we saw a big bull elephant who our guide Kelvin told us was around 65 years old.
The White Lady is 40 centimetres high and white from the chest down and is today still open to interpretation as to just what it represents but most agree the figure was not actually a lady.
Anyway it was definitely worth the 45 minute walk each way up the gorge and our guide Viola was full of information about the plants and the common and Latin names as well as any uses for medicines. It is compulsory to have a guide and Viola does the 5 kilometre walk three times a day as well as walking the 2.7 kilometres to and from work each day so that is a total of over 20 kilometres each day. She works for three weeks straight and then has a week off. By the time we got back it was 11.30am but only having a short drive to the next stop we decided to pack up and move on. Well it was the worst road we have had to travel so far in Africa with corrugations bigger than most hills I know. There was just no letting up and at one stage I had to stop to let my shock absorbers cool down they had been working so hard. We arrived at the camp ground near Twyfelfontein late in the afternoon and it was a very basic camp with no electricity and the toilets and showers were open roofed and only shoulder height. None of the showers or toilets had doors that really worked so we were on show to all that were interested but as it was only one other lot of campers stayed that night.
The next morning we were up at Sparrow Fart to go into have a look at the rock engravings that mostly date back 6000 years. Again it was mandatory to have a guide with us and we had Brian who is a local lad who finished year 12 last year and is having a gap year to save some money for his Chartered Accountant course at university next year. The rock engravings were quite incredible to see and we were just staggered to hear how old they were.
As we finished the walk with Brian it was just starting to get warm and we headed up the road to see the Burnt Mountain (a big black mountain) and the Organ Pipes (dolomite rock formations that if you use your imagination you can see the resemblance to an organ) neither of which really rocked my boat but we saw them!
After a cup of coffee gazing up at Burnt Mountain we continued on to the Petrified Forest where once again it was compulsory to take a guide (thanks to the souvenir hunters). This was magnificent to see petrified trees that were 260 million years old and had been deposited here by a flood that carried the trees all the way from central Africa. Some of the trees are up to 35 metres long and have a circumference of up to 6 metres. There are around 50 individual trees and thousands of fragments.
We were then off to have a look at Kaokoveld and the Himba people.