On Day 8 of our trip we were given a full day in Swakopmund to catch up on internet, get some clothes cleaned, and if we chose, take part in some adventure activities. Wanting to spend more time exploring the dunes, we set out for a half day driving into the desert on quad bikes. Based on the advertising we expected a more leisurely ride, but ended up cruising at 50 to 60km/h up and down the dunes, occasionally becoming accidentally airborne. At one of the biggest dunes, we stopped for some sand sledding. It was much more successful than our attempt in Saskatchewan last year, largely thanks to the Chevy Chase strategy of spraying WD-40 all over the boards.
The remnants of German colonialism are still evident in Swakopmund. At the local Bierhaus we enjoyed a plate of African game goulash and spaetzle.
The next day we left Swakopmund and made our way to the giant rock formation at Spitzkoppe and got a taste of the rock art left by the San people when they inhabited this area. That night we camped at Brandberg White Lady lodge, named after the nearby rock art.
On Day 10 we hiked out to see the White Lady painting. Turns out the person depicted is neither lady nor white, but rather a shaman. The paintings on this rock face are 2000 to 4000 years old and are in remarkably good condition. We were quite impressed with the art – the paintings were clear, large, and one of the few examples we know of using multiple colours.
From there we continued north to Etosha National Park, arriving early afternoon on Day 11. That afternoon and on Day 12 we rode on our truck for game drives through the park. Named after the immense salt pan within the park, Etosha is a large, dry, and mostly flat game reserve.
We were able to spot many zebras, giraffes, elephants, ostriches, springboks, kudus, oryx, rhinoceros, and even a few lions. Our guide told us Etosha has many rhinoceros now, mostly black but even some white as well, but the exact numbers are not disclosed to reduce poaching.
We camped in the park for two nights and visited the campsite watering holes. One night we were lucky enough to view 5 rhinos, including one calf and two adults butting heads.
On Day 13 we drove to Windhoek (the capital) and took part in a brief walking tour of the city centre. We learned more about Namibia’s history, including the Herero and Nama genocide that took place from 1904-1907 and Namibia’s struggle for independence from South Africa and its apartheid system.
We also learned that North Korea was one of several countries mining for uranium in Namibia. They were also hired to build 6 buildings in Windhoek and then constructed the new national museum as a gift. Since then, Namibia has cut ties with North Korea at the urging of other nations though China is still a regular customer.