Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.
We are now in Walvis Bay on the west coast of Namibia, looking at the Atlantic Ocean from the east, opposite from where I grew up.
To get here, we took what our guidebook called “the most desolate road in Namibia.” Indeed, it was flat, white sand with occasional humps of vegetation as far as the eye can see, and farther. We saw mirages that looked like lakes reflecting trees and shrubs.
As we neared the Atlantic coast on the west side of the continent, we hit fog and the air got suddenly cool. I put on my long-sleeved shirt, not for sun protection but for warmth. Mike and I got our feet wet in the Atlantic; it wasn’t too awfully cold.
We spent a few days here in a chalet, getting cleaned up, rested, and reorganized. The weather wasn’t especially cooperative—foggy all morning then blustery all afternoon—but that was okay. We were ready for a break.
Salt, not for human consumption, is made in Walvis Bay. Salt for humans is made just north of here. Some of the salt ponds are pink, like this beach puddle. The pink is from organisms called “halobacteria,” but they’re no longer considered a bacteria. They’re something similar, though, and the name has yet to be officially changed. The pink color in the water increases the heat absorption of sunlight, increasing the temperature of the water and the evaporation rate—good things for salt production.
The halobacteria is also found in blue green algae which flamingos eat. Apparently, this is what gives flamingos their pink color. Cool, eh?
Look at all that salt!
These flamingos are not feeding in a pink salt pond; that’s a succulent plant of some sort.
A black lab I used to sit did something I called “stomping rodents.” He’d go out in the snow to the base of trees and shrubs, stomp his front feet, then listen to hear if he’d stirred up any rodents. When he heard them, he’d plunge his nose and head into the snow and try to catch them. He ate what he caught and did pretty well for himself.
The flamingos are stomping sea creatures, pumping their skinny, pink legs like fitness gurus.
I claim to prefer the pinker flamingos, but the pink accents on the whiter flamingos are enough to satisfy me, too.
Flamingos aren’t the only pink-accented birds here. These pastel-faced Great White Pelicans are pretty dang cool.
They hang out near the boardwalk, posing for passersby.
One of the attractions at Walvis Bay is the dunes. The blustery winds blow the sand around and into tall piles. People rent “quad bikes,” motorbikes, sand sleds, and the like to drive and slide around on the dunes.
Dune 7 is said to be the tallest dune in the area, though I’m not sure who’s measuring, how, or how often. But it’s the one to climb, so we headed out to climb it.
It’s not especially tall compared to mountains, but climbing up soft sand is a whole ‘nother can of centipedes. It’s brutal. You take a 12-inch step up but lose 9 inches as you put weight on that foot. It’s a trudge.
With hearts pounding and lungs gasping, we trudged slowly up, 20 steps at a time. We managed to stay somewhat out of the wind on the way up, but at the ridge, the wind whipped sand into nooks and crannies, my mouth and eyes, and camera crevices. We didn’t stay on the ridge long.
If not sledding or skiing down the dune, the thing to do is run. It’s actually hard to not run because it’s so steep. After all the effort to get up the dune, you’re down in a minute.
So much of our time is spent driving, it was nice to get out and get some exercise.
From Walvis Bay, we drove up the Skeleton Coast to Cape Cross where a colony of fur seals lives, hundreds and hundreds of fur seals, mostly moms and babies. There are other colonies up and down the coast, which means a lot of fur seals.
We have so many pictures that they’ll get their own post. This is a mom and baby. Mom is the light one; baby is the dark one. See their ears? That’s because fur seals are really sea lions, not seals. Seals don’t have external ears.
What’s with geese that are really ducks, seals that are really sea lions, black rhinos that are white, and bacteria that aren’t bacteria? It’s no wonder we’re all confused.