From the desert to the coast

Trip Start May 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Sunday, June 6, 2010

Leaving Sossusvlei Desert Lodge was hard.  The amazingly peaceful atmosphere and the people were missed as soon as we left them.  However the charter flight (another 12 seater, pretty much all to ourselves and a fellow guest, Rolf) was the most absorbing flight I have ever experienced.  We flew over the Sossusvlei Dunes, and it was remarkable how different the dunes looked from the air as opposed to the ground.  From there over the "Dune Sea" to the coast.  The desert goes right up to the coast, like the world's biggest beach.  We flew over deserted Diamond mines which were only abandoned in the 1930s.  It was hard to believe how anyone could live in such a hostile environment.  At the coast, there were also a couple of shipwrecks, which had been blown high on to the dunes.  As we got closer to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, we flew over giant Seal colonies, then clouds of flamingoes close to the Salt Pans.  We landed at Swakop airport which apparently has only recently installed a Security section and baggage scanner - previously, you could drive your vehicle right up to the planes

We were met by the General Manager of the Hansa Hotel, checked in to our suite and got out as quickly as possible to enjoy the tremendously neat, very German and rather touristy town.  Business had been down because of the GFC, so we were encouraged to spend our dollars.  We went to the Crystal museum to see the biggest quartz crystal ever found on earth, plus other beautiful stones found in the area.

That evening Rolf, a fellow traveller from Switzerland, joined us at the Tug restaurant which was the best seafood place in Swakop.  The restaurant was built like a tug, which were used extensively when Swakop was a busy port.  Now the shipping goes to nearby (and very ugly) Walvis Bay, which is where we went the next morning for a Dolphin cruise.  That too, was an astounding experience.  We saw Flamingo, Black-backed Jackals near the water; seal colonies; huge flocks of cormorants; pelicans; gulls and herons.  And then the Dolphins.  A pod of about 8 played with us for 30 minutes or more.  They like the sound of the boat, and swim alongside for ages, swapping positions and leaping all around the place.  We also had seals jumping aboard for food (they literally climb up the steps at the back of the boat) which were hard to get rid of once all the fish had gone.

Walvis Bay is famous for oysters, so we had oysters and sparkling wine to finish the trip...  very civilised.  Back to the hotel for a bit and then on to an even smaller plane (just the 2 of us and the pilot) for the hour long flight back to Windhoek.
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