Seals, rocks and paintings

Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
Trip End Jun 04, 2004

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Friday, September 5, 2003

Left Swakopmund behind and headed further north, along the coast at first to the Cape Cross Seal colony.

I had been warned that the seals absolutely stink - and they weren't kidding. There were thousands of them on the beach, and they really hum.... It didn't really help that there was an onshore breeze, which was beautifully wafting the smell towards us as we parked up!! After about 10 mintes though, the nose desensitised sufficiently that we were able to get a little closer, and it really was pretty amazing to see.

They were a really long way up the beach, so you could get quite close to them (although we'd been warned not to be tempted to touch them, as they do bite!!!) There were so many that all you could see in any direction was seal!! They were sunning themselves, scratching against rocks, and playing in the surf. There were also quite a few cubs still suckling from their mothers, although according to the information we were given (not to mention the size of them) they were probably nearly a year old now...

We also watched a couple of jackals wandering around in amongst the seals - jackals and hyaenas often pick off the baby seals when there mothers are getting food. But the jackals were getting really close, and the seals didn't seem at all bothered - I was expecting a lot of noise and movement, but there was just nothing...

We didn't hang arond long at the seals (although the smell hung around for long enough on all our clothes - YUK!!) Instead, we headed slightly inland and further north. The landscape was totally flat desert scrub, until suddenly these mountains rose up out of nowhere! One of these is Spitzkoppe, which is where we were staying for the night. Apparently it looks so like the Matterhorn that it's called the Matterhorn of Africa. But having been to both, I wasn't totally convinced about the similarity!!!

We arrived at Spitzkoppe just as the sun was setting, and it was an amazing sunset - probably the best we've seen yet (I have this romantic notion about amazing African sunsets, deep orange across big African skies - but have so far been disappointed!!!) Unfortunately though, we were in the truck for most of the sunset, so missed it. The colours were just amazing though. And the campsite was so in the middle of nowhere. It was absolutely silent, and the stars were so bright. The moon also was really bright and totally lit up the rocks all around - it looked just incredible.

The following day I had planned to get up for sunrise (in the hope it would be as magnificent as the sunset!) But when the alarm went off at 5.30, I decided it was far too early to play that game - so I watched it through the window of my tent. Again, the colours were amazing!

We then went over to an area of rock which has some rock paintings. They were quite faint, but you could very clearly see a rhino, a zebra and people. It was a good introduction to the rock carvings we were seeing later that evening in Twyfelfontein!

We went to the rock carvings in Twyfelfontein (a couple of hours further north from Spitzkoppe) that evening. Despite a really crap guide (who literally pointed out the blindingly obvious - "this is a giraffe" - and was unable to answer any questions), it was really interesting. There are a lot of theories about who did the rock carvings and why, but it seems likely they were to pass on information and to teach. In a lot of places, it showed the animal, and then it's footprint, so they knew how to track them for hunting. There was also a watermap, showing the water holes in the area, with animals drawn next to them, showing what is likely to be found there (again, for hunting presumably).

The carvings were a really good likeness as well - ok, so they were pretty simplified, but I don't think I could have made them look any where near realistic by scratching away at a lump of rock with a stone!!! There were also a few pictures which showed hunters and village life - dancing around a fire for example. Confusingly the animals they painted didn't have any heads - not quite sure what that was supposed to signify (if anything!)
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