Last post I left off explaining that we had gotten to the coast of Namibia and that we would be headed inland towards some mountains. Having already camped inland the week prior, we learned it’s best to camp as close to the coast as possible because the temperature difference is remarkable. Just a 30-minute drive inland can mean sleeping in 30 °C heat (85 °F) instead of sleeping at 15 °C (60 °F). After leaving Swakopmund, we found a side road to camp and that next morning we were in complete awe over the sunrise as we headed towards the mountains at 6 AM.
A quick note about this area of Namibia: you’ll see many Namibians selling crystals. At first we were very confused as to why people hundreds of kilometers apart were selling the same crystals and in the same fashion. We reasoned that someone must be coming to these tiny towns telling the natives that tourists buy crystals so all they have to do is set them out along the road. Who knows?
The first mountain we visited was Spitzkoppe. This was our favorite place in all of Namibia partly because of its sheer beauty and also because there was no one there so we were able to explore as we pleased. Though not the tallest mountain in Namibia, it’s the sharpest so it’s an ideal place for rock climbing if you come prepared.
Spitzkoppe is filled with fun rocks to weave your way through. A small climb will get you the best views of the mountain and you can spend hours traversing the area and never get bored.
There are picnic and camping places aplenty, along with natural pools if you happen to be there during the rainy season. Besides the interesting rock formations there are cute little dassies (a guinea-pig-like animal) and colorful lizards throughout the rocks.
It’s just important to go in the morning and carry lots of water because the temperatures are unforgiving and there is nothing around for a hundred kilometers… except for crystal sellers.
From Spitzkoppe we drove back to the coast and visited Henties Bay, another small town filled with vacation homes. Since all we needed was gas, we quickly left and drove to Dorob National Park, a park with absolutely nothing. No, really; there is absolutely nothing as far as the eyes can see! It’s incredible. You’ll be driving along a white dirt road, the electricity lines will fade in the distance behind you, and you’ll drive to nothingness. It’s so peculiar that you need a GPS or at least a compass to make sure you’ll make it back to the main road.
Just South from Dorob is the Omaruru Delta Dam, where we figured we would camp for the night. Upon arriving we found the dam abandoned. The basin is covered in dead bushes and that is the most noticeable sign that there once was water.
It is quite an infrastructure project, but unfortunately, because Namibia has had a drought for several years, it mustn’t have made sense to keep it functioning. We still managed to find some trees on the other side of the dam and that’s where we ended up camping.
Our next destination was Brandburg Mountain. It’s the tallest in Namibia but its real draw to us was the fact that it’s a part of a circular mountain span. Have a look at the map to see both our route for these few days and also the circular formation at D2342, the road that gets closest to Brandburg.
It really does look like a perfect circle! Unfortunately, we don’t have a drone or a wide-angle camera to capture it.
It was a piping 40-45 °C (105-115 °F) when we were there in the morning. We weren’t able to climb any part of the mountain but the drive was interesting in and of itself. Fun fact: there are plants in this area that are over 1 000 years old!
Once more we headed back to the coast and since it’s mostly deserted, it’s possible to camp right next to the shoreline.
To say the Namibian coastline is interesting would be an understatement. Because of the cold currents coming from Antarctica colliding with the land’s dry hot air, the water condenses along the coast creating an impenetrable fog. This fog has disoriented many sailors and for this reason there are hundreds of shipwrecks along the coast, therefore its name: Skeleton Coast.
We headed into the Skeleton Coast National Park the next day and, as a national park, you must enter and leave the same day or stay at Torra Bay, the designated camping site. We just drove through to catch some shipwrecks and see an abandoned oilrig.
Diamond mining goes on along the coast but other than that there is no sign of human life for hundreds of kilometers. Torra Bay is hardly a settlement as on any given day there may be just a few people there.
Leaving the Skelton Coast we found our camp spot where the sand finally turns to rocks.
This was our last day before we would meet our friend on her farm outside of Otjiwarongo, and since we had some time to kill beforehand we thought we would visit a petrified forest near Khorixas, one that we had read about on another blog. However, it didn’t take long to figure out that it was a joke. We were skeptical from the beginning so we just took a drive through one and there seemed to be nothing special. Then, further down the road we saw another petrified forest, and another and another until we had seen five petrified forests! Everyone is just copying each other and so it leads to some very funny marketing.
“The big one, the best one”
The petrified forests are nothing but a few stumps on the ground. So needless to say, we didn’t spend any time there and went towards Otjiwarongo, only stopping once at Khorixas for gas.
One major thing I would mention to anyone traveling to Namibia is to be prepared for the onslaught of workers at gas stations. Unlike anywhere we have ever been, gas stations in Namibia have quite a few workers, quite a few meaning sometimes up to 15 people at one gas station.
They go out to the street to usher you in, swarm your car to ask which type of petrol you need, clean your windows, ask to check oil and tire pressure, and of course, fill your tank. It’s very overwhelming when you’re used to only a machine. They’re friendly though and will ask where you’re from, and if you mention Barcelona, they go crazy about Messi!
Just remember to also have cash on hand because most take card but a few might not and you cannot afford to not get gas since the gas stations are so few and far in between.
So we made it to Otjiwarongo and were welcomed by our amazing friend to her farm. From there we embark a road trip all together to Zambia and Botswana, the topic of my next blog post!