Travels with V



From the wasteland into the fog

Damaraland to Henties Bay

We continue driving south through an almost totally desolate Damaraland, past odd rock formations and out on a rocky plain. We have seen only one or two cars during the whole drive and not a single human figure. This part of Namibia saw almost nothing of the occupations because the colonial forces couldn’t see any use for this barren desert.

But in this unending landscape it’s like time has stopped. There’s such a magical beauty here, the landscape slowly shifting as we move further south. After the barren lands we encounter a sandy plain with only some low trees. And still few signs of civilization or human activity.  

After a few hours we begin to see the dunes lining the Atlantic coast on our right. On the other side of those dunes is the Skeleton coast.
We make two stops for some exploring, the first one where a petrified forest was been discovered. It consists of trunks that 260 million years ago were a kind of large ferns. But they didn’t grow here, it is believed that they floated on some ancient river, were buried in the riverbank here and slowly petrified.
In the same place we also find the rare Velwitschia, a bizarre plant with no stem, just two leaves growing and splitting up into a green knot. It is only found here and it can live for more than a thousand years. In Afrikaans its name means “Two leaves. Cannot die.”

The second stop is by a hill typical for Damaraland, it looks like a giant heap of gravel. On the flat sides of some boulders San people have carved images of wild animals like antelopes, ostriches, giraffes and others that doon’t live here any more. The San were the first inhabitants, they came here 8 000 years ago, and the carvings are made from between 6 000 and 2 000 years ago.

We turn west and find ourselves driving on a road straight as a ruler through a landscape that doesn’t change at all. It’s just a desert plain with small bushes and it gives us the sensation of feeling that we’re in a loop and not really moving at all. But then we see a low grey cloud all along the horizon, and we know that we’re approaching Henties Bay by the ocean.

Henties Bay was discovered by a Dutch big game hunter who in 1929 was almost dying of thirst in the harsh dry desert. Suddenly he stumbled upon this valley with trees and bushes and realized that there must be water somewhere. He found the well and survived, and later he came back here every summer. Soon people started to call it Hentie’s bay and today it’s a summer paradise for mostly rich white Namibians who want to avoid the scorching summer heat inland. Villas with lush gardens line the streets.

The coastal area from Henties Bay northward is called “Shipwreck Coast”. Numerous ships have stranded here in the treacherous waters with sand reefs that move unpredictably. And in the old days, when that happened, the ships’ crew was doomed. No man could survive a walk for help across the desert.
The only shipwreck we saw was not very old, a fishing trawler whose crew lucklily was saved.

In general Namibia’s Atlantic coast is mostly unwelcoming with very few real harbours. The only port that can be accessed by big ships is Walvis Bay further south. This port was often used by Erik Axelsson for his trading transports, and he had large warehouses here. Walvis Bay is still Namibia’s main port, and it’s increasingly important since uranium has been found in the desert east of the city.
Walvis Bay is also known for large populations of flamingo feeding in the muddy ponds along the shore.
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.