10 May 2012, Gail’s trip log

Matt Lauer was right! Walvis Bay, Namibia, is truly unique. (Apologies to those who don’t watch the Today Show every morning in the USA) What a fantastic day we had here. The weather was great – we were told it had been very windy yesterday, as it often is, but not today. We climbed aboard our 4×4 Land Rovers about 930 and off we went. We were 5 plus the driver, and there were 15 vehicles in total. First stop was the lagoon where much of the year there are thousands of flamingos living. Unfortunately, they’ve not yet returned, but we saw some beautiful pelicans and other sea birds, and the view was worth it anyway. The next stop was at Dune 7 on our way out to the Namib Desert. It is over 300 feet high and is really amazing to stand at the bottom of it. We had neither time nor energy to climb it, however. Of course the whole of Namibia has many, many sand dunes – this is just the largest in the region. After this photo op, we headed out into the Namib Desert where the expedition of the day began in earnest. The road was only paved for about ten miles – the rest of the fifty or more we rode on bumpy, rutted dirt and gravel roads. For 5 or 6 miles we were actually driving through sand dunes and dry riverbeds that are also all sand with occasional patches of water. The first stop was to view the “moonscape” – an ancient mountain escarpment now resembling the surface of the moon in the midst of the desert. The Namib is the oldest desert on earth and has almost no vegetation, unlike most deserts in the USA. The temperature was in the 90s (about 35C) before noontime. We stopped to see some living specimens of some plants that only grow there and that live for about 2,000 years. The ones we saw were only a hundred to a thousand years old. We then stopped for lunch at an oasis that contained a restaurant and campsites. We ate under trees and had a “finger lunch”, a multitude of snacks we could consume without silverware. It was very nice and we drank lots of juice and water. It was very hot after being cold and foggy 40 miles away at sea. We used sunscreen today for only the second time on the trip so far. After lunch we made our way back over many of the same dirt roads and finally some pavement to the town of Swakopmund – about 25 miles north of Walvis Bay, which also clearly shows its German heritage from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A quaint town with many interesting buildings. Much cooler, about 70 (21C) there at the shore. We stopped at a weaving factory to watch carpets being created from raw wool through all the steps all the way to fantastic finished carpets. Dan fell in love with one and bought it and arranged to have it shipped home. Got a picture of it, including the young man who created it! Next stop was the Krystal Museum – some hugs quartz pieces and much else. And of course many expensive gems and pieces of jewelry made there for those who were interested. Back to the ship at 430 along the coast – saw many sand dunes and many new beach front developments, including the one where Brangelina stayed. Went to clear immigration (no line at all this time) and then had a snack. Went back at 730 for an early supper. We finally sailed away at 800 instead of 600 because the bunker oil delivery that was to arrive at 1000 in the morning didn’t arrive until 100 and they were still busily fueling the ship from the series of tanker trucks. We have four sea days now – I’m ready for it.

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