29 March 2013

The Namib desert is one of the few places on earth where giant sand dunes plunge directly into the ocean.

Namibia is one of the world's least densely populated nations (twice the size of California but with only two million people) and one of the world’s most richly endowed areas with enormous mineral wealth including uranium, diamonds, and more. It's governed (surprisingly moderately) by leaders from the old SWAPO guerrilla movement that finally secured independence from South Africa in 1990.

Namibia is the first country visited via our expedition ship going up the west coast of Africa for almost five weeks.

Here’s the view from our small expedition ship departing South Africa for Namibia.
You don’t realize how much Table Mountain towers over Cape Town until you see it from a distance. 

Lüderitz is an odd little vestige of Germany’s few overseas outposts.  Most of modern-day Namibia was under German rule from the late 1800s through 1915 before coming under British and later South African control, prior to independence in 1990.

Along with some German colonial architecture,
Lüderitz still has several hundred German descendents among its 20,000 residents.

Nearby Kolmanskop was abandoned in the early 1950s when its surrounding diamond field was exhausted. Today this ghost town is overrun by sand dunes and has been reincarnated as a tourist destination.

Walvis Bay is Namibia’s main port. At various points in time, it was a British enclave in German South-West Africa and later a South African enclave in newly independent Namibia. But now it is fully part of Namibia.

We took day trips to explore part of the vast Namibian deserts as well as to see the marine life around Walvis Bay.

4x4s offered roller-coaster rides up windward dune sloops then dive down steep leeward sides.

Springboks (a type of antelope) manage to survive harsh conditions, limited vegetation, and black-backed jackals.

Flamingos in the Walvis Bay lagoon.

The best entertainment for the morning in Walvis Bay was a fearless, hungry, and persistent adolescent pelican.

Colony of Atlantic cape fur seals.