Day 16: Heading west to the Skeleton Coast

Another early morning (up at 5am) after an unusually late night (captivated by the rhinos at the waterhole and reviewing photos in bed afterwards). I also went for a walk down to the waterhole at 3am to check if the lions had come in but they hadn’t. One solitary jackal skulking around the waters edge; no other sign of life; back to bed.

Bags loaded into the vehicle by 6:30am, breakfast done by 7am; on the road heading out of Etosha NP just after sun-up. And like a parting gift as we were leaving the wildlife behind us we saw two big male lions lying together in the grass, well off the side of the road. A perfect last impression of Etosha.

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The first 3-4 hours of driving today was on paved roads, before we turned onto a gravel road to head towards the coast. The next 3-4 hours was all gravel. It certainly wasn’t a smooth 3-lane highway but was well worth it for the amazing desert and mountain scenery and the roadside stops to see and buy the wares of the Herero and Himba tribes; the Herero women in “traditional” colonial European clothing and the Himba almost naked, with braided hair caked in an ochre and butter fat mixture. I knelt down at the stalls of the Himba to check out their jewellery and before I knew it I had half a dozen bracelets on my arm. It was like some form of reverse pick-pocketing. I managed to get half of them off and bought the other three.

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The final 120km was across a seriously barren landscape. I could see nothing on the right (literally nothing but sand, sandy gravel and a horizon-blurring mirage) and only some small bushes and distant hills on the left. As we got closer to the coast it was almost impossible to separate the mirage from the Atlantic Ocean.

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We reached the coast and stopped at the turn-off to Swakopmund to wait for the kiwi vehicle, which was having fuel problems. My guess is they ran out of fuel and had to top-up from the jerry cans, which the kiwis had probably filled with whiskey back in Rundu.

They eventually caught up and we followed their smoke-breathing vehicle the rest of the way to Swakop (as the thick fog rolled in).

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