Thimo keeps a lot of strict time regime on the round trip through Namibia . After the previous highlight in the Namib Desert, the dunes and the Sossusvlei, it continues directly. I promised at home not to be eaten by a lion. Whether that will be?
Swakopmund and the Atlantic
If there are remote places, it does not necessarily mean that they are lonely. The name "Solitaire" almost suggests, but whether the name really derives from the English word "solitude" for loneliness is controversial. In 1848, this small settlement was founded. Today it has about 100 inhabitants. Here is also the famous bakery, which was recommended to me in the "Old Wheelers Club". Your apple strudel is said to be the best in Africa. Since my comparisons can only draw on countries such as Tanzania, Ethiopia, Guinea and Mozambique and I can not remember, with the best of intentions, to have ever seen apples there, I agree, subject to further Africa travel. The apple pie is also excellent in the German comparison and the stop here is a must. And since I do not like to combine things with a must, I would like to point out that you also voluntarily stop here at the transit. It attracts good coffee, gasoline and a special charm: old cars and some relaxation from the gravel road.
Before we reach Swakopmund, we turn off the asphalt road and stop at a "Welwitschie". I am a bit dumbfounded as I am to marvel at a large, somewhat battered plant. It is named after its discoverer Friedrich Welwitsch and occurs only in the Namib. It has only two leaves and can be over 1000 years old. Due to its wide occurrence and importance, it also thrives in the indicated desert sand in the lower part of the coat of arms of Namibia. Botanists, in my opinion, enjoy more of this plant, of which there is a male and a female form that fertilize themselves through insects. The distribution of the seeds then takes place via the wind. Since the plant can only germinate after extreme precipitation, its reproduction is limited, which makes it a special plant. She assures her daily survival by taking in water over the nocturnal fog in the region.
The road meanders through the so-called moonscape, before returning to the main road. The asphalt changes to salt, which does not compromise on ride comfort. In front of us a huge wall of fog piles up. From one moment to the other we are enveloped by the coastal fog. The Atlantic is not far away. Swakopmund lies before us. Our hotel is the "Hansa Hotel". The Namibians themselves call it the finest hotel in Namibia, built in 1905 with a building in downtown Swakop, as the city is also called. The history of the house is unique and still bears witness to the best service and comfort. The foundation stone was laid by Paul Miersch. He leased some of the rooms in his building to travelers. In 1954, the couple Rummel woke the hotel again from his little Sleeping Beauty sleep and brought it to its present size. Even today, the workforce is committed to the standard of the time and offers excellent service in a wonderful atmosphere.
I meet in the bar with Reinhold Mertens. He was the chef of the hotel for 40 years and tells me about the history of the house and the development of Swakopmund. In 1959, the native of Hesse moved to Namibia. At that time an adventure of his own. Four or five stopovers by plane took to reach Namibia. Today you can fly directly from Frankfurt to Windhoek. Together with the family Rummel he expanded the hotel to its present size. Today, the almost 80-year-old retired, but still intimately connected with the hotel. The fireplace next to us provides gentle warmth. It is the second evening when the fireplace in the stylish ambience this winter is on. It is cool for local conditions. We both drink a white wine and talk pleasantly relaxed.
Mr. Mertens tells about the history of the city, which was founded in 1892 as an important port of the German colony German Southwest Africa. The better port situation was in Walvis Bay, but seemed at that time occupied by the British and Lüderitz in the south of the colony was due to the long way not to supply the capital Windhoek. Only 10 years later, a railway line connected both cities. Since then, the city has developed far. The city center still bears witness to colonial buildings from the Wilhelminian era. Although much has changed today, the few Namibians of German descent still have influence on the city. In many shops one can communicate in German and some street names still carry German names, even if with the independence of Namibia many streets were renamed. All sights, from the old station over the old district court, the jetty and the old pioneer fortress and the historic Hohenzollernhaus in the style of the Neo-Baroque. Near the lighthouse and the state house next door, you will find the small art market, a paradise for souvenir hunters. The intrusiveness of the seller is limited and allows browsing.
Today Swakopmund is not only interesting for foreign visitors, but also for Namibians who want to escape from the warmer regions and go on vacation. Pensioners also find a place here. The city grows every year and the spell is unbroken. If you do not just want to experience life in the city center, you can book a township tour via "Khoi San", for example. This then leads to the outer districts of Swakopmund. I'm always a bit biased on such tours and was a little skeptical at the beginning when Marcia picks me up at the hotel. But the tour convinces me. It is not superficially talked about people, but you meet them in their home and can ask them about everything. In addition to a small Acapella concert, I am introduced to one of the many click >
Back on the more popular routes, we head south along the coast for a small excursion boat to Walvis Bay. The pelican is currently landing and misses his target barely. He turns another round and puts his feet on our boat roof. He bends his beak in the direction of the aft. This is where Christal stands and explains the habitat of a seal humped in the boat. The pelican keeps peering for the fish the seal gets as a reward for their patience and showmanship. Then Christal throws him a fish and skillfully lands in the big beak of the pelican. One can also become two, he probably thinks and tries it again. He should get his share.
The morning fog still hangs in the bay. At eleven o'clock he is to clear and a view over Walvis Bay, the Walfischbucht release. So we hope.
A few minutes later, our boat still finds its way to the seal colony. Past the oyster breeders who find here on the Atlantic coast of Namibia the best conditions and then market their estate not only on the domestic market, but also shipping all over the world. Among other things, her work platform is an old boat, now reminiscent of a ghost ship in the fog. Only a few hundred meters before the seal colony, the old lighthouse comes into view and in the water it is getting more and more excited. Black spots flit through the foggy image. And then it gets clearer and clearer, the beach shows up and the seals can now be admired up close. The rich fishing grounds in Walvis Bay, which have always attracted seals, whales and dolphins, were once the reason why the British continued to expand their fishing and guano trading base from 1795 onwards. On the other hand, strategic thoughts were one of the reasons that even as Namibia was protected area of the German Reich, Walvis Bay remained a British enclave and thus could secure the sea route to India .
But we are on a pleasurable mission. Christal shuts off the engine near the seal colony and drives us. From a wicker picnic basket, she conjures champagne glasses, appetizers and plates and places them in the middle of the open boat. Then she gives everyone a glass of sparkling wine and starts opening fresh oysters. The enjoyable part of the boat trip has begun. As we drift away, we enjoy our second breakfast. An extraordinary experience that culminates when five pelicans fly past us in formation flight and thousands of cormorants follow them to set out to their fishing grounds.
Elephants in the traffic
The animal highlight is just around the corner. While around my bungalow at the Ombinda Country Lodge only a domestic cat creeps around and obviously makes fun of playing with my feelings and just pretending that you could stroke them, the "kitten" in the Etosha National Park is a lot bigger , Luckily it does not want to play. The lion is located not far from the entrance to the National Park on a wide open area. Only smaller foxes dare to come near and a rhinoceros. The antelopes and zebras prefer to stay covered. We are sitting in the open jeep. There are a few other cars around us. The engines are silent. For many, it is the first contact with two of the " Big 5 ". I hear the cameras just click that way. I almost gave up. My camera does not have sufficient zoom for the great portrait photos, but I lean back a bit and enjoy the scenery.
Thimo is sitting behind the wheel of our jeep. A multi-talent. He knows his country, history and apparently also a perfect safari guide. I just can not figure out how he can recognize the animals in front of us. Even with the binoculars, I find it hard to find a lion here and there in the bushes and he shows in the peace of mind into the distance and says calmly "There's a lion's name in the back. The male is just to the right of it. "How does he do that? We can be happy. We follow the streets in the park and stop again and again. Here a springbok, there a few zebras and oryxes. We are always curious to look up and wish for a giraffe. And then, she still spies Thimo. A group is stretching their heads out of the trees in the distance. At last.
A few minutes later: I'm betting on elephants right now. It looks like elephant territory, is rumored. And they should be right. In front of us is a cop in oncoming traffic on the street. The path through the bush does not seem to be an alternative, so we roll along the elephant male at a proper distance. One minute, two minutes, three minutes. It pulls. Then the road makes a kink. The elephant follows the main road while we take the side road to overtake. Only a few hundred meters later we are at a water hole. In front of us a whole herd of elephants. The little ones play, the big ones bathe a bit. From behind, the bull slowly comes up and joins the group. A lady joins him and they stand in front of each other for minutes, holding their trunk; a moving moment.
We drive slowly through the park. At the end of the day, we may have seen ten percent of it. Too big and just too much to see. We return to Ombinda Country Lodge and raise our legs just before dinner. Not that we are so exhausted, but we have holidays.
We return slowly to Windhoek. On the way we come through Okahandja. It is Hereroland and the main traditional center of the tribe. At the graves of the great leaders, including Hosea Kutako, the advocate of independence, we hold briefly. Then it's not far to the capital. A new four-lane road connects the cities with some interruptions. In Windhoek we arrive at the starting point of our journey. Now we have the right time to explore the city again. The special attractions are the National Museum with its roof terrace, from which one has a view over the whole city, the old festivals and the Christuskirche next door. There is still a small art market on "Independence Avenue" and those who prefer a cool breeze and a little bit more unusual art can also drop in at the National Art Gallery. Some of the pieces are for sale here. Not far away is the former "Imperial Land Survey Office".
The round trip through Namibia ends here. Thimo has achieved his goal to bring us closer to his country and to inspire us. As always, the holiday was much too short! It could have been longer. I just can not get enough of nature, dunes, wild animals and water. In addition, the "Old Wheeler" have also been right: I want to come back! Luckily I did not bet.
Many thanks to Gebeco for the invitation.