After a very chilly and blustery night just south of the Skeleton Coast we made it back to civilisation in the form of a small fishing town of Swakopmund. We topped up on fuel and supplies and some of the best meat pies ever known to man and headed out to Cape Cross to see a large colony of seals. Cape Cross is famed not only for its seals but it was also the first place a European set foot on the coast of Namibia. Diego Cao of Portugal erected a cross there 115km North of Swakopmund and probably left soon after smelling the stench of the seals that surrounded him.
The fur seals number in population of around 80,000 – 100,000 and inhabit a small 1km stretch of the coastline. They do not migrate from here but do travel large distances (up to 400km) in search of food. As you enter their compound the first thing that hits you is the smell of a mix of rotting fish mixed with faeces which almost knocks you out. The second thing you notice is the immense number of seals bunched together in a small area. The third thing you get is the noise, constant calls form mothers to pups is almost deafening. You’re probably thinking why go there, but the sheer sight of all this is amazing.
Some of the bulls weigh in excess of 300kg and are very aggressive and territorial, guarding their harem of ladies. The females (around 75kg) give birth mostly in November but there were a number of small pups when we were there. The pups are quite cute in a noisy, smelly way and are dressed in a thick black coat. They leave there mothers after about 5 months to fend for themselves. The mortality rate is around 25% mainly due to premature births, trampling and the odd drowning and abandonment. The main predators around are Jackal and Hyenas that come in November for feeding. The seals feed on the schooling fish along the coastline but also squid, lobsters and octopuses. We walked up and down the raised platform amongst the seals for about an hour before the smell got the better of us. They were amazing to watch and astonishing to think that the coastline can provide so many mouths to feed.
We headed back in land to head to Spitzkoppe (now 5800km on the clock) to one of the largest mountains in Namibia. Namibia isn’t famed for large mountains and it was more of a hill than a mountain but they still call it a mountain! After taking a wrong turn down a dusty road (there were no road signs) we eventually made it to Spitzkoppe around sunset. The approach to the mountain was remarkable; it seemed to sprout up from the land out of nowhere. We were directed to a campsite at the foot of the mountain and with no one else camping there we had the mountain to ourselves! We camped at the base of the mountain and set up camp as the sun cast a beautiful orange glow around us. It was full moon and it was so bright we didn’t need any torches to cook with and feasted once again on some amazing steaks, jacket potatoes and boxed wine!! In the morning we were woken by a chorus of shrills from the numerous rock bunnies that were basking in the early morning sun! We spent the morning walking round the mountain and climbing up it looking at a few of the rock paintings. The view from near the top was incredible and you could see for miles around across the desert and flat barren wilderness. It was soon time to move on and head further south and a stopover in Walvis Bay to stock up and refuel before heading even further south to Sossuvlei and the some of the biggest sand dunes in the world. Namibia was stunning and getting more beautiful by the day.