‘Exquisite Cape Tour’ day 7 to 10 – An Africa4us traveller’s experience – Swakopmund to ‘The White Lady’ Bushmen painting and on to a Himba settlement experience in Opuwo.
Arriving in Swakopmund was literally a breath of very welcome fresh air after the desert heat! Travelling along the coast road to Swakopmund we had the desert on one side, and the ocean on the other, which must be the only place in the world where people live between the desert and the ocean!
Swakopmund itself is a bustling town caught between modern times and the architectural legacy of the German settlers that is still very clearly in evidence wherever you go. We were all looking forward to exploring all that Swakopmund has to offer for two whole days, from skydiving to kayaking, 4×4 dune rides or the slower pace of a visit to the Aquarium. The luxury of our hotel was well beyond our expectations, and we certainly made the most of those two days, resting, exploring little German coffee shops and eating like kings on local specialities.
At this point I would like to say that our tour guide and driver really proved how much they love what they do and their knowledge of the history, flora, fauna and wildlife everywhere in Namibia is phenomenal. There was never a moment when they were too tired to give us the best of themselves, their knowledge and endless energy. They did everything in their power to keep us entertained across hundreds of kilometres with titbits of information about the areas we travelled through, sharing their deep and abiding love for the beauty of Namibia and its people.
After two days of relaxation, we were ready for the excitement of visiting the site of the bushman painting known as ‘The White Lady’, situated in the Brandburg Mountains, which has the highest concentration of Bushmen paintings in Namibia. Because we had arrived in midday heat, our Africa4us crew gave us the option to go or not, due to the high temperature, but, a few of us decided we were going to give it a good shot anyway.
Armed with tons of sunscreen, water and a hat, off we went with a fantastic local guide, feeling pretty brave at the start of it. The presence of Elephants was evident everywhere, from their dung to trees they had damaged, and our guide pointed out the footprints of a leopard along the way as well as informing us that wild horses also made the area their home. I have to confess that I was the first to give up just before the halfway mark, find a large shady rock, and wait for the others. Not even the thought of a passing elephant or leopard could have made me move a step further; however, there were quite a few groups who also found the intense heat a bit hard to bear, so I didn’t feel too bad.
As we sat under the shade of the rock, our guide Monica, who grew up in the area told us so much about the history of the area and the legend of ‘The White Lady’ that it was as if we had seen it ourselves, which went a long way towards making it a really fun experience despite the challenge.
After lunch prepared by our fantastic crew, we left Brandburg for a stopover at Khorixas Rooms, all of us getting more excited about the fact that every kilometre from there would be taking us to Etosha Wildlife Game Park. As usual, our tireless Africa4us crew set out our dinner and went over the plans for the next day, which would take us to Opuwo Country Lodge and the experience of spending time in a traditional Himba settlement, as well as visiting another Africa4us Kids Project, where we would be delivering school supplies and lots of staple food to the community.
Arriving in Opuwo, the first thing we did was hit the local general dealer to stock up on stationary and food to take with us to the local school. Our welcome at the school was very touching and the smiles and laughter of the children as they chased a football around in the heat was amazing considering the lack of shade. After handing over all our goodies, the school principal and others bundled us into 4×4 vehicles to take us over some really rough terrain to reach the Himba settlement we would be visiting.
Learning about the customs and traditions of the Himbas, who still live as they have for hundreds of years in their mud huts with thatched roofs was fascinating. We met with the chief of the particular settlement we visited, just one of many dotted around the area, and with the help of the school principal, we were able to learn more about how they go about their daily lives. They are a very proud people who live entirely off the land and the goats they tend, telling time by the movement of the sun and the stars.
By the time we got to Opuwo Country Lodge at dusk, we were all ready for a quick shower, after which we sat looking out over the infinity pool as the sun finally set in a spectacular display of natural art. While we were enjoying a bit of relaxation, our tireless crew were preparing our dinner.
Eating great food in good company under the stars is an experience not to be missed, there is just something so special about sitting around a fire surrounding by nothing but the sights and sounds of Mother Nature!
We would be making another early start the next day to get to Etosha, so once the washing up of dishes was done, the chairs and tables packed away, we all headed for bed, ready to face the excitement of the game drives to come!
Watch this space for the next instalment of our Africa4us Exquisite Cape Tour.