Sand dunes shift in the Namib Desert, and great grykes carve the earth in Brandberg.
The chiselled Spitzkoppe gnarls above the savannah, and ancient forests turned to stone emerge from the dusty ground. Meanwhile, there are haunting petroglyphs scrawled over windblown rocks in UNESCO-attested Twyfelfontein, and the great rugged undulations of Damaraland seem to go on forever. Welcome to Namibia: the land of all things primeval.
I reached one of the most spectacular areas
It’s hard to believe that it’s just a short flight over the carcasses of old tankers along the Skeleton Coast from Swakopmund to Dora Nawa, the gateway to the wild Kunene Region. Leaving behind the Bavarian beer halls and half-timbered Saxon builds of the erstwhile colonial harbor, visitors soon find themselves surrounded by primordial landscapes where some of the first humans once trod.
It’s here that one of Africa’s largest collections of pre-historic engravings reveals the long story of Namibian man. Chiselled images of rhinos, depictions of stretch-necked giraffes and wandering bushmen are all visible, carved meticulously into the earth by the San people more than 2,000 years ago.
It’s a vision of the past that’s only bolstered by the remnants of another era: the rusting shells of skiffs and ships of all shapes and sizes, consumed by the inhospitable wilds of the Skeleton Coast. At Mowe Bay these forgotten footprints of human activity in the Atlantic are claimed by seal colonies, surrounded by desert-dwelling rhinos, and patrolled by packs of hyena.
Magic moments with the Himba people
But Namibia has another human face still. It comes with the smiling folk of the Himba. Isolated out between the craggy peaks of the Kaokoveld, these people rarely fail to fascinate with their religious blend of ancestor worship and voodoo practices, their incense-scented village conclaves, and timeless hunter gatherer ways.
From the cultural curiosities of these traditional folk to the marks of Stone Age man around the base of the mighty Spitzkoppe, a Namibian adventure promises to be like no other in all of Africa.