Welwitschia

We have a full day to explore Swakopmund, which is apparently well known for its adrenaline-rush-type of activities, but it’s not really what we’d like to do, so after a bit of reading, we learn about a self drive itinerary in the Namib Naukluft national park that will make us discover the local desert landscape. Our quest to get an entrance permit for the park leads us to meet a lady who cannot start speaking to us before we have locked the metallic gate behind us, as she “cannot take her eyes off it until it’s locked”, which apparently uses all of her brain power.

Moon landscape

The itinerary first makes us discover lichens, that are all crumpled and black, but open up and become green when sprinkled with a bit of water. Good that we have enough water bottles with us. We then drive through the moon landscape, which unsurprisingly looks like a moon landscape and is quite breathtaking. A few km later, we meet the Welwitschia, a very curious endemic plant that has two continuously growing leaves. Because of damage induced by wind, sun and sand, each leaf gets split into several bands, which gives the plant the appearance of a not-so-fresh lettuce. It takes 20 years until the plant gets flowers. The plant is either male or female and can leave for thousands of years. At the end of the itinerary we reach a 1500 year old individual inside a fenced area. Given its slightly alien appearance, it’s difficult to decide if the fence is protecting the plant, or the tourists…

Weltwitschia plain

We have dinner at a German restaurant (Swakopmund has a strong German influence), in which radiant german-speaking customers are happily drinking boots of beer. The Jaegerschnitzel was very good, but huge.

a 1500 year old Weltwitschia (on the right)

Map

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