I see the Swakop river crossing and the Swakop river mouth

05 April 2013

After our almost-ascent of Dune 7, we returned to the car and made our way back onto the arrow-straight gravel road north towards Swakopmund. Beautiful peach-and-ochre coloured dunes rose up on our left, while gravel plans stretched out on our right, all the way to the horizon.

A railway line seemed to run on our left, between us and the dune belt. While we had been climbing up Dune 7, we had heard the chug-chug-chug of a train on the tracks; we caught up with the train some distance to the north.

A looooong train chugs through the desert
A looooong train chugs through the desert

Gradually, the dunes on our left flattened, and the road descended ever so slightly. A sign indicated that we were approaching the Swakop River, which we had crossed earlier that morning, on our way south to Walvis Bay.

Reggie insisted that we stop next to the road for a photo opp, as there isn’t often water in the riverbed. Not only were the large pools of water, but in the distance we could see wading birds, including a couple of flamingoes. The railway bridge crosses the river downstream from here.

A rare sight: Pools of water in the Swakop River
A rare sight: Pools of water in the Swakop River

That evening, when we had returned to Swakop, we went for a stroll at the mouth of the river. There’s a beach bar and restaurant – the Tiger Reef – right down at the beach, which looked all eerie in the mist that had descended once more. Aunty Christa showed us some of the places where you could stay, right next to the Swakop – the one, called The Stiltz, consists of timber houses and wooden walkways, all supported on stilts, anchored in the river bed.

“And tomorrow morning,” promised Aunty Christa, “before you all drive back to Windhoek, we’re going to visit a farm in the Swakop River valley, where there is a farmer’s market every Saturday. As you can see, the river is our lifeline here in the desert. Many farmers depend on it for their survival, as do many species of animals.”

(Click on any of the photos below to access the slideshow with captions.)

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