THE PELICANS OF WALVIS BAY
A few years ago when we were living in Saudi Arabia, I saw a programme about these two “mad as hatters” guys from Botswana. They were Mad Mike & Mark, one was a stills photographer and the other a video camera man, they had such passion for what they did and looked like they were having such fun that it was infectious, I used to be on the look out for what ever programmes came on featuring these two, what can only be described as, nutters.
They looked like they were willing to damn near anything to get the shot they were after and pushed things a little further into the unknown than would generally be considered healthy. Then as you start to watch them, although enthusiastic and apparently suicidal, it dawns on you that they have studied enough of animal behaviour to really understand how far they can push the animals and their luck.
These two guys were what prompted our first visit to Namibia, thanks guys ……………. we’re headed off on our third trip to Namibia!
There has been plenty written about Namibia. From it’s colonial history, to the period of administration by South Africa and then the post apartheid era, it remains one of the least known of the “tourist destination” countries in Southern Africa.
What strikes you first about Namibia is the contrast in the people to those you meet in South Africa. Namibia, or South West Africa as it was formerly known, was administered by South Africa for many years and felt the restrictive and oppressive influences of Apartheid.
When you meet the people in the airport, in Windhoek and then in other centres, you come away with the feeling that they have consigned any post-apartheid hangovers to the past and are working hard to develop a modern nation, remembering but not dwelling on the injustices of the past.
Anyway, getting back to my two favourite nutters. Part of their programme was shot in Walvis Bay where they took one of the daily boat trips to view the attractions in and around the bay. The highlight of this episode for me was the pelicans, the most photogenic of birds, who appear on cue (trained without doubt by tourists like ourselves) when the bucket of fish is produced.
The pelicans were what we went to Walvis Bay for and we came away with some great shots and a belly full of Walvis Bay oysters. Did I forget to mention that you stop for a while for drinks and oysters? Remiss of me, especially as they oysters were freshly shucked that morning and were absolutely fantastic!
Not far north of Walvis is the coastal holiday centre of Swakopmund. Swakop retains a very Germanic feel, as does much of Namibia, and is the place where all of the tourists head. Despite that, it retains a small town feel, much like the rest of the country, even the capital Windhoek.
When we returned in 2007, the swells from the Southern Atlantic Ocean had almost completely obliterated it.
So, shortly we are off again on another Namibia adventure, travelling through the centre and northern parts of the country. One day we will head south to Luderitz and Orange River, there is just so much to see it is difficult to decide where to go!
Late afternoon in the Namib.