The West African Coast: Namibia

Walvis Bay, Namibia

May 11, 2023

We arrived at Walvis Bay in Namibia which is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean.To the north it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. But the capital has a population of only about 450,000 people. 

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is one of the least densely populated countries on the planet. Although the country is physically large, it is mostly desert, and so with a population of only about 2.5 million people, the it is one of the world’s least densely populated countries. 

Wide angle photo of Namib Desert at sundown

Namibia was originally colonized by Germany as German South West Africa around 1884. However as a result of WW1 Germany lost its colonies and Namibia was put under the rule of South Africa (then a member of the British Empire) after German forces were defeated by South Africa. South Africa applied its apartheid rules to Namibia in 1948.  Namibian activists launched a drive for independence, including a guerrilla war,  and they succeeded in gaining full independence in 1994. 

Today Namibia has a well developed banking sector, a very high literacy rate (92% of people over the age of 15 can read and write) and is one of the freest countries on the African continent. Bloomberg classifies it as the top emerging market economy in Africa and the 13th in the world. 

Pelican Point Lighthouse in Namibia

The World Bank considers Namibia to be an upper middle income country. Mining, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism are the main engines of the economy. Per Capita GDP expressed in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is about $11,500. That said, Namibia still has a lot of work to do. The unemployment rate is very high, ranging from 25% to 30%. And they are struggling with their sanitation systems. 

A Derilict Boat Anchored in the Bay

Mary Anne and I went for a cruise on a small boat on the lagoon where we saw an amazing array of pelicans, seals, and flamingos. After the boat ride we attended a dinner in the desert that was sponsored by Regent Cruises, just as the sun was setting. All in all in was a pretty amazing day. 

Close-up of a Pelican
Thousands of Seals Gather on the Beach
Pelicans Fly Over a Colony of Flamingos on the Beach

And best of all we didn’t get captured by pirates…but we are not out of the woods yet. 


Maputo, Mozambique

Bob Dylan immortalized the place in his song “Mozambique” in 1976.



Well, times change. We spent a short time in the Mozambique city of Maputo, but there is not much to see. Mozambique does have beautiful beaches, but they are about 3 hours away from Maputo.  A colony of Portugal, Mozambique gained its independence and established a Marxist government in the mid 1970s. Needless to say, Mozambique is now one of the poorest countries in the world, and it is struggling to get on its feet.


In the short time we were there we visited an outdoor market (Feima) where crafts, flowers and food are for sale, but other than there, we didn’t really get a chance to look around very much.


Now we are at sea, sailing toward Reunion and Mauritius where we are scheduled to visit on January 20th and 21st. That is, if the Captain manages to outrun the Typhoon in the area and there is not too much damage when the Typhoon hits land. Never a dull moment.





Another Safari Day

Out in the Bush


When you head out to the bush country you just don’t know what you are going to find. For the second (of three) Safari days out in the bush, the plan was to find some elephants in the morning, and maybe more lions in the afternoon. That meant getting a wake-up call at 4:30 AM and piling into the jeep and into the woods by 5:00 AM.


As it turned out, we didn’t find any elephants until later in the afternoon. But we did find a male lion. We also found a cheetah hanging out by a watering hole. Watering holes are a popular spot to hang out in the bush, except for the fact that some of the animals regard the others as dinner. So, the animals likely to be targets tend to go as a group—safety in numbers—while the lions hang out around the periphery waiting for one of the targets to stray from the group. Then the lions pick them off.


Another thing. Looking at the stars from the pitch black African bush takes your breath away. Without any distracting ambient light, you can probably see the stars the way the sailors saw them hundreds of years ago.


Anyway, here (below) are some more photos of animals and the countryside out in the bush. Next, we head for a short stop in Maputo, Mozambique. There are more photos available at Evocative Photos.


On Safari–Part 1

Here we are at Thanda Game Reserve to go on a Safari. Thanda is our “base camp” in the same way the Ritz-Carlton is a base camp. The place is just spectacular. (See the photo below of our villa).

Our Villa in Thanda Game Reserve

After we arrived we got settled in and went for our first game drive, lasting from 4:30 until 7:30 PM. The drive consists of boarding an open jeep that holds 9 plus a driver and tracker, and then heading out to the African bush in search of lions, elephants, hyenas, cheetahs, buffalo, rhinos, hippos and whatever else materializes.


We were not disappointed. It wasn’t too long before we saw some buffaloes, gazelles, a giraffe and a wildebeest or two. Most important, we discovered sundowners. As the sun begins to set, around 6:00 PM or so, it’s time to stop the jeep, pile out, look out over the African plains and have a glass of wine or a gin and tonic before venturing out into the bush again. If you are going to be devoured by a hungry lion, you might as well be fortified by a G&T, I suppose.

Anyway, this is just a very brief hint of how spectacular a Safari can be. More in the coming days.

Some photos of a small sample of the animals and scenery we saw on the first of many game drives below.


Lioness opens her mouth and shows her teeth. Taken from about 15 yards away.

Zebras and Gazelles by a watering hole.

An African Buffalo


Mossel Bay & Port Elizabeth

We have left Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth and are now sailing in the Indian Ocean, headed for Durban. From Durban we will head inland to the Thanda Game Reserve in the heart of the Zulu homelands where we will go on Safari, tracking (and hopefully photographing) the “Big 5”–Elephants, Lions, Cape buffalo, Black rhinos and African Leopard.

The parts of Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth we saw were largely resort areas. We didn’t get to see much more than that, so it’s hard to put into context what we saw. We were told by one of the destination lecturerers that South Africa is by far the most Anglicized / Westernized part of Africa, and that most of the native population lives inland. In some sense a lot of what we have seen is like looking at Hong Kong and thinking you’ve seen China.

Anyway, here are some photos from this most recent foray.


Cape Town, South Africa

We spent a few days tooling around Cape Town, South Africa after beating the East coast storm by a day.  17 hours in the air is a lot of flight time, but it was well worth it. Cape Town is hopping in our neighborhood but once you get outside the upmarket areas, it’s a bit of a different story. Anyway, we got a chance to visit and have lunch at an excellent vineyard in the Stellenbosch region. We also went to the top of the Table Mountain—with the help of a cab—and went to see a colony of penguins on Boulders beach. We got a great view of the coastline, including the coast along the Cape of Good Hope.


We embark on the ship tomorrow and set sail Monday morning at 5:00 AM. Soon we will be on a photo Safari at the Thanda Game Preserve, where we hope to get photos of the Big 5 (Lions, Hippos, Rhinos and Giraffes). The Safari will be 2 nights in camp and 3 days tracking the animals.


Here below are a couple of shots from around Cape Town and its environs.