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Cape cross

“In the year 6665 after the Creation of the world…” are the introductory translated words you’ll find inscribed at the padrão or stone cross, marking the location for the Cape Cross in Namibia. Admire the stone cross before you with the waves of the fierce Atlantic Ocean crashing beyond it while the cold Benguela induced breeze blows through your hair. To the north gauze upon thousands of Cape fur seals enveloping the coast line as far as your eyes can see throughout the Cape Cross Seal Reserve.

Every year hundreds of thousands of Cape fur seals make their way to the Cape Cross constructing one of the three largest Cape fur seal colonies in the world. Literally hold your breath, or rather bring a handkerchief along when coming to visit the seals, as the smell can be quite overbearing.  You will be rewarded though as the seals are naturally inquisitive and very playful. In October you are bound to find very large male bulls fighting over territory in order to impress the females and find a mate. From November to December you can view thousands of adorable pups as they are born and later frolic around the beach waiting for their mothers to return with food.  Usually during March you can witness the pups clumsily learning how to swim. The seals present lots of fun and photo opportunities. If you become thirsty during the visit you can make your way to the Cape Cross lodge nearby for a drink or some cake and coffee.

Going for a hike in the area, you should be sure to take lots of water along as it increases in heat and sunshine the further inland to the desert you go. Be on the lookout for jackals and hyenas that scavenge around the seal colony and have dens located around the area.  Also be very careful in this wild landscape not to step on a horned puff adder snake or a scorpion. Taking a walk to the stone cross you will be reminded of the timeless nature of this old world where more than five hundred years ago Diego Cão, the Portuguese explorer, erected the padro. This Cabo de Padrão (Cape Cross), now a replica, named the area symbolised claim to land by the Portuguese, discovered by Cão on his journey while searching for a sea route from Africa to India.

Less than an hour’s drive from the Cape Cross is an interesting and visiting-worthy phenomena. What once was the Strathmore South Tin Mine is now Namibia’s very own version of the ‘dead sea’.  Known as the ‘Soutgat’ or salt hole, by the locals after the mining ground water started filling up the existing holes. With a high concentrate of minerals and salt the water is densely saline and makes for an exciting floating experience no matter how much you try to dive down. Be sure to take lots of clean water with to rinse yourself after your dip and not remain salty for the rest of your journey. Be sure to lookout for eerie souvenir stands where you can buy a piece of hued rock salt.  They are left alongside the road by the old mine workers that live in the area however don’t expect a soul in sight.

The area of Cape Cross and its lively seals are definitely a must-see when touring the Skeleton Coast. This once in a lifetime marvel and surrounding areas are both remotely unique and desolately beautiful.