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Travel Namibia 17 “Hanging silently and utterly still over the dunes as the sun comes up behind the curve of the earth, you look down at the combination of desert sands, atmospheric dust and long, sloping rays which create colours that you will never see anywhere else” Ute von Ludwiger / Namibia Tourism

Freewheeling 18 Travel Namibia is that their descendants escaped from a shipwreck on the coast. The truth is probably a combination of all of these theories. Over succeeding generations, the horses have become truly wild and researchers have discovered slight genetic modifications that enable these horses to endure thirst and the stress of desert life better than ordinary horses. West of Aus is Lüderitz, an almost forgotten German colonial enclave surrounded by desert dunes. There is a peaceful melancholy to this windswept coastline, where mist comes unexpectedly up off the cold Atlantic ocean and the road signs warn you to beware of the violent sandstorms that can scour the paintwork of your car. Lüderitz was the site of the first German settlement in Namibia in 1883, although the first Europeans to land here were the crew of Bartholomew Diaz who landed here in 1488 and erected a stone padrão, or cross, to mark his ‘discovery.’ Lüderitz is a quaint, somewhat eccentric town, but the oysters here are worth the trip alone. They are small but suffused with a rich metallic tang. I ate mine with such obvious enjoyment one night that my dinner companions were embarrassed by the ‘erotic’ grunts I was making as I swallowed them down. Just outside Lüderitz is the ghost town of Kolmanskop. Once it was a thriving diamond mining town where water cost more than champagne and diamonds sold for millions of rands on the tiny stock exchange. The town died almost as quickly as it had sprung up, leaving the desert to slowly reclaim the buildings. Wandering through the abandoned, sand-filled houses is a strange experience: doors are jammed open by drifts of white sand, light switches still wait to be tripped, broken glass tinkles in the slight breeze. Here, with the sinking sun softening the light, I stood at an empty window that opened out onto the immensity of the wind-blown desert beyond. I remained there for a long time, just looking. There was something I wanted to remember about that image – something haunting and surreal – a reminder of the unique beauty of this land. In the meeting of sky and earth, its vast wildernesses coloured by mythical, dust-wrought sunsets and desert moons, it retains a purity that exemplifies the quintessence of Africa. “There is a peaceful melancholy to this windswept coastline, where mist comes unexpectedly up off the cold Atlantic ocean” Mane attraction. Wild desert horses Ute von Ludwiger n Always carry water with you. n Avoid braking suddenly on gravel roads. n Switch on your headlights in dusty conditions. n Make sure you have enough fuel before you set out. n Gravel roads are slippery; they should be driven no faster than 80km/h. n Do not drive at night when animals are active and difficult to see. n In Etosha the speed limit is 60km/h. You must keep to the tourist roads and stay in your vehicle unless at a rest area. d rivinginging titips