From Swakopmund, the road leads north along the notorious Skeleton Coast. Here, treacherous sandbanks have sunk many a ship, leaving scarred remains scattered along the shore. Apart from the ever moving sand dunes, the landscape is void of life. It’s easy to understand why the Portuguese explorers named this place Hell’s Gate. Terrace Bay is the final outpost at the end of the road. A few scattered houses, a small petrol station and a communication mast are cowering from the fog and moody south-western wind.
We leave Skeleton Coast and head towards Spitzkoppe, the big mountain that is said to be calling people from afar. The San people have left their marks here; a rhino pointing towards the water source and a shaman in trance, half human half beast. Perhaps this is why the mountain is calling; to reveal its life sustaining water sources and gather people in spiritual ceremony. We pitch our tents in the flaming sunset, and sleep under a million bright stars. In the morning, we greet the sun together with the ancient mountain.
The land of the Damara people is barren. Despite this, the Mopane trees cling on to the shallow soils offering sustenance and shelter to the hardy animals that make their living here. The trunks of the Shepherd trees are stark contrasts against the red soil. Like shadows of the ancestors that have roamed these lands for thousands of years.
On the plains of Etosha, thousands of springboks and zebra graze close to the enormous pan that has given the area its name: place of mirages. I can feel how overwhelmed my countryman Charles John Abdersson must have felt when he, as the first white man, stood here some 160 years ago. From a childhood in the Swedish forest to an expedition without end in Africa.