Henties Bay with its intriguing natural environment and interesting hinterland makes it a perfect base from which to explore the surroundings. The Tourism Association and Municipality take great care to inform visitors of the many options there are for enriching their holidays.
The following is an excerpt from the Henties Bay brochure (available at most tourist facilities). Apart from detailing interesting places, it also contains information on the kind of fish that can be caught from the beach and lists the fishing spots.
North of Cape Cross are the delicate and interesting lichens fields. Lichens are the result of a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi.
The fungus portion of the lichen provides its physical support, while the algae carries out the photosynthesis that provides its food and energy. Lichens are able to use moisture from humid air as well as from fog.
Go early in the morning when there is still fog or sprinkle a little water on the lichen growth to experience the vivid colours. One reason why lichens are so easily destroyed is that they normally grow in very brittle gypsum soil.
Lagunen Hill is about 44 km north of Henties Bay on the eastern side of the road across from the salt pan just north of Mile 72. Black rocks are covered in crustose lichen and present a spectacular sight of green, orange, grey and black. The westward-facing hills intercept a great amount of fog, which sustains the growth of the lichens. The interesting rock formations are the result of chemical and physical weathering. Many plants, insects and small reptiles can be seen amongst these rocks.
ROCKS SHOULD NOT BE REMOVED FROM THESE HILLS.
Long before Diego Cào erected his cross in 1486, Cape Cross was home to a breeding colony of between 200 000 and 250 000 Cape fur seals. This was a breeding site when it was still an island secure from the mainland without the danger of natural enemies such as lion, black-backed jackal and brown hyaena.
The Omdel Dam is situated in the Omaruru River about 30 km from Henties Bay on the C35 to Uis. The Omaruru River has large ancient deltas filled with sand and gravel that form large underground freshwater reservoirs. It is in these deltas that the Omdel Dam is situated.
Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Rössing Mine, Arandis and Walvis Bay are supplied with water stored in the alluvial aquifers of the Omaruru River Delta and in groundwater compartments in the Kuiseb River south of Walvis Bay. The area offers picnic sites, good bird-watching opportunities, especially when there is water in the dam, and interesting desert-adapted plants and riverine vegetation.
The Spitzkoppe is situated about 100 km from Henties Bay on the D1918 to Usakos. Often referred to as the Matterhorn of Namibia, it is probably the best-known and most famous landmark in Namibia. It offers fascinating rock formations, rock paintings and picnic/camping sites. The Spitzkoppe is a very popular challenge for mountaineers. It was first climbed successfully in 1946. The next successful attempt was made only about ten years later.
Small pieces of the Winston shipwreck can be found 23 km north of Mile 108. The Winston was a fishing vessel that stranded in December 1970. Numerous shipwrecks gave the Skeleton Coast its name. Rocky reefs and sand dunes stretching into the sea combined with strong crosscurrents and dense fogs make the Skeleton Coast one of the most treacherous coastlines in the world.
To venture inland from Henties Bay can be an enriching experience. The Brandberg West Mine, an old worked-out tin mine, the Brandberg Mountain with its famous White Lady rock painting, Twyfelfontein with its wealth of rock engravings, the Petrified Forest, the Organ Pipes and the community campsites in the Damaraland area are well worth a visit. Information on 4×4 routes is available at the Henties Bay Tourist Information Office.
This article appeared in the July/Aug ‘04 edition of Travel News Namibia.