About six kilometers north of Lüderitzbucht is Agate Beach. Our new local friends, Doris and Ian, invited us to go with them to see this interesting beach where agates and jasper mix on the gravelly shore and the desert sands touch the ocean. They spiced up the invitation with the promise of seeing oryx and springbok along the way and maybe more. An offer we couldn't refuse.
The route is rather circuitous through settlements of small clusters of tiny homes and then it turns towards the sea in a large arc through a narrow corridor of dunes and granite outcrops on one side and the fenced Sperrgebiet (spur-ga-beet) “The Forbidden (diamond) Area” on the other. As advertised, oryx (gemsbok) were grazing beside springbok. The oryx, the biggest of the antelopes in Africa, are absolutely stunning in coloration and grace.
The springboks are a bit more timid, but posed dutifully nonetheless.
Doris and Ian know the area well. Ian is quite the naturalist and provided lots of interesting commentary on the animals and geology and desert life. We came across a salt pan where a flamboyance of bright pink greater flamingos sifted the water for a late afternoon snack and some end-of-day flamingo camaraderie.
Across a ridge of dunes, three ostrich made their way in the shifting sands, barely visible with the naked eye.
Just before the beach, Ian stopped and we jumped out to search for desert roses. Desert roses are the local name for “rose-like formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include abundant sand grains. ...The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions, such as the evaporation of a shallow salt basin.” (Wiki) The roses seemed delicate, but in actuality they're pretty robust, based on the one that made it back to the boat having survived being in my pocket for several hours.
Doris led the way down to the beach, joyfully glissading down the dune, then over tufts of tall Bushman grass and six thumbs to the shoreline. We combed the pebble-strewn beach looking for treasures, but found only quartz. No agate on Agate Beach this day. No matter. It was exhilarating just being on the beach and climbing midst the dunes. Besides, it's not as if we need more rocks aboard Cups!
We climbed back up and joined David and Ian at the top of a sand dune. We surveyed the beach below while sipping sundowners and munching snacks that Doris had thoughtfully brought with along with her.
The wind played as artist on the sands surrounding us, where delicate patterns etched and formed ripples in the shifting sands.
The pièce de resistance? A gorgeous sunset with new friends.