Shortly before Torra Bay, the D3245 splits off from the main coastal C34 and heads east, leaving the park (39km later) at the Springbokwasser gate and proceeding into Damaraland. This beautiful road passes the distinctive Sugar Loaf Hill on the right and some large welwitschia
colonies, which spread either side of the road, before gradually climbing into the foothills of the Kaokoveld. Watch the vegetation change quite quickly on this route, as the road passes through ecosystems that are increasingly less arid, before finally entering Damaraland's distinctive mountains dominated by huge Euphorbia damarana
Just north of this C34/D3245 junction is a section of road standing in the path of barchan dunes that march across
it. Stop here to take a close look at how these dunes gradually move, grain by grain, in the prevailing southwest wind. Then turn your attention to the build-up of detritus on the leeward side of the dunes, and you may be lucky enough to spot some of the area's residents. Look carefully for the famous white beetles, Onymacris bicolour
, which are endemic to the area and have been the subject of much study. White beetles are very uncommon, and here it is thought they have evolved their colouration to keep cool, enabling them to forage for longer in the heat.
Many of the plants on this gravel plain around the barchan dunes build up their own small sand-dunes. The dollar bushes, Zygophyllum stapffii
, with their succulent dollar-shaped leaves, and the coastal ganna, Salsola aphylla
, are obvious examples. Big enough to act as small wind-breaks, these bushes tend to collect windblown sand. These small mounds of sand, being raised a little off the desert's floor, tend to have more fog condense on them than the surrounding ground. Thus the plant gets a little more moisture. You will normally see a few beetles also, which survive on the detritus that collects, and add their own faeces to fertilise the plant.
The campsite at Torra Bay will be another disappointment unless you arrive in December or January. Then this coastal site opens for the summer. It has ten ablution blocks, a shop and a filling station. The small, square pitches are marked out by rows of stone. Expect a plethora of fishing parties, and a charge for taking a shower or buying water.
Just inland from Torra Bay is a fascinating area of grey-white rocks, sculpted into interesting curves by the wind and the sand-grains.