South Africa was mainly the only country in Southern Africa on my list, until the day that one of the many travel blogs I follow posted photos of Namibia, specially of the Deadvlei (a place in the middle of the desert with trees that have been dead for centuries).
Home of one of the most amazing desert on Earth, Namibia is also a great place to see the african wild life, with amazing sunsets and a breathtaking night sky.
Besides the amazing landscape, the country is very safe and has structure for tourism, with good campings, hotels and restaurants. Although most of its roads are not paved, traveling is safe since there are very feel cars and buses passing by. With more than 800.000 square kilometers of extension, Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia, so it can be very normal to drive for hours and hours without seeing another vehicle.
Although they have a good infrastructure for tourism, traveling on your own can be a little bit hard, with no buses going from one place to another, and with the need to be in a group to go to places like Etosha Park. That is why for this country I decide to go with a travel agency.
The good thing is that on this kind of trips, to different places, you will always met nice people with open mind and interesting in getting to know other people. The bad side is that you don’t get to chose your rithm of traveling, so you will have to leave the places whenever the guide/schedule says so.
Although I was on a tour, the feeling was of a real african adventure. It was 12 days traveling on a truck, camping every night (except for two that we stayed in hotels), getting to see the amazing starry sky from the tent and even hearing the wild animals near by.
Our trip started in Cape Town, where I met the group and got into the truck. After a few days and few stops to do some wine tasting and appreciate the landscape of Mandela’s country, we got to Namibia. The first stop was the orange river, for those who like to do some canoeing.
Crossing the border, we drove until Fish River Canyon, the second largest in the world and the largest in Africa, where we got to see an amazing sunset lighting up the mountains and rocks.
Going North, we got to the amazing Sossusvlei Desert, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. To get the most of this landscape, forget about sleeping. You will have to wake up very early, before the sunrise to go to the dunes and see the desert getting light up by the sun. Most travelers go to Dune 45 and climb it to get the most beautiful view. And should warning you, it is no peace of cake to climb a dune. Prepare your legs and breath.
After this, you get to visit the Dead Vlei, which is named for its numerous dead camelthorn trees and probably the most photographed place of Namibia. The trees are dead for centuries (over 800 years). The dark wood contrasts against the white pan floor and the reddish dunes, it feels like you are in a different world.
To end the day, we got to visit Sesriem Canyon, which is not as majestic as the Fish River Canyon, but it is also a good place to visit and take photos in Namibia.
Adventures in Swakopmund
Continuing on to North, we made a two nights stop in Swakopmund, a coastal small city, to get some sleep at proper beds and get access to wifi again. But that is not all you can do there. The place is very charming and cosy, good to walk around, see the beach and some museum, or buying some crystal at the Kristall Gallery (the mining industry is one of the major economic activity of the country).
You can do all that if you want to just relax, but what people most like to do in Swakopmund is to do some is some adventure activity, and there are plenty of them available, like sandboarding, skydiving, quadbiking and also a dolphin cruise.
Moving on, we got to the arid landscapes to Spitzkoppe Mountain, where you are able to see ancient painting on rocks and enjoy another amazing sunset.
Safari at Etosha National Park
But another highlight of this trip is farther north on the road: Etosha National Park, home to four of the Big 5 african animals. There you can see leons, elephants, leopard and rhinos. The only one I didn’t see was the leopard. Zebras, elephants and giraffes appeared a lot while rhinos and lions a little bit less.
One of the most amazing things of this safari is being able to see the animals at night. You have the option of doing a night safari, but you can also see them a artificial lakes creates near the camping (with enough fences to avoid the animals coming inside) to attract the thirsty animals. It is something magical. Everyone stand quiet, just observing and taking pictures of elephants, rhinos, hyenas and whatever decides to show up. I was luck enough to see families of elephants, two of them fighting and another one chasing away a rhyno and its cub.
After two days in Etosha, we went back South to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, where the trip ended for me. Sadly, it was time to come back home, but as every trip, the memories and pictures will remain and always be a part of me.