As we had written last month, we spent our winter break enjoying summer. We flew south to spend a week in Namibia and 2 more in South Africa. We came back with full memory cards and whole new perspective of life on that side of the planet.
After nearly 36 hours of travel, we landed in one of the smallest international airports I’ve had the pleasure of visiting – Windhoek, Namibia. In case you haven’t a clue where Namibia is located, it’s the large formerly German occupied country northwest of South Africa. (If you’re unsure where South Africa is located then you made need to enroll in my 5th grade geography class.) To give you a sense of how small this airport is, the airport actually closes at 9pm. It closes. Anyway, we were soon driving west in our rental truck to Swakopmund with our friends from Egypt, Matt and Layla. Our trip would include 3 main areas of Namibia and 6 nights of camping.
In Swakopmund we met up with an Egyptian friend of ours, Martina, that moved to Namibia last year. She and her husband are a fantastic couple and we enjoyed spending some time with them. We also visited a bay full of flamingoes, climbed a massive sand dune that toed the Atlantic, and enjoyed the cooler coastal weather before heading back inland. After two nights of camping atop our truck, we headed north along the Skeleton Coast – a long gravel road where the desert is on your right, and the ocean is on your left the entire drive. After hours of not seeing anyone on the road, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, we made a left-hand turn toward the beach. And there, in the most desolate area, we stopped at one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever witnessed; an entire coastline filled with thousands of barking seals.
The seal colony was super interesting, but soon the stench that hung in the air began to be too much. We continued our trek northeast along salt/gravel roads and miles and miles of untouched terrain. We would sometimes drive for over an hour before seeing another car let alone any sign of human life. Namibia is a beautiful country and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that there is so little development outside of the few major cities. After a long day of driving, we finally arrived at our rest camp in Damaraland just as the sun was setting. Our home for the next two evenings was easily the coolest place I’ve ever camped. Our site was complete with an indoor/outdoor shower and toilet as well as a mini kitchenette. We were nestled between massive boulder piles so that you felt totally isolated from the world. Imagine Lion King, only it was real!
The next couple of days we visited a few of the area’s treasures including a petrified forest, Twyfelfontein (2,500 year old rock engravings), and a local Namibian farm. It was fun getting to interact with local Namibians and learning about their way of life. At the farm, we witnessed how an entire extended family were all within stones throw of each other and worked together as a small army to provide for one another. They told us about their “elephant problems” and a couple of boys even sang for us. This wasn’t your typical touristic stop and we were happy that the family living there wasn’t putting on a show for us.
Our last stop in Namibia was Etosha National Park, a massive game park in the north of Namibia. En route to the park, we patched 2 flat tires we’d acquired from the brutal gravel roads. We camped in Okaukuejo the first evening in the park and were entertained by wild jackals that ran about looking for unsupervised food. The next evening would be honey badgers! The camp’s water hole had visits from an elephant, a black rhino, and zebras. The next morning we loaded up the truck and drove around Etosha looking for more wildlife. Ostriches, springboks, and onyx were aplenty. We also found some hyenas, water buffalo, a white rhino, and the day’s highlight, a pride of lions. That afternoon we arrived at our next stop, Halali, and fought off the heat with some poolside R&R. It was Christmas Eve so we decided on cooking a Christmas feast for ourselves- a breakfast skillet, grilled cheese, green beans, and orange juice. The perfect Christmas Eve meal.
Our last morning in Etosha, we got up early and started our journey back toward Windhoek. The early start awarded us some more unique animal sightings and we left the park feeling happy with our results. KFC made for a delicious Christmas lunch as it was the only place open, and we made it back to Windhoek late that afternoon. We managed to find a steakhouse that was open at the mall, so we proceeded to enjoy T-bone steaks to celebrate the completion of our Namibian journey. The next day we flew onward to Cape Town, South Africa.
When asked about our time in Namibia, we can’t help but share with others the beauty in this country’s untapped landscapes. There are few countries that afford you the opportunity to see such wonderful places with so few other people around. We highly recommend to any who’s looking for a trip a bit more out of the proverbial touristy box, to consider this large African nation to the south. We know that you’ll leave with many of the same good impressions that we still feel today!