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What to do in Namibia during Autumn

  
  

It’s that time of year in the Southern Hemisphere where summer begins to leave and winter starts knocking at the door. In Namibia, autumn (or fall) is a particularly beautiful time of year. The weather is mild and there a whole host of activities and events for you to keep you entertained.


Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Sossusvlei in autumn.

Autumn in Namibia

In autumn the colours of Namibia come out in full force. Puffy white clouds, crystal clear skies and the deep red of the desert sands combine spectacularly to provide any photographer with enough backdrops to fill a thousand photo albums.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

The land meets the sky in spectacular fashion during this season.
(Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)

Late rains sweep through the usually arid countryside and provide photographers with a unique chance to get shots of the Land of the brave as these powerful, but brief, storms sweep through it.

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Lightning at night near Gobabis.

The temperatures during these months are mild with daytime temperatures rarely exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures seldom dropping so low as to cause discomfort. The wind dies down on the coast, while the southern regions cool off, and in the central parts of the country seasonal rains often refresh the landscape that has been baking in the summer heat. Autumn then is truly a ‘goldilocks’ season in Namibia.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Not too hot, not too cold… Everything is just right in Namibia during autumn!

With all these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some activities that we recommend you try do while visiting Namibia in autumn.

Walking in the desert

Deserts are, as you all know, very hot during the day and extremely cold at night, but the mild autumn temperatures mean that explorers have the perfect opportunity to go out into Namibia’s deserts without having to deal with blisteringly hot days and freezing cold nights. Below are a few operators that offer some of the best guided desert walks in Namibia.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Explore the desert by foot.
(Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)

The Living Desert Tour with Tommy’s Tours and Safaris

Tommy has been running tours of the Namib just outside Swakopmund since the 90’s. On Tommy’s Living Desert Tour he takes guests on a journey through the seemingly empty dunes near the bustling coastal town. Focussing on the smallest creatures this tour will highlight the amazing variety of desert-adapted animals that call the Namib home.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Tommy with one of the little critters that live in the harsh desert.
(Image by Wendy Kaveney)

Tommy not only focuses on the animals that live in the red sands of the dunes but also on the plant life and the landscape itself. His Welwitchia/Moon Land Scape Tour is definitely worth checking out if you have the time to spend the full day trekking around the dunes.

Discover Namibia’s “Little Five” with Living Desert Adventures

Based in Swakopmund Chris Nel’s Living Desert Adventures also takes guests on a tour of the dune belt near Swakopmund. Chris’ focus is on the so-called “Little Five” which includes the Palmato Gecko, the Cartwheeling Spider, and the Shovel-Snouted Lizard, the Sidewinder Snake and the Namaqua Chameleon. If you’re lucky then you may catch a glimpse of all five!

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

The Palmato Gecko, probably the cutest of the Little Five.
(Image via Living Desert Adventures)

Exploring the Namib with Tok Tokkie Trails

This is a locally run company that gives guided tours in and around Sossusvlei and the NamibRand Nature Reserve since 1991. Tok Tokkie specialises in putting visitors in touch with the fragile ecosystems of the Namib Desert at once giving guests the opportunity to take in the beautiful surrounds and learn about the need for conservation in these fragile environments.

Check out their itineraries here for a detailed description of the different tours they offer and you can choose which one best suits you.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Get in touch with the Namib and its contrasting surrounds.
(Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)

Coastal Fishing

The favourable weather conditions in autumn make for excellent angling opportunities on the coast line of the Land of the Brave. Fishing in Namibia is very highly rated and there is an avid community of fishermen within the country.

The Skeleton Coast in particular is one of the most talked about fishing spots in Southern Africa and people come from all over the world to try catch a few of the ocean’s finest there. The 200km stretch of coastline that is Dorob National Park is completely open to anglers, as long as you have a valid fishing permit.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Coastal fishing on the Skeleton Coast.
(Image via Planet Sea Fishing)

Here is a great guide to fishing in Namibia if you are interested in planning a dedicated fishing trip. While here is a list of fishing safaris ranging from day excursions to multiple night adventures that one can embark upon.

Cycling

Getting on a bicycle and touring around Namibia is a great compromise between driving and walking through the country. You get to cover greater distances than by foot, while still being close to the natural surroundings. There are several companies that run guided cycle tours through out Namibia and cycling pretty much anywhere in Namibia in these mild months is sure to be a worthwhile experience.

  Mountain Bike Namibia Is a local company that offers shorter six day tours as well as a massive 4-6 week tour that includes the must see locations of Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Kaokoland and the Etosha National Park.
image Cycle Namibia  
Cycle Namibia specialises in tailor made tours to suit all skill levels and tastes. Have a Look at their website to find out more.
Screen Shot 2014 04 10 at 2.03.36 AM  Bike Tours Direct This internationally run company offers a 17-day cycling safari that is not to be missed.

Hiking 

You should know by now that the weather is your friend during autumn in Namibia. This means it is an excellent time to strap your backpack on and head up some mountain trails. We have chosen two hikes that would be spectacular to do during this time of the year.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

Hikers setting off on an adventure.

Fish River Canyon

In the south of Namibia one can go on the epic Fish River Canyon hike. There are various options ranging from day hikes to a mammoth five-day camping hike. You can read more about these hikes here. Note that you are not allowed to hike into the canyon unaccompanied by an official guide as it has been deemed to risky to explore the canyon without an expert.

 

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If you’re into hiking, don’t miss the opportunity to see this canyon.

The Waterberg

The Waterberg in the central northern region provides visitors with somewhat more leisurely hiking options. As opposed to the Fish River Canyon hike explorers can walk around at their own leisure in the Waterberg Plateau Park.

You do not need a guide with you and you can pick up a map of the various trails at the NWR reception at the entrance to the park. Read more about the walking/hiking trails you can explore in the park here.

 

Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

The trails are clearly marked and easy to follow.

Be advised though, it is never, ever, a good idea to go hiking on your own and you should always take someone with you no matter how simple a trail seems or how well you know the route.

+++++++++++++++

There it is! Several reasons why you should spend some time in Namibia during autumn. If you don't have plans to come to Namibia already, but want to, then know that if you plan your adventure for this time of year you are sure to have an amazing time.

 

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The autumn sun setting behind a lone windmill.

Where to Stay in Swakopmund

  
  

Choosing where to stay for a few nights can be a daunting task for any traveller. So we have decided to do the hard work for you. We had a look at some of the most highly rated places to stay in Swakopmund and collected them all into one article.

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The iconic Swakopmund jetty.

We have separated them according to four different kinds of accommodation: Self-catering, Bed & Breakfasts, Backpackers and Hotels… So take a look at what we have collected and decide what kind of a place you wwould want to stay at while exploring the famous seaside town and its surrounds.

Self-catering Accommodation in Swakopmund

The Beach Lodge

Beach Lodge

Image via The Beach Lodge

The Beach Lodge is unique in Swakopmund in that it is the only pension that is located directly on the seafront. As a result of its location guests at the Beach Lodge are treated to spectacular views of the setting sun over the Atlantic. Each unit in the complex has a massive window so that you can better enjoy the setting sun from the comfort of your unit.

There are four twin rooms and six family rooms with self-catering facilities. There is also a “Luxury Family Room” which offers guests sweeping ocean views from every room in the unit. Making this particular unit ideal for a romantic getaway.

To book, click here.

Atlantik Sicht self-catering apartment

atlantik sicht 2

Image via Cornerstone Guesthouse

This apartment is the ideal choice for people travelling in a group of six or less. This single, large apartment is less than 50 metres from the coast and commands impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean.

All three rooms of the apartment are luxuriously appointed and guests will have access to WiFi, a range of satellite television channels and their own private balcony. The main room in the apartment has an en-suite bathroom.

There is also has a tumbledryer, fully equipped kitchen, and a double garage making it the ideal place for you and the family, or a group of friends, to stay for an extended period of time.

To book, click here.

Sea Horse Guesthouse

sea horse

Image via Hotels.com

A short walk away from the beach the Sea Horse Guesthouse is located in an upmarket neighbourhood of Swakopmund. Its eight units are all self-catering but breakfast can be arranged if you contact the reception the day before you wish to have breakfast prepared for you.

There is only one family unit at the guesthouse so be sure to phone ahead if your party is larger than three. Each unit in the guesthouse has its own unique drawcard, some have sea views, others have balconies while the ground floor units have patios.

So call ahead, find out what is available and decide which unit best suits your tastes and needs. 

To book, click here.

Bed and Breakfasts in Swakopmund

The Brigadoon Boutique B&B

Brigadoon

Image via Brigadoon.

This charming little B&B offers guests the opportunity to relax in style on the edge of Namibia’s most vibrant town. They offer a selection of double rooms all with private bathrooms and kitchen facilities. There is also a family room for those travellers who are journeying across Namibia in a large group.

Each room has a patio that overlooks the private garden, and it is on this patio that your custom made breakfast will be served to you every morning.

The Brigadoon B&B was awarded a certificate of excellence by Trip Advisor in 2013 so you can trust that your stay here will be enjoyable. 

To book, click here.

The Desert Villa Guesthouse

desert villa

Image via Desert Villa Guesthouse

The Desert Villa is a unique guesthouse in that it has eight different rooms all decorated in different ways. Each room’s décor is inspired by some of the most famous deserts in the world, an homage to the Namib Desert, which surrounds Swakopmund.

This guesthouse is also unique in that it encourages guests to go out and explore the parts of the town that are not on the seafront. The guesthouse is very close to the Swakop river as well as the dunes just outside the town. So if you are not excited by a beach bound stay in Swakopmund this could be the perfect place for you. Having said that, the guesthouse is still within walking distance of the beach. 

Breakfasts are served to all guests every morning, and dinners are available on request.

To book, click here.

The Namib Guesthouse

Namib Guesthouse

Image via Namib Guesthouse

The Namib is a high-end establishment that offers guests the chance to unwind from a busy day’s activities in their serene surroundings. There are single suites, double suites and a two bedroom family suite on offer. There are also luxury suites with a opulent bathtubs and large showers for those guests who desire a little more pampering.

Each room has free and speedy WiFi, as well as a safe to deposit your precious laptop into, so if you need to do a bit of work on the go then you won’t be inconvenienced. Breakfast is included every morning for all guests.

To book, click here.

Backpackers in Swakopmund

Villa Wiese Backpackers Lodge

villa

Image via Booking.com.

Occupying a building that is over 100 years old, this lodge is within walking distance of several restaurants and the beach and is a great place for any backpacker who is looking for accomodation that has a touch of old world history.

Villa Wiese does offer breakfasts on request and the friendly owners will be more than willing to point you in the right direction for finding some local grub in the town for lunch and dinner.

While this backpackers does mainly cater for people looking for single bed dorms, it does also have a few single, double and triple rooms. They also have a sister establishment, the Dunedin Star that specialises in low cost family accommodation.

To book, click here.

Skeleton Beach Backpackers

skeleton beach backpackers 1

Image via Tourist Link

This backpackers is a highly rated establishment largely thanks to the friendliness and helpfulness of its staff, in particular its owner Lena. It also helps that it is centrally located in the town and is a short walk from the beach.

There are single bed dorms one can stay in, as well as double rooms. The double rooms include breakfast, but travellers staying in the dorms are welcome to order breakfast as well.

There are also barbecue facilities if you wish to have a cook out under the stars as well as a garden in which guests can relax. There is a communal kitchen, so if you want to self-cater then you can make use of the facilities in the hostel.

***NOTE: You will have to pay for your rooms in cash as the Skeleton Beach backpackers do not have card facilities.***

To book, click here.

The Desert Sky Backpackers

Desert sky

Image via Desert Sky Backpackers

Just 200 metres from the centre of town this backpackers is ideal for travellers looking to stay close to the hustle and bustle of Namibia’s adventure capital. The focus at the Desert Sky Backpackers is on doing your own thing. It is fully self-catering and there is a large communal garden and two communal kitchens fully equipped with everything you need to cook up a storm.

There are single bed dorms on offer, with eight beds in each room. But where this backpackers distinguishes itself from others is that it also offer a wide range of family-sized and smaller private rooms. Check out their various options here.

To book, click here.

Hotels in Swakopmund

The Seaside Hotel and Spa

seaside 

Image via Seaside Hotel and Spa.

This hotel is literally on the beachfront and it offers guests a chance to relax in the lap of luxury. Not only are the rooms excellently appointed, but guests can also book into the hotel’s famous spa for some added R&R.

There are over 30 sea-facing rooms but these will be snapped up quickly, particularly over the busy period, so be sure to book well in advance if you want to ensure you get an ocean view. There are also six luxury suites available for those of you looking to really treat themselves.

All guests at the hotel have access to the spa’s steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna… All the more reason to extend your stay in Swakopmund!

To book, click here.

The Hansa Hotel

hansa

Image via Hansa Hotel.

Placed right in the middle of town, and just three blocks from the beach the Hansa Hotel is the second accommodation option in this article that has loads of old world charm. The hotel has been in operation since 1905 and as such the entire establishment seems to be full of stories.

The façade of the building, and the décor within, are absolutely colonial and stepping into the Hansa Hotel is almost like stepping back in time. But the quality of the service, and the kitchen in particular, are very up to the highest modern standards.

The hotel has five family units, 49 double bed rooms and four suites. The suites are the jewels in the crown of the establishment and offer guests who stay in them an array of additional luxuries.

To book, click here.

Deutches Haus Hotel

DHH

Image via Deutches Haus Hotel.

This is a good honest hotel that is consistently praised for its friendly service and good value. It also has a lively bar and a good restaurant that helps lend a jovial and congenial atmosphere to the establishment.

The Deutches Haus Hotel offers guests all the usual amenities that one would expect from a hotel. There are single rooms, double rooms, family rooms as well as luxury single and luxury double rooms.

The hotel also works closely with two tour operators: Desert Explorers and Ocean Adventures. This gives the guests of the hotel an easy to fit a little bit more Swakopmund adventure into their itineraries. Click here for more info.

To book, click here.

Three Airborne Adventures Over Swakopmund, Namibia

  
  

Swakopmund has long been known as an adventure holiday hotspot around the world. There is a range of activities that thrill seekers can indulge themselves in and today we will be focussing on three activities that put you high in the sky over the historic coastal town.  

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There’s a lot of adventure in the skies above Swakopmund.
(Image via Swakopmund Diving Club)

 

Hot Air Ballooning

We start with the most sedate option for would-be sky explorers: The hot air balloon. Hot air balloons have traditionally been one of the best and most relaxing ways to take in a country’s beauty and there are few better ways to appreciate the vast beauty of Swakopmund and its surrounds than from the basket of one of these balloons.

 

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

Don’t forget to pack your camera… There will be photo opportunities galore!
(Image via Wanderlustress)

African Adventure Balloons have been operating balloon rides in Swakopmund for many years now. Your flight will begin early in the morning behind the dunes, and as the sun comes up and touches the vast landscape the uniqueness of the Spitzkoppe Mountains, the mystery of the famous Moon Landscape and the beauty of the Naukluft Range will be revealed.

 

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

A balloon being prepped for flight.
(Image via Cardboard Box)

There are three different kinds of balloons that are used and all flights have an experienced and knowledgeable staff member that will train and guide all guests on what to expect during their flight over the coastline.

After your flight is complete your pilot will take you for a champagne breakfast where you can relax and let all the sights and sounds of your recent adventure sink in.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

Floating above the dunesyou can get a new perspective on the oldest desert in the world.
(Image via Cardboard Box)

If you want to book a flight with African Adventure Balloons, or if you want to know anything more about their operation, then simply click here for their booking form and contact details.

 

Paragliding

If you want to get your heart pumping a little faster on your airborne adventure over Swakopmund then maybe you should consider trying your hand at paragliding. Currently there are two companies that are running paragliding operations in Swakopmund and they are Element Riders, and Namib Gliding.

Element Riders

Element Riders currently offer a basic introductory course and training flights to guests. The company is in the process of registering with the civil aviation authority and until this process is complete they cannot offer a full paragliding course to visitors looking to become fully accredited pilots.

 

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

Paragliding is both serene and exhilarating.
(Picture courtesy of Element Riders)

For those adventurers who want to learn how to paraglide Element Riders is a good choice. Their course on offer will teach you about the equipment you will use, the weather and terrain of the region and basic safety procedures. The course also includes initial introductory flights on the dunes where you can put into practice all that you have learned.

A video showcasing the Element Riders team in action.
(Video via Element Riders)

If you need more information on their paragliding courses, click here for their contact details.

Namib Gliding

Namib Gliding is the most established gliding company in Swakopmund and their chief instructor, Mario Oprandi has over 18 years paragliding experience. They offer half and full day flights around Swakopmund and also provide training courses; no previous experience in paragliding is required and all are welcome to sign up for a course.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

A paraglider coming in hot over the dunes.
(Image via Namib Gliders)

One of the great things about this company is that they offer gliders the opportunity to go on paragliding safaris to destinations such as Sandwich Harbour, Sossusvlei, Dune 7, Henties Bay and Damaraland.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

Paragliding may be the best way to get you where no cars go.
(Image via Namib Gliders)

So if you want to have a scenic flight over Swakopmund, or some of the other amazing parts of Namibia, be sure to contact Namib Gliders here.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

A paraglider circles above Swakopmund.
(Image via Namib Gliders)

 

Sky Diving

Few activities can match the adrenaline filled rush that skydiving brings, and the skydiving near Swakopmund is no exception. The area is considered by some to be one of the best ‘drop zones’ in the world and thousands of seasoned and beginner divers flock to the small town every year to get the chance to free fall toward the ancient Namib desert.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

There really is no rush quite like skydiving.
(Image via Namibia Tour Guide)

One of the most popular companies taking people up into the skies over Swakopmund is Ground Rush Adventures. It is an extremely well run and professional skydiving organisation with an experienced team of master divers. No chances are taken with your safety and their safety record in there nearly 20 years of existence is impeccable.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

Trusting your partner is important when jumping out of a plane.
(Image via Cardboard Box)

Ground Rush Adventures offer tandem dives, accelerated free-falls and static line jumps. Check out this link for a full description of the various options they offer. The company operates every single day of the year and will be happy to take you up as long as the weather permits. There are also several courses, and these are perfect for the novice or beginner skydiver.

If you have any other questions or queries about skydiving in Swakopmund then feel free to contact the team here.

Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

Take the plunge over the dunes of the Namib!
(Image via Swakopmund Diving Club)

 

Five Must-visit Spas and Wellness Centres in Namibia

  
  

After a hard few days of trekking through the Namibian wilderness, or after climbing some mountainous dunes, you may find yourself longing for a bit of rest and relaxation. Well the good news is that there are several spas and wellness centres dotted around the whole of Namibia that exist to help you unwind your mind and rejuvenate your body. Below are five of Namibia's finest spots for relaxation.

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View from the GocheGanas chalets.
(Image via GocheGanas on Flickr)

 

1. GocheGanas

GocheGanas is a 6000ha nature reserve aimed at providing visitors with a variety of activities to help them unwind. It is situated less than 30 minutes from Windhoek and offers walks, safari drives and access to international quality wellness facilities.

Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

Two guests on a walk through the reserve.
(Image via GocheGanas)

The wellness facility is fully equipped to ensure that the lodge’s guests can fully unwind and rest up for the next leg of their Namibian adventure. There are eleven treatment rooms with state of the art crystal baths, hydrotherapy baths, and Vichy showers so there is little that you will want for when visiting this mecca of relaxation.

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A guest reclines in one of the specialised baths.
(Image via GocheGanas)

In addition to the treatment rooms there is a heated indoor pool, a cave sauna in a cathedral-like masonry vault, and a well-equipped fitness gym if you want to work up a healthy glow. All this makes the Wellness Village at GocheGanas a must-visit for any weary traveller looking to recharge their mind, body and spirit.

CATHEDRAL

The cathedral is truly a sight to behold.
(Image via GocheGanas)

Click here for booking information.

 

2. /Ai /Ais Hot Springs

The /Ai /Ais Hot Springs Resort can be found in the southern most region of the Fish River Canyon nature reserve, and it is perfectly situated for adventurers who have just finished exploring the beautiful canyon.

The water from the springs is naturally hot and issues from a warm water spring called/Ai /Ais. The unique spring was discovered in 1850 by a young Nama sheepherder and the spring was named /Ai /Ais which means “burning water” in the local language.

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This is the actual site of the natural hot spring.
(Image via The Cardboard Box)

A soak in the warm water is ideal for anyone suffering from joint or muscle pains of any kind and it is also good for relieving any other kinds of stresses or aches that you may be suffering from.

Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

One of the warm water pools at the resort.
(Image via The Cardboard Box)

The resort offers a host of other activities for active guests including hikes, walks and even tennis. As a result of its proximity to the South African border the resort is very popular with travellers from both countries so booking ahead is a must.

Click here for booking information.

 

3. Diplomat Hydro Spa

In the heart of Windhoek lies a hidden gem of wellness, the Diplomat Hydro Spa. The spa is situated in the foothills of Windhoek and as such seems completely cut off form the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Spending time in the resort it is easy to forget that you are just kilometres away from a major city.

The spa is open six days a week and offers a variety of different wellness treatments for its guests. All the treatments are water-based and the spa sticks strictly to the mantra that “water is nature’s greatest healer”. You can read more about their ethos here.

Click here for more booking information.

 

4. Seaside Hotel and Spa

Situated right on Swakopmund’s iconic beachfront the Seaside Hotel and Spa offers guests a wonderful place to kick back and enjoy some wonderful sea views while being pampered in the hotel’s world-class spa.

Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

The hotel is literally on the beach.
(Image via Stay Today)

Facials, pedicure and manicures are just some of the specific treatments that the spa offers its guests. There is also a sauna, steam room, jacuzzis and the unique Spa Oceana. Here is a list of all the treatments on offer at the spa.

 

Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

Two pools within the spa, overlooking the ocean.
(Image via Stay Today)

The spa of the hotel is available to both day visitors and hotel guests alike so whether you are just passing through Swakopmund or staying there for a prolonged period of time it is definitely worth your while to check out the Seaside Hotel. The spa also specialises in couple packages- perfect for honeymooners!

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Another happy couple.
(Image via Stay Today)

Click here for booking information.

 

5. The Kalahari Sands Hotel

Sun International’s Kalahari Sands hotel is another location in Windhoek that offers guests the opportunity to relax and unwind. The hotel’s wellness facility is located on the panoramic rooftop of the international hotel and casino.

The wellness centre offers a full range of treatments and therapeutic products as well as a gym. Whether you are staying at the hotel or not the Kalahari Wellness Centre can provide you with a few hours (or days!) of much needed time off from the bustling modern world.

 

Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

Nothing relaxes a tired body like a few hours of shuteye.
(Image via Kalahari Sands)

Click here for more booking information.

So go on and treat yourself to something a little out of the ordinary in Namibia. Both your body and your mind will thank you for the precious hours you dedicate to relaxation and wellness on while you are travelling through Namibia.

Exploring Namibia's Starry Skies

  
  

Namibia is one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing. Its dark and clear night skies are amongst some of the most pristine in the world and below are four reasons why we think you have to go stargazing while visiting Namibia.

 Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

The moon rises in the clear winter sky.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

1. Dark Sky, Bright Stars

In 2012 the NamibRand Nature Reserve was selected by the International Dark Sky Association as an official dark sky reserve on account of its low light pollution and cloudless night skies. And indeed the whole of Namibia has some of the darkest skies measured on earth allowing stargazers to gaze deep into the night sky on just about every night of the year. 

Many lodges around Namibia take advantage of the unusually dark skies in the country and have their own telescopes. All you need to do is enquire at the reception of wherever you are staying to find out if your lodge has such facilities.

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Starry sky over the desert.
(Image via I Dream Africa)

2. Photographing the night sky

The night sky over the Land of the Brave lends itself incredibly well to photography. Countless photographers, amateur and professional, travel from all over the world to capture astonishing images of our universe. 

Below is a particularly stirring video made from a collection of over 16,000 still images of the Namibian night sky.

The award winning Namibian Nights by Marsel van Oosten.
(Video ©Marsel van Oosten Squiver Photo Tours)

 

3. Guided tours

The great thing about visiting Namibia is that you can always find someone willing to take you on a guided tour of its attractions. The night sky is no different. There are several tour operators around the country that offer guided tours of the night sky.

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Taking a guided tour of the night sky is perfect for the whole family.
(Image via I Dream Africa)

The local guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the stars that shine down on Namibia and they are always more than willing to share their stories with visitors from near and far. Below are a few tour operators who offer stargazing tours.

Solna’s stargazing experience.

Rob Johnstone has been an astrology enthusiast since 1986 and his company SOLNA (Space Observation Learning in Namibia) offers two guided tour options for visitors.

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Guests at the SOLNA viewing site.
(Image via SOLNA)

The first is just 29km south of Windhoek at the Gocheganas Nature Reserve. If you wish to book a tour at the reserve then email reservations@gocheganas.com or telephone Gocheganas at +264 (0)61 224 909.

SOLNA also works in partnership with Wilderness Safaris with whom they organise stargazing tours throughout the whole of Namibia. It is best to get in contact with Wilderness Safaris if you want to organise a stargazing trip and you can email them on constancet@wilderness.com.na.

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A picture of Saturn taken from the SOLNA viewing site.
(Image via SOLNA)

Stargazing tours near Swakopmund

Stargazing Adventure Namibia is a company run by Dr Ansgar Gaedke and Lynette Gaedke that is based in Swakopmund. Dr Gaedke is a professional astronomer who graduated from the University of Hamburg in astrophysics and astronomy and now gives tours to visitors interested in astronomy.

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Photographs of one the company's many star tours.
(Image via Stargazing Adventure Namibia)

They have several activities for would-be stargazers and you should check them out here to see which tour suits you. They also have a great gallery of photographs to whet your appetite ahead of your stargazing adventure.

Hakos guest farm

Just west of Windhoek on top of the Gamsberg is the Hakos guest farm. On this farm the German-based International Amateur Observatory maintains an impressive collection of telescopes and other equipment for stargazing enthusiasts. There are several tour options on the farm and you can view them here.

The guest farm is specifically geared towards giving guests a memorable astrological experience in an environment that is largely untouched and unspoiled by man.

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One of the farm's many pieces of advanced equipment (L).
The isolated location of the farm (R).
(Images via Hakos guest farm)

4. Sossusvlei by night

If anyone needed another reason to visit Namibia’s iconic Sossusvlei, here it is: The stargazing opportunities at Sossusvlei are simply incredible. The sky is clear almost always and there is almost no light pollution out in the desert near the vlei.

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A tree on the vlei against a slowly rotating starry sky.
(Image via Rhino Africa Safaris)

The Sossusvlei Lodge was in fact recently ranked amongst the top 12 stargazing hotels in the world by CNN Travel. But this is not the only lodge in the area and there are also several other lodges that offer stargazing opportunities.

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The Sossusvlei Lodge by night.
(Image via Sossusvlei Lodge)

Below are three of the top-rated lodges that offer stargazing activities at or near Sossusvlei.

Sossusvlei Lodge

Little Kulala

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

No matter where you are in Namibia the night sky is simply beautiful, and if you are visiting Africa from the Northern hemisphere then you should not miss out on this opportunity to see a totally different set of stars on the other end of the world.

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Quiver Trees by Night - Florian Breuer
(via Florian's Photographs)

Christopher Rimmer on Capturing Namibia's Ghost Towns

  
  

Words by Charlotte Hughes.

Images by Christopher Rimmer.

Southern Son

Christopher Rimmer’s fascination with Namibia began in 2009 when he included images of the Himba people in his ground breaking ‘In Africa’ exhibition. Since then, he has visited Namibia several times and travelled the length and breadth of the country documenting the landscape, the wildlife and the people of this unique country through the lens of his camera.

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Chris’ forthcoming exhibition, ‘Sign of Life’ opens in Reims, New York and Melbourne in 2014 and features stunning, large scale photographs of the ghost towns of Elizabeth Bay and Kolmanskop.

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‘I was at Etosha Pan in 2010,’ recalls Rimmer, ‘ the BBC were out there filming for, what later became the ground breaking ‘Africa’ television series and one of the crew happened to show me some images on his phone one night of the ruins at Elizabeth Bay and Kolmanskop,  where they had been filming footage of Hyenas.’

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‘I was immediately struck by the stark beauty and the poignancy of these structures  slowly being re-claimed by the desert sands and resolved to travel there and document them before they disappeared from view completely.'

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Rimmer, who was shortlisted for Black & White Photographer of the Year in 2012, travelled to the area twice spending a total of three weeks meticulously compiling images with a large format camera, this time in glorious colour. The resulting collection is a visual examination of what he terms the ‘tragedy of lost significance’ and the ‘ultimate futility of human endeavour.

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‘I have always found the quality of light in Namibia extraordinary, he says, ‘There is no doubt that it is a paradise for photography. The way the light reflects the landscape is truly unique. This was even more so around the ghost towns of Karas. The way the light enters the buildings at various times of the day provided some amazing opportunities for ambient light photography. You have to put in the time though; you can’t expect to capture the essence of the place on a single day trip.

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‘What makes the ghost towns really impressive is how substantial the structures are. These people thought they’d be here forever yet, within barely 50 years the place was completely deserted. It’s like walking through a lost world. I found the experience incredibly moving and I have tried to articulate that sense of loss in my work.’

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The images Rimmer presents in the Sign of Life exhibition are both disturbing and beautiful and are a timely reminder of the power of nature over human enterprise in this era of climate change.

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Dates and exhibition venues for 'Sign of Life'

New York Art Expo
Pier 94, NYC, April 4 - 6

Galerie Huraux
21 rue Tambour, 51100, Reims, France. (Date to Be announced)

Angela Tandori Fine Art Gallery
55 Victoria Pde, Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia (Date to be announced)

Visit Christopher Rimmer’s website here.

Walking through Namibia

  
  

Being on foot is one of the best ways you can take in the rugged landscapes, diverse wildlife and unique flora of Namibia. In this post we will be looking at a selection of walks that showcase the variety of on-foot adventures you can have in Namibia.

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Visitors on a guided walk in Damaraland.

When in Namibia, go walking

Once you get out into Namibia’s countryside the one thing that you should realise is that almost every lodge, camp, rest camp, and game park will have a selection of walking trails that you can walk if you so choose. Many of these will be un-guided, but some of the establishments do offer guided tours.

Below are a few examples of the types of walks you can find while travelling through Namibia. The walks covered below range from traditional walking trails to more adventurous and unusual safari-style walks.

 

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 Have feet, will walk.

Walking the Waterberg

The Waterberg Plateau Park is a terrific place to visit for a few days. Game drives, diverse plant life and beautiful surroundings make the Waterberg a must-see when in Namibia.

The park does not allow visitors to drive themselves around the park but guests are encouraged to explore the park by foot. The grounds of the park are crisscrossed by a network of footpaths and hiking trails and those looking to explore the famous reserve can do so with ease.

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Map of the park's many walking trails.
(Image via African Reservations)

Walking in the Waterberg one gains an appreciation for the huge plateau itself and if you are lucky, and very quiet, you may catch a glimpse of a few of the park’s inhabitants. Keep an eye out for tracks in the sand while walking as there are several animals in the park who use some of the trails that guests do.

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Black rhino taking a dip in the Waterberg.
(Image via Africa and Beyond)

The bird life in the Waterberg is also fantastic and if you are a keen birder then you will know that bird spotting on foot is one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of some rare birds.

The walking trails are not particularly challenging and most guests, young and old, should be able to find a trail that suits their fitness level and peeks their interest.

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The trails are all clearly marked. Above is marker for the Fig Tree trail.

For more information on the Waterberg click here.

Tracking Desert Rhinos on foot.

The Desert Rhino Camp is a mobile camp run by Wilderness safaris in partnership with the Save the Rhino Trust in the Palmwag Concession area. The camp is located in an area that is close to the Skeleton Coast in the north west of Namibia. The Palmwag Concession area boasts the highest concentration of black rhinos in Africa but it is also home to a large population of desert-adapted black rhinos.

 

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A tracked rhino, hiding in the bushes.

Save the Rhino Trust regularly tracks the rhinos in the concession area as part of its efforts to conserve the endangered animals, and guests can help them out. You can, on foot, help the rangers and conservationists track these gentle giants through their natural environment- a walking experience that is as rare as it is incredible.

 

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 A family of desert-adapted rhinos.

Read a first hand account of one such experience here.

Climbing the dunes of Sossusvlei

There are several massive dunes near the iconic Sossusvlei and walking/hiking to the top of these dunes is a wonderful way to get amazing panoramic views of the famous vlei and its surroundings. There are no restrictions as to what dunes you can climb up, but there are trails that are more popular than others.

 

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Adventurers trekking up one of the many dunes near Sossusvlei.

One of the more popular trails is the one that leads to the Dead Vlei with its fossilised trees and clay pan offering numerous photo opportunities for the walkers who crest the mighty dunes surrounding the vlei.

 

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The unforgettable Deadvlei.

You can drive yourself to the dunes but you will need a 4x4 vehicle to get closer. There is a designated area where you can park your car. There are also several tour operators that will bring you to the same parking lot near the massive dunes.

 

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The walk up Big Daddy is tough, but worth it.

Click here for a concise guide to getting up and down these dunes.

 

Following the Bushman trail at Okonjima

The Bushman trail at Okonjima affords guests the unique opportunity of following in the footsteps of the indigenous San people that still live in the area just west of the Waterberg.

The trail, which you will be taken along by a guide, will give you a glimpse into how Namibia’s oldest cultural group has lived their lives for centuries. From gathering food to crafting tools and preparing food, visitors are encouraged to participate and learn about one of the oldest living civilizations on the planet.

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A guide teaching some guests about San culture.
(Image via Okonjima)

Follow this link for information on the trail and the game reserve.

Further Reading 

Above are but four examples of the different kinds of walking adventures you can have in Namibia. As mentioned there are literally hundreds of walking trails in this vast country and it is always a good idea to ask whatever establishment you are staying at if there are any interesting walks to do.

Here is a list of camps with good walking trails around them.

And for those of you who feel like a more challenging on-foot adventure, check out our post on the unforgettable Fish River hike.

Rock Climbing in Namibia with Richard Ford

  
  

Richard Ford is an experienced rock climber and has been running an adventure and climbing company called Urban Friction in Windhoek for many years now. His company specializes in rock climbing expeditions to both near and remote parts of Namibia and recently we managed to get Richard off of the rock face for long enough to conduct a short Q and A with him about rock climbing in Namibia.

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Get elevated for a different perspective on Namibia.
(Image via Urban Friction)

Can you introduce yourself and tell us briefly how you got into rock climbing?

I have been climbing since I was a kid but only got into serious/technical climbing after my return from living in Cape Town and the UK when I was introduced to Mountain Climbing South Africa’s Namibia Section. Currently, I am an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association certified rope access technician.

Where do your climbing excursions take place? And which is your favourite spot to climb in Namibia?

The day excursions take place at sites just outside Windhoek, usually about 20 km outside of the city. We are also currently developing a site that is only 10 km from the city. Most of the climbing spots are on private farms and the right of admission is reserved. One of our sites close to the city is actually an old dried up waterfall.

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Climbing is a great way to get to remote parts of a country.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

But my favourite place to climb is the Spitzkoppe and it is usually a three-day weekend climbing tour. The Erongo Mountain Range is also a beautiful and fantastic site to climb.  

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In the distance, the Spitzkoppe. A perfect place for climbing.

Briefly tell us what happens on a typical climbing excursion/tour?

Day tours like our Midgard tour – includes a hike, game drive to the climbing site, lunch, and use of Midgard Country Estate facilities.

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The climbs are usually in extremely scenic parts of the country.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

Do you have to be an experienced climber to join an excursion/tour?

You don’t need any experience to join the climbing tours, they are open to everybody from amateurs to professionals. The climbing sites usually have various routes ranging from easy, to moderate, to difficult.

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A guide explains to a climber how to stay safe.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

Do you have any upcoming tours that prospective climbers can join?   

On Mondays we usually have a half-day climbing excursion and on Fridays, we often have a two day/weekend climbing trip. I worked as a freelance tour guide between 2001 and 2006 so I have experience in leading tours and working with clients.

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No matter how long your climb is, it will always be rewarding.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

Which kind of gear does one need to go rock climbing? Does Urban Friction provide their customers with this gear?

You need shoes (although I would recommend barefoot climbing to amateurs/beginners), a dynamic rope, a harness, and a helmet- we can provide all of these to our clients. But all of these items are also available from stores like Cycle Tec Namibia if you wish to buy your own gear.

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You can always bring your own, if you want to.
(Image via Urban Friction)

How safe is rock climbing?

Rock Climbing is actually very safe if you are well aware of all the necessary precautions that need to be taken; there are strict procedures one needs to follow. I would say that rock climbing is safer than most contact sports. However, there is a calculated risk involved similar to sky diving.

But rock climbing has been around for a long time, and the equipment we use is manufactured by big commercial companies who make sure their products are safe and trustworthy. I also check my equipment on daily and monthly basis.

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A safe climber is a happy climber.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

What are your thoughts on the future of rock climbing in Namibia?

I am currently working a lot with kids to create and foster a culture of rock climbing in the community… While we are on the topic of the growth potential, it would be awesome in the near future if climbing would be allowed at the Waterberg.  It’s such a beautiful place and a lot of potential to be a world-class rock climbing site. It would be great to see that happen.

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For more information and to find out how to book an excursion with Richard and Urban Friction call them on +264 81 331 2916 or visit their Facebook page here.

Camping in Namibia: Etosha National Park

  
  

If you want an authentic safari adventure in Namibia then few places are better to visit than Etosha National Park. We have a guide on travelling through the park and today we will be looking at how you can organise your very own camping adventure within, or nearby, the world-renowned park.

Initial planning

First, you need to decide which part of the park you want to be based in or nearby. There are three gates that you can use to enter Etosha: The King Nehale gate in the north, the Von Lindequist gate to the east, and finally the Andersson gate in the south.

Which gate you choose to use to enter the park with is up to you and will probably depend on which part of the country you are travelling to the park from.

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Note the gates to the North, East and South
.
(Map source Map of Namibia)

Camping in Etosha 

Namutoni Camp

This camp’s main reception area was once an old German fort and has since been developed into the primary reception for visitors entering the park. Over the years a fully functioning restaurant and lodge have been added, and more recently Namutoni has also upgraded its camping facilities.

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Shade and rest areas are all part of the camping experience at Namutoni.
(Image source Find Trip Info)

The campsite is geared towards self-catering and there is space for you to braai (BBQ) on one of the many communal fire pits. The site also has a good number of toilets and showers so that campers can freshen up after a day’s worth of safari adventures. There are also plug points if you need to charge any gear you may have brought with you.

 

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The campsite is grassy and comfortable.
(Image source Bjusterbaarlik)

One of the best things about camping at Namutoni is that you will have unfettered access to a nearby floodlit watering hole. This enables visitors and keen photographers the chance to catch a glimpse of the park’s nocturnal inhabitants.

You can book by clicking here now. 

Halali Camp

Halali is located in the middle of the park and may be more attractive to guests looking to remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of the busier camps in Etosha.

The watering hole at Halali is more secluded than the one at Namutoni and feels more private and away from the crowds. It is, like the one at Namutoni, floodlit at night so that you do not miss out on any game viewing opportunities.

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Elephants relaxing at the Halali watering hole.
(Image source John van der Woude)

The campsite’s facilities have been highly rated by campers over the years and a nice feature of the site is that there are several Mopane trees that provide shade for campers looking to relax. Shade can be invaluable when the mercury begins to rise in the summer months.

This campsite also has all the amenities one would expect including ablutions, electricity and cooking areas.

You can book by clicking here now.

Camping outside the park

There are a few camping sites a short distance outside of the Etosha’s boundaries. These camps are close enough to the national park to make visiting the famous game reserve extremely easy. Many travellers also remark that these camps, because they are removed from Etosha, are usually a bit quieter and more peaceful than the often busy safari park.

Onguma Safari Camp

(10 km’s from the Von Lindequist gate)

Onguma is actually a separate game reserve right next to Etosha. This means that guests can choose to explore Onguma’s 34 000 hectres of private game reserve, or go on guided safari drives through the neighbouring Etosha with employees from Onguma.

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Rhinos and more await within the park.
(Image source Onguma Game Reserve)

The campsite at Onguma is focussed on striking a balance between comfort and allowing you to feel like you are truly camping in the wilderness. As such each campsite has electricity, toilets and showers.

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Running water and electricity are always good things.
(Image source Onguma Game Reserve)

You can also choose to eat at the lodge’s restaurant if you are not interested in cooking for yourself. However, self-catering is encouraged as meals have to be booked in advance if you wish to eat at the restaurant. Note that you will have to bring your own food with you as there are no shops in Onguma, so come prepared.

 

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It's easy to unwind in a setting like this.
(Image source Onguma Game Reserve)

 

You can book by clicking here now.

Etosha Safari Camp

(9km’s away from the Andersson gate)

The Etosha Safari Camp is another lodge near Etosha that offers visitors the option of bringing their owns tents and setting up camp for a few nights. The campsite is exceptionally well appointed with power points all over the site, as well as sinks, showers, toilets and braai (BBQ) facilities for those who wish to self-cater.

 

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The camping is easy, and the scenery is beautiful.
(Image source Gondwana Collection Namibia)

If you don’t feel like cooking your own grub then guests at the campsite are more than welcome to eat at the main lodge’s restaurant. Campers are also invited to make use of the other facilities at the lodge like the pool area and the bar.

 

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Every camper needs a dip in a pool at some point.
(Image source Gondwana Collection Namibia)

Since the camp is so close to Etosha it is a breeze checking in and out of the national park for game drives. 

You can book by clicking here now.

Eldorado B & B Camping

(8km from the Andersson gate) 

Eldorado Farm is run by Adri Pienaar who is the third generation of his family to run the guest farm. On the farm itself there are several antelope, ostriches and wildebeest and given that it is only 8km away from Etosha’s Andersson gate you will find it very easy to get your fill of game while staying here.

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Welcome to Eldorado!
(Image source Eldorado)

There is a lodge on the farm but Eldorado’s campsite is becoming more and more popular with outdoor enthusiasts and as a result booking in advance is essential if you want to secure a place at their campsite. The Campsite at Eldorado has electricity, running water, ablutions and self-catering facilities.

 

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The campsite is very spacious.
(Image source Johan Groenewald)

 

Camping is good for you

If you enjoy the outdoors and safari then camping in or around Etosha is just the thing for you. All the camps mentioned above give you the option to either be totally self-sufficient or partly self-sufficient. With a wide selection of restaurants and amenities there’s no reason why camping cannot be both rugged and comfortable.

Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Gary Arndt

  
  

2014 Travel Photographer of the Year, Gary Arndt has visited all seven continents and over 140 countries and territories around the world. He recently spent some time in Namibia and we managed to get him to sit still long enough to give us his top tips for capturing Namibia on film.



Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.

I wasn't actually shooting at the time, but it was when we drove down the Long Wall. 100m straight down a giant dune with the ocean at the bottom! I had my hands firmly on the dashboard holding on for dear life. As I later learned, no matter how large the dune, they have pretty much the same degree of steepness. Driving down a large dune isn't that much different than driving down a smaller one. 

 

Every destination has its challenges and rewards; how does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?

I have always found deserts to be fascinating places and some of my favorite to photograph. The incredible dunes in the Namib are unlike anything I've seen anywhere else in the world. They are big and dramatic regardless if you view them from the ground or in the air. The challenge of shooting in the desert is the sand. It gets everywhere and it can cause problems with electronics, especially with sensors in digital cameras.


Which 3 photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of and why?

It is very hard to pick just 3. But I'll go with the following:


1) A solitary tree at sunset.

During our first night camping along the Kuiseb River, our campground was marked by the only tree we saw above the river bottom during our entire trip. I managed to get this shot of the tree just minutes before sunset.

2) Damara boy smiling.

For our two days of adventure, I joined the trip going to Twyfelfontein in Damaraland. During one of our stops we visited a Damara village and I took this photo of a young man who was in a very good mood.

3) Aerial view of sand dunes.

During the conference I took a short break to fly over the dunes on a two hour flight from Swakopmund. It was an incredible experience and something I recommend that everyone do if you can. 


When going on a Namibian photographic expedition, what is your equipment of choice? And what do you never leave home without?

Unlike most photographers, I don't have a home. I am traveling continuously and I have to carry my gear with me wherever I go. For that reason, I have to pack extremely light. 

My primary camera body is a Nikon D300s. I carry 3 lenses with me: an 18-20mm VR, a 12-24mm wide angle and a 50mm f/1.4.  I usually will use the 18-200 as it is very versatile and will cover a wide range of shooting circumstances.  

 

A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top 3 tips would you give them?

1) Be aware of the sand. Try to avoid swapping lenses while you are in the desert if you can. This is one region where you are better off bringing a separate body so you don't have switch lenses.

 

2) Seek out the people. I found Namibia to be a much more diverse place than I expected. I had the pleasure of meeting some people in Damaraland and some people in the German speaking community. I would love to return and meet some of the Himba people as well people from the other tribal groups in the country. 

 

3) It is big country. I really only scratched the surface of Namibia. I was there for a conference, so I didn't get to explore as much of the country as I would have liked. Be prepared to drive long distances. If possible, take a flight over the dunes as it gives you very different perspective of the landscape.

 

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Gary Arndt, in his own words...

In March 2007 I sold my house and have been traveling around the world ever since. Since I started traveling, I have probably done and seen more than I have in the rest of my life combined.

So far I have visited all 7 continents, over 140 countries and territories around the world, every US state and territory, 9/10 Canadian provinces, every Australian state and territory, over 125 US National Park Service sites and over 250 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Follow Gary on Facebook, Twitter (@EverywhereTrip), Pinterest and Instagram.

 

More Photographer Tips

This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.

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