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Driving through Namibia with Carlo van Wyk

  
  

Namibia: A Solo Overland Trip

by Carlo van Wyk

Every now and then, we all need a break. A few weeks ago I decided to take a much needed escape from the daily grind, and set out on a 3000 mile road trip through the south of Namibia. I didn’t have a set itinerary, just a road map, my four-wheel drive vehicle, cameras, and enough supplies to be self-sufficient for more or less two weeks.

Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The famous Dead Vlei.

 

Taking a break and traveling solo

I’ve always wanted to do a trip to Namibia. The country’s natural beauty and its vast and desolate expanses have always appealed to me. I wanted to take some landscape pictures, and to take a bit of a break from my working life. I decided to focus most of my travels around the south and south-west of Namibia so as not to feel rushed while I explored the country.

Namibrand Nature Reserve - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The NamibRand Nature Reserve...
There are no fences on the side of the road and the wildlife roams freely through the reserve.

 

I was afforded a certain freedom by travelling solo. I travelled on my own time and terms, and it’s amazing how different one’s experience of traveling is when one travels alone. I met people I would never have met if I were traveling with someone or in a large group of tourists.

Old Car Wreck, Namibia - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Being on your own allows you to take more time to linger at interesting places.
 

 

Camera equipment for Namibia

I was using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and I ended up taking the majority of pictures with three of my lenses: A Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L MK II, a Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L MK II and an EF 100mm Macro lens. I also used an EF 24mm tilt shift lens for a few shifted panoramas. I did miss not having a 70-200mm zoom lens, as there were plenty of opportunities where such a lens would have been ideal.

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park- Panorama taken with Canon EF 24mm Tilt Shift lens.


If I could take only three lenses to Namibia I would pack a 16-35mm, a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. These three lenses are my ideal choices for photographing landscapes and people. However, if I intended on photographing wildlife as well, I would simply add a 500mm lens with a tele converter to the above selection of lenses.

Namibian Winter Panorama - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Namibian Winter Panorama-
This panorama was taken with the Canon 24mm t/s F3.5ii L lens,
and really shows where this lens excels.


There’s a lot of dust and sand in Namibia. I managed to shoot with my camera for well over a year without the need for cleaning the sensor, but towards the end of my trip through Namibia, a number of dust spots started to show up at smaller apertures. So be sure to have a good camera bag to minimize dust build up.

Kolmanskop - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Remote locations like Kolmanskop (pictured above) are striking, but are hard on your gear.


Spectacular landscapes in Namibia

The light in Namibia has a magical quality to it. The skies have a very rich blue, and the light is unusually warm lending your photographs a rich tone. This country is breathtakingly beautiful with spectacular landscapes everywhere. It is a photogenic country- a photographer’s dream.

The Fish River Canyon, Namibia - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The Fish River Canyon.

Climbing Dune 45, Sossusvlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Dune 45.

Trees at Dead Vlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Dead Vlei.


Remote, desolate beauty

Namibia is vast, desolate and beautiful. I really enjoyed the isolation of Namibia. Even in peak tourist season, you can pull over your car on the side of the road and not see a vehicle for a few hours. You can camp wild under African skies and some roads are so isolated that you can literally be alone for a day or two.

NamibRand - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The NamibRand Nature Reserve.

 

I deliberately tried to stick to mostly gravel roads. The condition of the gravel roads in Namibia are excellent. Towns along these roads are mostly small, often consisting of a fuel station, a shop, with a few campsites or lodges scattered around it. A lot of the roads don’t have any fences and as a result I saw plenty of wildlife crossing the road. You quickly learn to look out for animals. It’s well advised to only travel during daylight hours, as nighttime brings the risk of hitting animals.

Gravel Roads in Namibia - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The gravel roads in Namibia are great.
Wildlife crossing the roads poses a risk, so speed should be kept to about 80km/h.

 

For the most part, there’s limited or no cell phone coverage. Only the bigger towns and some smaller towns have coverage. The vast, desolate expanses of Namibia, coupled with a lack of communication to the outside world in many areas really allowed me to switch off, relax, and enjoy vistas of this beautiful country.

Wild Horses of the Namib - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Relax, take some time and find something special.


Why you should visit Namibia

Clearly, Namibia is a photographer’s paradise, and it’s easy to see why many of the world’s top photographers return to Namibia year after year. It’s easily the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited.

Tree Stump at Sossusvlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Tree Stump at Sossusvlei.


For first time visitors to Africa, it’s a very safe and peaceful country. Namibia has a low crime rate, there’s no wars, and religious or racial tension in the country. It’s commonly known to be the safest country in Africa. The people are warm and friendly too, always ready to greet you with a smile. Accommodation was also reasonable and top notch, with plenty of lodging and camping options to choose from, making finding somewhere to stay quite simple.

If you’re someone that enjoys nature, spectacular landscapes, world-class game, or if you want to have an adventure in Africa, Namibia should be at the top of your list of countries to visit. I returned home from my epic adventure, refreshed and with my batteries recharged. I met some great people and returned with more good pictures than I thought I would have taken.


NamibRand Landscape - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Namibia is rich in photo opportunities.


I returned home with an urgency to go back and explore more of this amazing country. There’s so much more to see: Etosha National Park, Damaraland, the Skeleton coast and more… Next time around, I will travel with my family. Watch this space.

The Dunes Surrounding Sossusvlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip
On top of a dune, near Sossusvlei.


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Carlo has been a passionate photographer since high school, when his father introduced him to photography. Photography has been a life long learning experience for him. His goal is to share his passion with others.

Follow Carlo on Twitter

Contact Carlo


All words and pictures in this post are by Carlo van Wyk.
The original version of his article can be found on Photograhydo here.

What to do in Namibia during Winter

  
  

Winter in Namibia is a great time of year to explore our vast and diverse country. The weather is more moderate than in other months of the year and our country is a great option if you want to avoid the huge crowds of the northern hemisphere's summer months. Read on for a few more reasons why we think you should visit Namibia in the winter months.

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Winter is a great time to explore Namibia- find out why below.

 

The Manageable Weather

As you probably know already, Namibia is a place associated with hot, dry and sunny weather. The cloudless skies and blazing sun can, at times, become overwhelming in the warmer months (particularly over December, January and February). Winter is a slightly different story in the Land of the Brave. Daytime temperatures for the season stay manageable and rarely climb above the 25 degrees Celsius.

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Another cloudless and temperate winter's day in Namibia.
(Image via Deal's Holidays)

 

Namibia gets its rain in the summer months so the winter daytime skies are also incredibly clear and cloudless. It is not uncommon to go for days without seeing a cloud in the perfect blue sky and this allows photographers ample opportunity to take some incredible high contrast pictures against a deep blue background.

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The blue of the sky contrasts excellently with the whites and browns of Namibia's landscapes.

 

And while we are talking about awesome photo opportunities, you should know that toward the end of winter you will be treated to some incredible sunsets. Toward the end of winter the winter months the desert winds begin to start blowing. These winds pick up dust into the air, which then spectacularly refracts the light of the setting sun.

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A giraffe at sunset in Etosha National Park.

 

At night the temperatures can get quite nippy, but it never gets quite as cold as the frigid winters of northern Europe or northern America. The temperatures in Namibia are cool enough to justify lighting a warming fire and nothing makes winter more enjoyable than sitting around a roaring fire and sharing some stories with your friends and family.

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A large camp fire keeps the night, and the cold, at bay.
(Image via Wofford)

 
Note: In the southern and central regions of Namibia it can occasionally get to freezing. These temperatures are exceptional though and you can expect it to not get much colder than 5 degrees Celsius.

 

Winter adventures

Winter is the perfect time to be physically active in Namibia. The lack of humidity and the relatively moderate daytime temperatures make doing physical activity far easier in the winter than in the summer months. Rock climbing, cycling, trail running and several other adventure sports are all best done in the winter. The sun is at a less steep angle and the cooling winter breeze make any physical exercise much easier to deal with.

 

Namibia, namibia adventure, adventure, winter in namibia, what to do in Namibia, swakopmund

Winter walking in the dunes near Swakopmund.

 

Hiking is another great activity to take part in when visiting Namibia in the winter. Some hikes, like the Fish River Canyon Hike are not offered to guests in the summer months as the temperatures are too high and the heat makes the hike too strenuous. Check out our blog on this particular hike here.

 

Namibia, namibia adventure, adventure, winter in namibia, what to do in Namibia, hiking, fish river canyon

Getting ready to set out from the floor of the Fish River Canyon.

 

While not exactly physically demanding, going on safari is also very worthwhile during winter. The animals become easier to spot because the vegetation dries out in the rainless months giving the wildlife less cover. This is coupled with the fact that the animals are drawn out to the remaining waterholes in search of water and means that your chances of catching a glimpse of some of Namibia’s awesome wildlife are greatly increased during winter.

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The wildlife, no matter how big or small, is easier to spot in winter.


Note: Even though the sun is less harsh in the winter in Namibia you still need to make sure you are protected from it. Always use sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses.

Hit the beach

Namibia, namibia adventure, adventure, winter in namibia, what to do in Namibia, skeleton coast, swakopmund

The Namibian coast is spectacular during winter.

 

The winter months are arguably the best time of the year to head to the beach in Namibia. All along the famously rugged coastline temperatures remain warm and the fog stays away. These favourable weather conditions are as a result of the foehn winds (berg winds) that travel down the great escarpment and into the ocean.

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Swakopmund is Namibia's most popular seaside town.
(Image via FotoD)

 

The warm winds ensure that the coast stays dry and the frequent evening fog that descends over towns like Swakopmund, Luderitz, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay is kept at bay by the dry warm winds. The fine weather, coupled with the winds, make this time of year ideal for anyone who wants to take part in water sports like kiteboarding, windsurfing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and body boarding.

Namibia, namibia adventure, adventure, winter in namibia, what to do in Namibia, luderitz

Get your heart racing on the Atlantic Ocean!
(Image courtesy of Geesche Neuberg)

 

It should be clear now that the winds are a key feature of this season on the coast and at times they can get quite strong. When they pick up enough, usually as the sun is setting, sand from the Namib Desert can become suspended in the air in a dramatic fashion. With the right amount of skill, timing, and photographer’s luck you can capture these surreal moments and leave the coast with some unforgettable photographs.

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The winds sweeping over Dune 45 near Sossusvlei.
(Image by Adomas Svirskas via Photography Blogger)

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A sandstorm blows across a national road.
(Image by Asco via Photography Blogger)

Note: A great place for water sports like those mentioned above is Luderitz and within the small town there are a few operators who can take you out on to the ocean. Find out more by reading about the town here.

There is loads to do in Namibia throughout all of its seasons, but if you are looking for moderate temperatures and adventure filled activities then winter could be the ideal time for you to visit the Land of the Brave. Also, during the Namibian winter the northern hemissphere's tourist hotspots are traditionally over-crowded with holiday makers soaking up the sunshine. So why not give the summer crowds a skip and come and spend some time around a warm fire in Namibia?

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Here are two more of our blogs to help you plan your trip to Namibia:

Want to know what to do in Autumn? Plan your next Namibian adventure!
 Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari FLY002 

The National Parks of Namibia- Nkasa Lupala and Dorob

  
  

Namibian national parks like Etosha National Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park are world-renowned and well-visited by international and national tourists. This blog post is not about those parks. Today we want introduce you to two national parks run that you may not have heard of before...

EXPLORE copy
A Land Rover with Sandwich Harbour in the background.
One of the best things to do in Namibia is to explore locations that are off the beaten path.

(Image via Cardboard Box)


Nkasa Lupala National Park

We start in the north-east of Namibia in the Zambezi (Caprivi) Region. As you may already know this part of this huge nation is markedly different from most of the stark landscapes you find through out the mostly arid countryside. The land in the Zambezi is riverine and lush. It is home to several wetlands which and the region is criss-crossed by perennially flowing bodies of water.

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The landscape is spectacular in the Zambezi.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

In this corner of Namibia, just to the north of Botswana, you can find the Nkasa Lupara National Park (formerly known as the Mamili National Park). The park contains the largest protected wetland area in the Land of the Brave.

Screen Shot 2014 08 01 at 12.37.22 AM1024px Map Nkasa Rupara National Park

Maps showing the location of the park.
(Images via the MET)

 

The network of rivers flowing around small islands and reed beds are home to hippopotamuses, crocodiles, several buck species and a massive population of birds. There are, in fact, more species of birds in this small area than anywhere else in Namibia.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa

A bloat of hippos silently swim through the river.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

Before you back you pack your bags and head to Nkasa Lupala you should know that journeying through this national park is not for the feint of heart. There are very few facilities and sometimes the park is inaccessible due to heavy rainfall.

This usually will only happen during the rainy months of January and February. However, if the rains don’t spoil the fun, and you have a thirst for adventure then you should know that the camp is a 4x4 enthusiast and wildlife tracker’s dream location. For information on exploring the park by 4x4 click here.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, buffalo
Exploring the park is tough, but worth it to see undisturbed wildlife.

(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

In the winter some of the riverbeds dry up and visitors to the park can watch lions, large herds of buffalo and elephants migrate across the park. Making Nkasa Lupala the perfect place for a rough and tumble adventure tourist to do some exploring.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, lion

There are even occasional sightings of lions in this riverine park.
(Image via Cardboard Box)


Click here for the official Nkasa Lupara National Park page, courtesy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

 

Dorob National Park

The second national park we are looking at is located on the coast in the middle of Namibia’s vast Atlantic coast. Close to the Skeleton Coast and pressed up against the Namib Desert you will find Dorob National Park. As you might imagine, this national park’s landscape is very different to the lush and watery Nkasa Lupala National Park. Dorob is also far more accessible with the towns of Swakopmund, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay found within the park's borders.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, dorob
This map shows the area of the coast that falls under Dorob National Park.
(Map via NACOMA)

 

We mentioned Dorob a few weeks ago in an interview with Chris Nel (that you can read here). However, many visitors outside of Namibia have yet to hear about this gem of a park… Dorob was created in 2010 and since its creation the entire coastline of Namibia now falls under strict environmental protection. The reason this had to happen is because of the fragile biodiversity of the ecosystems found in this part of Namibia.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, dorob

This coastline has been rescued from destruction.

(Image via World Super Travel)

 

As far as attractions go in this park, BirdLife International has declared the park an “Important Bird Area” because this part of the Namibian coast is a haven that over 1.6 million birds call home. This makes Dorob an absolute must-visit place for anyone who is a birding enthusiast. Of particular interest to many tourists in this regard is Sandwich Harbour that boasts a sizeable population of flamingos.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, sandwich harbour, flamingo

This famous spot located within Dorob and is definitely worth a visit.
(Image via Sandwich Harbour)

 

There is also some excellent fishing in this park and the town of Henties Bay should be the place you should aim for if you are a keen angler. Before you plan a trip read this page, as it details what anglers can and can’t do in the park.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, fishing namibia, henties bay

Going to Dorob? Why not go fishing!
(Image via Henties Bay)

 

While unguided exploration of the park is allowed, it is important to note that after years of careless behaviour by locals and tourists the area has had to become subject to some badly needed restrictions. So if you want to explore the park on your own you can check out some maps which detail where you can and can’t go in the park here.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, dorob, chris nel

Rare creatures like the Namib Ghecko live along the coastline and need to be protected.
(Photo by Chris Nel)

 

For more information on the park you can download their press kit here or have a look at Travel News Namibia's breakdown of the regulations here.

 

These are just two national parks you can find in the Land of the Brave. In total there are eleven nationally run parks within Namibia and over the coming months we will bring to light some of these other parks. For a list of these parks click here.

 

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Want to know more about National Parks in Namibia?
Check our our posts on Etosha and the Waterberg below.

How to Explore Etosha

Safaris in the Waterberg

elephants window1  11 giraffe copy

 

Three Shipwrecks on Namibia's Skeleton Coast

  
  

Namibia has several thousand shipwrecked vessels strewn across its vast coastline. The Skeleton Coast’s rough seas, roaring winds and strong ocean currents are primarily responsible for many of these beached ships’ fate.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

Many of the wrecks on the harsh coastline have been completely destroyed by the sun, sea, and wind but a few are still visible. The vessels' remains can be seen up close by explorers who are keen on making the trek along the Land of the Brave’s beautiful but perilous coastline.

This blog post is about three of these still visible wrecks.

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(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

The Eduard Bohlen (1907)

This is perhaps one of the most well known shipwrecks in Namibia if not in the world. Its fame is largely as a result of its strange location. This is because the Eduard Bohlen appears to be stranded in the middle of the desert.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

Stranded, in the desert.
(Image via BePic)

 

The Eduard Bohlen was a German cargo ship that ran aground while it was on its way to Table Bay from Swakopmund. It is believed that thick fog caused the ship to founder close to Conception Bay. Years after the ship ran aground the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert. The wreck currently sits about 500 metres from the ocean, making it a must visit site for wreck enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

The Eduard Bohlen, up close.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

How to get there

If you want to get as close as possible to the Eduard Bohlen you can go on a guided 4x4 tour from either Luderitz or Walvis Bay with Coastways. You can also embark on a flying safari that will take you over the wreck. Suricate Safaris offer a few flying safari options and one of them will take you over the famous wreck.

An aerial view of the famous wreck.


The Dunedin Star (1942)

During the Second World War the Dunedin Star left Liverpool carrying munitions and supplies for Allied forces. On board as well as the cargo were 21 passengers who wanted to escape a war-torn London. The vessel, however, hit an underwater obstacle and landed up grounding 500 metres offshore, stranding its passengers and crew on the inhospitable Skeleton Coast.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

A photograph taken shortly after the boat was wrecked in 1942.
(Image via John H Marsh)

 

The rescue efforts that followed were dogged by bad luck and adverse conditions. A tug boat dispatched to aid in the rescue efforts ran aground, while a Ventura bomber, tasked with dropping supplies for the survivors of the Dunedin Star, crashed into the sea after delivering its cargo to the stranded crew and passengers of the wreck. Both the tugboat and the warplane are still visible today.

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All that is left of the famous vessel.
(Image via Trekity)

 

How to get there

The wreck is in the far north of the Skelton Coast National Park and as such you will not be able to drive yourself there. Flying into the northern section of the park is the only realistic option if you want to explore this famous wreck. Skeleton Coast Safaris offer a variety of aerial tours of the region.

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Sometimes a 4x4 is just not sufficient.
(Image via Skeleton Coast Safaris)

 

The Suiderkus (1976)

Close to Henties Bay there are several visible shipwrecks, one of which is that of the Suiderkus, a relatively modern fishing trawler. The ship ran aground near Möwe Bay on her maiden voyage despite having a highly sophisticated navigational system. After a few months most of the ship had disintegrated but a large portion of the hull still survives to this day.

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Water flowing through the wreckage of the Suiderkus.
(Photo by Charlie Summers)

 

The hull is now perched on the beach and is currently a home for a group of cormorants. Because of its peculiar location and decaying frame it is a popular destination for photographers visiting the area.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

The wreck is deteriorating rapidly; so don’t delay in getting there!
(Photo by Olwen Evans)

 

How to get there

The Suiderkus, as with many of the visible wrecks in Namibia, can be found within the Skeleton Coast National Park. The Skeleton Coast Camp offers tours of the nearby wrecks, the Suiderkus included, and if you choose to stay at that lodge then they will happily take you on a tour. Anglers who are fishing at the nearby Terrace Bay drive past the wreck on their way to the fishing grounds.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

There is some world-class fishing on offer near Terrace Bay.
(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

As mentioned above, there are literally thousands of wrecks dotted along the coast of Namibia. The three chosen for this article have been picked because they are still visible and are relatively easy to access. As the Skeleton Coast National Park continues to become more accessible to more and more people other wrecks will be easier to visits. For now, however, you can beat the crowds and get exploring in one of the world's strangest and most haunting landscapes.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure
Bits of ships and old boxes of cargo are strewn across the Skeleton Coast…

Who knows what you could find!
(Image via Africa Travel Resources)

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Looking for more eerie adventure?
Check out our post on the ghost town of Pomona by clicking on the picture below:

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Explore Namibia's Precious Coastline and Dunes with Chris Nel

  
  

Chris Nel is a tour guide who runs the Living Desert Adventure through the Namib Desert near Sossussvlei. On these tours he shares his wisdom and expertise with visitors. Chris was also involved in the establishment of the Dorob National Park in 2010 along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

We had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris about desert conservation and the role that ordinary citizens can play in protecting Namibia’s natural treasures.

Chameleon 9

A desert-adapted chameleon photographed on one of Chris' adventure tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

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Vehicles Chris uses for his Living Desert Adventure Tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

How long have you been involved with desert conservation in Namibia? What made you decide to get into it in the first place?

I have always loved nature and always been interested in protecting it since a little child but in 2002 I started doing day tours in the dunes around Swakopmund. At that stage I realised that quad-biking had become the new craze of the nation and thousands of people were driving all over the Namib Desert just for fun.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Chris getting up close with a desert chameleon.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I attempted to run an educational tour for tourists and it was virtually impossible to do a quality tour because of the noise, aesthetic destruction (with tracks all over the place) and the little creatures we were showing people were getting killed under the wheels of the quads and 4x4 vehicles.

The year I started doing tours out of Swakopmund I realised Namibia had a big problem in the coastal Namib, largely caused by quads and 4x4’s. I did a flight over the Namib to take pictures and videos of the state of the desert. It was this day that my heart broke- I saw one of the most destroyed deserts in the world.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

When Chris saw the damage he knew he had to do something to help.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)


What are the most important lessons you hope to impress upon the people in your tour groups?

For me it is vital that people learn to respect and appreciate the desert, it is only then that we have a chance to understand the desert. If more people understand the desert better then there will be a greater chance that they will see the beauty of the desert.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Chris feels that once people understand, they will want to protect.
This is why he encourages guests to close to the fauna of the desert.

(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What do you enjoy most about taking a guest into the desert for the first time in their life?

I love showing them from the beginning that this is one of the driest places on earth relative to rain, but because of the fog we have a certain degree of moisture that sustains a large variety of specialised desert life.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

A desert adapted chameleon having a snack.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I always start by telling them that because it almost never rains we will not see typical ‘safari’ wildlife (some tourists want to see lions and elephants no matter what part of Namibia they are exploring). I then tell them that the fog is made of micro drops and this means that on the tour we will only find micro elephants, bonzai crocodiles, and tiny lions.

 

The Namib Desert is an extremely fragile ecosystem, what do you think are some of the greatest threats to its survival and continuing biodiversity?

The Namib is very fragile, especially its gravel plains. When vehicles or quads travel on the gravel plains the tracks can last for hundreds of years. Dust and gravel form a crust with the humidity of the fog over hundreds of years. When the wind blows over these tracks, the dust comes out but the ridges of the tracks stay on the plains for just about forever. You can see where the Germans crossed the desert in 1880 in ox wagons.

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Marks from the German settlers' wagons from well over a hundred years ago.
(Image via Andy Cowley)


I believe the aesthetic damage is of great concern as tourists and local Namibians don’t want to see their beautiful desert scared for life. I don’t think all of the animals are in danger but many get killed from off road driving.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Animals like this Namib dune gheko are at risk when vehicle access is not regulated.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement with the Dorob National Park?

After seeing the destruction of the desert I started an online petition to bring it to the attention of Namibia and the rest of the world. The petition was signed by thousands of people and it lead to the Namibian government forming the Coastal Management Committee (the CMC). The CMC brought together people from all different spheres of the community - town councils, regional councils, commercial fisheries, tourism stakeholders, local residents - to work together in finding a solution to the devastation of our precious desert.

A video about Namibia’s incredible and fragile coastline.
(Video via NACOMA)

 

Around the same time, fellow conservationist Rod Braby managed to get sponsors from the World Bank to start NACOMA (The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management project). Together with NACOMA, the CMC and the people of Namibia, we were able to establish the Dorob National Park.

Helping with a project like Dorob was stressful at first. Holiday makers from all over Southern Africa would flock to Swakopmund with their quad bikes and 4x4s. As an advocate for restricting their playground, locals feared tourism (their livelihood) would suffer. There was a lot of opposition, even death threats. This was despite expert conservationists like the late Dr. Hugh Berry saying: “The most destroyed accessible coastline in the world is found in Namibia”.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

No rational person could deny the seriousness of the situation.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

The truth is that we didn’t want to ban people from enjoying our dunes, but there were simply too many people joy-riding over Namibia’s deserts and ruining the beautiful landscapes that would be so important for tourism in the future. Steps had to be taken and access to the park had to be controlled.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Etosha has strict rules about staying on the roads in the park…
That’s why it looks like it did 50 years ago even though millions of tourists visit each year.


The government zoned areas so everyone could enjoy this unique part of Namibia. So whether you are a tourist, an environmentalist, or a quad biker, there's something for everyone to enjoy. You can download the park’s rules and regulations here.

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Namibia is now the only country on earth with its entire coastline falling into a national park.

 

Is there a way that people not already directly involved with a conservation organisation can get involved?

The best way for the public to get involved is through NACOMA. You can read their brochure on their website. You can also be a game warden in your own capacity – approach people who are driving off the road and hand them the brochure, stop them littering, and make sure they respect the area.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

There is still a long way to go, but there is good reason to be hopeful about the future.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What part of your conservation work are you most proud of thus far?

I am most proud of my involvement in the creation of Dorob. Ten years ago everything was destroyed, it felt like mission impossible, but today it’s quiet, beautiful and flourishing again. Thinking back to all the death threats and stress I had to deal with, I still think it was totally worth it.

I am also proud of our country. It took a lot of years, tears and sweat but now our children can enjoy our hard work. The town of Swakopmund is within the area that has been declared a national park- several thousand people live in a national park, and that is quite something if you think about it.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Dorob National Park is Namibia’s first national park since independence.
Its creation ensures that landscapes like the one above can be shared with future generations.

 

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The Ngepi Camp in Namibia's Zambezi Region

  
  

Bush-bound Girl has written for us once before and now she is back for a second time. In her recent post she shares her experience of staying in one of the most unique accommodations in Namibia: The Ngepi Camp in the Zambezi (Caprivi) region. Read on to find out what makes this camp so special...

My George-of-the-Jungle tree house in the Caprivi

by Rachel Lang

 

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Ngepi Camp.
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

 

Ever since watching George of the Jungle as a kid, I’ve wanted to live in a tree house. Unless you’re scared of heights or of sharing a bed with the odd creepy crawly creature, who wouldn’t want their own cosy tree hideaway? Recently, I spent time at the legendary Ngepi Camp in the Caprivi region of Namibia where I stayed in the tree house of my dreams! Although George didn’t swing by, I (Ursula) had plenty of company, from hippos and little skittering mice, to fish eagles and coppery-tailed coucals…

The Caprivi, in the upper reaches of the Okavango Delta panhandle, is a magnificent area – calming plains of green viridescent marshland and white Kalahari sand, and, of course, the Okavango (or Kavango) river, where Ngepi Camp (and the beautiful tree houses) are situated.

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Caprivi Region – seen from a microlight.
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

Hippo Ngepi Camp resized

A hippopotamus in the Kavango
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)


The camp has twelve tree houses in total, each one unique and completely open to the river. They are all built of farmed materials upholding Ngepi’s owner Mark Adcock’s strong belief in the importance of safeguarding the area’s indigenous trees. Even the trees that the houses are built around have not been touched or used as building structures, with the intent of symbolising that man and nature can live together peacefully.

IMG_8826

One of the cabins.
(Photo © Bush-bound Girl)


Everything (including hot showers) is run on solar energy. Mark, who can also be referred to as Ngepi’s ‘artist’, has made sure that solar panels are not hidden by vegetation, but placed in full view for guests to see, “I want people to ask questions, I want them to say this works so well, where can I get one for my house?”

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Larger rooms are available too.
(Photo © Otto Grimm)

 

Another environmentally friendly novelty is the tree houses’ air-conditioning system. It’s a method so simple yet so clever! At the top of each thatched roof is a tap, and, when it’s switched on the cool water runs down each side of the roof. Air blowing against the water is cooled (the same as when we sweat) and this causes the temperature of the room to drop by at least 10 degrees c. More than a camp, Ngepi is a place of learning. Every element reflects a commitment to live sustainably, to reduce human impact on the environment, and, as a foreign client once put it,“live with your feet in nature!”. This is exactly what I did every morning as I opened my eyes to the sunrise between my toes!

ngepi shower pic resized

Gran and Grandad – you asked if this pretty bum was mine and who took the photo…
Sadly, I have to report that this is not me.
I got the photo from the kind folks at Ngepi and I’m not sure who the model is!

(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

Mokoro in front of Tree House - resized

Instead of George of the Jungle’s ‘watch out for that tree’
it’s a matter of watch out for that mokoro going by while you’re in the shower!!

(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

 

Bedtime in an Ngepi tree house is equally special. I showered beneath a million bright stars, naked for only the hippos to see. I listened with delight to the low hoots of a Pels Fishing owl, which echoed into the evening and eventually sent me soundly to sleep. On some nights you may even hear the roar of a lion from the other side of the river, which is Bwabwata National Park, or from Mahango Park to the South.

hamock- resized for blog

There’s a hammock on each tree house deck to chill with a book in the afternoons.
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

 

Read more about Ngepi’s tree houses here

For More info email:  bookings@ngepicamp.com

+264 (0) 66 259 903 or +264 (0)81 20 28 200

Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Willem Kruger

  
  

After hearing about Willem Kruger's excellent landscape photography we decided to track him down and get him to share some of his best advice to photographers who want to capture the best of Namibia. Read on for tips and anecdotes from Willem's last photo safari through the Land of the Brave...

Vlei format

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

I went on a landscape photography safari in the southern parts of Namibia with my wife. We entered Namibia via the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and travelled straight to NamibRand Nature Reserve. Just driving through the vast landscape of Southern Namibia is a highlight on its own.

Open road

Our stay in the NamibRand Nature Reserve was the highlight of the photography safari. Many pictures of Namibia usually highlight the beauty of Namibia portraying well-known places but not many images can be found portraying the beauty of the less explored south of Namibia.

Single tree in grass field

I was presently surprised when I arrived in NamibRand and I saw the many opportunities it provides when it comes to landscape photography. The thunderstorms on the horizon against red dunes were particularly spectacular. Therefore, I think my most unforgettable moments were the magnificent colours provided by the sun, clouds, sand and plants, all in perfect harmony.

 

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

If you are a serious nature photographer (especially wildlife and landscapes), I am sure you are familiar with the two words – patience and rewards. In Namibia, the same principle applies. As a photographer, even when it comes to landscape photography, one needs to wait for the perfect moment. Wait for the all the elements such as light, clouds, dust, thunderstorms to be in place and just start shooting.

Ghost rain

However, the difference lies in the reward. When I first arrived in Namibia, I asked myself the following question: “What makes this place unique?” I soon realised that the colour, the light, and the storytelling elements can easily be found and matched to produce stunning images. While composition is the backbone of all great photos, in Namibia one just need to look around you to realise how many possibilities there are.

 

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

Red Dunes is certainly one of my favourite images of Namibia. It shows a different perspective of Namibia and it is not the usual image of some well-known spot. It shows almost all the colours what Namibia can offer as well as a perspective on what Namibia landscape is all about. Rich in diversity yet everything is in harmony.

Red dunes

Red Dunes

Road to heaven is my second favourite because it is almost if the road is taking you towards heaven and isn’t that what Namibia is all about?

Road to Heaven 

The Road to Heaven.

Thirdly, Quiver tree hill shows the reader the other side of Southern Namibia… Wide open plains and dunes between mountains ranges. These are not easy living conditions for humans or animals but the lines in this photograph, leading towards the clouds on the horizon, offer a glimpse of hope.

Quiver tree hill
Quiver Tree Hill.

 

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

Definitely any type of camera! From a simple cell phone or a compact point-and-shoot camera, to a professional SRL camera. There are so many opportunities that even the most inexperienced photographer will come home with a great image or two. For the more serious photographer, I would recommend a prime wide-angle lens along with your digital SLR camera with a few filters in the bag. If you have one, bring a 200mm to 600mm lens if you are planning to travel in the southern parts of Namibia.

Windy Namibia

I know it is a controversial issue but I do not leave home without my tripod. An essential piece of equipment when it comes to nature photography – just to assist you the get that super-sharp image and to distinguish you from the rest.

Two colourful doors

 

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

First, put down the camera and step back from the scene. Without the camera in front of you or even without worrying about the camera settings and the anticipated photo, you can free your mind and enjoy what Namibia can offer. Only then can you see the photo opportunities from a totally different perspective.

Sunburst over tree

The next piece of advice is not new to photographers but it is vital: We all want to quickly capture the moment and move on to the next scene because Namibia has some much to offer. With that approach, you definitely will miss out on some unique opportunities. Rather take a little more time with your shots. Look for something different such as a more interesting point of view to shoot from. What about finding a different angle of an already well-known spot? I would recommend that you evaluate all the possibilities before taking the shot rather than just jumping in and get that already familiar/well-known photo.  

Mudd formation

Lastly – remember a photographer is an artist and not a forensic documentarian. Enjoy what you do and let your creativity takes over. Do not try and be copycat but rather try something differently. The result might surprise you.  

Milky way in Dead Vlei

Practising photography as a hobby will take you places where you previously would not have been. I do love nature photography and taking photos in Namibia is in my opinion provide one of the best opportunities to see what nature can offer.  

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Willem Kruger, in his own words...

Nature photography for me is not only a hobby but it is a passion. I hope to capture the essential detail and show people what nature has to offer for those people who are willing to have a closer and a more creative look at it.

Visit Willem's blog for more information and images.


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.

Follow us to get the latest in the Capture Namibia series:

          

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Paul van Schalkwyk

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 Matthew Hood

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Namibia's Most Exclusive Getaways (Part 2)

  
  

We have already shared three magnificent getaway destinations in our previous blog post. Now, today, we give you another three establishments in Namibia that provide guests with the ultimate in comfort, relaxation and exclusivity.

This post will be giving you a brief look at the Lianshulu Lodge, the Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and the AiAiba Lodge.


1. Lianshulu Lodge

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The lodge overlooks the perennial Kwando River.
(Image via Expert Africa)

 

The Lianshulu Lodge can be found in the north of Namibia on the Kwando River in the lush and ever-surprising East Kavango (Caprivi) region. The lodge is situated on a private concession in the Mudumu National Park of Namibia.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Wildebeest at the Mudumu National Park.
(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

Since the lodge is on a privately run concession you get all the creature comforts of an exclusive and excellently run establishment, along with the opportunity to explore one of Namibia’s renowned national parks. The focus at Lianshulu is on the guests and the entire staff at the lodge will do everything in their power to make you feel as relaxed and looked-after in the beautiful surrounds of the lodge.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

The main deck is the perfect place to unwind.
(Image via Lianshulu Lodge)

 

Staying at Lianshulu it would be easy to forget that the outside world even exists. The bungalows at the lodge are made from locally sourced materials and put together by local craftsmen. The architecture together with the picturesque riverside, combine to create a truly serene and unique atmosphere.

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Another amazing sunset over the Kwando River.
(Image via Lianshulu Lodge)

 

If you feel like exploring the surrounds and the Mudumu National Park then there are a few options available to you. Lianshulu offers its guests a highly recommended boat ride down the Kwando. On this trip it is not uncommon to see some large game on the river’s banks.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

An elephant on the bank of the river near the lodge.
(Image via Lianshulu Lodge)

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Two adult hippos cruising through the river.
(Image via Lianshulu Lodge)

 

If big game is your thing then you can go on a 4x4 game drive through the national park and see if you can catch a glimpse of a few of these mighty creatures. However, there is also an amazing variety of birdlife, including several types of water birds, that can be viewed whilst you explore the river near the lodge.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

A low flying Great Egret.
(Image via Lianshulu Lodge)

 

You can book at the Lianshulu Lodge here.

 

2. Okahirongo Elephant lodge

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Nighttime at the Elephant Lodge.
(Image via Okahirongo)

 

The Okahirongo Elephant Lodge can be found in one of Namibia’s most sparsely populated northern regions: The Kaokoveld. Okahirongo is located on the Purros Conservancy and is 200km south of the Kunene River and 55km inland from the Skeleton Coast.

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The Kaokoveld- remote and beautiful.
(Image via Okahirongo)

 

The lodge’s remote location means that if you want to get to it you are going to have to climb in a 4x4 or a light aircraft. The drive can be quite long and tricky and the flight is two and a half hours from Windhoek.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive 

In many ways this lodge is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
(Image via Okahirongo)

 

The difficulty in getting there, however, is well worth it. The Purros conservancy is home to some of the Namibia’s desert adapted elephants, rhino, lions and giraffe. Okahirongo also offers its guests several activities like game drives, night walks, night drives and a visit to the nearby local Himba settlement.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Some rare desert-dwelling giraffes.
(Image via Okahirongo)

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

A small herd of elephants marching through the Kaokoveld.
(Image via Okahirongo)

 

If you are looking for a place to relax and unwind then Okahingoro is a great place for you to visit. An infinity pool, a library, a world class kitchen and stunning panoramic views of the desert and the ephemeral Hoarusib River await you at this lodge. So if you don’t feel like striking out into the conservancy’s wilderness then you will feel right at home thanks to the lodge’s facilities.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

A fire basket is prepared in the twilight.
(Image via Okahirongo)

 

You can book at the Okahirongo Elephant Lodge here.

 

3. AiAiba Lodge

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive


The lodge is nestled in the foothills of the Erongo Mountains.
(Image via AiAiba)

The AiAiba Lodge overlooks the beautiful Erongo Mountains north west of Windhoek. It is mostly renowned for its proximity to some of the oldest rock paintings in Namibia. The lodge itself is also part of a group of establishments that is committed to the protection on conservation of the Erongo mountains and their surrounds.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Examples of the ancient art can be foudn all around the region.
(Image via AiAiba)

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Some of the paintings are more than 200 years old.
(Image via AiAiba)

AiAiba is perfect for travellers looking to spend some time in the deep calm of nature. The views from the bar and restaurant are unmatched and all you need to enjoy the beauty of the region is find a chair on the deck, grab yourself a refreshment and sit back and watch the natural world go by.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Sunsets are particularly serene in this part of Namibia.
(Image via AiAiba)

 

If you feel like exploring then the lodge also has several activities that you can take part in. Chief amongst these activities is a guided 4x4 trail which will take you on a mini safari and to the sites of the ancient rock paintings left by the regions first inhabitants thousands of years ago.


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Guests about to embrak on a safari drive around AiAiba.
(Image via Blasdale)

 

There is also a short marked hiking trail that guests can tackle without the aid of a guide. AiAiba also offers guided walks through the region on which guests will be introduced to the various flora and fauna of the region.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Aiaiba, Lianshulu, Okahirongo, desert elephants, remote namibia, exclusive

Hiking and wlaking are great ways to unwind in the bush.
(Image via Changes in Longitude)

 

You can book at the AiAiba Lodge here.

*Changes in Longitude seleceted AiAiba as one of the seven most unique places in the world to visit. Read their article here.*

The three lodges we have highlighted in this post, along with the three we mentioned in our previous post make up six unique and inspiring places to visit. For travellers who want a bit more seclusion and remoteness all six of these establishments offer something that you cannot get anywhere else in Namibia.

Keep an eye out for a tour itinerary that will give you advice on how you can visit all six of these wonderful lodges and camps on a trip through Namibia.

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Namibia's Most Exclusive Getaways (Part 1)

  
  

Sometimes you just have to get away from it all. Lucky for you, Namibia is widely regarded as one of the best travel destinations in the world to do just this. With an extremely low population density and an incredible variety of landscapes to choose from the Land of the Brave has become a top destination for travellers looking for somewhere to retreat to.

This week we are focusing on six remote and exclusive destinations. Part 1, which you have just started to read will focus on: The Wolwedans Boulders Safari Camp, the Serra Cafema Camp and the Fish River Lodge.

*You can find part two by clicking here*


1. The Wolwedans Boulders Safari Camp

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Panoramic views at the Boulders Safari Camp.
(Image via Wolwedans)

 

If you are looking for exclusivity then the Boulders Camp is the place for you. The luxuriously appointed camp sleeps a maximum of eight guests so there is never a massive crowd of people at the site. The camp is part of the world-renowned Wolwedans collection of camps and lodges. 

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

The landscapes in this part of the country are simply stunning.
(Image via Wolwedans)

 

Staying at the camp will allow you to explore the southern reaches of the NamibRand Nature Reserve that is home to a variety of wildlife and several unique geological features. In the reserve visitors can also take guided walking tours through the ancient hunting grounds of the Bushmen. 

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

Guests tracking animal spoor thorugh the reserve.
(Image via NamibRand)

 

If exploring the surrounds is not really what you are after then you can always relax at the camp and enjoy the wonderful facilities. You can even take a trip to edge of the plateau the camp sit upon and enjoy a spectacular sundowner. 

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

Watch the sun set with a glorious meal and a refreshing drink.
(Image via Wolwedans

 

If you are more of a night owl then you should know that the night skies around this area of Namibia are widely regarded as some of the best in the world. The NamibRand Nature Reserve is particularly famous for its stargazing facilities

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

An image of the night sky over the NamibRand Nature Reserve.
(Image by Dr. George Tucker via NamibRand

 

To book at the Boulders Safari Camp click here.


2. Serra Cafema Camp

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

Serra Cafema is uniquely situated on the bed of a river that runs through an arid landscape.
(Image via Uyaphi)

 

Serra Cafema can be found in the north east corner of the Land of the Brave, near the Angolan border. Its location is so remote that it is suggested that you charter a private plane to land nearby the camp. If you do decide to take the trip up to the camp by car it will take you in excess of a week to navigate the rural roads.

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

The camp can be found in this remote and awesome landscape.
(Image via Rhino Africa

 

The far-removed nature of the camp’s location means that the 8 million acres (yes you read that right!) of land that camp sits on are available exclusively to Serra Cafema’s guests. This means that if you can find your way to the site you will be rewarded with an experience that will stay with you forever. 

Namibia accomodation, Namibia, Fish river canyon, fish river lodge, wilderness safaris, Serra Cafema, travel, luxury, stargazing

Welcome to the wide-open outdoors.
(Image via Uncharted Outposts)

 

Since there are only eight thatched chalets at the riverside lodge you are ensured a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. So once you have reached the camp all you have to do is enjoy the beautiful surrounds while you listen to the rushing water of the river that runs beside the camp. 

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The Serra Cafema Camp in the twilight- pure magic.
(Image via Kiwi Collection)

 

While at the camp you can visit a nearby Himba settlement, go quad biking through the nearby dunes, or as mentioned above, simply relax at the camp enjoying the contrasts of place where a river runs through a desert.

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Part of a Himba settlement.
(Image via Audley Travel

 

You can book at Serra Cafema Camp here

 

3. The Fish River Lodge

The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world and it is truly one of the most stirring sites in Namibia. It is found in the south of Namibia and if you are in this part of the country then you simply have to check out this canyon on the border between South Africa and Namibia.

 

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Every chalet has a sweeping view of the canyon.
(Image via Fish River Lodge)

 

One of the best places to use as a base when exploring this canyon is the Fish River Lodge. It is the only lodge in Namibia that is perched on the edge of the immense canyon. The parks board has forbidden any more building on the rim of the canyon so the Fish River Lodge is the only lodge where you can lounge by a pool and soak in views of the canyon like this:

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Lounge in the pool and take in this impressive natural wonder.
(Image via Fish River Lodge)

 

The lodge itself can only by accessed by driving on a very rocky and challenging dirt road. A decent 4x4 with sufficient is a must if you hope to make the trip up to the lodge. Smaller sedans and two-wheel drive cars will struggle to get through some of the rougher parts of the road.

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The rugged roads around and into the lodge are not built for city dwelling vehicles.
(Image via Fish River Lodge)

 

There is much more to this lodge than just amazing views of the canyon. The lodge offers a range of activities. There is a mammoth, and highly rated, five-day hike; a day hike; and scenic day drives around and into the canyon. The stargazing is also spectacular in this part of Namibia as there is very little to no light pollution.

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Hikers scrambling down the face of the cliff of the canyon.
(Image via Fish River Lodge)

 

You can book at the Fish River Lodge here.

 

This was part one of two in our series on exclusice and remote places to stay in Namibia. Later in the week we will be posting a second blog on another three places... Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Twitter feeds for the follow up post later this week!

 

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For more information on Stargazing in Namibia, and to find out what it is like to hike in the Fish River Canyon, check out these two blog posts from our archives:

Exploring Namibia's Starry Skies A Day Hike Through the Fish River Canyon
506 namibia star gazing moon rising windhoek into the sun 

Three New Self-drive Routes Through Namibia

  
  

Open Africa is an organisation that prides itself on promoting sustainable tourism ventures in countries like Namibia. Recently at last week’s Namibian Tourism Expo, Open Africa, in conjunction with the Namibian Tourism Board and the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia, launched three new self-drive routes through Namibia.

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Each self-drive route has been carefully planned out to highlight aspects of Namibia that are a little bit less well known to both local and international tourists. This blog post will provide you with an overview of all the experiences you can have on each route (for a detailed itinerary visit our page here or click any of the names of the experiences below).


The Omulunga Palm Route

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What you can expect on the Omulunga Palm Route

There are several notable cultural experiences to be had on this tour as many of the local tribes along of this route have a proud history. The Owambo homesteads along the way are reminders of Namibia’s hard-fought liberation struggles as well as its promising future.

Many of the local communities along the route manage conservancies that aim to provide locals with the opportunity to share their traditions, culture and wildlife with visitors.

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An Owambo homestead.

 

Regions the Omulunga Palm Route will take you through

The route takes you on a journey from the arid northwest of the country to the fertile and verdant northeast. It should also be noted that this route also takes travellers down to the world famous Etosha National Park.

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Visitors getting close to some game at Etosha.

 

Experiences on the Omulunga Palm Route 

The Roof of Namibia Experience

The Roof of Namibia experience is 467km long and roughly runs parallel to the Angolan border in Namibia’s north. The journey traces the Kunene River from the Ruacana Falls across to the Okavango River. The trip takes travellers past several pans and flooded channels. These watery ecosystems are home to a massive amount of birdlife on offer.

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The Ruacana Falls.
(Image by Tom Jakobi via Wikicommons)

 

This part of the Omulunga Palm Route is not just about rural wildlife as there are several urban settlements along the way with attractions such as the Outapi War Museum, Ombalantu Baobab Museum and the Eenhana Shrine.

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The mighty Ombalantu Baobab.
(Image via Wikimedia)

 

The King Nehale Experience

This experience is a 641km trail through the culturally rich and unique towns of Oshakati, Ongwediva and Ondangwa. There are also several rural villages that surround these larger towns, so be sure to be on the look out for those!

The major attractions on the King Nehale Experience are the Omugulugwombashe National Monument, Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Uukwambi Kings Monument, Oshakati Open Market, Ongula Traditional Homestead, Nakambale Museum and Lake Oponono. This part of the route also takes you through Etosha National Park. Exploring this world-class National Park is a must-do activity when visiting the Land of the Brave.

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A Blue Crane at Lake Oponono
.
(Image by Alastair Rae via Wikimedia)

 

The Arid Eden Route

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What you can expect on the Arid Eden Route

This route is a dream come true for travel photographers. As you head away from Swakopmund the arid desert landscapes and the crystal clear skies offer up some of the best photography opportunities in Namibia.

There are several unique locations along this route ranging from ancient rock paintings to modern cultural experiences in the heartland of the Himba people.

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A Himba woman looks on.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)

Regions the Arid Eden Route will take you through

The Arid Eden Route begins in the coastal town of Swakopmund and runs all the way up to northern border with Angola. Something that makes this route quite special is that it winds through the previously restricted western part of Etosha National Park.

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The beach at Swakopmund.

 

Experiences on the Arid Eden Route

The Welwitchia Experience

The Welwitchia Experience is 860km long and allows travellers to experience all the excitement of Swakopmund as well as the awe-inspiring Etosha National Park. The route, which is mostly gravelled roads, is well maintained and any car with sufficient ground clearance and sturdy enough axel will be able to navigate it.

gravel road namibia 88c90f18 902e 4486 925d 712761bd7ba4

A typical gravel road in Namibia.
(Photo by Andreas Seehase via Foto Community)

 

The Windhoek to Galton Experience

The Windhoek to Galton Experience is the experience that gives adventurers access to the previously mentioned western part of Etosha via the Galton Gate. The route is 520km in length and as you drive from the capital city to the Galton Gate be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife on the verge of the road.

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Explore the western parts of Etosha.


German delicatessens, coffee shops and local butcheries with locally sourced game and beef are also dotted along the route. So be sure to take a bit of time out and pop in to one of these establishments.

If you have time (and are properly prepared!) don’t forget to get off the beaten track and explore some of the landscapes that the route traverses. Massive mountain peaks, unique geological formations, desert-adapted wildlife and never ending horizons abound in these parts of the Land of the Brave.

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There is wildlife aplenty on this route!


North West Trails

This trail is for those who seek a bit more adrenaline coursing through their veins. The main attractions on this part of the route are surely the Spitzkoppe and Mount Erongo. These mountains are favourites among both mountain bikers and rock climbers and offer several routes up and down their slopes and faces.

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Explorers taking in the Spitzkoppe.


The North West Trail also takes travellers past Namibia’s highest mountain, Brandberg. The area around the huge mountain has over 2000 recorded rock art sites and there are professionally run tours that take tourists to the major sites. Such a tour is a must for anyone interested in the ancient history of Namibia.

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An example of some of the rock art you can find in the area.


The foothills of the Brandberg are also home to some of Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants. The region is easily accessible and it is thus it one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of these mighty and rare large mammals.

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A young desert-adapted elephant near the Brandberg.
(Image courtesy of the Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

Twyfelfontein (or ǀUi-ǁAis) is another attraction on the North West Trail. It is an official World heritage Site thanks to its numerous petroglyphs and the naturally formed geological wonders like the Organ Pipes and many petrified trees. If you want to explore Twyfelfontein then using the small town of Khorixas is a good idea as it is the last convenient place to stock up with supplies before heading out in the arid northwest.

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A unique rock formation near Twyfelfontein.


The Himba Cultural Experience

The Arid Eden Route, as mentioned above, will take you through the heartland of the Himba people of northern Namibia. The Himba Cultural Experience focuses on these unique people and the suggested 443km goes through several homesteads in the area.

The remote Himba settlement at Puros is particularly unique as its massive camel thorn trees provide shelter for all from the unrelenting sun. At Puros there is a supply store where locals and travellers can stock up on essentials like sugar, cooking oil and soap. There is also a billiard table at the store where you can share a conversation and friendly game with some of the Himba people.

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A group of Himba cutting loose.


The Four Rivers Route

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What you can expect on the Four Rivers Route

The route focuses on getting travellers off the beaten path and the meandering course it takes through the riverine landscape encourages exploration and discovery.

As with the other two routes discussed there are a variety of culturally diverse experiences along the Four Rivers Route. The people of the Zambezi are particularly culturally distinct from the rest of Namibia and this makes this route particularly worthwhile for travellers who have been to Namibia before.

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A local homestead in the Zambezi region.


Regions the Four Rivers Route will take you through

This route starts in the northeast at Nkurenkuru and going through the lush Zambezi (formerly Caprivi) region and on to the world-famous Victoria Falls. The regions along this route are crisscrossed with rivers and their tributaries and as such this part of Namibia is verdant and teeming with birdlife, wildlife and surprises.

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Elephants ahead!

 

Experiences on the Four Rivers Route

The Kavango Open Africa Route

This part of the Four Rivers Route traces 383km through the lush regions along the Kavango River. Starting at Nkurunkuru in the west and ending at the eastern border post of Mohembo the route allows travellers to experience the birds, people and wildlife of the region up close.

 

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The banks of Kavango River are particularly picturesque.

(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)


This route opens up an area for travellers that has only been explored since the nineteenth century and is thus the perfect place for those of you who have the need to explore this lesser seen side of Namibia. The Mahango and Khaudum National Parks on the border of Botswana are also magnificent and are well worth the visit.

Other notable attractions that form part of the Kavango Open Africa Experience include the Mbunza Living Museum, Khaudum National Park, Nyangana Mission, Andara Mission, the Okavango River System and Popa Falls as well as the Mahango National Park.

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Popa Falls.
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)


The Caprivi Wetlands Paradise

This experience takes you on an incredible 430km trip through some of the most diverse landscapes and unexpected ecosystems in the Land of the Brave.

One of the most unique parks in the world, Bwabwata National Park, just north of the Okavango Delta is part of this experience. Within in this park there are 5000 residents who live side-by-side with the free-roaming animals in the park.

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A hippo at Bwabwata National Park.
(Image via Cardboard Travel Box)

 

The residents living on this land, thanks to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia, help run and conserve the ecosystem. The local people then derive financial benefits from the tourists visiting the area in what is one of the most innovative and community-orientated conservation programs in the world.

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Locals fishing on the Kavango.


The area surrounding the Kwando River is not only famous for it’s free-roaming elephants but it is also one of the best places to go birding in Namibia. The region is home to over 400 species of birds that live in habitats ranging from acacia woodlands and mopane forests, to floodplains filled with plant and animal.

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The river banks in this region are full of varied flora and fauna.


The Four Corners Experience

The Four Corners Experience is different from all the other experiences on the three routes we have described as it actually takes you out of Namibia and into two of its neighbouring countries, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Your journey will begin at the Ngoma border post and the trip will take you through the Chobe National Park in Botswana. The route will then lead you to where the mighty Zambezi and Chobe rivers merge. The area where these two great rivers converge is famed for its wildlife and luxury lodges.

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The Chobe/Zambezi confluence seen from the air.
(Image via Springbok Classic Air)

 

The final experience on the Four Corner Route will also take you to one of Africa’s truly great wonders: The Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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The awesome Victoria Falls.
(Photo via Wikimedia)

 

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These are just three routes through the vast expanse of Namibia. Remember, you can always create your adventure. If you feel like putting together your very own roadtrip then why not have a look at our other blog posts on self-drive adventures through the Land of the Brave:

 


Driving Through Etosha
self drive namibia, namibia, etosha, etosha national park, etosha game park, safari, etosha safari, etosha accomodation, namibia travel tips

 


Motorbiking through Namibia
CAPIRCORN

 

 
Self-drive Tips
namibia, self drive namibia, self drive safaris, 4 x 4 africa, etosha, adventure holiday, namibia roads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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