To see something different from Central America again, my husband and I decided to fly to Namibia this year. After long nights of planning with internet forums and travel guides, a route was finally put together in parts. First Waterberg, then Etosha and further past the rock carvings to the sea. At the end of the tour in the dunes. The day of departure came, but the anticipation was not quite as great as with the trips to Central America in previous years. We both had the feeling of driving into the desert and couldn’t imagine much more about it.
The flight from Frankfurt to Windhoek was very pleasant in just under 10 hours, and without any noticeable time difference (only one hour) you arrived without jet lag. The small provincial airport offers a very relaxed atmosphere. As soon as you get out of Windhoek you will experience the sheer endless expanse of the Namibian bush. In the distance, after a few hours’ drive, the Waterberg massif loomed up.
Hiking on the Waterberg & drive to the Etosha National Park
The Waterberg extends over a length of more than 100 km. It has the good property of absorbing the little water of the rainy season and continuously releasing it in small springs. This in turn means that in addition to a great landscape with great flora, there is also a lush fauna. We explored both on hikes in the first few days. Many gophers, baboons, springboks, Dassies, zebras and giraffes accompanied us on our way. After a few days our route continued through farmland into the Etosha National Park. On the way we had to stop every now and then because the individual farms are separated by fences and you have to open and close gates on the streets to get to the street through the next farmland. It is only on these stretches that you become aware of the actual size of the country. Our expectations for the Etosha National Park were high. Although I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of sitting in the car for 3 days. In the park, due to the large number of wild animals, you are only allowed to leave the vehicle at designated areas and campsites.
Breathtaking wildlife viewing
As soon as we entered the park we were overwhelmed: Huge herds of springbok, zebra, kudu and oryx crossed our path. Here even the most untalented amateur photographer can get something in front of the lens. Shortly before lunchtime and when we reached our first camp, David asked me: “What is that up there?” A few meters closer and we saw what it was. A huge bull elephant had declared our street to be his and was walking along it, shuffling his trunk. Even when we were only a few meters behind him, he could not be disturbed. So we drove after him for a few minutes before he decided that his way in the savannah should continue. We arrived at our camp in time for the midday heat. A pool offers refreshment at all camps in the park and if you want you can also get an ice cream. In the late afternoon we went on a game drive again. This time we “only” saw springboks and a few dik-diks. But shortly before the entrance to our camp there was again a big gray “mountain” on the road. On closer inspection we could see that it was a black rhinoceros. So this game drive ended with a great highlight.
Happy back to the camp, it started to rain quite a bit. This rain should accompany us every evening for the next few days. Thus, the timing of the evening braai (grill / grilling in Namibia) became essential. A little digression: As a self-confessed fruit and vegetable devourer, I too have to admit that the meat in Namibia is of excellent taste and quality. This is certainly due to the fact that the Namibians themselves are passionate barbecue fans and therefore build so-called braai places (grill places) everywhere. You can also buy braai packs with grill-ready steaks and boerwors (super-spicy sausages) at every campsite and supermarket. Everything that can be shot in the wild without nature conservation problems is put on the grill. Mostly the meat is only declared as “game” (game) and it often contains springbok, oryx or the like. Of course you have to say that these animals really had a nice life here and were able to feed on the finest herbs all the time. And you can taste it!
Our highlights in the Etosha National Park
Due to the evening rain, we unfortunately had to forego the night game drives in Etosha on our trip. During the day, especially in the morning, we saw an incredible number of animals. Our favorites were: a lion who drank from a puddle in front of our car, a sleeping lion family, a bathing elephant, a bathing hyena, two giraffes who didn’t want partout from the street and a herd of hartebeest. All in all the park was just amazing!
We continued after a detour to Ovamboland to Twyfelfontein. The famous rock paintings that are here have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In a short hike you can see drawings carved into the limestone with slate as well as drawings painted with natural paints. The pictures are probably several hundred thousand years old and the guides have very interesting backgrounds to tell. If that’s not old enough for you, you can visit the petrified forest a few kilometers further. This is an approximately 300 million year old petrified forest. The trunks are scattered everywhere and you can even see the annual rings.
The sea is calling!
Apart from the great sights, the landscape in this area is also fantastic. Grassy steppes, where you can often see different antelopes, are repeatedly interrupted by red rocks. Our way now led to the lonely Namibian coast. About 10 km before we could see the sea, the typical coastal fog awaited us. Our first stop at the sea was at Swakopmund. At lunchtime with a coffee, the fog cleared and we could enjoy the beautiful esplanade in the sunshine. Then we went to Walvis Bay, in German Walvis Bay (unfortunately we weren’t there during the whale season). After we had discovered the esplanade, the harbor and the delicious fish cuisine here as well and had also paid a visit to a large seal colony, it was clear to us: we want to go back to the bush!
So we went on to the Namib Naukluft Park. Our way went over narrow passes and through deep gorges. At a rivier (a river that only carries water at certain times of the year) we were lucky enough to be able to refresh our feet in the cool water. Shortly afterwards, a herd of mountain zebras surprised us on a pass. This genus does not exist in Etosha Park. Our next stop was in the desert town of Solitaire, where we stocked up on groceries and various bread specialties. The place has only 7-10 houses and a super duper bakery, which is not called the “gem of the desert” for nothing. Another 100 km and we were again in a perfect postcard landscape: At the dunes of Sossusvlei. With a little effort, our all-wheel-drive vehicle mastered the last 5 km of sand track. After that, it was only possible to continue on foot. The ascent of the dunes is quite strenuous, but the magical view of the red setting sun together with a sundowner is really worth it! Unfortunately, this trip – like almost all of them – was over much too quickly. But as a conclusion we can say: The next time we go back to the desert, the anticipation will be huge! Namibia is a great travel destination and we can really recommend it!