Namibia is expansive with otherworldly, with sometimes jarring landscapes. Namibia has some of the rarest wildlife in the world, which has adapted to the harsh conditions of its deserts.
Etosha’s seasonal lakes are a welcome respite from the desert conditions for much of Namibia’s wildlife. Its watering holes make it easy enough to be immersed in a game drive filled with desert-adapted elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, and the extravagant bird life of the region from flamingo to raptors to owls. Just outside the Etosha National Park border lies Ongava Private Game Reserve, where ecotourism has made it possible to see both black and white rhinos in the wild with horns intact. The rhinos are by far the main attraction, and I feel extremely fortunate that we were able to find these endangered animals in amongst the thick bush for ourselves under the expert tracking of our safari guide.
After a brief stop to meet up with my son in Swakopmund, which is a charming little slice of Germany on the Namibian Coast, we made our way to Damaraland. Unlike the itineraries we usually put together for Swain travelers, we decided to drive, frequently off-roading through the countryside and across riverbeds. The drive was slow, thanks to the sheer number of gates that needed to be opened and then shut behind us, but the adventure was very rewarding as we watched the landscape change from thick bush- land to Damaraland’s breathtaking topography.
Damaraland Camp, where we were staying, was exceptional, set in the mountains with sparse vegetation. Damaraland is different to the rest of Namibia. This is exactly what a 4×4 was made for and we enjoyed every moment in this wilderness. We spent a full day from 6am to 6pm tracking desert elephants and saw plenty of giraffes, antelopes, and birdlife along the way.
We then drove down the Skeleton Coast Road, which you aren’t even sure you are firmly on half the time but for the sun-bleached sign posts every few miles, thanks to the constant motion of the sand reclaiming every inch of the land. The Skeleton Coast, or ‘the land God made in anger’ as the Namibians fondly refer to it, will undoubtedly deliver its namesake in form of either scorched whale bones rising from the sand or long-rusted ship carcasses which dot the coastline. It is here that you will witness the ever enduring desert abutting the sea, and it is amazing.
On our last leg of the trip, we watched the terrain dramatically shift from ocean sands to vast desert as we crested the hills of Sossusvlei. Sossusvlei is perhaps the best known area of Namibia. With its enormous dunes, the tallest in the world, a dune climb is challenging but oh so rewarding. What a wonderful way to end our trip, enjoying the ebb and flow of the world’s oldest desert from our suite’s private deck at Little Kulala, an exceptional camp with direct access to the Sossusvlei.
To learn more about Namibia and all it has to offer view our e-brochure, Swain’s Southern Africa Journeys.