Following four months backpacking through South Africa which entailed swashbuckling safaris, eye-opening cultural experiences and glugging copious amounts of red wine, Leigh Woods, Project Manager at Youth Time decided to try something a bit different. Travelling along the Garden Route from east to west, he landed in Cape Town where he spent two weeks exploring and generally dithering about where to travel next. Upon discovering the plentiful options of overlanding tours, it quickly became apparent that the desert encrusted land of Namibia was the place to go…
A country whose name was recently morphed with that of neighboring Zambia into an entirely new one (“Nambia”) by POTUS, it would seem that Namibia doesn’t quite get the recognition it undoubtedly deserves. Home to the oldest desert in the world, Namibia has a plethora of spectacular natural attractions including the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon, mysterious Deadvlei and the majestic Etosha National Park.
As more and more tourists flock to the beautiful lands within the sub-Saharan Africa region, the sparsely populated nation of Namibia has become an increasingly popular choice on the modern traveler’s bucket list. However, it was only during my time exploring the stunningly beautiful Garden Route in South Africa that I truly discovered the allure of the south-west Africa nation. During a two-week spell in Cape Town, I began to source out different travel possibilities. The Okavanga Delta in Botswana and Zambia/Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls were both incredibly appealing destinations, but an overlanding tour through the dunes and pans of Namibia quickly became the most alluring option.
Figure : The first few days entailed exploring the Cederberg Region and Namaqualand before arriving at the enchanting Fish River Canyon (pictured)
Figure : After a long day on the road. The group camped down in the heart of the Namib Naukluft National Park and woke early to climb the Dune 45 (pictured) – the highest dune in the oldest desert in the world.
Figure : Following our descent for the dune, the group enjoyed a hearty breakfast in the desert before spending time on foot exploring the dusky pans at Sossusvlei and Deadvlei (pictured)
Figure : We took a pit stop in Namibia’s second city, Swakopmund before heading toward the massive granite formations of Spitzkoppe. The presence of rock art there indicates their significance to the San people who lived there many years ago.
Figure : The group ventured north to visit one of Himba tribes. The income that this specific tribe generates from the visits goes towards the education of orphaned Himba children and assists the tribe in giving them a chance to learn about their own culture and heritage.
Figure : Before finishing the tour in the capital, Windhoek the group spent two days exploring the flora and fauna of the jaw-dropping Etosha National Park – home to Africa’s “Big Five” animals (lion, leopard, cape buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros).
Figure : Another view of the Deadvlei (dead marsh) – a clay pan characterized by dark, dead camel thorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor.
Figure : An old rusty truck in the middle of the desert provided an excellent photo opportunity.
Figure : A rare sighting of two Bat-eared foxes whilst driving through the flatter regions of the Namib Naukluft region.
Figure : The semi-nomadic Himba Tribe are extremely susceptible to Western influence and have lost a large portion of their land to farmers, engineers, miners and many were displaced during the wars that raged between Namibia and Angola.
Figure : Despite the harsh, arid conditions, Namibia is teeming with wildlife. The Monteiro’s Hornbill is a common, near-endemic species in Namibia, with a total population estimated at 340,000 individuals.
Figure 7: Sunset at one of the waterholes near our campsite in Etosha National Park.
Photos: Leigh Woods
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