Written by Shanaaz Ziervogel
As a land of striking contrasts, exceptional wildlife and landscapes that stretch into the distance, Namibia has always been at the top of our bucket lists.
Recently, Explorer Team Leader Shanaaz enjoyed a trip here, and came back with stars in her eyes! Here is her feedback on a 2022 trip to Namibia.
As a guest of O&L Leisure and Abenteuer Afrika Safaris, I participated in a pre-conference tour before recent Africa’s Eden trade show in Zimbabwe’s Victoria falls, joining a small group of fellow operators, who share the same passion: Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People.
Easily, the most incredible experience! I cannot even find the words to describe what an amazing time I had in Namibia. It truly is a country that has everything. It is easy to explore, safe, incredibly beautiful, the locals are so friendly, the landscapes are diverse, and the wildlife exciting.
My trip started with a flight from Cape Town, South Africa to Windhoek Airport, followed by a charter flight staying at Mokuti Etosha Lodge.
Mokuti Etosha Lodge is the closest lodge to Etosha National Park and is just a short four-minute drive from the eastern gate. Charming, thatched buildings in the classic safari style are nestled among vast indigenous gardens, lending credence to the name “Mokuti” which in Ovambo means “In the Forest.”
Mokuti Etosha Lodge is the perfect starting point for your adventure into Namibia’s crowning glory, one of the most popular national parks in Africa. You can either relax in the shade of the trees or at the pool or visit the Ontouka Reptile Park. Feeling active? Hit the onsite tennis court or gym, or head to the spa for a pampering massage or treatment.
Explore Etosha National Park on morning and late afternoon game drives. One of the absolute highlights is visiting Etosha Pan, one of the largest in Southern Africa. Many animals frequent its edges to enjoy the salt licks! Keep an eye out for a multitude of predators – including lion, hyena, and cheetah – as well as elephants, giraffe, rhino, and gazelle.
From Etosha, we headed southwest down to the coastal town of Swakopmund, known for its classic German heritage, architecture, and food. There are plenty of things to do here: wander along the beach promenade, support the local market or head out to experience one of the top adventure activities that ‘Swakop’ is well known for.
I experienced the sheer thrill of riding a quad bike along Swakopmund’s boundless expanse of shifting sand dunes. After the engines were revved up and ready to roll, our experienced guide led us through the Swakopmund River mouth into the dune belt. I felt the freedom of riding through one of nature’s great wildernesses. We then reached the bottom of a slope which must have been over 100 meters long! At this point I was really starting to re-think my decision to sandboard.
Here we go, headfirst! Racing down the dune at what seemed like a million kilometres an hour straight down the dune. Feeling those butterflies was very real.
That evening we were whisked away for dinner at a secret location – a moonlit escarpment! This is a major topographical feature that consists of steep slopes. This was an incredible experience; even the silence of the night has a different ‘sound.’
As the name suggests, Walvis means ‘whale’ in English; this sheltered harbour (just south of Swakopmund) was once used as a whaling station and was later developed as a shipping port for South West Africa (as Namibia was known prior to independence) and South Africa.
We set sail from the Walvis Bay Waterfront in search of the Marine Big 5. We experienced dolphins swimming alongside our sailing catamaran, and seals playing around. We were even surprised by a humpback whale breaching! How better to round off a perfect morning, than then to witness the Cape Cross seal colony. Do not be surprised if you see a seal jump into the boat! This one’s name was Bobby – he was extremely friendly and loved posing for pictures.
CHOBE RIVER & ZAMBEZI
On arriving in the far northern Zambezi region of Namibia (formerly known as the Caprivi Strip), we made our way to Chobe Water Villas, a unique luxury safari lodge situated directly on the Chobe River, opposite Botswana’s Chobe National Park. Each villa has a massive bathroom with shower and bath, a hug bed surrounded by a mosquito net, and a spacious veranda with beautiful views of the river.
One morning we floated down the Chobe River in near silence. The only sound was the water lapping against the hull of the boat. Drinks and snacks were always available – such a delight! We also spent some time in the wildlife-rich Chobe National Park on game drives, keeping an eye out for elephants, crocodiles sleeping lazily on the riverbanks and the flicking ears of hippos as they congregated under the water. Plus, it is a birder’s delight!
In the afternoons, during the final hours of the day, the wind settled down and a golden sheen of light covered the beautiful landscapes. A true wetland paradise that is a haven for nature and wildlife!