Across Namibia and its deserts and wildlife

Similarly to Iceland, this trip took a few reschedules before materializing. The good thing is that overall we got great conditions, with weather even on the cold side a few days and probably only 1/3 of the 2020 crowd, and we managed to do everything as planned, if not better.

As a self organized trip there is a lot to learn and plan, even if Namibia is probably one of the easiest country in Africa to visit and the theme was not pure trekking but a self driving trip with day time exploration/hikes.

“This is Africa for beginners” we have been told, which is pretty true as getting around with your own car is particular easy and most of the people you will cross in the parks will be tourists like you. Prices are not on the cheapest side, even more expensive for car camping.

We did a classic loop from Windhoek (the capitol and main entry point), going on the desert and mountain side, then the coast and finally the Etosha side for more Savannah feeling and animals.

Overview of the itinerary

It was a cold start, we hit -2C still at 9:30am! And Windhoek is at 1600 meters. It was cold the first 2 days.

After picking-up the car and getting ramped-up on how to use its equipment, it was time time for 4 days of food shopping and one night in Windhoek.

The massive trunk of the car with a mini fridge

It was an easy first day, with some first gravel road section at the end. First camping of the trip, in a sweet location with a park and a few trails.

Then started a long drive East to one of out favorite part of the trip, Namib Naukluft. There is gets pretty remote with more animal wildlife and possibilities to walk around.

Sunsets have a special glow and last long, and Oryx are elegant
Immensity of this “exotic” landscapes

Then a scenic drive to another highlight of the trip at Sesriem, surprisingly not that busy overall. Elim Dunes provided a good way to finish the day and enjoy the overview.

On of the tops of Elim Dunes

And after a start at the gate opening we to Sossusvlei. Another top 5 of the trip, prime conditions with the view from the top of Big Daddy dune on the Dead Vlei being the highlight. There is a bit of big sand driving requiring 4x4, but manageable, and shuttle options if needed.

A “classic” that felt not over-hyped
The surrounding views are stunning

Then we continued towards another favorite part of the trip in the mountainous region of Naukluft.

Very different perspective from the desert, closer to what we know but still with exotic touches making it aspiring

Lot to do (Water trail, Olive trail…), see (water, high peaks and plateaus… and baboons) and we could have had 1–2 days!

Then back to civilization towards Swakopmund
And a last very barren section

Then after a 2-day pretty in a convenient (walkable, easy to resupply) Swakopmund and its ocean feeling we headed to Spitzkoppe.

Sandwich Harbor near Walvis Bay and its famous dunes

Spitzkoppe might feel less out of the ordinary if you have been to Joshua Tree in California, but camping is magnificent for car camping and the panoramas of the bridge are worth it. Prime activity would be for rock climbing though!

The iconic “bridge” in the morning

Ensue a lot of driving on dirt roads, not the fastest. The areas provided amazing sunsets and get back to more green-ish vegetation and trees. We squeezed the visit of a mini “Monument Valley” on the way up.

Leaving the desert for more welcoming looking valleys

Then were two days just North of Kamandjab in a farm, worth the stop, to see more local farmer life style, animals and catch-up.

Farms have huge reserves where they have cattle (in good rain years), go hunt or make charcoal

Then we started the last leg of the trip: Etosha, a huge national park. We drove from the Galton Gate to Olifantsrus. There were a sand storm for a few hours, magnificent colors in the late hours and so many zebras, gnus, antelopes. We got luck and got an amazing close encounter with giraffes at the end of the day.

Majestic giraffes, yet another iridescent sunset

We continued until Halali and the “end of this world” lookout, for an otherworldly meeting with a pack of elephants, as well as a “night drinking dance” at the camp between elephants and rhinoceroses.

Close encounter with elephants and millions of birds at sunset

Then a straight one shot back close to Windhoek in a slightly remote camp with lot of animal and peacefulness. A last night and fire before packing up and heading to the airport.

We do not regret going to Etosha to experience and see new wildlife despite skipping the Southern part of Namibia. We got excellent conditions, got lucky on the animals, the crowd was minimal and the rusticity of some of the park equipment was more funny/photogenic than a problem. There are very poor areas in the country but somehow these fancy itineraries mostly “hide” them.

A trip changing your perspective before and after, well worth it!

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