Africa Adventure Consultants Journey Specialist Sara had a safari adventure in Namibia in November. A favorite destination of ours that is a bit under-the-radar, Namibia offers the luxury of wide-open spaces, amazing landscapes, fascinating desert-adapted wildlife and very few people. Sara joins us on the blog to share the top 5 experiences from her safari.
I started my trip in the Namib Desert with a visit to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. The Namib Desert is thought to be the world’s oldest and its iconic red sand dunes makes it one of the highlights of a trip to Namibia. It’s home to some of the world’s tallest sand dunes and I summited one of the largest, Big Daddy. This sand dune is a little over 1,000 feet high. The ascent up the huge dune seems daunting at first, but with each step and elevation gain you’re rewarded with a new perspective of the desert. The hard work pays off when you reach the top and take in the 360-degree view of expansive desert landscape stretching endlessly in all directions. At the top, you look down at Deadvlei, an immense salt pan, and take a thrilling run down the side of the sand dune to get there! Deadvlei is an iconic destination for photographers with 900-year-old dead camelthorn trees contrasted against the white clay pan with red sand dunes as a backdrop. It’s a memorable end to an incredible hike. As I left the park, I got lucky and spotted desert-adapted wildlife, including oryx, springbok, jackal and ostrich. Back at the lodge, my other adventures included desert nature walks, quad biking (ATV), swimming with oryx right in front of the pool and stargazing at night. This area has so much to offer!
Namibia is a unique destination of vast landscapes that offers unforgettable adventures, but one of the surprising highlights for me was its stillness and silence. In a world that is constantly buzzing with activity and noise, finding a place to truly disconnect in nature can be rare. Sleeping in an open-air star bed under the night sky was one of those magical moments for me. Imagine sleeping under a canopy of stars, away from the glow of any city lights in a pristine natural environment. It’s completely quiet without any buzzing of appliances or other noise pollution from the chaos of modern life. In the morning, you wake up to jaw dropping views of rocky Damaraland at a luxury lodge such as Onduli Ridge before you venture out with your guide in search of desert-adapted elephants. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Damaraland is an adventurer’s dream. The region is sometimes overlooked but is well worth a visit. It’s a rugged landscape with cultural history and interesting wildlife sightings. The area feels otherworldly with red-rock formations, expansive plateaus and canyons. Despite its dry appearance, there is wildlife to find here. Desert-adapted elephants have learned how to live in this harsh environment. Angolan giraffes are a frequent sighting. A game drive in the region is not as jam packed with sightings as some other African destinations, but the unique landscape and isolation from crowds make the wildlife you do see extra special and rewarding. The highlight on my trip was searching for the world’s last population of free-roaming black rhino with the Save The Rhino Trust. Approaching a free-roaming black rhino on foot is very different than seeing one from a vehicle. These black rhinos rarely encounter people and it’s thrilling to quietly approach them from a safe distance to view and photograph them. It was one of my favorite safari experiences because it was so raw and wild.
Twyfelfontein, located in Damaraland, is renowned for its incredible array of ancient rock engravings that offer a glimpse into prehistoric African cultures. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Twyfelfontein has one of the largest concentrations of rock petroglyphs in Africa. There are over 2,000 individual carvings depicting animals, human figures and symbols. The engravings are believed to date back thousands of years and were created by the indigenous San people. A guided hike among the rocks reveals the rock art and I found this area fascinating and an unexpected highlight of the trip.
In Etosha National Park, you can see elephants, springbok, lions, giraffes and more congregating around waterholes in this beautiful park. However, at some safari camps or lodges you might skip a game drive and enjoy an armchair safari at their waterhole instead. During my stay at Ongava Lodge I could see the waterhole from the main lookout deck where I had meals or from their ‘hide’ where you can get incredibly close to wildlife and capture gorgeous photographs from a different perspective. During my stay, I saw many species, but the highlights were numerous giraffes, a few elephant families, multiple rhino and a leopard.
Namibia is a stunning and intriguing safari destination. It offers unique adventures – from exploring one of the world’s oldest deserts and searching for desert-adapted wildlife to ATV explorations and e-biking through surreal landscapes. Its raw nature and beauty are simply awe inspiring, and it makes a great destination for couples traveling together as well as families – there is something for everyone!
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Photos courtesy AAC Journey Specialist Sara Stark