Hey Solo Travellers, we’ve been in Southern Africa getting to grips with one of our most exciting new trips for 2017. Check out what we got up to on our 12-Day Namibian Safari in our latest photo diary. Highlights include Etosha National Park game drives, meeting the beautiful women of the Himba Tribe, and of course a visit to the stunning Namib Desert…
The first stop on our journey was at the AfriCat Foundation which founded as a non-profit organisation in 1993. It’s aim is to work with, and educate, commercial farmers, local communities, and Namibia’s youth, in order to accomplish their overall mission; the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
This is Wahu. He was rescued from farmers who wanted to use him as bait to find and kill his mother. He’s been at the AfriCat Foundation for the last 20 years.
There is plenty of other wildlife within the AfriCat Foundation’s grounds. This is a Kudu. No two Kudu’s have the same stripe pattern on their backs.
Late afternoon is the perfect time for a drive in the wild…
…especially if you want to spot animals like the Warthog. These guys don’t see too well in the dark, so they have to eat and drink all they can whilst it is still light!
One of two Cheetah’s we saw that had been rescued by the AfriCat Foundation. It is quite rare to see Cheetah in the wild, so this was an amazing opportunity to see these beautiful big cats up close.
Seeing these two big cats together was the perfect end to our first day in Namibia, and a big thanks must go to the guys at the AfriCat Foundation for showing us around.
The Oryx, previously known as Gemsbok, is the national animal of Namibia. Isn’t he a beauty.
As this was a camping trip, we were able to watch as the stars began to surround us. The milky way was also visible as an extra treat!
Departing Okonjima and the AfriCat Foundation, we headed north, in the direction of Etosha National Park, home to 4 of the big 5. This is a female Impala, easily distinguished from the male Impala who have horns.
Simba. We spotted this little guy hanging out with 2 other cubs and 2 lionesses.
Seeing this elephant playing in the mud was a highlight for most people on the trip. If we hadn’t bumped into this guy by chance after seeing the lion cubs further along the river bed, we wouldn’t have seen an elephant in Africa, so this was a lucky encounter.
This afternoon’s game drive went from amazing to even more amazing as this black rhino darted across the road ahead of us. Not one for hanging around, he continued on his merry way, but what an incredible experience this was.
These are the Springbok. Not sure why the South African’s thought it would be a good idea to name their rugby team after these dainty little creatures, but there you go.
Giraffes are all over the place in Etosha, and thank god, because these creatures are an absolute joy to watch.
Slightly too tall for their own good! We had a lot of fun watching the awkwardness of these gentle giants crouching down to drink from one of the parks many waterholes.
They are just such beautiful creatures, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them! And that sunset sky as well… too good.
We even spotted a Hyena that had come out for a sunset scrounge! This was the end to a fantastic second day exploring the Etosha National Park and it’s inhabitants. Excited for what tomorrow would bring, we went back to our campsite for a delicious Braai dinner (BBQ to us Brits), before falling asleep to the sounds of the hyena in the distance.
Our third day would take us on a full day’s game drive through Etosha National Park. In the morning, we encountered our first herd of Zebra! Did you know a zebra’s stripes confuses predators so that they can’t identify the weak… pretty clever! Especially as I can’t work out what’s going on with those zebra on the right of this shot!?
As well as the larger animals you expect to see on safari, Namibia is also home to many species of beautiful birds.
…had to wait for a while to catch the underside of his wings!
Ostriches are more commonly seen on the west side of Etosha National Park, so this was our first glimpse of these huge birds.
You always know when you are going to see something good in Etosha because the vehicles are all piled up, trying to get a glimpse. We saw the cars in the distance and raced down to see what was going on…
…and we were not disappointed. Two young males, right by the side of the road, had devoured this wilderbeest. Lions will stay with their kill until there is no meat left, because they never know when their next meal might be!
Look at that face. What a beautiful creature.
The world’s largest bird up close.
We were very lucky with the time of year that we went; the previous months had bought a lot of rain to Namibia, so it was nice to see all the different colours of the grasses (difficult to spot leopards though!)
Lions are easier to spot. This Lioness was out hunting with a companion during the late afternoon when we spotted them in the grass.
Rafiki’s tree! (I was singing Lion King songs for the duration of the trip… this will happen to you too.)
The most African sunset imaginable.
Having departed Etosha National Park, the next stop on our journey was at a traditional Himba Village. The Himba people come from the north of the country, as well as Angola, but have started making their way down to central Namibia as they’ve now realised they can make money from the tourism industry. Although some have migrated, their traditions and daily routines remain the same as they always have been.
Rather than washing with precious water, the Himba’s clear their pores using this smoking method. They also cover themselves (including their hair) in a mixture of ochre and fat which gives the red-ish appearance of their skin and helps protect them from the sun.
After lunch at the Himba Village, we made our way to our next campsite in Damaraland. Surrounded by these unusual rock formations, we experienced the most incredible sunset from the top of one of the rock clusters, where there also happened to be a swimming pool and bar…
A beautiful Morpane Worm. Found mostly on the Morpane trees… hence the name.
The vast landscapes were consistently awe-inspiring throughout the entire trip. This shot was taken on our way through Damaraland.
…see what I mean!
These ancient rock engravings at Twyfelfontein are estimated to be between 2000 and 6000 years old. The artwork covers many of the rocks in the area, which was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site 2007, the first in Namibia.
One of 10 glorious sunsets that we had the pleasure of watching. I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a sunset worshipper and if you are too, Namibia will not disappoint!
About time I showed you a shot of the vehicle we travelled around in. It was like Mary Poppins’ handbag! Honestly the amount of camping equipment and luggage that thing carried was very impressive.
Namibia’s tallest mountain, the Brandberg. We were just driving past, but you can climb up this beauty on various day trips.
Cape Cross Seal Colony. The amount of cape fur seals along this coast was unbelievable… so much furry cuteness!
Just one of thousands of shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast. This particular wreck is only 8 years old and luckily all the crew members survived, however crews of ships that wound up here in the past, with nothing but the Namib Desert for miles in front of them, weren’t so lucky.
For our free day in Swakopmund, Namibia’s premier seaside town, we decided to take a boat trip, in the hopes of seeing (more seals) and dolphins. On the way we were shown this oyster farm. Side note, make sure you eat some oysters in Swakopmund, they are delicious and incredibly cheap.
Whilst dolphins proved a little harder to capture on camera, the sheer amount of seals along this stretch of coast meant taking a photo of them was absolutely no problem at all.
They would swim right up to the side of the boat, and jump out of the water. I’m pretty sure they were showing off for us.
Turns out flying Flamingos make for a nice photograph!
The Flamingos of Walvis Bay.
You know when you hear people describe landscapes as vast. Exhibit A.
The Tropic of Capricorn is the southern most circle of latitude where the sun can be directly overhead. Pretty cool. And also incredibly hot.
Mountain Zebra grazing on the unusually green grass. Namibia welcomed, with wide open arms, a good helping of rain in the months running up to our trip, so the landscapes were alive with colour. It was really beautiful. Oh also… Mountain Zebra vs. normal Zebra, you can tell a Mountain Zebra because its stripes go all the way down their legs.
This is a shot of our campsite in Sesriem. As you can see, absolutely amazing views of the mountains in the background. Throughout the trip the campsites were really impressive. All had hot showers and flushing toilets, and most had the luxury of a swimming pool, so it was actually more ‘glamping’ than camping (being someone who is not particularly au fait with camping, I actually found it incredibly enjoyable).
So so so so so worth the 4am start. The great thing about our campsite being located inside the park, was that we were able to get to Dune 45 in time for sunrise, whereas camping outside the park means you have to wait for the park gates to open… at sunrise. Which means you miss watching the sunrise on top of one of the most famous dunes in the world AND you are then playing catch up in the heat of the day.
Really just such incredible colours coming off the dunes as the sun gets higher and higher, constantly changing the look of the dunes. Beautiful to watch.
A single tree standing in what used to be a riverbed amongst the dunes.
About 250-300m to reach the top of Dune 45. Burns the calves but so worth the view once you’re up there.
And obviously coming down is a lot more fun!
Sun now completely risen and blue skies above. This was taken about 7.45am and it was already starting to get rather warm!
From Dune 45 we were driven further south and chose to embark upon a 5km walk through the dunes to reach the famous Dead Vlei. Baring in mind it’s about 35° at this point and it’s only 9am.
Despite the heat, I really can’t recommend the walk enough. Make sure you take closed shoes/trainers though… walking in flip flops on sand that’s been sat in 35° heat, NO THANK YOU.
Dead Vlei, meaning dead marsh or lake. The trees that remain at this desert pan are thought to be around 800 years old. And as you can see from the human standing next to one of them; they are huge.
The trees at Dead Vlei do not decompose because they are literally too dry. The dune to the left of this shot is called ‘Big Daddy’, and I saw some crazy people climbing this thing at 12pm. THAT’S TOO HOT PEOPLE.
After a morning at the dunes we headed back to camp to ‘chillax’ as our guide would say, and more importantly, re-hydrate. In the late afternoon we made a visit to the Sesriem Canyon and watched our last Namibian sunset. *TEAR*
Leaving Namibia was emotional, in that, I did not want to leave. At all. Amazing country, wonderfully welcoming people, informative and hilarious guides, and 10/10 sunsets. I couldn’t have asked for more. Get yourselves booked. Honestly, best decision you will ever make.