We really wanted to see more of the African continent but ran into a lot of obstacles when it came to costs. We found that the most cost-effective and relaxing way to see Namibia and Botswana was through an organised tour. After much research we decided to go with a company called Nomad Africa Adventure Tours. They were very reasonably priced and an absolute dream to deal with. You travel on a large adventure truck that seats 18 – 20 people and you camp your way through Africa. It was organised incredibly well and we got see so much. We started in Cape Town and made our way to the Namibian border at Orange River. Here we were able to take a much needed dip in the water (it is incredibly hot) and spend some time relaxing in the shade. The heat just hit us in a huge wave as we reached the border and we realised that we were entering an entirely different landscape to any other we had seen – orange and deserted and incredibly hot.
One of our first stops in Namibia was at the Fish River Canyon. The view was spectacular and while gazing out into the canyon we felt like such a minuscule part of the universe. We spent some time walking around the edge of the canyon and just taking it all in. We then ate our dinner while watching the sun set in this magical place.
It was then time to pack up the campsite and begin the long drive to the Sossusvlei Dunes. Luckily there were lots of stops for biltong and cold drinks along the way. On the way we stopped at the Siesrem Canyon, which was very small compared to the Fish River Canyon. But we got to walk along the bottom which made us feel like we were in the middle of a western movie.
After some rest we work up early to climb up Dune 45 in the Sossusvlei to watch the sunrise. Wow, the way the colours and landscape changes as the light does is truly spectacular. I’ve never seen the colour orange so bright and beautiful before and the dunes seem to go on forever. We then had a guided walk through the Sossusvlei with a Khoisan Bushman, he just went barefoot on the hot sand like it was nothing, incredible. He taught us a lot about the area and the animals that manage to survive here. We enjoyed walking through the dead vlei which is areas of white limestone deposits caused from the drying up of the river beds. The trees here were all dead and black and the whole place was very eerie. It is a really unique place to visit and a definite highlight while we were in Namibia.
We then headed to the town of Swakopmund, which is one of the larger towns in Namibia. It is right on the Atlantic coast, which means freezing cold water, even though it is incredibly hot outside. Namibia is an old German colony and you can really see the German influence in this town. Swakopmund is known as a place to do a lot of adventure sports. We opted to go sandboarding which was a lot of fun, but you do end up with sand absolutely everywhere! While Andrew and friends were here they went skydiving as well and had an amazing experience.
The next place to visit was Spitzkoppe, which is an imposing rock formation in the middle of a desert/savanna mix of a landscape. Here we went on a walk around the area and saw old bushman paintings in caves and a few dassies (basically look like large guinea pigs) in the caves too. We got to camp here and really take in the historical feel of the place.
To learn a bit about the people in Namibia we visited the Himba tribe in Kamanjab. It was interesting to learn about their culture but we found the whole scene a bit too touristy to enjoy too much. It seemed that the women still had very strict traditions to follow, while the men could do what they liked. We also met some people from another tribe called the Herrero, who are descendants of the Himba but have embraced a Victorian style of dress, and they continue to wear it.
It was then time to head into Etosha National Park to see some wildlife. We saw an unbelievable amount of animals, including my favourite antelope – the oryx. They are magnificent. A highlight was seeing a dead springbok being eaten by giant vultures, who were then chased away by jackals. We camped right near a waterhole that had look out points. Here we were able to see many elephants, zebra, giraffe, springbok, rhino and wildebeest. The sizes of the herds amazed me. On another drive through the park we saw hyenas swimming in a waterhole and a mating pair of lions. Our time in Etosha was incedible, from the plains to the salts flats, to the many animals, this place had a lot to offer.
We then had a brief stop in the Namibian capital Windhoek before heading to the border. The campsites we stayed in around Namibia were always deserted and so much fun. There were often locals to play soccer games with and at one campsite we got to ride some camels through the desert. Going on a camping trip through Africa is a huge must and the long drives enabled us to see so much of the countries that we visited, it never really got too boring.
Our time in Namibia was fantastic. The landscapes are unparalleled and the feeling of being the only person in a place is incredible. I highly recommend you visit and take advantage of everything this country has to offer. Cost wise it can be as cheap or expensive as you like. We spent NZ$2,000 on the tour (which included Botswana) and then we spent an extra NZ$20-30 (US$15-20) per day on miscellaneous things like snacks and alcohol. Check out my posts on Botswana and Zimbabwe for information on the rest of the trip.
Editor’s Note: Visited Namibia in 2010, updated in 2017.