Namibia had been high on my bucket list of travel destinations for a number of years. Mainly for two reasons which were to see the Deadvlei and to sand board the largest sand dunes in the world. While I would only accomplish one of these on my trip to Namibia, what I found was an amazing place with so much more to offer then the two main attractions I went for. The scenery in Namibia is among the most beautiful I have experienced anywhere. Combine the nature and wildlife with friendly people, interesting and different cultures and I found it to be nothing short of amazing! Everywhere you turned there was something new and wonderful to experience.
Our first stop in Namibia was the Fish River Canyon, which next to the Grand Canyon in the USA, is the largest canyon in the world. We were treated to a beautiful evening hike around the top of the canyon once we arrived, and while enjoying the journey the true treat was the destination. Our awesome guides Dylan and H surprised us with wine and cheese to enjoy the sunset over the canyon. What an amazing way to enjoy the scenery and company of the great people in our group. After camping near the canyon for night we set off towards the Soussesvlei the next morning. On our journey we stopped to examine a Social Weaver Bird nest. The nest was massive and it was interesting to see how these birds live in a community together.
The Soussesvlei and Deadvlei were areas that definitely got me excited. After a long day of driving We stopped outside the Soussesvlei to hike the Sesriem Canyon and set up camp for the night. We were up early the next morning in order to climb the famous Dune 45 in the Soussesvlei for sunrise. Climbing a sand dune is more challenging than one might think as for every step forward it seems you go back two. With the extremes of the Namib Desert, the sand was also very cold on the feet at 5:00am. However, the sunrise was so worth it! I’d love to post a picture of the sunrise, but instead I’ll offer a word of caution for anyone visiting a desert to protect your camera. After being blasted with sand my camera decided to stop working and I only got a few bad pictures on my phone. Protect your cameras if visiting the Namib Desert!
After breakfast we headed to the Deadvlei, also known as the Dead Flats. It is listed as one of 25 Insanely Breathtaking Places To Visit Before You Die! I’ve been there, and out of everywhere I have been and places I have seen it is one of the few where I feel the urge to go back. With the sun-baked white sand bed and the bright orange sand dunes it gives the impression of being a drawing. I also saw illusions as well. It is an interesting place fully cut off from any water supply by the surrounding dunes and it is estimated that these acacia trees have been dead for more than 900 years. Having been on a group tour with G Adventureswe only had an hour or so to spend here. For many people it was enough time, but for myself I would have like to enjoy more time there and will eventually make it back in order to take my time here. Hopefully with not so many tourists around either as it was quite busy in the morning.
Swakopmund was the next main stop on our journey through Namibia. It is one of Africa’s adventure capitals. It is a small ocean side city with many options for everyone. Offerings include, but are not limited to skydiving, quad biking or sand boarding in the sand dunes and whale watching as well as a desert creature tour. I decided to go quad biking in the dunes to start a day here and it was a blast! So much of a blast that I became over-confident on my quad and flipped it on a 150′ high sand dune. It was quite a tumble down the dune. Lucky for me I was not seriously injured, but I was not walking too well and this was the reason I did not get to sand board the dunes in Namibia. Lucky for me there was a fellow Canadian, Lauren, in our group who who was a nurse and convinced me to get over my urge to still go sand boarding. Telling me to instead take it easy and relax with an ice pack. I’m sure this is why I was back to normal in a few days.
In Swakopmund we were lucky to spend a bit of time with a Herero woman. The dress of the Herero women is very interesting and unique in that they wear a headpiece to honour the horns of cattle. From here we were taken into the township to sit with a Nama medicine woman who explained the uses for different herbs to us and taught us a few words of the Nama language. In the township we were also taken to a bar where we were treated to some local beer, music and a delicacy of fried Mopane worms. While the thought of eating a Mopane worm, which is actually a large caterpillar, may sound disgusting at first, they were actually quite tasty and I would recommend you at least give it a try if offered the chance.
Some interesting history on Namibia is that the Herero people together with the Nama people were victims of a campaign for racial extermination by the Germans in the early 1900’s in what is considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century. It took close to 100 years for the German government to recognize these events and in 2004 the German government recognised and apologised for them, but also ruled out financial compensation for the victims’ descendants. It took until July 2015, when the German government officially called the events a “genocide” and “part of a race war”.
Namibia is a country with a harsh environment and history, but full of beautiful people and culture. It was a must visit place on my travel bucket list, and now it’s become a must go back place on my bucket list. I’ll share more of Namibia, its people, history and wildlife in my next post.