My mobility is limited, and I am 79 years old. And yet, adventures excite, energize and enrich my life! There is much to see and learn. My travel options are still many and one option is Africa! But which country? I was pleased to find a trip to stunning Namibia that promised little walking, and travel by safari van. And the scenery looked beautiful and varied, there were wild animals and birds, and the culture as different from mine. It fit my needs in every way.
I am a serious amateur photographer. A variety of scenery is optimal. Namibia has: a large variety of birds and animals; the largest sand dunes in the World; pastel and colorful desert areas; mountains; the Atlantic Ocean and coastal areas; and, a deep canyon similar to the Grand Canyon in depth. It also has ghost towns. What more could I want?
Arriving in Windhoek: Surprises
The plane approached Windhoek, Namibia located in the middle of the Country and the screen in from of me read 6000 feet. The plane shook and the engines roared. We were on the ground. What a surprise! I expected flat grasslands. Instead, there were hills and mountains. Windhoek reminded me of Portland, Oregon with hills as a background for the medium height buildings. Our lodging was in a residential area which was hilly and beautiful. There was an abundance of color created by the lush flora against the white walls and houses.
Etosha National Park
The next morning, six of us, a guide and guide/driver set out in a safari van for Etosha National Park. It is located in the north of Namibia. We passed through small cities, and the people on the street were dressed in a variety of dress—from jeans to colorful dresses.
The houses were small, but beautifully landscaped and some had a white fence. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant frequented by the locals. Can you guess the menu? How about Greek and Cobb salads; a hamburger, fries and coke; and, fish and chips; as well as other familiar favorites! The food was delicious! Another surprise!
Elephants, Lions, Fifteen Other Animals and Birds
Etosha National Park is 8,600 square miles in size. It is home for 114 mammals including four of the big five (elephants, lions, leopards and black rhinos) and 340 species of birds.
We were scouting before the sun had risen. Some of the animals were very active in the dawn light. It was my first exposure to wild animals in natural habitat. It was exciting! Can you imagine driving on a narrow flat gravel road lined with vegetation and seeing 10 elephants walking to a waterhole?
Then, at the waterhole, we saw and heard a roaring big male lion arriving from the other direction. What was going to happen? Well, neither the elephants nor the other animals looked up; they continued to eat and drink water. So much for the reputation of the big feisty lion. He departed, roaring loudly!
During our visit, we saw: lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffe, wildebeest, oryx, hyenas, zebras, springbok, kudu, impala, gemsbok, eland, ostrich, jackal, warthog, and ground squirrels. We also saw many species of birds.
The Atlantic Ocean, Birds and the Tallest Sand Dunes in the World
Our next adventure was in an area known as the Namib-Naukluft National Park. It is 19,200 square miles in size. It encompasses the coastal area as well as the inland dunes. To reach the Park, we traveled on rutted rough dirt/gravel roads and the jarring is called an “African massage.” Walvis Bay was our destination.
Walvis Bay is a seaport and a place where one could enjoy living. It is known for birds, fur seals, flamingos and pelicans as well as seafood. The setting, on the Atlantic Ocean is beautiful, and the architecture unique and interesting. And, can you image flamingos and pelicans six or more birds deep lining the shore for miles? The birds are white and the sand, dark gray. What a sight! There is no way to capture the beauty with the camera.
Early in the morning we transferred to a Toyota SUV. Our destination was a mystery. We traveled on a paved road located between miles of very, very tall dunes and the Ocean. With no forewarning, the car angled left and started to climb the dunes. The dunes are up to 1,000 feet in height and extend for miles. Yes, I was afraid! We climbed and then dropped as in a rolling coaster. We all screamed! But we got to the top! The view was stunning in all directions. The dunes are a photographer’s dream. The forms are fascinating, sensuous and stunning.
Sossusvlei Dunes: Stunning Apricot-Colored Inland Dunes
Back in the van we headed for the inland dunes, the Sossusvlei Dunes. The dunes are stunning! The dunes are tall and described as undulating burned orange and apricot colored towering above the desert floor. The most famous dune, Big Daddy, is approximately 1100 feet tall.
More to See and Experience
There is so much more to see and photograph in Namibia. Travel books and the internet with hours of videos are an excellent source.
We also visited the Namib Rand where we stayed in a private game reserve. It too had unique beauty! It was a mountainous area having pastel colors and one sees zebra, oryx and springbok on the plains. Further south is the Fish River Canyon and Fish River Lodge at the edge of the canyon. If you have seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, the canyon is not quite as colorful or dramatic. And there is more including the coastal ghost towns and Quiver Tree Forest.
The Perfect Adventure: Answers to the Most Asked Questions
The answers to the most asked questions are as follows. We traveled in May; the weather was sunny and temperature in the high ‘70’s until the end of the day when it rose to 88 degrees. The vans are air-conditioned. I wore khaki colored slacks, Columbia sportswear shirts, a photography vest, a Tully hat and tennis shoes. The lodges were spotlessly clean. All had plumbing in the room. Some were very modern with marble sinks and shower. Some were more rustic, but all were terrific.
The food was delicious. There were German and Italian restaurants, but most restaurants served food the same as you would find in the USA. It was cooked perfectly. The wait staff were trained and gracious, the tables had linen clothes and napkins and a full assortment of utensils, and the meals were beautifully presented on the plate and properly served. Yes, everyone spoke English. I never saw a snake ora bug—not one bite! And I never got sick. But beware, the roads are very rough; still, I did not have any problem with muscle or back pain.
I knew I had to return to see more of Africa. My photo buddy returned. And we took advantage of a unique opportunity to travel in Tanzania.
- Beauty Surrounds You, beautysurroundsyou.com. This photo tour was offered by Christoph Fischer. He is a physicist who left research for photography.
- Namibia Tourism: https://www.namibiatourism.com.na/
- On our site: Desert Sands Meet the Ocean: A Namibia Road Trip
- On our site: Ten Reasons You Should Travel to South Africa
-All photos by Adrianne Brockman.