Ask any safari enthusiast to name his or her favorite destinations and Namibia is often at the top of the list. A country of harsh deserts, dramatic dunes, and teaming parkland, it enthralls visitors not only with its wildlife, but with the quality of its experiences. From happening upon a lioness and her fresh kill in a deserted game park to viewing innumerable stars studding the blackest of skies, Namibia offers the chance to see a truly wild place where elements and animals dominate and people are the rare, yet lucky visitors.
Photo 1: Namib Desert
The dramatic orange dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert take their color from iron-heavy sand that has oxidized over time. Part of one of the oldest deserts on Earth, the dunes have effectively rusted over many millennia.
Photo 2: Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp
Rain comes but rarely to the Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, but in its wake leaves a burst of life as desert plants and grasses unfurl over the landscape. Cocktails in hand, guests can soak in the sweeping vista from the main lodge's generous balcony. In the weeks before our visit, the area received more rain than it had in years, so instead of the normal near-barren rockscape, the valley below undulated with the dance of gauzy silver grasses blowing in the wind.
Photo 3: Sunrise over Sossusvlei
Visitors can witness the sunrise over Sossusvlei in dramatic style-one of the highlights of a visit to the Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp. These are among the highest dunes on Earth and are certainly the most dramatic, especially early in the morning as the rising sun casts dramatic shadows across the vivid orange dunes. Adventurous travelers can climb one of the massive picturesque dunes next to Dead Vlei, the clay pan where Namibia's iconic carbonized thorn trees stretch their gnarled trunks toward the dry sapphire sky.
Carbonized camel thorn trees dot the former lake pan in Dead Vlei. Thought to be around 900 years old, the trees give ominous testament to the Namib's harsh conditions.
Photo 5: Desert Flora
Otherworldly plants capable of withstanding summer's baking heat and winter's chill colonize this exotic land, such as this aloe.
Photo 6: Flying Safari
Bush planes are a fast and easy way to travel from camp to camp. Although skipping the long drive between lodges might result in fewer animal sightings and fewer opportunities to cross paths with locals, flying between lodges offers a magical way to experience the sheer vastness of Namibia. Our flights took us across diverse terrain, from canyon-pocked deserts and near-endless sand dunes to sea lion-covered coastline, century-old abandoned mining towns, and vast acacia-studded grasslands.
Photo 7: Safari Meals
A typically wonderful lunch awaits guests at the newly renovated Damaraland Camp. Lodge guests are treated to well-prepared meals throughout the day, the highlight of which is an elegant dinner accompanied by the spirited singing of the staff that is eager to share their culture with lodge guests. Salads, grilled chicken, and a fantastically prepared cut of kudu, or African venison, regularly appear on the menu.
Photo 8: Damaraland Camp
The Damaraland Camp's terrain is home to the fabled Desert Elephant. Capable of surviving the area's harsh weather with little water, it cuts a stunning figure on the arid landscape.
Desert Elephants make their own traffic rules.
Photo 10: Ongava Lodge
Guests at the Ongava Lodge (www.ongava.com) can enjoy stunning views of a bustling watering hole a stone's throw from the breakfast table. Sipping tea early on my first morning at the lodge, I was dumbstruck to see the long necks of a herd of giraffes float above the treetops toward the watering hole.
Photo 11: Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park affords visitors many a quintessential safari scene. A typical day can result in sightings of a plethora of antelope, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, rhino, and a variety of birds including ostriches and hornbills.
Photo 12: Lioness
We were lucky enough to encounter lions daily on our game drives in both the Ongava Game Reserve and Etosha National Park. Here, a lioness guards her zebra kill.
Photo 13: White Rhinoceros
Both white and black rhino call the privately-owned Ongava Game Reserve home. At night, they routinely visit the lodge's watering hole, noisily squabbling over who gets to drink first.
From North America, South African Airways (www.flysaa.com) flies to Johannesburg where we recommend spending a night and catching a morning flight to Windhoek, Namibia. From there, private planes can ferry you to lodges throughout the country.
Planning Your Trip
Our trip was expertly designed by Premier Tours (tel. 800/545-1910; www.premiertours.com) based in Philadelphia, PA. Travel arrangements and accommodations in Africa were flawlessly organized by Wilderness Safaris (www.wilderness-safaris.com).Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers in our Namibia Forum today.