Chartered clients, Allan and Gail Stephen undertook a monumental trip to Namibia in May this year. In this article, they share the highlights from this memorable adventure … and encourage other clients to visit this diverse and beautiful country.
Allan and I travelled to Namibia in 2010 and decided it was time to do a self-drive trip there.
We entered Namibia from Nakop and Ariemsvelt. Our first stop was at the Fish River Canyon where we spent two nights at the Canyon Lodge which was lovely (rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor). The Fish River Canyon is amazing – so deep and wide with beautiful forms of rocks caused by the water and wind. During our visit, the river was not flowing. We learnt about the lone solider who is buried in the Canyon, and had the privilege of watching some hikers going into the Canyon for a five-day hike.
We then travelled from the Canyon up through Keetmanshoop and Mariental to the Kalahari Arib Lodge with the reddest sand we have ever seen. There we witnessed a beautiful sunset over the waterhole whilst watching the serene blue wildebeest drink.
From there we travelled through Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, onto Okahandja which has the largest open air market in Africa. This was amazing – the locals have erected little shacks from which they do everything – live, make and sell their goods. It is huge and the vibe fantastic. We visited the Waterberg Plateau Park a bit further up. This is absolutely beautiful – lots of cliffs all in red rock, and here we visited the German and Herero Military Graveyards.
Our next stop was Etosha National Park, viz Grootfontein, the only area where we saw any form of farming done because they have water. Just after Grootfontein we visited
the Hoba Meteorite. The rest of Namibia is very dry and barren – they haven’t had good rains for three years, but at least some areas have a lot of underground water.
The Etosha National Park is unbelievable – the pan is 4731 km square and, at the widest point, is about 110kms by 60kms. The vastness of this pan is breath-taking. The park was also very dry but we saw many Springbok, Oryx, Wildebeest, Elephants, Giraffe and beautiful birds. A rare sighting was a Rhino at a waterhole.
From Etosha we travelled through the desert onto Henties Bay and Swakopmund, a beautiful town with old buildings and wide streets. A highlight here was the 4 x 4 quad biking we did in the dunes – expensive, but worth it.
From Swakopmund, we went to Walvis Bay and did the Catamaran trip, and then onto Solitaire for the best apple pie and tea ever! Going from Solitaire to Aus you travel along long dirt roads passing lots of Oryxs, warthogs and kudus on the side of the road – not many areas have fencing so driving at night is not advised.
The wild horses in Aus are a true reflection of what drought can do. These horses are being fed Lucerne in the mountains and drink from a man-made water hole where you can watch them from your car.
Whilst in Aus, we visited Koolmanskop, a ghost mining town. With no railway line to Luderitz Bay anymore, it is almost also a ghost town itself these days.
We then headed home going through Noordeower border post.
Namibia is very good value for money for South Africans. Firstly, our rand is on par with the Namibia dollar – you don’t have to exchange any monies. The price of petrol was R3.00 cheaper per liter than in South Africa. You don’t have to pay for plastic bags in the shops. All the same brands that we have on the shelves in South Africa are found there and the shops are the same (Shoprite, Clicks, Pick and Pay, Spar, Tops etc).
You feel very safe in Namibia – we didn’t see any street beggars and no car guards. We found our map very useful as our GPS wanted to take us on little “D” roads and not the main gravel roads.
We had a fantastic trip.
Some information about Canyon Lodge, where the Stephens enjoyed the start of their trip.
Canyon Lodge is situated on the 520 square kilometre, privately-owned Gondwana Canyon Park. It is only 20kms from the main viewpoint of Fish River Canyon and is built from natural materials, including local rock and thatch roofs. The lodge is an ideal starting point for visits to the Fish River Canyon.
The Canyon Lodge’s main area lies in the shelter of a granite hilltop, and the lodge itself has been built amongst enormous boulders, designed to blend in with the natural environment.
Spaced evenly amongst the tall weather-beaten granite boulders are 25 thatched, natural stone and wood bungalows. All units are equipped with comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning and mosquito nets.
Guests can gaze at the Fish River Canyon’s incredible scenery whilst enjoying a sundowner on the top of the lodge’s own mountain. Activities include unguided morning hikes, Canyon and scenic drives and a guided sunset walk. Take in the superb scenery in this haunting, arid landscape.