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There’s a buzz developing around Namibia. Magazines and travel programs feature Namibia more often and I’m getting far more enquiries about trips to this once overlooked part of Africa.
In November I set out to rediscover Namibia: to explore the landscape, wildlife and accommodation so I could better advise my clients. And so Adventurlogers…here is my advice: Continue reading …
The Okahirongo River Camp is set in the far northwestern reaches of Namibia, near the Angolan border. Rough roads and lack of facilities have kept travelers away from the remote wilderness of the Marienfluxx region, so those who venture here discover a solitude and privacy lost to the rest of the world.
The camp offers surprising luxury considering the remote location. Set on a sweeping ridge, the camp offers breathtaking views of the Kunene River. Wooden cottages are cleverly built into the rocky terrain, each housing a luxury tent with private bathroom, king size bed, indoor-outdoor open-air shower, and private deck.
Scenic drives and walks exploring the rocky mountains and golden sand dunes can be combined with fishing in the Kunene River, or cruising to explore the region’s rich birdlife and spot the river’s many crocodiles. The turquoise waters of the swimming pool and shade of the comfortable lounge and library areas offer respite from the desert heart.
The area is the traditional home to the Himba people, one of the last semi-nomadic, desert-dwelling peoples. The Himba village near the camp remains unspoiled by tourism, thanks to the remoteness of the region, and a visit here is a unique opportunity to witness an ancient culture.
Okahirongo’s River Camp can be combined with its sister Elephant Camp in the Purros Conservancy, 200km south of the Kunene River.
Namibia is a unique African experience, with its battered coastline, dramatic red sand dunes, moonscape deserts and wildlife that has adapted to the arid terrain. This rough planning guide explores Namibia’s major highlights. The distances are significant, so we usually arrange for transport by light aircraft between destinations.
We suggest you allow at least 8-10 days for this journey.
Starting in Windhoek, fly first to Namibia’s most spectacular attraction. The large, white salt and clay pan of Sossuvlei is best know for the dramatic red dunes that surround it. These are some of the highest dunes in the world, reaching almost 400 meters. A photographers dream, the rich reds and dark shadows of Sossusvlei in the early morning are guaranteed to deliver dramatic images.
The incredible landscape can be viewed on game drives or horseback, from a hot air balloon or a quad bike. It looks empty, but on closer inspection you will discover teaming life on the ground and in the air. Snakes, geckos, ostrich, springbok, aardwolf and raptors are just a few of the creatures that have adapted to survive in this desert landscape.
Little Kulala offers a luxury desert experience. Set amongst ancient camelthorn trees on the Auab River, it’s well positioned for exploring Sossusvlei.
The Bushmen called this region “The Land God Made in Anger”. The Portuguese sailors called it “The Gates of Hell”. Whether viewed from the land or the sea, this stretch of Atlantic Ocean coastline has a sense of foreboding danger. But the mist enshrouded beaches, rusted shipwrecks and bleached whalebones also have a melancholy beauty.
The vast rolling sand dunes and uninhabited desert plains are home to the greatest concentrations of desert adapted elephant and lion, as well as the endangered black rhino. The dunes meet a desolate coastline, and a scenic flight affords incredible views of the stark shoreline and lonely shipwrecks.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is an exciting new camp that opened in August 2014. The Camp has magnificent views and glorious isolation, with only eight tented rooms, and offers great opportunities to explore the coastline and the infinite plains.
Etosha National Park
Etosha is one of Africa’s largest game parks, with its main feature being a saltpan so large it can be seen from space. Wildlife is abundant here. Elephants roam in the thicker vegetation, lions are camouflaged in the golden grasslands, giraffe rise majestically above the desert landscape and the endangered black rhino wanders the plains. Over 340 species of bird can be found here, and after the rains a cloud of flamingo fills the skies as water fills the saltpan.
We recommend staying in the Ongava Private Game Reserve that borders Etosha. The luxurious Little Ongava has 3 spacious private units, each with its own plunge pool and magnificent views over the plains. The Ongava Tented Camp is in a different section of the reserve, with eight comfortable tented rooms. Both are ideal places from which to explore Etosha and the many private hides and walks of Ongava.
From here you can return to Windhoek, or consider adding Serra Cafema on the northern border.
This is just a rough guide. Let us create a personalized itinerary that is perfect just for you.
Six elegantly furnished canvas tents sit along the edge of an ancient seasonal flood plain. Each is decorated in a bygone, colonial style with ensuite flush toilets and alfresco bush showers.
The dining and lounge areas are nestled under a soaring canopy of acacia trees and offer breathtaking views of the savannah plains and the famous Kennedy Vlei line.
After the first summer rains in November/December the plains are ablaze with seasonal wildflowers, making this the most beautiful spot in the park. The dry season between May and October offers some of the best elephant viewing in Africa, with elephants seen right in the camp.
The passionate and knowledgeable guides offer game drives, guided walks, bird watching and evening night drives. Expect to see elephant, kudu, sable, the rare and endangered roan antelope, buffalo, white rhino, lion, leopard, and hyena amongst other wildlife species.
Somalisa lets you explore Africa the way you have imagined: up close to nature with the romance of a true safari bush camp.
The camp itself is intimate, with a sense of remoteness. There are six traditional canvas tents, each with an ensuite and indoor and outdoor showers. The shared dining area, living area and plunge pool all overlook the watering hole at the front of the camp, which is a magnet for wildlife.
This area of the park has impressive herds of buffalo and elephant and a high concentration of the rare and beautiful sable and roan antelope. It is also one of the best places to view the predators with lions, leopards, cheetah and wild dog on the prowl.
The excellent guides offer game drives in 4 x 4 vehicles and guided safari walks. Or you can get up close and personal from behind the log pile hide overlooking the watering hole.
Little Makalolo is environmentally and socially responsible. Funds from tourism flow directly to the local communities closest to the park through dividends and salaries. And a portion of each guests fare is allocated to Wilderness Safaris Wildlife Trust which allocates funds to approved conservation projects.
Photos compliments of Wilderness Safaris
NOTE: This safari idea only works between December and March.
The Serengeti is synonymous with the wildebeest migration. Most travellers try to be in the right part of the massive Serengeti plains at the right time of year to catch the migration. Which usually means that people tick the Serengeti off their list having seen only one end of these mighty plains.
We’ve got a better idea.
In the months between December and March the wildebeest have amassed on the vast, seemingly endless grasslands of the southern plains. The trick is to witness the grandeur of the migration without also having to witness the massive influx of tourists. For this we recommend Alex Walkers Serian Serengeti South Camp.
Alex Walker is an exceptional guide who not only knows how to track wildlife, but also knows plenty of secret corners of the Serengeti. The camp is positioned away from the main cluster so you are afforded an opportunity to see one of nature’s great wonders the way it was designed to be seen – one your own.
This is a semi-mobile, tented camp that stays up only while the wildebeest are running, so it’s more rustic than some luxury lodges but it’s still very comfortable.
Then Head North
The northern end of the Serengeti is completely different to the southern plains. Lush, rolling grasslands collide with tree lined watercourses and rocky outcrops, known as kopje. The feeling is wilder, more dramatic.
And here’s our secret. The wildebeest may have migrated south, but the zebras, gazelles, buffalo, giraffe, elephants, lions and leopards are still here, along with a very few privileged people who are in the know.
We recommend Lamai Serengeti, an up-market permanent lodge tucked amongst the rocks of Kogakuria Kopje with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Explore the intricacies of the area with game drives or take a walking safari.
Zimbabwe is becoming a hot safari destination again. Its praise is deserved because “Zim” is home to some of Africa’s best guides, most amazing landscapes and some surprising history. This rough planning guide explores the breadth of Zimbabwe’s historical and native wonders.
Start your trip at Victoria Falls: the Smoke that Thunders.
You will marvel at the immensity of the Falls themselves: from the ground, the air or the mighty Zambezi River.
This is also the playground of Zimbabwe. Thrill seekers will love the bungee jumping, hydro-speeding and a host of other adventures. How long you stay will depend entirely on the length of your bucket list.
Hwange National Park
The largest game park in Zimbabwe, Hwange stretches south of Victoria Falls to Bulawayo and west to the Kalahari Desert. It is home to a stunning array of wildlife and famous for its massive herds of buffalo and elephant.
We suggest you try out a couple of the intimate tented camps scattered through the park.
Somalisa and Little Makalolo are both exclusive tented camps, situated in the middle eastern section of the park. Somalisa offers breathtaking views of savannah grasslands, while Little Makalolo overlooks a vibrant waterhole. Both offer guided walks, game drives and birdwatching.
Camp Hwange is further west set on a rise in a private concession, overlooking the Shumba Pans.
Matobo National Park
The oldest national park in Zimbabwe, Matobo is as much about history as it is about wildlife.
Discover a rich heritage of ancient rock paintings amongst the granite kopjes of this ancient landscape. Created over 2,000 years ago by the San (bushmen) there are beautiful friezes of giraffes, elephants and kudus.
These hills were also the scene of the famous indaba between white settlers and Ndebele leaders in 1896.
We recommend either Big Cave Camp or Camp Amalinda which both offer comfortable accommodation and sweeping views of the Matopos Hills.
Prepare to be surprised! Great Zimbabwe is a ruined, walled city in the southeastern hills of Zimbabwe. Once the royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch, much of the grandeur of the place remains despite the crumbling walls.
While visiting Great Zimbabwe you can stay at Norma Jeans Lakeview Resort, quaint B&B style accommodation that makes a homey change from safari camps..
If you’re up for a little more wildlife than consider heading to Gonarezhou National Park on the Mozambique border. Stay at the luxurious Chilo Gorge, with its spectacular views and first class guiding, or Singita Pamushana.
This is just a rough guide. Let us create a personalized itinerary that is perfect just for you.
Singita has created a wholly new type of luxurious, high-end African experience, offering what I consider to be “six star” lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
On a recent trip to South Africa I visited three Singita lodges: Ebony in the Sabi Sands area, Lebombo and Sweni in Kruger National Park. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before!
- Each lodge is different, but all are discerningly designed and decorated to blend seamlessly into their environment and provide genuine comfort. This is as close to a six star hotel as you will ever get in the African bush.
- With a light touch, the staff caters for your every whim from the moment you arrive. It’s almost as though you get what you want before you realise you want it.
- Unlike most safari lodges, there is no regimentation or routine: you set your own agenda. Get up when you want. Dine when and where you want. Set your own times and methods of exploration.
- A foodie’s heaven, each lodge offers fine dining and excellent wines. All wines are African (except for the French Champagne). A highlight of my stay at Ebony Lodge was a surprise 5-course wine & food matching dinner set up on the airstrip. The glow of bonfires and lanterns was the only light to compete with the wonder of the African sky. The food was mind-blowing.
- The guides are exceptional. And if you are visiting more than one of their South African lodges you can choose to retain one guide for your entire stay.
- I was surprised to discover incredible on-site markets, ensuring that even shopaholics are catered for at Singita. You can buy the luxurious linens, shampoos and other items found in your suite and spend hours browsing through an incredible gallery of African art and craft.
- As a lover of Africa, I was particularly pleased to discover that Singita is deeply involved in wildlife conservation and community development projects. In Sabi Sand, Singita supports a pre-school development program. At Kruger National Park they offer the Singita School of Cooking. In Zimbabwe, where the need is greater, Singita are currently helping to feed 19,000 children affected by drought.
I highly recommend Singita lodges to all of our clients who seek true luxury. If you look for the finest quality and most personal care then please talk to me about including Singita in your itinerary.
Is Africa the right place for a family holiday? Listening to the adventures of Michele, David, Emma (11) and Coco (10), you’d have to say the answer is yes. The Toronto-based family recently returned from a two-week African journey. Michele called me almost as soon as they arrived home, filled with excitement and stories. She agreed to share some of the family’s tales and a few of their over 2,000 photos – so sit back and picture your family on safari on earth’s wildest continent! Continue reading …