If you are after high octane wildlife experiences, then Namibia is probably not going to be top of your list. However, if you’re looking to spend time in stunning landscapes either so different as to seem extra-terrestrial, or so extreme that they demand a whole new way of looking, then pack your bags! It is a very, very beautiful country – like no other I’ve visited.
Wherever you go, be it the Skeleton Coast, Damaraland, Kaokaland or even relatively mainstream Sossusvlei and Etosha National Park, the feel is stark, huge, the sky enormous, the land an ever-changing hue of reds and browns, whites and yellows. Still, each area is different, as is nearly every minute of the day. The giant dunes at Sossusvlei, for example, are extraordinary in that, throughout the day, they run the gamut of hot colour. Walking on hot sand, continuously, makes you feel so much more conscious of yourself in the world about you. Not to mention the view – once up high, undulating dunes almost like a red sea, a storm frozen in time. Tip: if privacy’s your thing, then Dune 7 or Big Daddy are quieter – though larger and much harder to climb.
And not just Sossusvlei…. fly north and the land unfolds below, vast, elemental. The most exhilarating flight you are likely to experience ever, inevitably ending with a tiny strip of packed sand, the ‘airport’ a tiny wooden and canvas construct, a tiny piece of humanness offset by the sheer vastness of desert and sky. Kaokoland is exactly this, a vertiginous habitat of sand and rock, a place that reminds me of pictures taken by NASA. Even stranger, among the territory of local Himba tribes people you will find the stunning oasis of Serra Cafema. No phone signal, no wi-fi, as far as I am concerned – the perfect escape.
For me, what Namibia does is make me look. And take my time. There are plenty of perfectly placed camps and lodges to do this from, to explore a landscape so raw, so stripped back, as to frame any life – a desert spider, a desert elephant, a lone tree – like a painter might.
For those that cannot bear to escape totally, sitting at the edge of the busier Etosha National Park are beautiful outfits such as Little Ongava in its own private concession – excellent walking and white rhino sightings, perfect for small groups and families.
Namibia – the land of less is more – it really is.