Namibia is a coastal nation just north of South Africa. It has German roots, mountain ranges, welcoming people and tons of great reasons to visit. We spent a week traveling the country without a guide in our rental car and while there are lots and lots of reasons we loved our seven days in the country, here are eight reasons we think you should book your trip there today!
Apple Strudel This one might surprise you, but I am so serious. I had the best apple strudel at Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery. I still dream about that strudel. The bakery is in the town of Solitaire. The “town’s” name speaks for itself. I’m not sure you can even call Solitaire a town though. It is more like a map dot consisting of a gas station and bakery. However the line for the bakery snaked out the door and the wait was worth every decadent morsel of apple strudel!
Camping in Style Sure, you can camp almost anywhere. Pitch a tent and marvel at the star filled sky. But, where can you listen to wild animals bark, watch a sunset over the Naukluft Mountains and watch swaying prairie grass dance in the wind all while in a comfortable bed. Oh! and a concrete floor, warm running water and door to close. Yes, this is my kind of camping. Safari camping is unique to Africa, and it is definitely an experience to have when in Namibia. We stayed at The Desert Camp near Sossusvlei National Park and loved every moment there!
Water in Deserts Much like the apple strudel, water in a desert is counter-intuitive. But, we saw it twice in Namibia, and both times, it was unexpected a beautiful. The first was during our drive along the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean seemingly swallowed the sand dunes as they rolled downward. The rolling sand dunes meeting the rolling ocean waves is a uniquely Namibian experience. Our second sight of water in a desert was a lake (yes a lake!) in the Sossusvlei National Park. A place know for sand dunes as high as skyscrapers also has a lake. Go figure!
Hiking The hiking in Namibia is different. Your typical well trodden paths do not really exist because most of the “trails” are the desert. The winds blow the sand around and wipe away pre-existing footprints and paths. Hiking in the sand is also a great leg workout – my calves were sore for day! But I did not care!
Magical Sunsets Have you ever wondered why sunsets over the desert are so pretty? Turns out, the more “stuff” in the sky, the more places the sun’s rays have to bounce around. So, in the desert, where the sky is full of dust particles, the sun’s light goes crazy and a beautiful sunset is created. Our trip to Namibia during their dry season (read: dusty season) was perfect for unforgettably beautiful sunsets.
Africa without a Guide You will need thousands and thousands of dollars to spend two or three days in the African wilderness with a guide. In contrat, you will need only two thousand (American) dollars for an entire week in Namibia’s wilderness without a guide. Namibia is fondly referred to as “Africa for Beginners.” Why wouldn’t you start here? Our only other experience on the continent of Africa came prior to Namibia when we spent 4 nights in Cape Town, South Africa. If you can read a map and drive a car, you can travel without a guide in Namibia just like we did.
Trees as Old as Dirt Deadvlei (or “Dead Valley”) is a dried lake bed surrounded by crazy tall, rusty orange sand dunes. Once an oasis and home to many plants, now the dried white clay bed is home to sun-scorched trees believed to be over 900 years old. The trees are not petrified, but rather too dry to decompose. The preserved tree trunks jutting up from the cracked earth is an absolutely incredible sight; almost eerie. Deadvlei is reason enough to go to Namibia – it is that special.
Seeing Wild Animals in the Wild Given the choice, would you rather snorkel with tropical fish or look at them in an aquarium? (I hope you say snorkel!) So, given the choice, would you not prefer to see wild animals in the natural habitat or zoo? Namibia is just the place to see such sights. Watering holes around Etosha National Park are teeming with wildlife. We saw elephants bathing, zebra and giraffe grazing, rhinos clumsily walking and lion eating their kill. If you want to see wild animals being wild, come to Namibia.
Africa, as an entire continent is amazing. It is truly like no other place on earth. Namibia, a small piece of this large land mass is ruggedly beautiful. This small list is just a sample of the wide range of possibilities during your vacation: apple strudel, century old dead trees and water in the desert – just to name a few!