Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, Burnt Mountain, & the Organ Pipes

The scenery on our drive through Damaraland and over Grootberg Pass from Hoada Campsite to our next campsite was stunning, and we stopped several times along the way to marvel at it (and, once, at a scorpion that was crossing the road).

The top!
Red rocks along the Grootberg Pass drive.

Continue reading Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, Burnt Mountain, & the Organ Pipes

Etosha National Park: Lions and Elephants and Rhinos, Oh My!

Our visit with Wahu and his friends primed us for the next stop on our tour of Northern Namibia, and we were excited to see the animals that roamed Etosha National Park. Our itinerary gave us two days and nights in Etosha: we would arrive around noon on the first day and set up camp at Namutoni Camp before setting out an afternoon game drive, and our second day would begin with a morning game drive, a brief respite for lunch at Halali Camp, and then a drive to Okaukuejo Camp, where we could visit the watering hole around which the camp was set after dark. Our guides suggested that, if we were lucky, we might see a black rhino during the evening at the floodlit Okaukuejo watering hole.

Welcome to Etosha National Park.

Continue reading Etosha National Park: Lions and Elephants and Rhinos, Oh My!

Hanging out with the AfriCats

As with the first day of our weeklong tour through Southern Namibia, our seven-day circuit through Northern Namibia began with an early start from the Wild Dog Safaris office in Windhoek. While our Southern Namibian travel group had been fairly small, with just five other people, the group for our northern trek included eleven additional travelers.1 After meeting up with our new guides, we were quickly on our way out of town, heading north from Windhoek on the B1 – Namibia’s main highway linking its southern border with South Africa to its northern border to Angola. Continue reading Hanging out with the AfriCats

Fish River Canyon (Which Contains No Fish)

On the third day of our camping trip, we arrived at one of the highlights of Namibia: the Fish River Canyon. The Fish River Canyon, which is 160km long and up to 27km wide with a depth of 550m, is the second-largest canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon).

The Fish River Canyon is one of things that I was most excited to see in Namibia, and it didn’t disappoint. The gaping mouth of the canyon, with its striations and jagged edges, was awe-inspiring. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ve included plenty of pictures of the canyon here!

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Informal hiking in the canyon is prohibited (although serious hikers can embark upon a five-day hike through the canyon),1 so we stuck to the short trail along the rim of the canyon.

Selfie at the Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Gratuitous glamour shot.

We maintained a leisurely pace, stopping frequently to take pictures, look at the wildlife (mostly birds and a snake), and just sit and marvel at the canyon.

Snake at the Fish River Canyon, Namibia
The aforementioned snake.
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Marc contemplating the canyon.

Once our group reconvened at the canyon’s main viewpoint, we had our lunch on the picnic tables there. The amazing view made our shredded cheese and mystery lunchmeat sandwiches much more palatable.

Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Wouldn’t this make you enjoy a dubious sandwich that much more?

After we left the Fish River Canyon, we headed to the small town of Aus, where we would be camping for the night.2 We set up camp at Klein-Aus Vista, where the campsite, surrounded by mountains, had an arguably even more stunning setting than our campsite at Ai-Ais. Because the campsite was isolated (it was even 2 km from the lodge), there was hardly any light pollution and we had an amazing view of the stars.

Where We Stayed:
☆ Klein-Aus Vista Campsite. Four goats. The scenery was amazing, and the shared shower facilities were nice (albeit a little far down a dark path, making finding the bathroom in the middle of the night a bit of an adventure).

1 Our guide told us the story of a man who, despite the numerous signs prohibiting day hiking, ventured down into the canyon and was never seen again.
2 Fun fact we learned from the German girls in our group: In German, “aus” is what you say to a dog to get it to stop barking.

Fossils & Hot Springs in Southern Namibia

The second day of our trip through Southern Namibia began early: we arose at 6:30 a.m. to pack up our tents, have breakfast around the remnants of the campfire, and get back on the road.

Just before noon, we arrived at the Mesosaurus Camp. The site is run by a farmer who discovered mesosaurus (a lizard-like creature that lived approximately 270 million years ago) fossils on his property. The farmer, who was a bit of a ham and clearly enjoyed having tourists, took us on a tour of part of his property, first to show us the fossils and then to tell us about the local terrain.

Mesosaurus fossils in the farmer’s hands.
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Glamping in Namibia (Or, What Kind of Camping Trip Did We Sign Up For?)

The first leg of our our 23-day camping trip was a 7-day circuit through Southern Namibia. After meeting our guides and the rest of our group in Windhoek, we set off into the Kalahari Desert.

Since we had arrived in Namibia via overnight bus, this was the first chance we had to see the Namibian countryside. During our brief stops at the sign demarcating the Tropic of Capricorn and for lunch, we admired the wide-open spaces and the desert life.

This was the fifth of six – and clearly the most conspicuous – times that we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn during our travels in Southern Africa.
Continue reading Glamping in Namibia (Or, What Kind of Camping Trip Did We Sign Up For?)

That Time We Took a 24-Hour Bus Ride to Windhoek

After spending a month driving ourselves around South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho, we decided to hand the trip-planning reins over to Wild Dog Safaris and booked ourselves on their 23-day “African Odyssey” camping trip. The trip was essentially comprised of three smaller trips: (i) a 7-day circuit through Southern Namibia, (ii) a 7-day loop through Northern Namibia, and (iii) a 9-day journey through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and Botswana, ending at the Zambian side of Victoria Falls in Livingstone. Our trip began in Windhoek, and also returned to Windhoek for one night after each of our weeks in Southern and Northern Namibia.

To reach Windhoek, we took an Intercape bus from Cape Town. The journey, which began at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, was projected to take 18 hours. In fact, due to road construction and the general shenanigans associated with international border crossings, the bus took more than 24 hours to reach Windhoek.

Intercape bus to Windhoek
The bus which we called home for more than 24 hours.

Continue reading That Time We Took a 24-Hour Bus Ride to Windhoek