We arrived in Namibia on a scorching hot day at Hosea Kutako Airport, Windhoek. I had been unsure of what to expect as I knew very little about Namibia, other than it is famed for its red sand dunes… but I was soon to learn that Namibia has so much more to offer then the dunes!
On arrival we were met by our guide and driver who took us on a very brief tour of Windhoek…We then began our long trek down south to the Kalahari region – after this long drive, it was such a relief to arrive at this Bagatelle Kalahari Ranch ‘oasis’ where we were greeted with ice cold beverages! Nothing better then an ice cold drink after a long hot drive!
I was personally fascinated by the ingenuity of the Namibians with regards to dealing with their high temperatures. The chalets were made from ‘straw’ bricks which work as an excellent insulator in winter and have a cooling effect in summer. Very clever! Off we then went to the cheetah sanctuary where you can come face to face with these beasts. The braver members of our party disembarked from the vehicle and had a closer look… I was not one of them!
Soon we were back on the road and off to Zebra Lodge where we checked in and relaxed at the pool – taking in the panorama of open grassy plains and red sand dunes. After breakfast we made our way to Sossusvlei… On the way we stopped at Sesriem for lunch on their patio which overlooks boulders and vegetation – what a sight!
We then proceeded to Sossusvlei Lodge and checked in. We then went on a walk up to their viewing platform from where you can look over the unparalleled desert beauty by day, or the clear night sky by dark. By the time we got to the top of the platform, we were all slightly out of breath but it was well worth the climb… We then headed back to Sossusvlei Lodge for their very popular African barbeque under the stars. It was fun trying out the different game meats on offer and the highlight for me was watching the chef put all the ingredients together as per your specification and then see him work his magic. It was awesome.
The next day began with an early morning rush to get to Sossusvlei – the top tourist destination in Namibia. Looking up at the towering sand dunes, I did not think I would enjoy the climb as I kept imagining myself loosing my footing and tumbling down the side of a dune. How wrong I was! What a feeling of utter freedom to be standing atop a dune, watching the sun rise. This was the stuff of inspiring photography! After a fun run down the dune, we had a picnic breakfast and I slowly started to appreciate why Sossusvlei is as popular as it is. I wanted to sit there as long as possible and take in all the natural beauty…
Next stop was the Little Kulala Lodge which is situated on a large private reserve, bordering the Namib Naukluft Park, in the heart of the Namib. The camp offers magnificent views of the famous red dunes of Sossusvlei, mountainous scenery and vast open plains. The veranda overlooks a waterhole. Here, guests can enjoy incredible views, desert game and smaller desert fauna and flora. I think this would be the perfect place for a romantic honeymoon!
We then proceeded to check in at Sossus Dune Lodge which I found to be a stunning property. It is made from wood, canvas and thatch on elevated decks and built like an ‘afro village’. The staff here was extremely pleasant and after dinner, they treated us to an impromptu accapella session which was a pleasant surprise. There is some real talent there.
In Walvis Bay, we checked in to Pelican Bay Hotel and then had a great sea food dinner at the Raft Restaurant – a short walk away. Early the next morning, we embarked on a dolphin and seal cruise. This is a 3 hour cruise departing from Walvis Bay at 09h00 and cruises the Harbour through to the Bird Island. From there we headed for Pelican Point where entertainment is provided by a large seal colony and schools of dolphins swimming alongside the boats. Pelican Point, the very tip of the sandbank that forms the bay, is home to a resting colony of Cape Fur seals. Some 5000 seals, mostly females, can be seen here. To round off the trip we were spoilt with fresh Walvis Bay oysters, a light lunch, and cold sparkling wine served on board the boat.
After lunch we proceeded to Rossmund lunch which is situated on a unique desert golf course, 8kms outside of Swakopmund. We literally just checked in and were back on the bus for a transfer to Desert Explorers who took us on a 2 hour quad biking excursion. For me, this was a personal highlight as I can not describe the thrill of quad biking up the dunes. It was the most amazing experience and we watched the sun set from atop a sand dune and it was truly breath taking.
We then departed for Windhoek and stopped at Okahandja – the former tribal centre of the Herero people. We walked around the craft market and did a bit of shopping – as women do!
We then carried on our journey and had lunch at Olive Grove Guest House. This was a pleasant surprise! It is an up market guest house, situated close to the centre of Windhoek, but in a quiet and peaceful area. It overlooks an olive grove – hence the name. The open-air lounge, spa bath, plunge pool and tranquil garden all invite the visitor to unwind and relax under Namibia’s open skies. The Wellness Room offers a selection of professional services to help guests relax and de-stress after a long flight or for just the perfect end to an adventurous holiday.
We then proceeded to Safari Hotel and Safari Court. After that, we drove out to Thesehands Lounge – 6kms from Windhoek. The lounge sits 500m above Windhoek and offers spectacular sunset views. Here we enjoyed a great barbeque dinner with lots of music and dancing. We also had Djembe drumming lessons with an expert. Drumming circles create an awesome, vibrant atmosphere. This was truly a memorable experience and a must-do for anyone travelling through Windhoek.
We then enjoyed a Windhoek city tour. Windhoek embodies the eclectic nature of the country. Mixed amongst the high rise buildings of the city’s financial district are quaint examples of German colonial architecture and markets selling traditional African wood carvings. Windhoek is also a bustling cosmopolitan city with good hotels, sophisticated shops and convivial bistros.
The city tour ended with lunch at the most famous beerhouse in Africa – Joe’s Beerhouse. We enjoyed the atmosphere of this unique pub and restaurant with its very original witty decor. We sat under the lapas and were kept busy discovering memorabilia collected by Joe over many years, while enjoying a fine beer and a great meal. The generous portions of excellent Namibian and German food will ensure many happy customers.
After lunch, we viewed the Hotel Heinitzburg – a landmark on its own overlooking the capital skyline. We then drove back to where we started our wonderful adventure – Hosea Kutako Airport and boarded our Air Namibia flight back to Cape Town.