Namibia 2013

 

What made this trip so special?

It was a truly unique adventure in some of the most beautiful and captivating landscapes in the world! We explored Namibia by mountain bike, foot, sea kayak and 4×4’s…with incredible guides, great back up support, and amazing travel companions.

We got lots of exercise, laughed hard, learned a lot, and enjoyed every minute!

 

 

TRIP SUMMARY

Sossusvlei

  • The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are often referred to as the highest dunes in the world. Located in the Namib Naukluft park, the largest conservation area in Africa (and fourth largest in the world), Sossusvlei is famous for its towering apricot colored sand dunes which can be reached by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is actually a clay pan set amidst these star shaped dunes which stand up to 300 meters above the surrounding plains.

 

NamibRand Nature Reserve & Tok Tokkie Trail

  • Namib Desert boasts expansive sand and gravel plains and endless stretches of grass savannah alternate with majestic mountain ranges and vegetated dune belts of deep red sand. The variety of flora and fauna is as fascinating as the colour nuances of the landscape, which change continuously as the day progress. The Tok Tokkie Trail is a two day walking activity in the dunes, arriving at a different camp “under the stars” each night.

 

Swakopmund & Walvis Bay

  • Swakopmund is a lovely seaside area resembling a small, German coastal resort, nestled between the desert and the sea. It boasts a charming combination of German colonial architecture blended with good hotels, shops, restaurants, museums, craft centres, galleries and cafés. Visit Walvis Lagoon to see the interesting mix of pelicans, flamingos and other sea-birds. Walvis Bay is the ideal location for kayaking amongst seals and dolphins…what an exhilarating experience!

 

Damaraland

  • Typified by displays of colour, magnificent table topped mountains, rock formations and bizarre-looking vegetation, Damaraland offers some of the most breath-taking scenery on the safari. The present day landscape has been formed by the erosion of wind, water and geological forces which have formed rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. The Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, which have recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located here.

 

Erongo Mountains

  • Erongo Mountains – a spectacular feature that rises imposingly out of the surrounding plains. The mountains form a rare confluence of ecosystems that give rise to remarkable biodiversity, including a vast array of plant, reptile, mammal and bird species that are endemic to Namibia. The stunning Erongo Mountains are circled by impressive granite outcrops, magnificent rock formations and attractive vegetation. Rock paintings and engravings that are found throughout the area.

 

TRAVELERS’ COMMENTS

The schedule of activities on Global Sojourns’ “Active Namibia Adventure” was right up my alley: biking, hiking, and kayaking  in relatively untouched places so I knew the trip was definitely for me, but I was conflicted about going on this trip and another of Priscilla’s (to Madagascar).  It was Peter who finally convinced me (I think he wanted a biking partner in crime), and I’m glad he did because the trip was amazing – it really stimulated all of my being!

There are many things that stood out and set this trip apart.  One was hiking up Big Daddy — although I cannot say I “enjoyed” it at the specific time I was climbing up it,  between the sand pouring into my shoes making my toes feel like they were in a cast and having to basically crawl on all fours because it was so steep in some places.  However, the view from the top was absolutely spectacular, and I felt quite a sense of accomplishment, increased by the fact that our group was the first to the top on that day!  Woohoo – we rock!

Another thing that stands out was hiking on the Tok Tokkie Trail.   Seeing the steenbok and oryx everywhere was such a treat (I could have done without the snake!) and going to sleep under the clearest view of the Milky Way I have ever seen is something I will never forget.  Being woken up by Sebastian and crew with a cheerful “Morning, morning,” and being handed a steaming cup of coffee while I was still sitting in my bedroll wasn’t too bad either!

To borrow Priscilla’s phrase, my “Africa moment” came on our mountain bikes in Erongo.  I was completely enjoying the ride over the rough and varied terrain, when I heard some deep thundering sounds to my right.  A group of about eight zebras ran across the trail right in front of me, so close I could see the muscles in their rear flanks and the flare of their nostrils.  It is a moment I will always remember because it combined my love of cycling with the unpredictability of the wild that is Africa.  If only my GoPro camera had been mounted to my handlebars!

On this trip, I was once again reminded of and impressed by Priscilla’s ability to put together an incredible itinerary, and attract fun, funny, interesting and easygoing fellow travelers.  With as much time as we spent together, especially in our vehicle, the wrong group, or even one “different” person, could have made for a long trip.  Instead, I definitely feel it was my pleasure and good fortune to meet and get to know the others on this trip.  Looking forward to my next Global Sojourns trip!

 

I could feel my heart pounding, my breath was loud and deep, my spinning leg muscles burning, the wind was hot and dry in my face as I raced the setting sun along a dusty road in the Namibian desert. I passed a couple of sandy patches, requiring me to increase my effort and break my rythm, but I relished the challenge. I finally arrived at our ldoging for that evening, tossed down the dusty mountain bike and sprinted up the boulders to the top of the kope with just minutes to spare before the bright red/yellow globe said goodnight and disappeared below the horizon. Sweat was still dripping, the endorphins dancing in my head, and a cold beer offered by one of the staff that I had previously pleaded with as I ran past him up the boulders. I could not have been happier! Then I just relaxed and took in every change of the horizon’s glow on the landscape, the mountains, the trees and the occassional dirt road or path. Namibia for me was a time of reflection, a time to absorb Mother Nature completely, a time to exercize, a time to spend with special people, a time to see the earliest forms of communication/artwork of mankind, a time to appreciate animals as small as bugs and as large as elephants, and a time to watch the stars, to appreciate my blessings and wonder……………I was left with such gratitude for the hard work that Priscilla put into making this an amazing trip, to the Namibians who took us into their hearts and to God for providing such wonders!

 

This was my first trip with Global Sojourns but it won’t be my last!  When Priscilla first sent me the itinerary, I got so excited.  I knew it was a trip I would love and it did not disappoint.

Namibia is a huge country so there was a fair amount of time spent in the safari vehicle getting from one location to the next, but because it was an active trip we could always look forward to spending time hiking, kayaking or mountain biking (my least favorite).

A few of the highlights of the trip for me were:

  • Hiking Big Daddy (sand dune)…even more fun, running down
  • Sleeping under the stars on the Tok Tokkie trail
  • Kayaking in Walvis Bay with thousands of seals splashing all around me
  • Getting to know my travel companions who were fun loving, easy going and quick to share a laugh or two or three…
  • The spectacular and ever changing terrain
  • The lodges that blended so beautifully into the environment – simple yet elegant
  • Sundowners

Our guides were wonderful.  Elvis, our Safari guide, was with us from day one.  His knowledge of everything Namibian was nothing short of amazing and he had an uncanny ability to keep us on track so we could experience everything on our itinerary and be back in time for a sundowner.  Sebastian, our Tok Tookie trail guide, would wake us each morning with a soft “good morning, good morning” and a cup of hot tea or coffee.  His enthusiasm for the Tok Tookie trail and the smallest of creatures was infectious.  Because of Sebastian, my new favorite beetle is the bulldozer beetle…not that I had a favorite beetle before this trip…well maybe Ringo.  JC, our mountain biking guide, was also extremely knowledgeable about Namibia and its bike trails.  Even though the mountain biking was not my favorite activity, with JC’s  patience and encouragement  I gained the confidence to release my grip on the brakes and just ride down a steep hill and…I didn’t crash.

Priscilla, you created one amazing trip that I will never tire of reminiscing about.  I’m so glad we reconnected and you encouraged me to sign up for this trip.

 

Kat:  We had such a great time on our recent trip to Southern Africa.  Priscilla did a fantastic job planning the itinerary, lodging and special activities.  I can’t decide what I liked best about the trip…..was it the kayaking with seals, sleeping under the stars, hiking up Big Daddy dune, fantastic animal viewing with phenomenal guides, beautiful sundowners or biking with friends…..I pick them all!

Our side trips on a Chobe River houseboat, a 4 day safari in Huange, siteseeing in Victoria Falls and Cape Town were just as exceptional!  The only disappointment was having to leave!  Thanks Priscilla for helping us make memories to last a life time.

Jim:  As Kat points out, it was a great trip with many fantastic experiences.  Here is my favorite…

My favorite memory from the recent trip to Southern Africa was being hunted by lions during our visit to the Davisons Camp.  The camp is located in Hwange National Park in north western Zimbabwe.  Priscilla arranged the visit to the camp as part of our “pre-Namibia” tour.  We departed the camp (Kat, Jean, me, Timba the guide) a bit after 7AM and we started walking through a mature forest south of the camp.  The walk was very pleasant and we sited a herd of Kudus, monkeys, various birds, and some old elephant remains.  Towards the end of the walk, we stopped at a termite mound where Timba explained how the mound functioned as both a greenhouse for the termites food and an air-conditioning system.  Timba then startled and asked if we had heard the lions (of course we had not!!).

We then proceeded to walk towards the road where Timba thought he had heard the sound and when we emerged on the road, Timba spotted two female lions 100 feet in front of us off the side of the road in the underbrush.  We watched the lions and after a couple of minutes they disappeared.  Coming up on the lions had made Timba nervous and he called the camp and asked that we be picked up and asked that the speedy driver (Avios) be assigned to the pickup.  He then told us to stand with him and not move forward as he did not want to move into the area where we could be ambushed by the lions.  He readied his rifle and noted that he was a good shot – demonstrating this under pressure is required as part of the Zimbabwe guide qualification process.

After a few minutes I spotted a male lion who popped out into the road, took a peek at us, crossed to the other side, and disappeared.  After another minute or so, I saw the male lion peeking through the underbrush at us.  After another minute or two, the male lion disappeared.

In the meantime, Timba called more urgently to the camp and asked where the vehicle was.

After another minute or two, Avios arrived and we got into the vehicle and made our way up the road.  After moving 100 feet we looked to the left side of the road and saw the two female lions hiding in the brush.  We then looked back down the road and saw the male lion appear on the road in the spot where we had been standing.  He had circled around us and he clearly intended to charge us and get us to move and scatter into the path of the female lions.

Luckily the vehicle had arrived in time and we did not have to test Timba’s marksmanship under pressure!!

This was one of many special experiences on the Southern Africa trip.

 

OUR GUIDES

Not to be left out! Here are our terrific guides – Encyclopedic Elvis and Cycling JC!