NAMIBIA: Explore & Discover
Namibia is one of my most favourite destinations, particularly as it is so accessible from South Africa and really easy to explore from the comfort of your own vehicle. Another HUGE drawcard for me is the wide-open spaces, contrasting scenery and just the general feeling of freedom. I can honestly say, when you can travel again from any corner of the world, Namibia is absolutely safe and follows every single protocol and more.
With Covid19 raging through Cape Town over the month of December, and beaches closed during the height of our summer break, Namibia was the destination of choice. Some asked...what the hell are you thinking, Namibia in December, you are going to melt!!!!! They weren't wrong......I for one am not a fan of intense heat, but we planned our accommodation perfectly and during the heat of the day we were either in the car with air-con, or cooling off in a pool someplace lovely.
Word of advice, if you are heat sensitive, do not travel to Namibia in December unless your accommodation offers air-con. There are very few establishments that do offer this. The ones that do, come with a price tag, but "oh so" worth it.
As a self-drive guest entering Namibia from South Africa (Vioolsdrift/Noordoewer) was relatively easy and straight forward with more than enough instruction. When on the Namibian side, it started off easily enough, show your negative PCR test, additional health screening, clear customs, and then........not sure!! Our car was meant to be searched, we were passed from pillar to post, nobody knew what was going on and all a bit confusing, but we finally made it through and our journey began. It was 43'C.....great!
Night one, we camped on the banks of the Orange River, little can beat this view and the toll Covid had taken on our little travel company...it was time for a break.
We decided to travel to the Northern reaches of Namibia, as far as possible, as we have done a fair amount of time in the South (feel free to ask for more details), but Etosha and Caprivi were our main focus.
After a few stops, we finally entered the Western Section of Etosha and headed towards Dolomite Camp run by Namibian Wildlife resorts (NWR). In my 16 odd years in the travel industry, I have never explored Etosha and I wanted to see it all.
Not everyone has the luxury of time to see both the Western, Southern, and Eastern sections during their stay. If you are pushed for time, the Southern and Eastern sections are where you will have the bulk of your game viewing. Etosha is only home to 4 of the big 5 and the chances of seeing everything in 2 or 3 days is unlikely, but the views and contrasting scenery are just beautiful and so different from the rest of Southern Africa.
Etosha and parts of the Caprivi strip are going to be your animal rich parts of Namibia. While there are animals in most locations, Namibia is not a big game viewing destination, it is very much a wilderness experience.
The beauty about staying in the recently opened Western section of Etosha is the possibility of driving straight through the reserve to the Southern or Eastern parts. It is going to be a full day's drive but so worth it. Our final stop in Etosha was Onguma Game Reserve, only a few metres from the Von Lindequist/Namutoni Entrance gate. Onguma has an array of accommodations but if you are wanting a bit of a spoil, have a look at Onguma The Fort.
Next stop, Nkasa Rupara National Park, formerly known as Mamili. Wow, what a hidden gem!! This relatively unexplored National Park really mirrors the Okavango Delta. If you want to avoid rain, I would suggest traveling during the height of the dry season (May-August) when the waters from Angola have filled the floodplains and transformed this area into a magical wetland. Jackalberry Tented Camp is situated inside the park and with only 4 tents, this will be the perfect opportunity to explore this concession.
Our final stay was in the Caprivi was Nambwa Tented lodge, located in the Bwabwata National Park right on the Kwando River. Again, this is the only lodge inside the National Park allowing you the perfect opportunity to explore along the banks of the river or further inland up to the border of Angola. You can access these areas as a self-drive guest if you are staying outside the park. Start early as there really is a heap to explore. We found that the park was well marked in comparison to Nkasa Rupara National Park. Maps are issued on arrival but don't rely on them as they are rather outdated. We could have spent at least another 4 or 5 days exploring this area, but it was time for our long journey home.
One place worth mentioning was Waterberg Wilderness, Plateau Park. The perfect stop to include in any itinerary - fantastic scenery, great hiking trails, and three very different types of accommodation. A nice way to stretch the legs if you have been on the road for a few days.
We have created an example 22-night self-drive itinerary through Namibia that will give you the perfect overview of what this magnificent country has on offer. Namibia is also really easy to combine with both Botswana and Victoria Falls.
You know where to find us if you have any questions on the areas that we visited, or if you would like to start planning your very own adventure. We can't wait to hear from you.