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Namibia: A Spontaneous Adventure

27th May 2020

Sue Yearley is a trustee at the Guildford Institute’s Board and a keen writer. During this quiet spell when we are all patiently awaiting the chance to explore new horizons again, she has decided to share one of her many travelling adventures with us.

‘Namibia is one of the world’s true wildernesses; it has limitless horizons, wonderful scenery, a fascinating culture and the world’s highest sand dunes.’

Can that really be true you ask yourself? And where on earth is Namibia anyway?

I was fortunate enough to be visiting Cape Town for my nephew’s wedding in March 2016; adding an adventure on to the end of the celebrations was very tempting.

Namibia is North-West of South Africa, relatively safe and somewhat new on the tourist map. That’s where we were headed.

My sister and brother-in-law have lived in Malawi (South-East Africa) and were ideal travel companions. Thanks to their knowledge, we were aware of things that most tourists might not think of:

– Prepare for gravel roads and rocky terrain, as most roads in the country are bumpy!

– You will need your own transport if you want to travel around the country.

– Make sure you know how to change a car tyre in the middle of nowhere. You might well need the knowledge.

– Be ready to spend long days travelling. The poor road surfaces are sure to slow you down and the distances are huge!

Our route was planned by a travel rep. with personal experience of travelling in the country, so, aside from saying that we wanted a wide range of experiences, we left the itinerary to him.

We flew from South Africa to Windhoek, which is Namibia’s capital city, picked up our self-drive car there, and we were off.

The journey took us roughly in a clockwise circuit of the country and we covered at least 1,300 miles over two weeks of travelling. As we progressed around the country, we encountered the most awe inspiring scenery, often very arid and desert-like, but always fascinating.

Each night we stopped at a lodge and received wonderful and genuine hospitality. Our rooms were all memorable, most particularly the one with its own open-air vista straight out onto the desert terrain outside. We had a family of warthogs snuffling around immediately outside the room as well as amazing hornbill birds.

My absolute favourite was in an area called Damaraland, where our lodge house was built on the edge of the Klip River Valley, a huge formation like the Grand Canyon in the US. I was awestruck by the vastness and the absolute peace and quiet.

Some other highlights of our Namibian adventure were:

Gold/orange sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert:  Another wonderful day was visiting these famous dunes. You may be familiar with the iconic image of a stark, black dead tree silhouetted against a towering orange sand dune? It’s an amazing place: at the end of the range of dunes is a large dried-out marsh where ancient twisted remains of acacia trees still stand, held upright by the white clay. With our guide for the day we picnicked under a shady tree while a grumpy Hartmann’s mountain zebra stomped around waiting to get his shady patch back!

Ancient rock carvings and paintings at Twylfontein: this was one of my favourite stops. It was so hot that my sister and I really struggled to keep up with the cool as cucumber guide climbing up the rocky slopes, but it was well worth it.

The carvings show a huge variety of animals including what seem to be sea creatures; the theory is that the indigenous people did once travel hundreds of miles west to the coast and did indeed see whales and penguins!

I hope this little travelogue has given you a bit of a flavour for this wonderful holiday, which was for all of us a most memorable adventure. It was a fabulous way to explore such a unique and beautiful country.