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Michael's Bucket List Trip To Namibia

Michael's Bucket List Trip To Namibia

  • Wednesday 30 January 2019

A couple of weeks ago, Shandon Travel's Managing Director, Michael, went on a bucket list holiday to Namibia- read his blog about the experience:

"Namibia... Where, you might ask? Well, it’s a country just north-west of South Africa. Namibia is an undiscovered gem, ideal for those interested in an adventure offering great safari parks. It's filled with desert areas with a Moon/ Mars-like landscape… being there, you wonder how some of the rock formations don't fall and collapse. Namibia is also home to rich coastal areas and the biggest sand dunes in the world.

Namibia has it all if you’re looking for somewhere that's not overrun with tourists- with superb accommodation, great sightseeing and incredibly friendly and helpful people. It is one of the most diverse countries in Africa; breath-taking landscapes, intense colours, an abundance of animals and birds and an extraordinary mix of African culture and European influence.

On arrival in Namibia's capital city, Windhoek, we transferred from the main airport to Eros Airport- about a 45-minute drive. We flew from Eros on a private charter (12 seater aircraft) to Okonjima, which took approximately 45 minutes. This journey by road would take 3 to 4 hours. 

Okonjima Nature Reserve is a Cheetah and Leopard Sanctuary. We not only had the opportunity to see these animals, we also witnessed a cheetah kill an impala. Then we enjoyed a sundowner [great gin & tonic / beer) by the light of the colourful setting sun, out in the bush. Guests can also walk with the cheetahs, though there is a minimum age limit.  Accommodation in the Nature Reserve is excellent. Guests can choose from standard rooms, rooms with a view, bush suites and a villa. The food was also excellent. 

The next day we flew from Okonjima to Etosha. The flight took around an hour, though the journey would have been around 4-5 hours by road. We landed at Mokuti Lodge, at the East Gate of Etosha National Park.

Etosha is one of the best places in the world to view Africa’s unique wildlife in its natural habitat. Following a guided private safari game drive through Etosha National Park, we had lunch at Mokuti Lodge. This lodge also boasts a reptile park and a lovely pool area. Again, the accommodation and food was excellent and is very suitable for families. It is also a great location for a special wedding or honeymoon, or indeed a wedding + honeymoon!

After lunch we flew to the far side of the National Park to the Etosha Heights Private Reserve, crossing the great salt pan which is the size of Holland! Again this flight took 45 minutes, by road this trip would take 3-4 hours. On arrival we transferred to the Etosha Mountain Lodge and after quick rest by the pool, we went out on another game safari. 

This time we were lucky enough to witness our second kill- a lion taking down a wildebeest. The array of animals in this private reserve is just amazing and the quality of the guides is incredible. You have a choice of accommodation in either Etosha Mountain Lodge or the more modern Etosha Safarihoek which overlooks the main waterhole. For the more adventurous there is also a campsite. Again, the food here was excellent too.

We spent the following morning at 'The Hide' at the main waterhole. Overlooked by the Safarihoek Lodge, this is where an amazing selection of animals came to drink, along with the most amazing collection of birds. We then went in search of the elephants and had lunch in the bush with our new friends, the giraffes. They look so amazing in their natural habitat. Dinner that night was a traditional BBQ- known in Namibia as Braai.

On day 4 we took our first transfer by road and it was eventful. The roads in Namibia are poor, more like gravel tracks, except for some of the main roads between towns like Windhoek and Swakopmund. We got stuck in the sand drift- expect the unexpected in Namibia! The journey from Etosha Heights to Damaraland took approximately 5 hours on poor roads. 

We arrived at Doro Nawas Lodge in time for lunch and the spectacular views of what can only be described as a desert with lunar influences. This was another great quality lodge with the option to move your bed and sleep under the stars. After lunch we went in search of the desert elephants and also came across ostriches. Dinner tonight was a bush dinner in the desert.

It was now time to drive towards the coast. The journey to Swakopmund took around 5 hours and again, the roads are poor.  We drove along the skeleton coastline which is quite stunning and has many shipwrecks. We stopped at the Zeila shipwreck- which ran aground in 2008. 

 

Swakopmund is a town with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. It has a very Germanic feel to it and this is reflected in the food. It is located where the desert hugs the Atlantic Ocean and was the preferred settlement of early German colonists. In Swakopmund, the brave amongest our tour group took the opportunity to skydive. It was an exciting experience which I was delighted to get to try!

Other activities available here include quad and camel rides in the desert, sandboarding, boat cruises, a visit to the flamingo gathering on Walvis Bay Lagoon, and much more. This is the ideal place to relax after being out in the bush for a few days. 

We stayed at a hotel with a sea view just on the outskirts of town, but there are also hotels in the centre of town which offer a beachfront location. Visit the Brauhaus for a boot beer- a glass boot brimming with beer- but watch out for the waiter slapping the froth off the top just as he sets it down in front of you!

On day 6 we travelled from Swakopmund to Sandwich Harbour, part of the Namib Naukluft Park. Here, giant sand dunes run straight into the Atlantic Ocean creating breath-taking scenery and views. We also visited the Walvis Bay lagoon, where you can see masses of pink flamingos. The excursion is made on 4x4 jeeps, but is not like the traditional dune-bashing in Dubai. In the afternoon we visited the township of Mendes, which is a stark look at the reality of the Namibian way of life.

The following day we again flew from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei, which took around an hour. Sossusvlei is home to the some of the highest sand dunes in the world, including “Big Daddy”. In order to climb “Big Daddy”, you really need to be in the Sossusvlei area at sunrise. The temperatures soar after this.

Deadvlei is where you can see trees standing in the middle of a salt pan - where they have been standing dead for over 600 years. You have the option to walk directly into Deadvlei or climb “Big Daddy” and run down the dune, ending up in Deadvlei.

Either way do it at sunrise - it’s simply too hot during the day. You will pass Dune 45 as you drive in - this is one that many people climb and is the most filmed sand dune in Namibia. The sand on this dune is over 5 million years old. Our final night was spent at a fantastic oasis in the desert, which was a great experience.

Namibia is a magnificent country. It’s made up of many contrasting landscapes. The food was a real surprise and was excellent, and the quality of the lodges is superb. The game reserves and the sheer variety of animals that can be seen is quite amazing, but the thing that makes Namibia such an amazing experience is the people. It is well worth a visit and should be on everybody’s bucket list.

All in all Namibia is a fantastic destination for someone looking for an African experience with varied safaris, luxury accommodation, great food and very friendly people. Get there before others discover it." -Michael

Click here to visit our Namibia webpage.

Click to view our Nature, Wildlife and Wellness holidays.

Click to visit our Africa page.

Want to plan your dream Namibia holiday? Get in touch via 021 4277094 or 01 6965135, email info@shandontravel.ie or call into our shops in Clonakilty, Bantry and the Grand Parade.

At Shandon Travel we are commited to responsbile tourism and choose to work with operators and organisations which adhere to ecotourism ideas and practices.

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