I always love taking people to Namibia. Twenty years ago when I lived in Etosha National Park studying the black-faced impala, it wasn't on anyone's radar. But Namibia has grown in popularity for travellers, partly because it offers such a unique, wild and adventurous African experience but also because of the relative safety and stability of the country. This is the kind of holiday that literally takes your breath away at times. It's so different to anywhere else in the world that it's easy to forget that you have a life outside! To top it off, I still reckon Namibia's right up there with Botswana in terms of linking tourism to conservation impacts, another great reason to go there if you are an ethically-minded traveller. Namibia has really led the way in terms of community-based tourism in Africa, with local ownership making a huge difference in combating poaching. You'd be hard pressed to find a country anywhere in the world doing a better job of nature conservation than this.
Image: Desert-dwelling elephants feast on the pods of Ana trees which line the dry Hoanib riverbed (credit: Natural Selection)
Namibia's a great place for families and Andy and I will be taking our own boys there in a few months, exploring the rugged north west in search of desert-dwelling elephants and rhinos. So if you are contemplating taking your kids to Africa, Namibia is definitely a good one to consider. A lot of people don't know that Namibia has one of the best populations of rhinos in Africa, and having travelled extensively all over Africa I can tell you it's one of the best places to see them.
Image: Black rhinos in Namibia are a desert-dwelling subspecies (credit: Natural Selection)
My group safari to Namibia in mid July 2019 focuses on finding desert-elephants, giraffes and rhinos. We begin our journey with a night in Windhoek and dinner at my favourite and a local legend, Joe's Beerhouse. The next morning we fly to Safarihoek Lodge next to Etosha National Park. Here we'll search for rhinos, elephants, lions, black-faced impalas, and you never know, we might even see an ardvaark! Safarihoek doesn't just offer the usual morning and afternoon game drives, but they also have night drives, which provide a whole different experience as the night predators come out to play. This is an activity that can usually only be done on private land, as few national parks offer night drives. There area also has lions, cheetahs and leopards in the reserve.
Image: Safarihoek room (credit: Natural Selection)
Those up for a bit of light exercise may choose to venture out for a walk with a fully trained local walking guide who knows the area backwards, a fabulous way to see the little things like dung beetles and arid-adapted plants and learn their stories. Best of all, this lodge has a hide! I love wildlife hides in Namibia as during the dry season (which is when we'll be there) the waterholes attract lots of animals, and sitting quietly in a hide is one of the best ways to see the animals at their height, with amazing photographs and experiences being the result. Safarihoek is actively involved in several conservation projects working on lions, cheetahs and vultures, which you can read more about here.
Image: Sundowners in the bush are an African tradition and one of the best things about being on safari (credit: Natural Selection)
After 3 nights in Etosha area, we'll be flown up to the rugged north west for 3 amazing nights at the new Hoanib Valley Camp, Kaokoland. This region has some of the grandest, wildest landscapes in all of Africa and the dry Hoanib riverbed has become famous for it's animals. Prepare to have your mind blown! Last time I stayed with a safari group in the Hoanib we were so privileged not only to see desert lionesses and their cubs, but also to witness a cheetah mother with two cubs actually kill a springbok in the riverbed.
Image: Hoanib Valley Camp blends in perfectly with its incredible surroundings, while providing a high level of comfort in the wilderness (credit: Natural Selection)
In this arid environment, just a hop, step and throw away from the famous Skeleton Coast National Park, the density of wildlife is not high, because there is not enough water or food in the desert to support the large numbers of animals you will see in places like the Okavango Delta in Botswana, for example. But few are disappointed by this, because the landscapes have a way of taking your breath away and making you feel like you're just one small part of a much bigger picture. When you see a solitary oryx standing like a regal prince on a sand dune, with the backdrop of rolling sand hills as far as the eye can see, you understand why professional photographers are so drawn to this special part of Africa.
Image: Main area at Hoanib Valley Camp (credit: Natural Selection)
Both of these safari camps are owned and run by a brilliant on ground, conservation-focused operation called Natural Selection and they are donating 1.5% of all turnover to conservation projects in the areas where they work. That's a big chunk of your tourism dollars going back to Africa to ensure that the wildlife you'll see will be there for future generations.
Image: Desert-dwelling elephant mother and baby (credit: Natural Selection)
I have 5 people signed up so far for my mid-July 2019 Namibian safari and will take a maximum of 12, so if you are interested please get in touch now so I can ensure we have enough rooms. Children are welcome and cost less than adults. As a special offer, if you sign up and pay in full by 31st March this year, I'm offering a special one off price. Due to the increasing value of the Namibian dollar (directly linked to the South African Rand), the price of this safari will increase between now and the end of the year. If you want to get in to get the best price possible on this amazing journey with me, contact me now.
Image: Desert elephants in the Hoanib area of Namibia (credit: Natural Selection)
For those who want to continue exploring Namibia after my safari, I have some great suggestions as there is so much more to see in this huge country (bigger than France and Germany combined!), so please contact me for the full itinerary and options.