The world’s hottest continent was never a destination on the top of my travel list. Lea however had already spent over a year in different parts of the continent and her biggest wish was to show me the magic of Africa. After some research and discussions, we decided that Namibia will be our final choice. According to our research it had the best mix of staggering landscapes and untamed wildlife. After some intensive planning our journey with CU | Camper began. And what a journey it was!
Written by Anskar
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The first days
Without yet owning a car we found shelter at Ondekaremba, a lodge located very close to the airport which granted us with our first wildlife sightings. The next day we headed towards the car rental early on and after an intensive (yet very important) briefing we were ready to hit the road. A five hours drive later we reached our first camp for the night: Omatozu. It didn’t take long to feel Africa’s magic. Watching the sunrise out of our roof tent, feeling the blazing midday heat and spotting countless animals in the leafless bush. But our first iconic wildlife encounter had to wait for the next day. Waterberg Wilderness Campsite was our second destination and here the adventure Africa was about to start for real. As early as possible, we started a trekking tour with a guide through the bush. After two hours of constant walking in the rising heat we suddenly saw ourselves standing in front of four Rhinos peacefully grazing in between the shrubs! A moment later another Rhino made its way towards us and as soon as it was close enough, we recognized a second, yet smaller, shadow right behind. A baby Rhino! It was important to stay very calm and to not make any hectic or sudden movements, as the eyesight of White Rhinos is rather poor and they depend on their hearing and smell.
Ondekaremba lodge (1 night) -144km-> Omatozu Campsite (1 night) – 194km-> Waterberg Wilderness Campsite (1 night) -376km-> Etosha National Park (East Gate)
Wild, Wilder, Etosha
After a long drive from Waterberg up north we reached the gates of Etosha National Park. Once we paid a small entrance fee and signed some documents we were allowed to enter. The 23000km² large national park undoubtedly offers the greatest chances for wildlife sightings in Namibia. It did not even take us a minute to spot our first animals, a pair of Impalas, after crossing the park borders. We first set camp in Namutoni and took off to our first sunset mission within the park. Right after sunset the camp gates close so you always have to be very careful to be back in time. It is not allowed to drive by night or to leave the car within the national park! Impalas, Giraffes, Lions and Hyaenas were among our first sightings. While Lea has seen all these animals before, this was all new to me and each and every encounter was so exciting! After strategically planning each day, we made our way from one waterhole to the next and often got rewarded with the most incredible sightings. It was not just the animals itself but their natural behavior that made the days in Etosha so rewarding.
Capturing moments of bathing elephants, playing lion cubs and hunting eagles was both, a challenge and a true delight. But our proper highlight of the park (and maybe of Namibia all together) was the sighting of two cheetahs sitting in the shade and peacefully enjoying a freshly hunted Springbok. After finishing their meal, they decided to go for a walk and of all directions they could have chosen they chose ours! A wild cheetah walking straight towards us is a memory we will never forget.
Namutoni Campsite (2 nights) -> Halali Campsite (1 night) -> Okaukuejo Camp (1 night) -299km-> Madisa Camp
Mountains in the Desert
It was time to leave the wildlife part aside for now and to have a look what kind of landscape features Namibia has to offer. On the first sight you might think that a country which is covered up to 80% by scrublands and deserts feels a little bit empty, downright boring. But the absolute opposite is the case! Namibia offers an incredible amount of everchanging landscapes. After driving hours through flat scrubland and resting a night at Madisa Camp we were surprised by some massive mountains rising out of the blue. This could only mean one thing: we finally reached Spitzkoppe, Namibia’s very own version of the Matterhorn. We granted ourselves two nights to explore this overwhelming scenery. And the best part of it was, that we did not even have to leave the area, because Spitzkoppe is literally a gigantic camp site. During all our travels we have been on the road a lot but never did we have more secluded and remote camping locations as in Namibia. We spent the days hiking and climbing on the various rock formations, making camp fires under the stars and just relaxing in our hammock.
Madisa Camp (1 night) –181km-> Spitzkoppe (2 nights) –122km-> Hentis Bay
A Dead Coast Full of Life
Skeleton Coast, just the very name of it might already scare some people off. And yes, the coast used to be the most hostile part of the country. Countless bones and massive ship wrecks still remind of the dreadful times where lots of people had to give their lives. In the modern days however, a few cities and tarred roads make it fairly easy to travel along the coast with the ocean to one side and the desert to the other.
Our first coastal highlight was the Cape Cross Seal Reserve where we found ourselves standing within thousands of Cape fur seals. It was an incredibly noisy and smelly experience but absolutely worth the 120km detour! Never have we ever seen such a massive number of animals cramped together in such a tiny area. After spending the night on yet another remote camping spot we headed down south to Walvis Bay. The peaceful bay off the city offers an area where the dunes meet the ocean. It is also an Eldorado for every bird watcher. Pelicans, Flamingos and countless other sea birds can be observed from the road. The most magical scenes take place during sunset when all the Flaminos start taking off to fly to their roosting sites.
Jakkalsputz Campsite (1 night) –144km-> Theo’s Self Catering in Walvis Bay (2 nights) –243km-> Camp Gecko
Red Desert Dunes
Back on our way towards the mainland we chose to rest a night at Camp Gecko before heading into the desert. The iconic red dunes of Sossusvlei along with the famous Deadvlei are probably the most remarkable landscape features Namibia has to offer. As breathtaking it was to experience a real desert for the first time as challenging it was for our bodies, rental car and equipment. Climbing dunes before sunrise, drifting through deep sand and working our cameras during sand storms were only a few of these challenges. And all this while withstanding extreme temperatures. But we wouldn’t want to miss out on just a second of this experience! We were granted with the most incredible views and a landscape that will stay in our minds forever. An everchanging mix of sand creating new shapes every day while vanishing the footprints of the previous day.
Camp Gecko (1 night) –113km-> Sesriem Rest Camp (2 nights) –144km-> Farm Tiras Camping –190km-> Lüderitz
After our time in the torrid desert it was time to seek another refreshment at the coast. This time our path led us to Lüderitz. Once arrived we jumped on the next boat we could find to search for even more marine wildlife. While driving towards a close-by islands, which is home to a population of African penguins, we were accompanied by a group of curios dolphins.
Of course, we could not leave Lüdertiz without paying a visit to the famous diamond city of Kolmanskop. Keep in mind that you have to pay a photography fee if you want to visit this historic place during sunrise or sunset. Although we had our doubts in the beginning, we quickly realized it was worth every penny. We have not met a single soul while walking, crawling and climbing through the old, abandoned buildings. The sand took back major parts of the city creating a very unique location. Now it was time to slowly head back towards the airport. The last highlights of this journey included a milky way shooting in a forest full of quiver trees, a night in the dunes of the Kalahari desert and one last camp fire at lake Oanob.
OceanLife in Lüderitz (2 nights) –381km-> Mesosaurus Fossil Camp (1 night) –212km-> Red Dunes Campsite (1 night) –333km-> Lake Oanob Campsite (1 night) –135km-> Ondekaremba Lodge (1 night)
In the end we drove around 4000km in our trustworthy truck by CU |Camper. We did not have a single problem with the car, not even a flat tire on the bumpy gravel roads! We spent more than three weeks and 17 nights in this car. It was our kitchen; our bedroom and our photography hide. It safely brought us through deep sand, crowded cities and endless bumpy roads on our journey through Namibia. And what a journey it was!