We’re spending April in Africa, our 3rd visit to the continent. We’re excited to visit 3 places we haven’t been before – Namibia, the Seychelles and Angama Mara lodge in Kenya – plus spend some more time exploring Cape Town.
We flew Qatar Airlines for the first time, with a connection through the capital city Doha. We were quite impressed with the airline, the airport lounge in Doha – great shower facilities, surprisingly good Indian/Middle Eastern cuisine in the restaurant, plus private, quiet sleeping ‘pods’ – and especially their roomy new 787 Dreamliner from Doha to Cape Town. We highly recommend this airline/route for travel to Cape Town.
From Doha, Qatar we flew to Cape Town, South Africa where we switched to Air Namibia for our flight to Windhoek, Namibia.
So why Namibia?
Because it was the closest country to South Africa that we hadn’t yet been to, and
To visit the country’s dramatic and iconic red sand dunes.
Namibia has some fairly impressive claims to fame:
The Namib Desert is widely regarded as the oldest desert in the world (arid for 55 million years give or take).
Namibia widely regards the Fish River Canyon as the second largest canyon in the world but there are many other contenders. According to Wiki, it is the largest canyon in Africa. It was too hot still in April (fall in the Southern Hemisphere) for us to want to hike it.
Brangelina chose to give birth to daughter Shiloh in 2006 in Namibia.
Our first stop: Windhoek (‘Windy Corner’ in Afrikaans), the capital and largest city (400,000, give or take 50k).
Namibia was colonized by Germany in the late 1800’s (remnants of the German language are everywhere, and German speaking tourists were prevalent at each of our stops), and by South Africa in the mid-1900’s. After struggling against Apartheid rule for decades, Namibia (formerly German South-West Africa, and then South West Africa) gained independence in 1990. Namib, a word from the Nama language meaning ‘vast place’, refers to the ancient Namib Desert on the western coast, our destination after Windhoek. Mburumba Kerina is considered The Man Who Named Namibia.
Deserts don’t generally rise to the top of our travel bucket list (despite loving sailing and the ocean, the only thing Mark hates worse than the grit of salt water is SAND). The fine red sand – while spectacular to look at – is one of the reasons. It coated us head to toe each day, our lunch once or twice, and our phones and computers, even though they were inside our room. The heat that rose up by 8am each day and worked hard until quitting time at 5 is another reason. But the beauty – unlike anything we had seen before – begged forgiveness for the inhospitable environment.
One of the things we love best about Africa is the people we encounter, and the staff at Wilderness Safari’s Lttle Kulala was a shining example of this. Sweet, cheerful, smiling and genuine, they had us shedding big African tears as they bid us farewell (video).
A few of our favorite things:
Losing ourselves in our first (of this trip) African sunset – with sundowners, of course – and marveling at each star that appeared where before there was none.
Sleeping under a sky so bright with southern constellations we felt we could reach out and touch them.
Seeing the moon rise after our 4:30am wakeup call.
Marveling at the majestic red sand dune slopes and ridges in the early morning light.
Watching two desert foxes prance gracefully within a few feet of us as we enjoyed the sunset from our desert lodge porch.
Experiencing the joy that was our Namibian guide, Mamsy.
Dancing to the sounds of Africa as the lodge staff bid us good-bye.
Special thanks to Khashana Travel for recommending this special, unique and stunning corner of Africa.