This Namibian Expedition was our 11th Wilderness Travel trip. We set out as a group of ten travelers, with Johanna and Ed, Judy and Dave, Huguette, Jo, Linda and Martha and our two superb guides, Orlando and Michael for a two week adventure. Orlando and Michael were experts in EVERYTHING Namibian: flora, fauna, geology, stars, people, languages!! Wow!! These photos, represent many, but certainly not all, of the aspects of our wonderful trip.
This iconic sight in DeadVlei (within SossusVlei) was my driving force for the trip, to see and photograph this very special place. The ground is hard packed white mud with calcium carbonate, the dunes provided the backdrop of orange light and the 550 years old dead trees the solitary figures, plus a couple of people off to the far left. Spending time there, basically by ourselves, was simply magical! As we left, the hordes, who had to arrive from outside the Park AFTER sunrise, began to stream in.
Birds instantly became an important part of our trip as our guides and Dave and Judy were intense birders and we enjoyed the act of discovery and photography as well. (Dave and Judy, with Orlando and Michael’s help, identified 129 total species, of which 67 were new life birds for them!) The Lilac Brested Roller, or LBR as we experienced birders called it, captured our attention whenever we saw it. The opportunity to make a photograph, given that the little bird usually stayed in a pose for a while, was so compelling that it was easy to succumb. One morning we found this strikingly beautiful LBR. Fortunately, it was possible to capture this early flight position exposing the wonderful colors within the wings and body.
Leopard at ease at Africat Foundation, Okonjima. At our first lodge, we had thrilling activities. In the afternoon we tracked this leopard by searching for her radio signal with a hand-held antenna in our Land Cruiser. Even with a radio collar and receiving antenna, the leopards were hard to spot with their perfect camouflage. The next morning, we did a similar activity, but on foot with our guide, Rowhan, looking for a cheetah with a radio collar. When we found the cheetah, she was lying there patiently waiting for us, just a few feet away, with no barriers!! The cheetah was unconcerned.
At the entrance to Etosha National Park we came upon this watering hole. We were captured by the zeal of zebras and the battery of springboks, plus the elephants and giraffes stopping by. In this photo, two oryx and an elephant enjoy the watering hole together with springboks dotting the landscape.
At the Himba Village with the Chief and his son. Despite the lack of language between us, the Chief made clear we were welcome in his village. Our guide also made clear where the “Red Line” was that we must not cross, namely, an area of the village that was sacred to the Himba people. We very carefully watched our footsteps to avoid causing a break in relations. In return for being open to us visitors, we brought food stuffs for the village. This young boy, the chief’s son, was fascinated with us, as we were with him. He wanted to stand on Linda’s feet and repeated everything she said to him, in perfect English.
Our cabin’s view at Camp Kipwe. After the Himba Village, and the previous camps, it was a delightful culture shock arriving at this especially beautiful camp built in among the large granite boulders, the view without end.
Rock Art at Twyfelfontein. We set off for a tour of the rock art found at Twyfelfontein in Damaraland. Our local guide led us over rocks and steps to see these delightful representations of animals and the occasional human hand. Some date back 5000 years.
Crafts table along the roadside. This well-known place is a stopping for many travelers. Here a Herrera crafts person is at work in her road-side shop.
Sea Kayaking in Walvis Bay. The kayaking company was well organized to outfit us with shoes, pants, shirts, over shirts and personal flotation devices, as well as instruction and lunch. And kayaks with BACKS!! This made for a comfortable kayak experience. We had been alerted to the likelihood of having sea lions bite the paddle and, indeed, they did. Along with the playful sea lions we saw beautiful flamingos.
Skeleton Coast from the air, the endless dunes. We opted to fly from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei. With Judy and Dave, we piled into a little plane for our one hour plus flight over dunes, coast, artifacts and then SossusVlei, while the rest drove through the scenic territory to the same place. Nikolai, our pilot in this single engine plane, was busy with his instruments the entire flight. Linda and I, Dave and Judy wondered how old he was! He said, ‘old enough to fly you!’ He went through his checklist meticulously, we were so happy!, and then we flew low over these dunes and two shipwrecks and old mines.
Sossus Dunes Lodge. We were all connected by an elevated walkway so the animals, particularly the jackals, could simply walk on by the lodge. Once again, we are looking out at a vast expanse of uninhabited land.
The next day we left Sossus Dunes Lodge, on our way to the Tok Tokkie Trail. On the first hiking day, this was a typical hiking pattern on the flat.
First Tok Tokkie Trail Campsite. After our introduction and a modest hike over the dunes, we arrived at our first camp on this trail. Orlando explained the rooms, starting with ours: compact arrangements, with no extra horizontal tables, canvas sink in the back, privy a ways a way. Each of us, couple or single, had our own ‘room’ some many meters away from the next room. At sunset, we saw the blue and pink light as dinner started and we prepared to spend our first night under the stars, which were simply magnificent!!
The last hike–Day 13. Here we are on our way to the pick-up point where we board vehicles to take us back to the reception area and, eventually, our ride back to Galton House in Windhoek. We all had a happy farewell dinner. Next day we are off to Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport, then Johannesburg and HOME!!
-Photos and text by 11-time WT adventurers Linda & Michael Roberts, Namibia Expedition