The Best of Namibia
Namibia offers the opportunity to disconnect, which makes it an alluring destination. In the developed south, you’ll pass farmlands and fields. In the north, you’ll discover the special people and species who have adapted to life in this harsh desert environment. The best way to experience Namibia is to rent a 4x4 and zigzag your way across this vast country. With only three people per square kilometer, you may well have the whole place to yourself.
Minutes after we departed, our balloon climbed to an altitude where we could view the ever-expansive Namib Sand Sea. Our pilot, Dennis, was the son of the founder of Namib Sky Balloons and had grown up on farm we flew over moments after our departure. This view extends north to Conical Hill and the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in the distance. We spent an hour in the air taking in the views of the sand and the mystical “fairy circles” that pepper the grass plains of the NamibRand. The formation of these circles is still a mystery and several theories exist. After landing on the grasslands we were whisked away to a wonderful breakfast on the edge of the dunes. We drank champagne and toasted to the memorable last several hours.
C14 & C19 Junction - Unit D, Solitaire, Namibia
“It’s not even a town or a village, don’t call it that; it’s more of a pit-stop, really.” Solitaire, Namibia, the pit-stop Moose McGregor calls home, contains nothing more than a general store, a small lodge, his bakery, and the only gas station for many, many miles. This makes Solitaire an inevitable pit-stop for travelers driving to Sossusvlei from Swakopmund or Windhoek. Sadly, Moose passed away in early 2012. His legendary apple strudel lives on. Solitaire worth a visit even if your vehicle has a full tank.
Hoba West Farm,, Grootfontein, Namibia
You probably had no idea that the world’s largest meteorite is located in Namibia. It was discovered in Grootfontein in the early 1920’s, by a farmer while plowing his field. Much to his surprise, he came upon a massive 66-ton hunk of iron and nickel on his property. Now, it’s a Namibian National Monument. The small visitor center has some educational merits and the walk to the site is very well landscaped with a variety of indigenous trees and plants (with placards so you can learn their names).
B4, Kolmanskop, Namibia
Kolmanskop is a ghost town that was abandoned by German miners after the 1920’s. In the 1980’s, diamond giant De Beers refurbished some of the structures and established an on-site museum. After you check in and get your permit, you’re allowed to wander freely through the small village. Piles of sand have accumulated in and taken over some of these colonial-era homes, a good indication of how hard it must have have been for the inhabitants. It’s an excursion that involves some planning beforehand, but it’s so worth the effort. Photographers love getting creative here. Kolmanskop is about 3 hours from Keetmanshoop and 5 hours from the Fish River Canyon, down the dead-end road to Luderitz on Namibia’s coastline, so you’ll want to time your excursion down this way bearing that in mind.
One of the top restaurants in Namibia is located in the tiny shipping industry town of Walvis Bay. Lyon des Sables is located on the upstairs level of a small oceanfront shopping complex and boardwalk. The restaurant is run by two French men, so you can expect dishes like chanterelle mushroom and parmesan risotto and apple tart. Game meats are particularly popular in Namibia, so this is also a great place to try oryx steak.
While you’re in Damaraland, the Organ Pipes are just a short drive away from Twyfelfontein and the Petrified Trees. After paying a small tip for a guide to accompany you (there was no real indication if this is necessary or not so you might just want to roll with it) you descend down into a crevice so that you can walk among the rock formations. No explanation is needed as to why this area got it’s nickname. Each basalt rock has a different hue, ranging from grey to reddish orange, further exposed over time as the land erodes away. It doesn’t take very long to walk a short loop to the exit and is an interesting geological site to photograph and visit.
P.O.Box 5140, Divundu, D3430, Namibia
The cheeky signs leading you down the sand road to Ngepi Camp are your first indication this is no ordinary campsite. First, you’ll check in at the bar, which is decked out in currency from around the world. The campsites and chalets along the shores of the Okavango River and are decently spread out, providing the ultimate backyard to escape to with a good book. Watch crocs drift by as your morning kettle boils for coffee. This is an eco-friendly camp, with fun informative signs all over the property which tell you more about exactly how things work. The bathrooms at the campsite are totally outdoors. There’s nothing like showering and looking up at the tree tops and listening to the birds as you wash. The highlight of Ngepi Camp is the special cage floating in the river so you can swim ‘safely’ among the crocs and hippos - if you dare.