Spitzkoppe, Namibia is a beautiful park of large rock formations in the middle of a long empty desert, named for the incredible mountain that dominates it. As we made our way south from Etosha National Park, this place was a must for us. It was hard to miss as we could see it from over a hundred kilometers away. Known as the Matterhorn of Africa, it stands at 670 m (2,200 ft) above the desert floor at an altitude of 1,728 m (5,669 ft) above sea level. We camped there for one night and were able to explore most of the park. It felt like we were in another world.
Namibia is home to more than just spectacular wildlife. It also has some of the tallest sand dunes in the world. The Namib-Naukluft National Park is the home to most of these wondrous landscapes and also the famous Deadvlei. We camped for four days in Sossus Oasis Camp which was enough to cover everything well. This campsite was inside the gate, and this allowed us to get in the park an hour earlier than those outside the gate. We had some unexpected surprises during our visit that turned out to be amazing and even eerie.
As a photographer, I couldn’t wait to get to Namibia. I’ve dreamt about going on an African safari for years, and I was told this was a great alternative to the far more popular Tanzania. What I didn’t realize is that Namibia has so much more to offer than just elephants and zebras. If you’re debating a trip to this beautiful country, here are some photos that should tip the scales.
Campsites in Namibia are generally well equipped, easy to get to, and affordable. Upon reaching our first site, we were happy to find WiFi, hot showers, a restaurant, shops with food and water, and even electric outlets. These amenities seemed pretty standard across most of our campsites with few exceptions. Our time camping was very memorable and will stay with us for our lifetimes. The landscapes were beautiful, and some camps we had all to ourselves. How could you pass up such an opportunity to explore Namibia?
When we first checked in at the Andersson Gate at the south end of Etosha National Park, the guard thought he misheard when we told him we were planning to camp in the park for six nights. While much longer than their average visitors (who tend to only spend 3-4 days in the park), we had the luxury of time on our hands. With that time, we were fortunate enough to discover all the best places in the park to spot the wide variety of wildlife.
And now, we can share that knowledge with you. Which animals do you most want to find in the park?
The Damara are one of the oldest tribes in Namibia. We had the honor of visiting them easily at the the Damara Living Museum near Twyfelfontein. The experience was much different than theHimba, as it was more of a structured sharing of the culture, but was still a very valuable visit. We interacted directly with one of the tribe members, witnessed traditional song and dance, and were shown many of the traditions still held today by the tribe members. If you are traveling through this part of Namibia, the Damara are worth visiting.
Big cats and other carnivores have been on the decline for a long time as they have nowhere to go. Farmers do not want them eating up their livestock and humanity’s footprint is continuously increasing. Hunters make them trophies or just kill them for sport. Others are taken to zoos around the world. To see these animals driven to extinction is terrible; as they are so beautiful and deserve to survive. That is why we support the AfriCat Foundation.
Visiting some of the native tribes was a must for us. It felt important to understand the cultural roots of Namibia and the primitive peoples. The history and way of life of the Himba was fascinating. They live a life without cell phones, cars, or even electricity. Everything in the village was made by hand. Sure, they are still plenty touched by modern life, but they try to stick to their roots and culture as much as possible. This is how to visit the Himba and what you can expect.
How does one see Namibia? Full of wildlife, massive sand dunes, and vast distances, there’s really only one way to see it all: renting a car and driving yourself. Just be prepared to drive on the lefthand side of the roads, and be ready for very little pavement!
But then, where does one stay in this developing country? You might find some resort-style lodges near the larger towns, but if you’re on a budget like we are, the best option is a campground. Even in the winter, desert temperatures are mild, and precipitation is nonexistent in such an arid climate.
As adventure types, we don’t shy away from camping when we travel, but that activity requires quite a bit of specialty equipment – extra gear we didn’t exactly want to lug all the way around the world with us. Fortunately, there’s a popular solution in Namibia to the needs of both transportation and accommodation.
Hop aboard and see what life was like spending three weeks in our 4×4 camping truck!
On our second day in Sesriem, we woke up to bust down the gate at 6:45 am. Our mission was to get to Deadvlei as early as possible so we could get pictures before the masses arrived. We would have loved to get there in time for sunrise, but it is at the farthest point in the park.
The sky was still dark for most of the hour-long drive. It really felt like a race to get there, all visitors vying to lead the pack down the single, 65km road. Posted signs indicate a 60kph speed limit, but the early risers floored it through the park at nearly twice that, racing the sun.
The drive was enjoyable as our excitement was building for the day to come. We were warned that the last 5km was for 4×4 only, but we felt confident. When we got off the pavement and onto the sand we had good momentum, and I thought we could make it just fine. That was until the truck in front of us started to slow down. They got stuck… and then we did too. What do we do now?