I was recently given the opportunity of a lifetime. I have always wanted to travel to Africa and go on a safari tour, but it has never been in the budget. The destination was always so far away and required a lot of planning and saving. Recently, however, I was asked if I would like to go along on a trip to Namibia with my brother’s sister-in-law, who is a flight attendant for Condor. I was so excited and obviously jumped on the opportunity. A trip of a lifetime for a fraction of the cost; how does anyone say no to that? Of course the only set back is that layovers are short: we were to fly in Monday night and fly back out Thursday evening, but 3 days in Africa are better than no days in Africa. So naturally I said “absolutely!” and for only €280 I was on my way to my dream vacation.
When we landed in Windhoek, we were greeted at the runway with a warm breeze and by the biggest grasshoppers I have ever seen in my life! They flew around the tarmac like planes taking off and landing, and I found them to be quite intriguing. Once we passed through customs and baggage claim, we were shuttled to the hotel in a van that was arranged by the airline.
Lesson #1, in Namibia they drive on the left side of the road.
I admit that I was quite happy to sit back and let everyone else drive, because I felt very disoriented cruising down what felt like the wrong side of the road to me at a high speed. Nevertheless, we arrived safely at the Hilton Hotel in Windhoek where we were greeted by an incredibly friendly staff. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous and I would recommend it to anyone who may be visiting the city.
After a fantastic sleep in our luxurious suits, we woke up to a sunny +26 day and were ready for some fun! We decided to consult a tour guide who planned an action packed schedule for us which included a tour of the sand dunes as well as a safari tour for an incredibly reasonable price.
Although it was around a 4 hour drive out to the Namibia dessert, it was well worth it. The scenery changed from lusciously green and mountainous to soft drifts of sand with hardly any vegetation. And the vegetation that we did see was incredibly impressive and completely exotic and foreign.
To consider how drastically the landscape changed in only a matter of hours was baffling to me.
The sand dunes were incredibly beautiful all on their own. We walked through massive ranges of sandy peaks and were able to appreciate the vastness of this dessert. It is a little difficult to describe, but the way the sand glistens in the sun is unbelievably breathtaking.
We then ended our sand dune experience with a little bit of fun. The rest of the crew decided to go quad riding and tried sand boarding, but I decided to enjoy a nice leisurely ride through the dunes with my furry friend Naftali.
Lesson #2, Namibia has camels!
I was shocked for some reason to find out that Namibia had camels and was very excited to partake in my very first camel riding experience. It was a bumpy and rather uncomfortable ride, but it was incredibly fun and a great way to experience the dunes. Plus Naftali seemed to like me and was incredibly sweet. I’m still convinced that she was smiling for the camera.
We then left the dunes and drove for another 4 hours to embark on a safari tour.
Lesson #3, expect to drive for extended periods of time if you want to experience the wonders of Namibia.
Obviously a safari tour is the quintessential activity to participate in when on a trip to Africa and was what I was looking forward to the most. Again our weather was fantastic and we were able to enjoy our ride through the landscape. We saw countless different kinds of wild game, including antelopes, springbok, a wilder beast, impalas, and various other kinds of game that I can’t even remember the names of now. We also saw zebras, wild boars, giraffes, rhinos, and crocodiles, and had the fortune to see an entire family of monkeys run across the road in front of our cars while we were still driving out to our destination.
There is something completely amazing about seeing these animals in their natural environment. It was an utterly fascinating experience unlike anything I have ever had before. There are so few moments in your daily life when you are amazed by what you see right in front of you, so I consider these moments to be priceless. Seeing rhinos walking together, feeling a thrilling rush when they started to charge at the jeep, or seeing a mother giraffe with her baby; these are sights that many people will never get to experience first-hand.
Forgive me for being repetitive, but it is absolutely amazing; there is no other word that can adequately describe experiencing something firsthand that is so awe-inspiring. I know as a travel writer I am supposed to be able to portray these experiences in wonderfully descriptive words, but the experience has left me relatively speechless. The pictures, however, will hopefully be able to covey the thousands of words just out of my reach that can describe this experience.
Unfortunately we didn’t see any elephants or big cats, but that is the nature of a safari…with such a vast amount of space to cover, you won’t always get to see everything that you want to. All in all though, it was a fantastic time and I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to partake in it.
Our last day in Namibia we decided to do a little souvenir shopping in the city and then relax poolside in the sun before our evening flight out.
Of course it is ideal to have a little more time to really be able to take in everything that the country has to offer. I would very much like to go back and spend more time there; however, I feel exceedingly fortunate to have had those 3 days to experience such an impressive country and to have made incredible memories that will last a lifetime.
Published in Fusia magazine, April 2015