by Tamlin Wightman
on February 11, 2014
7 min read

The Golden Years

Many people fantasise and wax lyrical about their plans to start exploring the world once they’ve retired. Once they’ve thrown in the day job, paid the mortgage, married the kids off. Of course we believe in making those fantasies a reality long before then. But the post-retirement years are most definitely an exciting time. A time when you have time. And our clients, Donna and Mal MacKinnon, from Canada, couldn’t have planned their golden years better.

“Following our dream of seeing and learning about the world when we retired has always been a passion. We are fortunate to be able to travel the land, learn about the people and the cultures along with the histories that shaped each country. Travelling allows us to capture our dreams, enjoy them and keep the memories close to our hearts.”

Sunset Over The Kalahari

Sunset Over The Kalahari

The MacKinnons’ meticulously plotted itineraries can be witnessed, and revered, on their blog, Maladon Adventures, which they hope will inspire others to embark on their own adventures. Here you’ll also find tales of their travels in South Africa and Namibia with Rhino Africa, planned by travel consultant extraordinaire, Renee.

From Mombasa to Nosy Be, Barcelona to the Maldives, the MacKinnons have seen their fair share of magical places in the last few years (photo evidence here). 

Here’s what they got up to in Namibia…


“Enough, Namibia awaits!”

“Driving Namibia is the best way to see this country of many contrasts. We left Hermanus making our way to the Cape Town International Airport for a brief 2 hour flight to Windhoek Namibia. Flying Namibian Air was like flying first class in North America, the leg room and the seats were definitely noticeable. They even served us refreshments along with a hot meal, free of charge. Now why can’t North American Airlines do the same thing as these small airlines and the fares were very reasonable?”

Sun sets and a full moon in Windhoek

“Full moon as we arrive in Windhoek”

"Our vehicle reflection In the Salt Pan" |From Windhhoek to Bagatelle

“Our vehicle reflection in the Salt Pan,” | Windhoek to Bagatelle

Heading south from Windhoek... "We were actually driving through the Kalahari Desert. The word desert doesn’t seem to fit this lush area with farms, wild animals and different types of birds. Reaching Bagatelle Game Reserve which was our first overnight stop, we were absolutely delighted with the accommodations and being situated on the Kalahari Desert. That was only the beginning, we signed up for the Game Drive, Feeding the Cheetahs and the Sunset over the Dunes."

Heading south from Windhoek | “We were actually driving through the Kalahari Desert. The word desert doesn’t seem to fit this lush area with farms, wild animals and different types of birds. Reaching Bagatelle Game Reserve, our first overnight stop, we were absolutely delighted with the accommodation and being situated on the Kalahari Desert. That was only the beginning; we signed up for the game drive, feeding cheetahs and a sunset over the dunes.”

Cheetahs

“We drove into the cheetah compound which has three 10 year old male cheetahs. The Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia works to save the cheetahs. Since these 3 were orphaned, they were sent here when they were 3 months old. We sat and watched these beautiful wild animals as they posed for their pictures to be taken. These cheetahs are still wild animals that have not been tamed or trained but their survival depends on the hands that feed them.”

Who Is Going To Win The Race? | "We drove into the cheetah compound which has three 10 year old male cheetahs. There is a program in Namibia (Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund) to save the cheetahs and since these 3 were orphaned they were sent here when they were 3 months old. First there are 2 vehicles that drove into the locked area together and we just sat and watched these beautiful wild animals as they sat, laid down and generally just posed for their pictures to be taken. Then each of the vehicles split up and drove quickly to the far end of the enclosure causing the cheetahs to run after us. They can reach 80mph but only for short distances of 500-600 metres then they need to rest. We waited until they caught up with us letting them rest for a few minutes before we drove back to where we started."

Who Is Going To Win The Race? | “We drove quickly to the far end of the enclosure, causing the cheetahs to run after us. They can reach 80mph but only for short distances of 500-600m, then they need to rest.”

"At the top of one of the dunes we watched the sun set. The barman at the lodge had snacks and drinks waiting for everyone. It was a beautiful sight to see the sun set over the Kalahari Desert."

“At the top of one of the dunes we watched the sun set. The barman at the lodge had snacks and drinks waiting for everyone. It was a beautiful sight to see the sun set over the Kalahari Desert.”

From Bagatelle Game Reserve, they drove to Keetmanshoop, stopping at the Quiver Tree Forest, and then on to the Fish River Canyon.

From Bagatelle Game Reserve, they drove to Keetmanshoop, stopping at the Quiver Tree Forest, and then on to the Fish River Canyon.

Destination: The Fish River Lodge. "The lodge is perched on the edge of the 2nd largest canyon in the world, next to the Grand Canyon in the USA."

Destination: The Fish River Lodge. “The lodge is perched on the edge of the 2nd largest canyon in the world, next to the Grand Canyon in the USA.”

"The view from our room at the Fish River Canyon"

“The view from our room at the Fish River Canyon.”

"The Fish River Canyon is 161 kilometres long, up to 27 kilometres wide and 550 metres deep. We did a 6.5 hour tour that took us into the canyon down 440m to the Fish River."

“The Fish River Canyon is 161 kilometres long, up to 27 kilometres wide and 550 metres deep. We did a 6.5 hour tour that took us into the canyon, 440 metres down to the Fish River.”

Sun Set At The Fish River Canyon | "The Fish River Canyon is 161 kilometres long, up to 27 kilometres wide and 550 metres deep. We did a 6.5 hour tour that took us into the canyon down 440 metres to the Fish River. A woman from the United States, a member of the Rockefeller family,  and a Namibian partner purchased and developed the Fish River Canyon Lodge, and work hard to ensure the footprint is light and the lodge and surrounding areas are eco-friendly. They participate in the Namibia Eco Friendly Awards program."

Sunset at the Fish River Canyon | “A woman from the United States, a member of the Rockefeller family, and a Namibian partner purchased and developed the Fish River Canyon Lodge and work hard to ensure that the footprint is light and the lodge and surrounding areas are eco-friendly.”

On to Luderitz... | "Luderitz is a harbour town lying on one of the least hospitable coasts in Africa. This town is also the focal point of the Diamond Coast. The wind is strong, blowing across the bay as it whips the water into large waves. Even the flamingo’s have a difficult time keeping their balance as they search for food."

On to Luderitz… | “Luderitz is a harbour town lying on one of the least hospitable coasts in Africa. This town is also the focal point of the Diamond Coast. The wind is strong, blowing across the bay as it whips the water into large waves. Even the flamingo’s have a difficult time keeping their balance as they search for food.”

Sand Dunes & Wind Claiming This House | "Nearby Kolmanskop has been a ghost town since 1954. There have been a number of award winning photos taken of the houses along with many movies being made such as: “The King is Alive” in 2000, “Dust Devil” in 1993, a series in 2010 called “Life after People” along with the filming of other television series."

“Nearby Kolmanskop has been a ghost town since 1954. There have been a number of award winning photos taken of the houses along with many movies being made such as: ‘The King is Alive’ in 2000, ‘Dust Devil’ in 1993, a series in 2010 called ‘Life after People’, along with the filming of other television series.”

Abandoned houses inKolmanskop, near Luderitz. "The elegant houses are being demolished by the wind, and the desert is gradually reclaiming the land."

Abandoned houses in Kolmanskop, near Luderitz. | “The elegant houses are being demolished by the wind, and the desert is gradually reclaiming the land.”


The World’s Oldest Desert

After Luderitz, Donna and Mal headed to the Namib Desert, staying at the Namib Desert Lodge. The Namib is a coastal desert in Southern Africa and the oldest desert in the world.

Sossusvlei Dune

Sossusvlei Dune

"One day we drove to the little town of Solitaire which reminded us of an Arizona USA desert town with old vehicles and cactus on the highlights."

“One day we drove to the little town of Solitaire, which reminded us of an Arizona USA desert town, with old vehicles and cacti on the highlights.”

"Our last day we were up at 5:00am for a quick breakfast and an 60 kilometre drive back to Sossusvlei to watch the sun rise on the sand dunes. Entering the park we were treated to a few animals returning from their nightly hunts and the reflection from the sun turning the dunes into pinks, oranges and reds, a truly amazing spectacle. The first dune we stopped at was Dune 45 where tour groups were climbing this huge mountain of sand; they looked like ants crawling up the edge of a mountain."

“Our last day we were up at 5 am for a quick breakfast and a 60km drive back to Sossusvlei to watch the sun rise on the sand dunes. Entering the park we were treated to a few animals returning from their nightly hunts and the reflection from the sun turning the dunes into pinks, oranges and reds. A truly amazing spectacle. The first dune we stopped at was Dune 45, where tour groups were climbing this huge mountain of sand. They looked like ants crawling up the edge of a mountain.”

"Returning to our vehicle at the Deadvlei parking lot we decided it was snack time so out came the peanut butter and crackers where we sat at a cement table and stools. All of a sudden we noticed 2 black backed jackals approach us but not coming too close, just laying on the ground beside us waiting for whatever food we had to offer them."

“Returning to our vehicle at the Deadvlei parking lot we decided it was snack time so out came the peanut butter and crackers. All of a sudden we noticed 2 black backed jackals approach us but not coming too close, just laying on the ground beside us waiting for whatever food we had to offer them.”

Next up: Twyfelfontein (meaning “means Doubtful Spring”), staying at Twyfelfontein Lodge.

Desert Elephants - "This 5 month old baby just laid down, decided it needed a nap and fell asleep beside its mother."

“Now for the unexpected but one of the many highlights of our trip – locating and watching the Desert Elephants. Carlos from the lodge took us on a private tour into the sand dunes where his patience and tracking ability located approximately 20 of these magnificent animals. This 5 month old baby just laid down, decided it needed a nap and fell asleep beside its mother.”

"Twyfelfontein has one of the most extensive rock-art galleries on the continent of Africa. The Doubtful Spring at one time was a perennial spring that attracted wild life and the San or the Bushmen who have left their engravings on the massive rocks in this area. It is believed the rock engravings date back to at least 6000 years to the early Stone Age."

“Twyfelfontein has one of the most extensive rock-art galleries on the continent of Africa. The Doubtful Spring at one time was a perennial spring that attracted wild life and the San or the Bushmen who have left their engravings on the massive rocks in this area. It is believed the rock engravings date back to at least 6000 years to the early Stone Age.”

Next up: The MacKinnons head to Etosha and on to South Africa. Stay tuned! Or follow their adventures on Maladon Adventures.

Donna and Mal, you are a truly adventurous and inspiring duo. Thank you both for sharing your trip with us.


See more of our My Trip series and chat to one of our travel consultants if you’re keen to start planning you own adventure.