by Tamlin Wightman
on July 21, 2014
6 min read

The African Outback

“In Australia there was once a TV advert that encouraged people to visit the Northern Territories, stating that you will never never know, if you never never go. This applies to Namibia. The country has so much to offer,” says our client Hugh Corr.

We’re headed to Namibia ourselves in a week, for our annual cycle epic in Damaraland – Challenge4ACause, so Hugh’s inspiration comes at the ideal time. Hugh and partners, Jean and Malcolm, recently travelled to the Wild West, as we call this unique region on the south-west coast of Africa, and returned with tales to tell. From the oldest desert in the world to one of Southern Africa’s most treasured wildlife sanctuaries, Etosha, we’ll let Hugh take you there in his own words.

Thank you to the Corrs (not the Celtic Irish folk group but just as special) for sharing your journey with us.

Over to Hugh...

Over to Hugh…

“This was our second African experience organised by Rhino Africa and in particular Helen Kirby. The first, three years ago, started in Cape Town and continued on to Victoria Falls, followed by Chobe and the Okavango Delta. It was awesome, memorable and left us with that ‘we must return’ feeling. No way was it going to the bottom of our bucket list. Going back to the same place the second time round is never quite the same so we wanted to do something different but equally memorable. We weren’t disappointed with our choice of a self drive holiday in Namibia.

We had seen lion, buffalo, leopard and elephant on the last trip so on this one we really wanted to see black and white rhino and, importantly, the landscape, people and, where we could, a little of the culture.

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“After much discussion we opted for a clockwise tourist journey from Windhoek, to Sesriem, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha. This circuit introduces one to the arid landscape and then, moving north, the salt plains of Etosha and an abundance of wildlife. We flew into Windhoek mid-morning and by the time we left the airport with our vehicle and local mobile it was midday.”

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“We had deliberately said that we wanted to get to our first destination by mid-afternoon, as we weren’t prepared to drive post dusk – a wise decision. We stayed just outside Mariental at Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch. It was an easy drive and a great place to break the trip to Sesriem. It reintroduced us to the stunning sunset and sunrise colours blended with the magnificent red sand from the Kalahari. Accommodation was faultless and we had an unexpected surprise when a tame hand-reared springbok wandered into the dining room, for a daily biscuit with guests.”

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“Next day we drove to The Desert Homestead, 20+ kilometres from the gates of Sossusvlei Park. Definitely go on a guided tour of the dunes! You’ll see spectacular sunrises and the dunes are amazing.”

Photo from www.sossusvlei.org | "If you stay at The Desert Homestead ask for rooms 10 and above as these are furthest for the road and thus the serenity of silence with no road traffic noise is assured. Staff are welcoming and helpful, dinner is largely set, and the only negative was desert mice in proximity to the main lodge. You just have to accept that this is part and parcel of wilderness travel. We stayed here for two nights and then started off early to drive to Swakopmund for another two nights at Desert Breeze Lodge."

“If you stay at The Desert Homestead ask for rooms 10 and above as these are furthest from the road and thus the serenity of silence with no road traffic noise is assured. Staff are welcoming and helpful, dinner is largely set, and the only negative was desert mice in proximity to the main lodge. You just have to accept that this is part and parcel of wilderness travel. We stayed here for two nights and then started off early to drive to Swakopmund for two nights at Desert Breeze Lodge.” | Photo from www.sossusvlei.org

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Sesriem to Desert Breeze Lodge

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“On the way we recommend you break the trip at Solitaire and visit the bakery. Then carefully drive taking in the breathtaking scenery, stop for a photo at the Tropic of Capricorn sign…”

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“and stop at Walvis Bay lagoon for the pink flamingoes before getting to Swakopmund.”

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“At Desert Breeze, accommodation and service was faultless – the best of our vacation; we definitely recommend it. For dinner we went to Kuchis Pub by taxi. The seafood platter was of unbelievable value, so much so that we returned there the second night. When you pick up a hire car there may be a windscreen sticker stating for your safety that you go at 60 km/hr on a gravel road. I can say on the drive from Swakopmund to Damaraland you may occasionally extend to 80 but 60 is the safest speed.” | Photo from www.desertbreezeswakopmund.com

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“Drive to Doro Nawas and Damaraland | In Damaraland we stayed at Doro Nawas, a Wilderness safari lodge. One thing you will find is that the people here are magical with their friendliness, service and willingness to help, with lots of smiles. We drove to Twyfelfontein, and the living museum – very worthwhile – and I did a sunset walk with a guide.”

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“From the arid landscape we moved to Etosha and the Andersson Gate and Ongava Bush Camp. We would definitely recommend it – with its waterhole to watch the daily traffic. Being a fully inclusive accommodation, game drives are included. We saw rhinos, lions, zebras, giraffes, warthogs and antelope of all sorts. When you go into Etosha you will see plenty elephants.”

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“Again faultless accommodation and staff at Ongava Bush Camp with excellent food. The staff kindly, without our asking, put together lunch packs for us for our drive through Etosha to the Von Lindquist Gate and Mushara Bush Camp.”

“From the arid landscape we moved to Etosha and the Andersson gate and Ongari Bush Camp. We would definitely recommend it - with its waterhole to watch the daily traffic. Being a fully inclusive accommodation, game drives are included. We saw rhinos, lions, zebras, giraffes, warthogs and antelope of all sorts. When you go into Etosha you will see plenty elephants.”
Africat Foundation

“En route back to Windhoek break your journey at the Africat Foundation and see cheetahs being rehabilitated, one of our unexpected highlights.”

Our final accommodation was the Olive Grove Guesthouse. We got there around 6pm and immediately booked the restaurant next door, The Olive, for our last supper in Namibia, and we were not disappointed. The staff, as everywhere else, were superb.

We’re glad we did the journey back to Africa and were not disappointed. We did 2800 kms in 14 days. In hindsight we would have nominated a second driver. Remember… you will never never know, if you never never go. Put Namibia on your bucket list and if you have more time permitting maybe drive further north and take in Chobe too!”

– Hugh Corr

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See more of Namibia on our Facebook Page!


Inspired for more?

Watch our video and contact one of our consultants to plan your own African adventure.

It is currently high season in Namibia, with plenty of wildlife around the waterholes of Etosha, cold mornings and warm days. Be sure to book 8 – 10 months in advance to experience Namibia at this time of year. For more on when to visit, how to get there, and the wildlife you can expect to see, contact us – we have the answers.