February 19 – 20, 2016 – Swakopmund, NAMBIA, Southwest Africa—We come to one of the most unusual and more unique countries in Africa. First impressions on landing here from the gorgeous lush Serengeti plains is ‘why are we here?’. This looks rather like our image of hell?! Namibia (Nam-I-bia) is one of the countries that needs to be seen to be believed and shows extraordinary aspects of Africa and that are exciting and unexpected. It’s the perfect place for a private jet to bring people easily and efficiently, a place that ‘stays off’ most people’s radar in favor of the more well known. Namibia only recently received its independence from former German and South African occupation.
We check into the brand new Strand Hotel on the sandy Atlantic beachfront of quaint Swakopmund town, a former German settlement of this area. It’s a lovely location and our group’s ocean facing junior suite rooms are a complete contrast from the recent wonderful rooms of Singita Serengeti overlooking the vast plains … such a quick change, all thanks to the ease of private jet travel.
Immediately our first afternoon takes us from ocean side to the nearby ‘living desert’ and some of the smaller sand dunes close to the coast line. We are driving in 4×4 desert vehicles with deflated tires. We’re here to see the desert’s “small 5”. Our guides entertain us by driving along the base of sand dunes and suddenly stopping, racing off barefoot across the sands, and producing for us some of the most extraordinary living creatures on earth. These unusual creature live their entire lives on and in hot (& cold) sands of the Namib Desert. It’s a fun and fascinating intro into this rather surreal place. We’re headed to the famed ‘moonscape’ of Namibia … a most dramatic place on earth reputed to be the “oldest” of all, with geological history that dates to 400 million years ago. Here we are on it … and again rather bewildered by the harsh austerity of it all. It’s a strange looking place to us. Suddenly on a craggy outcrop surround by ‘moon mountains’ is the more familiar sighting … a table with white linen tablecloth, two servers and a small group of brightly dressed Namibians singing beautifully. There are FRESH plump oysters on the table, large plates of them. There are champagne glasses. This is surreal. And, like magic, as the sun starts to set our hosts tell us ‘look up look up, here comes our bubbly from heaven!’ … a small team of colorful sky-divers swirls down toward us, and on landing one produces another bottle of perfectly chilled Veuve Cliquot to add to our bar. We are awed by all of this. Our Namibian acapella choir continues to sing beautiful local and international melodies as we watch a crimson sky over a dark black rocky earthscape … we are still on earth we have to remind ourselves.
We head on to a surprise dinner, in the desert, driving into a sandy valley at dusk we see before us a thousand lanterns lighting the mountainsides, the almost full moon is rising, and there’s a red carpet with musicians blaring traditional anthems on animal horns. The elegant tables are laid with fine linens, crystal and silverwares. There are tables of food and a fully stocked bar. A children’s choir welcomes us and serenades us. Suddenly above us on a rocky outcrop fire dances appear and thrill us with their amazing show. This has to be a most extraordinary dinner party of a lifetime … and it’s ours! Oh, and we’re in Namibia … The country that few of us could even pronounce.
Our full day is a mix of Atlantic Ocean adventures and African high desert dunes. We start our morning with a private charter catamaran from nearby Walvis Bay, an old British harbor settlement. A place unheard of today that is being ‘brought into the 21st century’ as one of Africa’s import trading harbors. We head out into the cool morning mist, with our guide Sandra, and joined by new friends … Fur seals and Pelicans coming on board for ‘breakfast’. Sandra explains some history of the bay and some of its modern day development, including the marvel of fresh oysters. We cruise by the extensive ‘oyster farms’ in the bay … And we’re en route to a large sandy peninsula, home to flamingoes and huge family colonies of seals. This is more diverse than we’d ever quite imagined or understood and a wildlife safari on the water is an exciting happening for us all. Leaving our catamaran we drive out across the salt flats and on to the peninsula and head south, driving right down the wide sandy beach alongside the crashing surf. Small tented shelters ahead, right at the waterside indicate an “oasis” … its lunchtime and a rather delicious grilled fresh seafood feast awaits us accompanied with sparkling wines. More fresh juicy oysters too!
Soon, we’re racing down the beach toward Sandwich Harbour, an old abandoned fishing settlement, overtaken by ‘walking’ sand dunes and destroyed by the sea. This is a place where magnificent towering dunes meet the Atlantic Ocean. In our three 4×4 desert vehicles we head directly into the dunes … we’re headed for the most incredible ‘roller coaster’ rides of our lives! Some of these beautiful grand dunes of orange sand rise up to 2000ft in height. It’s a thrilling experience, moments of sheer elation and then terror. Where in the world are we … Namibia, of course! We’re almost ‘thrilled out’ when we eventually head for home in the later afternoon. This has been one of the most extraordinary days of our lives.
Our taste of Namibia has been “awesome” … a word that one truly can use here. And now we’re headed south to the very tip of Africa. A maritime port city renowned for more than two centuries. A place where two great oceans (Indian and Atlantic) meet and mix together. A beautiful modern day city on a vast horseshoe bay … Cape Town here we come!
Click here to join us for our finale in Cape Town.