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AFRICA

8000 kms through Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa on a jeep with rooftop tents
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NAMIBIA TRIP REPORT AND PHOTOS

Here below some of the most fascinating photos from Namibia. Together with the photogallery, you will find a funny and interesting trip report full of info and anecdotes describing the whole travel itinerary. If you haven't read them yet, check out all travel info and precise itinerary here: www.wildtrips.net/africa.htm. And then please read about the continuation of this trip in the amazing Botswana, with this report and photos that include also the Victoria Falls.

Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon - One of the wildest and biggest canyons in the world, in the south of Namibia.

NAMIBIA TRIP REPORT AND TRAVEL ITINERARY

We decided to travel to Namibia by 4x4, and we wanted to do the trip as adventurously as possible, without guides nor precise plans.
Preparation was simple: we got some information about possible destinations and dangers, we booked the intercontinental flight to Johannesburg, in South Africa, and we avoided the flights to Namibia as they were too expensive. We also booked a Nissan with rooftop tents (our future “home” for 15 days). We downloaded the Tracks4Africa maps for our Garmin GPS navigator (12 euros per country).
During our flight we had a 12-hour stopover in Doha. We visited the city and we found mainly skyscrapers and shopping malls. The heat was impressive: forty degrees Celsius by night.
We landed in Johannesburg on the afternoon of the 7th of August, the right period for Namibia.
An employee of the 4x4 rental company picked us up at the airport and drove us to their headquarters. We were explained all the secrets of our jeep. Immediately after sunset, we went to a nearby supermarket to buy food and drinks for our following days and nights in the wild. In the shopping center there was an Italian restaurant where we had a surprisingly good pizza. Then, we drove towards Namibia.
Namibia from jeep with rooftop tents
On the road - There are mostly gravel roads in Namibia, but a good crazy driver can go at 120 km/h, even if there is someone lying on the 4x4 roof.
This was our first crazy decision. We drove all night, covering approximately 900 kilometers in the middle of South Africa, following the road-signs and the compass – we had no maps for the GPS navigator because, to save money, we had only bought maps for Namibia and Botswana (now I know it was an insane idea).
Anyway, for some reason not only we survived, but we didn’t even get lost and at dawn we were in Namibia and after another 300 km we reached our first destination, the Fish River Canyon.
Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon
The scenery was spectacular: the huge gorge between the mountains (second only to the American Grand Canyon), the colours, the wild landscapes, the deserted dirt roads, a few plants peeking through the rocks, unlimited spaces and freedom.
In the afternoon we left a tiny dirt road and we ventured into the rocky ground to find an empty space where we could camp. It was all empty, so it was easy. We opened the tents and mounted the table. Then we lit a bonfire with some dry wood found on site and we enjoyed our first African night.
Camping in the savannah, Namibia
Wild camping - A 4x4 with rooftop tents allows camping comfortably even in the middle of a rocky desert.
The jeep was equipped with everything necessary for camping (water supply, fridge, cutlery, blankets, etc.). We cooked some excellent grilled meat and we drank wine. For the first time in our lives we were watching the southern hemisphere stars.

Dead tired after about fifty consecutive hours of travel, we began our holiday routine: in bed early in order to wake up at dawn.
The next morning brought another beautiful day in Namibia (zero clouds in a fortnight: I’ll never stress enough the importance of travelling in the dry season). After exploring the surrounding area on foot, we set off in the direction of Sesriem, where we had booked a place in a “real” campsite (booking in advance was recommended as it was a national park). Along the road the rocky ground broken by canyons turned into savannah: yellowish grasslands, with red barren hills in the background, a few lonely trees and the first mammals (goats, zebras and oryx).
Zebra Crossing
Zebra Crossing - You rarely see these signs in most parts of the world.
We made good use of the jeep to wander offroad, in the bush. We calmly approached the animals. At one point we tried to join a herd of zebras, but they noticed we were intruders.
Zebras at sunset
Sunset zebras - Along the road from Fish River Canyon to Sesriem, you meet some wild animals.
Oryx
Oryx
We got a puncture in one of the rear tyres. We changed it and at Sesriem we had it fixed. We settled in the camp-site and we dined and drank beer in the restaurant.
Unfortunately, a raging wind hit Sesriem that night. The tents slammed brutally.
Sunset in the savannah
Savanna Sunset - African sunsets are no ordinary sunsets.
The next morning the camp was still blown by the wind. Clouds of sand flew in from the nearby desert. The camp bathrooms had two inches of sand on the floor and on the toilets. To our surprise, also our jeep filled with sand, because one of the windows had been left slightly open.
Sesriem Canyon
Sesriem Canyon - This beautiful canyon is close to the Namib Desert.
We visited the beautiful Sesriem Canyon, but we couldn’t reach the nearby red sand dunes of Sossusvlei because of the storm. It was a pity because it was a focal point for any travel itinerary in Namibia. We were a little bit sad when we left the desert and continued our journey towards North.
We drove through new landscapes: the ground was still arid, but the colors and the shapes changed. There were dark round hills separated by small canyons.
Then we arrived to the Atlantic Ocean, near Walvis Bay. There was a road running along a lagoon. On the other side of the road, there were big yellow sand dunes. At one point we turned offroad, testing the 4x4 capabilities of our Nissan.
Fenicotteri al tramonto in Namibia
Flamingos - Not far from Walvis Bay, we camped on the top of a dune with view on a lagoon home to many flamingos.
We got stuck in the sand a first time, then with the help of the shovel we managed to move the jeep and climbed to the top of a dune with stunning views of the lagoon and of the flamingos walking in the water at dusk.
Dunes
Walvis Bay Dunes - High dunes watch the Atlantic Ocean near Swakopmund.
We had really enjoyed that night so were in very good mood when we resumed our drive towards the north of Namibia. We stopped soon to climb some huge dunes that looked out over the ocean. On foot, this time. We took another break on a beach, from which we could see a recent wrecked ship.
Skeleton Coast
Skeleton Coast - Namibian coast is full of skeletons of wrecked ships, but this relict is quite recent.
A bit further north we stopped at Cape Cross natural reserve, where thousands of seals lived and smelled. It was impressive to see them dive into the big waves among the rocks.
Cape Cross
Cape Cross - Thousands of seals live in Cape Cross Natural Reserve.
We left the Ocean and we started traveling through the savannah of Damaraland, a beautiful and wild region. We had yet another wonderful night in the nature.
Namibia Camping
Wild camping by night - Damaraland wild savanna is ideal for camping in the middle of nowhere.
The next day we drove to Etosha National Park, a nature reserve almost as big as Belgium. Tourists could access a large part of the park near a giant salt lake. Around the many ponds the animals gathered to “have a drink”.
Animals Etosha
Animals at Etosha - In the dry season, thousands of zebras, gazelles and antelopes meet near Etosha small lakes.
Driving along the dirt roads we came across gazelles, zebras, oryx, elephants and giraffes: we were surprised by how easy it was to spot animals, there were hundreds everywhere. So we tried to spot the rarest animals and wildlife scenes, also following other travelers’ comments. We saw some hyenas eating the carcass of a giraffe (it didn’t look very appetizing), a leopard walking quietly among the bushes, some lazy lionesses yawning in the savannah.
Leopard
Etosha leopard - Etosha National Park is huge and boasts a great number of wild animals. However, we needed some luck to spot a leopard.
Lion
Hungry lion
The most exciting moment was when we saw two cheetahs hunting a gazelle. The patient wait, then the quick attack, the sad end for the gazelle and the good lunch for the cheetahs.
Elephant
The elephant is upset - This elephant wasn't too happy of seeing our 4x4 so close to the herd. We soon drove away.
Zebra Cuddling
Zebras cuddling
Free camping in the reserve was forbidden, so we didn’t run any more risks of being eaten. Instead we camped in a beautiful structure, very well organized. Finally we were able to have a shower and we had dinner at a restaurant where we were served crocodile meat. We complimented the chef, who laughed satisfied.
The next day we spotted also a couple of rhinos. Then we left Etosha and, changing our plans, we decided to visit the northern part of Namibia. So we headed towards Opuwo, a small town where women dressed in western clothes walked side by side with Himbas.
Himba People
Himba people - Himbas don't live with the other Namibian people and strongly preserve their costumes.
These indigenous women didn’t wear any clothes apart from a short skirt; their hair and part of their body were covered by argilla. We wandered through the village, we did some shopping and then we walked into a booth with a “tourist information” sign. Inside there was an old man with yellow eyes. Health had abandoned him a long time ago, but not his kindness.
We left Opuwo and by heading North we met many Himba villages: a wooden fence, few huts and several goats. They were a primitive population who lived life their own way, they didn’t speak any English and they didn’t care about Western habits. We approached one of the villages by 4x4, then we walked with extreme caution to the fence gate. At first we were squared with surprise, but nobody said anything. So we walked a few steps forth and an old man invited us to enter.
Himba Hair
Himba kid - This kid didn't talk, but he was happy to hang around with us.
The village was tiny and poor. It was more like an ample family house with a courtyard and some small stables. There were two women, their children and the grandparents. Were the men at work, maybe in the fields?
Then we drove North, towards the Angola border, and vegetation became greener and greener. The northern Namibia is more humid and rainy than the deserted South. We met a group of schoolchildren, although there was no trace of buildings in the surrounding area, maybe a few huts among the trees.
Children Jeep
Playing with children - Driving towards north Namibia, we met these nice schoolchildren who were happy to play with us.
We resumed our drive towards the Epupa Falls.
Epupa
Epupa Falls - Close to the border with Angola, the Epupa falls flow between palm trees and baobabs.
In the middle, we camped in a beautiful spot on the dry bed of a river. There was just the nature, the stars and us; we all felt a subtle tension when we walked in that forest of low trees to get some wood for the fire.
The Epupa Falls deserved the visit: glorious views, palm trees facing the river, a big, strangely colored lizard and a "Danger: crocodiles" sign. Unfortunately, we didn’t see them.
Epupa2
Epupa falls
Driving along a fascinating gravel road we reached the Namibia-Angola border. Here we continued our trip along the Caprivi Strip. This is a narrow strip of Namibian territory to the north of Botswana; it is crossed by the Okavango, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. It is quite humid, green and populated (especially compared to the rest of Namibia).
After having spent many consecutive nights in a tent, it was about time to sleep in a bed, so we stayed in a B&B run by a Chinese lady married to a Swiss guy (in an extraordinary holiday we wanted to live this strange experience as well). The following night we camped along the Zambezi river, terrorized by the calls of elephants and hippos and by the myriad of mosquitoes flying around.
Zambesi River Dawn
Dawn on Zambesi River - This was another great place where to wake up after a wild (and a bit scary) camping near hyppos.
We had not taken malaria pills because they weren’t supposed to be necessary in the dry season, but that camp maybe was an exception. Anyway, none of us fell ill, neither the hippos overturned our jeep and tents.
So, the next day we could cross two borders, with Botswana and Zimbabwe.
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