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Namibia: Expect the Unexpected

Written by Chris Osburn

The sparsely populated, mostly desert nation of Namibia extends north to south along a sizable stretch of southwest Africa’s Atlantic coast. Sitting just north of South Africa, and also sharing a border with Angola, Botswana, and Zambia—the country spreads inland hundreds of miles to encompass some the continent’s most beautiful and distinctive landscapes.

The big draw to Namibia is the big game. With healthy numbers of lions, elephants, giraffes, the world’s largest population of cheetahs, and plenty more animals—wildlife flourishes in Namibia, making it a premiere destination for safari. Depending on where you are in the country, you’re all but guaranteed to see lots and lots of wild animals, unperturbed by humans, and living in their natural habitat.

Still, for all the creatures you get to see, you don’t have to give up on enjoying any creature comforts. Many of Namibia’s lodges and camps rank among the best in Africa with the same amenities you’d expect at a big city hotel, even if they’re hundreds of miles away from the nearest town and surrounded by true wilderness. And while enjoying your safari and looking for wildlife you’re bound to be amazed by the beauty of the landscape.

Beyond the wildlife and the gorgeous setting, there’s not much more to Namibia. But maybe that’s what is most wonderful about the country. Wide open spaces, an endless horizon, and a sense of the world without crowds, traffic jams, and so many more of the other annoyances of modern living.

We’ll share more about what to see and do in this epic corner of the world in upcoming posts, but before the next installment, here are a few tips to help you start planning your trip.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

mezzotint / Shutterstock

mezzotint / Shutterstock

Wondering what to pack for this trip of a lifetime? Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat are imperatives. You’ll be fine most of the time dressed in T-shirt and shorts, but a light coat might be needed in the evenings. You’d be wise to bring a couple of lightweight long sleeve shirts and long trousers as well, especially if you plan to visit an area where the mosquitoes come out at night. Anti-malaria medicine is advised for some parts of the country, especially during the rainy season, but because of the arid climate it’s highly unlikely you’ll have to worry about it. A good pair of running shoes or similar should be more than adequate footwear for most travelers.

That’s about it really, other than a camera, which is an absolute necessity. If you’ve got the funds for a giant professional lens, you’ll put it to good use in Namibia as you hone your landscape and wildlife photography skills. That said, with so many opportunities to view animals (up close too if you’ve got a good guide) and take in such stunning scenery, you might be surprised at how well the shots on your compact camera or smartphone turn out.

Slow – Lions Ahead!

v.schlichting / Shutterstock

v.schlichting / Shutterstock

Self-drive tours are probably the most rewarding way to experience this beautiful country, but a regular schedule of bush flights hopping across the country from airstrip to airstrip is another option (and essentially the only realistic way to get to a few areas, such as the remote Skeleton Coast).

Roads are well maintained and clearly marked (if not necessarily always paved). When driving in Namibia, other than watching out for four-legged, furry obstacles, be sure to fill your tank at every chance between destinations, and keep more than enough water and food with you. Keep your cell phone (whatever gadgets you feel are important) fully charged, and give yourself ample time to stretch your legs in the wide-open spaces and to take plenty of photos. Most gas stations only take cash for fuel, but you can buy snacks at most with a credit or debit card, and ATMs are pretty common anyway.

From Desert to Ocean

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Does Namibia sound like a dream destination? If going on safari, getting away from it all, and maybe even getting to dip your toes, (or flippers) in the ocean are highlights you’d like to experience, then indeed Namibia is the place for you. Keep an eye out for the next upcoming Namibia installment, to help you plan your trip for when you get there!

Have you ever visited Namibia? What were your highlights? Let us know your Namibia memories in the comments section below.

About the author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, and curator and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world and has called London home since 2001.

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