The Road Chose Me – Natural Namibia

The Road Chose Me – Natural Namibia

By Steve English

The Road Chose Me – Natural Namibia

The reality of dreams

When I first dreamed of Africa many years ago, it was of Namibia that I imagined wide open spaces, friendly locals, and wild animals far outside the fences of national parks. Diving in I’m aware it has a lot to live up to, but somehow I know it will exceed all my expectations.

Following a simple border crossing from Angola, I soon find myself driving on the left-hand side of the road. Until now in Africa, every country on the west coast has been right-hand drive, so this is quite the shift. It’s amusing that there isn’t even so much as a sign at the border; somehow people are just expected to know.

After resupplying in a rural town, I strike out westward, following the mighty Kunene River and the border of Angola. For a couple of weeks, I explore some of the most remote terrain I have ever encountered. At night, I camp off the side of the road and am treated to a staggering display of stars with the Milky Way so bright it doesn’t look real.

On one memorable evening, local Himba people wander through camp and are very happy to chat for ten minutes even though we don’t share a language. Their broad smiles and sunny disposition are staggering given that they are walking dozens of miles in scorching heat carrying heavy packs on their heads. They don’t seem to mind at all and wave a happy goodbye as they resume the trail, barefoot.

On the vast open plains, I spot herds of mountain zebra, gemsbok, and other antelope-like animals. In dry river beds, I see wild elephants and a large heard of giraffes.

Back in civilization, I make the trek into Sandwich Harbour immediately south of Walvis Bay on the coast. Here, enormous dunes drop directly into the crashing ocean, one of the few places on earth where that happens.

Near the south entrance to Etosha National Park lies Tthe Otjitotongwe Cheetah Guestfarm, a private ranch set up to preserve cheetahs rescued from trigger-happy farmers in the area. Petting a real-life cheetah is a mind-bending experience, and I’m speechless when he starts licking my arm and purring loudly.

No visit to Namibia would be complete without a stop at world-famous Etosha. It’s one of the oldest national parks in Africa, and the wildlife viewing opportunities are spectacular. The park is a massive expanse with a few waterholes where visitors converge. Throughout the day and night, all the animals walk straight into the water, desperate to escape the blistering heat. In terms of bang for the buck, Etosha would be tough to beat.

As a final adventure, I drive into the far North Western corner of Namibia to the very remote Khaudum National Park. The park is just a few sandy tracks cut through the harsh environment, and again huge numbers of elephants are drawn to the few year-round watering holes.

After well over a month exploring all the remote corners of Namibia, it turns out I was right all along – Namibia has far exceeded my expectations!

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