Northern Namibia: Etosha to Swapokmund

We were very excited about crossing into Namibia and it was the country our tour was spending the most time in (two weeks) so we had high hopes.

Our first stop was a cheetah sanctuary where we got very close to these amazing cats. Four cheetahs had been rescued by a couple who had previously hunted them and then had a change of heart. They now lived with them.

It wasn’t very relaxing…

A few more long days were spent driving through the bush seeing zebras and giraffe beside the road (which was pretty surreal) before we finally reached our first stop: Etosha National Park. Alongside, the Masai Mara (Kenya), the Serengeti (Tanzania) and Kruger (South Africa), it is known as one of the top game parks in Africa.

Cooking with our tour leader, Nash
Drinks around the fire
Riverside campsite sunset

So how was it that in our two days of driving around, we didn’t see any lions, tigers, leopards, or even the normally ubiquitous elephants? Apparently there had been recent rains which meant that the animals didn’t have to go to the waterholes and places where we could easily see them so it was much harder to find them. However, it certainly wasn’t all bad as we saw a few new animals (wildebeest, rhino, hyena) and more of some old favourites (kudus, zebras, giraffes). 

We must have been really unlucky as we met other people who had been in the park at the same time who saw tonnes of big cats. I guess that’s the difference between a game park and a zoo! It was still incredible to see the animals stalking the plains and crossing the road in big groups, just meters away; we had just been spoiled in Chobe National Park and expected more of the same. 

Wildebeest and kudus

Hyena following us

South of Etosha we spent a night in a really scenic campsite surrounded by huge orange rocks and hiked to the top of one for a spectacular sunrise:

Another beautiful journey brought us to the Germanic town of Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast. It was the first time we had seen the sea in Africa. The German influence (Namibia was a colony until 1990) was prevalent here with bakeries and pubs everywhere.

The town is known as an adventure sports capital and lots of the group did skydives (we did one in NZ years ago so didn’t join in due to our rapidly dwindling funds). We decided to try something new so found ourselves speeding around the Namibian sand dunes on quad bikes.

The activity is in fact so high risk that we had to take out expensive extra insurance to cover the high chance of death or injury! Conversely, if we had done another skydive we wouldn’t have needed to pay any extra.

We spent two hours zooming up and over dunes which got bigger and bigger as we travelled further into the dune field. It was exhilarating, especially when we accelerated up the dunes and turned 180 degrees with the quad on a right angle. Becki started off scared but by the end even she was loving it.

Bones from army horses which perished in the desert

On the way out of town we stopped at the huge, 100,000 strong Cape Cross seal colony. It was very funny to see them squabbling and waddling.

A very strong start for Namibia.

Next stop: deserts in the south of the country


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