Leaving Botswana was a bit stressful as Lisa had to go to hospital. She has been sick since Victoria Falls and no one seems to be able to determine what was wrong with her. So after a visit to the local clinic we hit the road and crossed over the border into Namibia. Namibia is a dry country that has a population of just over 2 million people. This country is famous for its national parks that include both animals and dramatic scenery. We spent about two weeks making our way from the North to the South of this beautiful country.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park spans over 22,270 km² in the north west of Namibia. The park gets its name from the Etosha salt pan, with accounts for approximately a fourth of the park. This salt pan makes the national park unique as it allows for a vivid contrast to be seen between the bush and the pan while driving through the park. Etosha National Park is home to all of the big five except the buffalo. We entered the park on our first full day in Namibia. We did an afternoon game drive to our campsite, Halali. This was a special experience as it was our first official game drive in our big yellow truck. On this game drive we saw two sets of cheetahs, kudu, gemsbok (orax), giraffe, elephant, black rhinos and some other antelope. What a way to start our stay in the national park. We ate dinner and then headed to the campsites waterhole. This was an absolutely incredibly experience as we saw two black rhino and a herd of elephant interact. We also saw cape foxes, jackals and hyenas. I have never seen so many animals active at a waterhole at night before so this was a great experience. The next morning we left the campsite as soon as the gate opened. We did a game drive for six hours and we were incredibly fortunate. We saw elephant, rhinos, lion and a leopard. We had an incredible siting of a leopard thanks to Sophie. He must have been about 20 m off the road in a tree. We were so lucky! We also went to a view point were we could admire the salt pan. We headed back to the campsite and cooled off in the pool before we headed out for our last afternoon game drive. On this drive we saw more elephant and lions and focused on spotting birds and smaller animals. That night we headed back to the waterhole and like clock work the rhinos and elephant were back, as were the hyena and jackals. Etosha was absolutely beautiful, and we were lucky to see all of the big five they had plus so many cheetahs. The contrast between the salt pan, grasslands and dry woodlands was incredible. The colours contrasted hugely between the dry grey and white colours and the green and yellow colours. This was a definite highlight for me.
After leaving Etosha National Park we made our way to Cheetah Park which is situated close to Kamanjab. We arrived just after lunch and cooled down by having a quick dip in the pool, then it was time for our cheetah interaction. We were collected by the property manager and taken to the house where there were three domesticated cheetahs. These cheetahs had been rescued as cubs and have since been living at the farmers house. After watching them being fed and taking a few photos we were taken to the enclosure where there were another ten cheetahs. These individuals have been dropped off by farmers in the area that have caught the cheetahs on their farms. We watched how these cheetahs got fed and enjoyed admiring these beautiful animals before we were taken back to our camp site.
Twyfelfontein and Skeleton Coast
The next day we made our way to Twyfelfontein. This is a world heritage site that is famous for its rock engravings. It is situated near a natural spring and thought to play huge significance in Namibia’s history for both the hunter gather people and the Khoikhoi. Over 2,500 engravings have been discovered. The landscape around Twyfelfontein was beautiful. It was dry and had a beautiful contrast in colour. We were able to spot two giraffe and some hyenas while diving in this arid region. It’s surprising that animals are able to survive in this region. That night we had a bush camp. For dinner we ate giraffe, gemsbok, zebra and kudu. It was interesting to taste some new game meat, but I don’t think I would eat the giraffe and zebra again! We saw scorpions at this campsite in the morning, which was a first for me (hopefully we don’t see them again). The next morning we woke up early and traveled to the Skeleton Coast National Park. This national park is 500 km long and 40 km wide. It is famous for being home to multiple shipwrecks. This stretch of land got its name due to the large about of whale skeletons washing up on the shore. We stopped at two shipwrecks in this park. One was in the dunes and the other was on the beach. This section of the road was absolutely freezing but beautiful so it was made worthwhile. After exiting the national park we made our way down south to the Cape Fur Seal colony. This was entertaining as the seals were making such interesting noises. We enjoyed walking around this colony until we could not take the smell anymore. We continued driving until we reached our next campsite, Spitzkoppe. This campsite was unique at it was huge. Essentially we were bush camping in between beautiful mountain and rock structures. That night was interesting as cook group had to make a plan with the food that was on the truck due to the local shops being shut (as it was a Sunday). When we arrived at the campsite we went exploring before heading back to help with dinner. The next morning half of us woke up early to go and climb one of the small mountains to watch the sunrise. This was beautiful! The colours were phenomenal and therefore made the early wake up worth it. We packed up camp and headed to our next destination, Swakopmund.
Swakopmund has been named the adventure capital of Namibia due to it being home to some magnificent sand dunes and the worlds cheapest site for sky diving. We spent three nights/two days in this city enjoying various activities
I never in a million years thought I would ever sky dive due to my dislike of heights and adrenaline. However, after talking to one of the other Oasis members, the seed was planted and I had two days to decide if this was something I was serious about. Our first morning in Swakopmund was very relaxed. I ate breakfast and went to explore the town with some of the group members. Before I knew it, it was 1 o’clock and it was almost time to meet for sky diving. I was uncharacteristically calm. We went to the sky dive center and paid. There was no backing out now! We were driven out of town until we arrived at the airstrip. We had a brief safety talk before the instructors divided us up into pairs. There were nine of us jumping, and we would be going up in the plane in twos. I was partnered with Dave and we were the fourth pair to go. While we waited for our turn I was still calm. Finally, it was our turn! We suited up and got into the plane. The plane was small and had no door. When the plane took off I started to question everything, why on earth was I doing this??? My diving instructor was amazing! He could sense how nervous I was and during the 20 minute plane ride he was calming me down and pointing out everything we could see. Then it was time… Dave went first. He was out the door in a second, it was my turn. I made my way to the door and hung my legs out of the plane, I sat there for what felt like an eternity (it was probably only 4 seconds). Then Chris (the instructor) pushed us out of the plane. We free fell from 10,000 ft for 30 seconds until he pulled the parachute. This was such an amazing feeling! The free fall was everything I had imagined it to be and I didn’t want it to end. It honestly felt like flying… The wind was cold on my feet and face and the adrenaline was pumping. I could breathe much better than I expected and the most surprising? I had a smile on my face the whole time. After the parachute was deployed we had fun spinning around and spotting the salt farm, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and the sand dunes. Then Chris told me to close my eyes. I did. He then collapsed the parachute. This was terrifying as it felt like nothing would catch us, but after a few seconds he allowed the wind to catch the parachute and we were back gliding. We did this again, what a feeling! Seriously! After about 5 minutes in the air with the parachute we touched down on the ground. I couldn’t believe it was already over. I was greeted by the others who had already completed their dive and a drink to say congratulations. This was truly a once in a life time experience that I will never be able to truly explain to anyone else. I definitely want to do this again!
Swakopmund is situated in the Namib Desert. We decided that one of the best ways to see the dunes would be to quad bike. We were collected from our hostel and taken to the dunes. We could decide if we wanted to drive automatic or manual quad bikes. I chose the automatic (as I had never driven one before). We were split into a fast and slow group and instructed on how to use the bikes. Before I knew it we had started and were cruising through the desert. We had fun going up and down the dunes. After about an hour and a half we stopped at a view point for some water. We enjoyed the view and sharing stories with the other group. After this break we had another hour of riding. This is where is got fun. We were all a lot more confident on the bikes and enjoyed going higher up the dunes and faster. The fastest I saw on my speedometer was 59 km/hr. Apparently the faster group was getting up to 75 km/hr. This was a lot of fun! Our time on the bikes went quickly and was a great way to see the sand dunes. The contrast between the yellow/orange sand and the blue sky was incredible!
Our time in Swakopmund went by so quickly. It was filled will first time experiences for me and a lot of adrenaline. These few days are definitely ones I will never forget!
One of our final destinations in Namibia was Sossuvlei in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. This national park is in the Namib Desert and is famous for its iron rich dunes. We drove from Swakopmund passed the Tropic of Capricorn, were we took advantage of the photo opportunity before we continued to our campsite in Sossuvlei. Along the way we drove through some dramatic landscapes that were just breathtaking! We dropped our tents at the campsite and then made our way to Dune 45. This sand dune is composed of sand that is over 5 million years old. The sand originated from the Orange River and the Kalahari Desert and the dune stands at a height of 180 m. We enjoyed climbing up with dune in the afternoon and watching the sunset. This was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The contrast between the orange dunes and the white ground below and the blue sky was incredible. We were also able to watch the moon rise as we drove back to our campsite. The next morning we got up early so that we could watch the sunrise over Deadvlei. This is a white clay pan in the Namib Desert. This vlei is surrounded by some of the brightest dunes in the world, reaching heights above 400 meters. This area of the desert is famous for having such contrast between its landscape. The white pan, orange sand, blue sky and dead trees made this a beautiful way to start the day. We were also fortunate enough to spot some gemsbok near the dunes. We continued driving until we reached our final tourist attraction for Namibia, the Fish River Canyon.
Fish River Canyon
That afternoon we arrived at the Fish River Canyon. This is the largest canyon in Africa, which has a depth of 550 meters and a length of 160 km. We were given an hour to walk around the canyon and take pictures. This hour flew by as I was appreciating the views and taking a lot of pictures! After the canyon we continued to our campsite, Felix Unite, which was on the Orange River. This was a fun campsite as we could see South Africa across the river. We were also able to watch South Africa play New Zealand in the rugby. This was an awesome way to spend our last night in Namibia.
During our time in Namibia, Lisa had been diagnosed with Malaria. It was scary to see her so sick (she is now okay)! Even though she was taking anti-malerial medication, she still contracted the disease. Scary to think that almost 900,000 people in Africa die from malaria each year. Namibia was filled with dramatic landscapes, game spotting and exciting activities. Each of our destinations in this country were so different from each other. The drive days became enjoyable due to the beautiful scenery. I loved every day we spent in this magnificent country!
We crossed the border from Namibia to South Africa and traveled south until we reached Highlanders Campsite. This was a beautiful campsite situated in the middle of Namaqualand vineyards and surrounded by the Cederberg mountains. We arrived and set up our tents. After lunch we proceeded to have a wine tasting where we tasted six Klawer Cellar wines. This included their African ruby and Michelle sparkling wine (obviously my favourite). This was a lot of fun! After wine tasting I quickly went to cook for my last cook group and then we returned to the bar. The next morning, while everyone was nursing their hangovers, we had our final truck clean. After this, Sparky (the campsite owner), took us for a drive to go and see wild rooibos plants and to go enjoy the ‘beach’ on the river bank. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the pool soaking up the sun, as the next day would be our final day on the truck as we made our way to our final destination, Cape Town.
We arrived to a sunny Cape Town. We were staying in Tableview, close to bloubergstrand beach. The group split up for the afternoon as some people had admin to do. That night we all went out for our final dinner to Primi Priatti. We enjoyed some cocktails before proceeding to go enjoy some bars in Tableview. The next day was a sad day as the group went their different ways for good. Luke (the driver). Lisa (our tour leader), Brenton, Kyle, Mark and myself went on an adventure to Pringle Bay in the truck. This was an unforgettable experience as I don’t think many people can say they have been on an overland trip that ended at their house.
After approximately 16,000 km my overland trip with Oasis Overland has come to an end. What an incredible experience with amazing people. Ticking off a lot of bucket list destinations and activities while making life long friends. THIS WAS DEFINITELY AN EXPERIENCE I WILL NEVER FORGET!