Namibia travel story

A land very special Namibia, almost unique for the many contexts it delivers. Here nature offers a remarkable variety that changes as you walk through its trails, large flat expanses of sight, windswept deserts, savannas colored mountains by flaming rocks, giant red sand dunes, lush green oasis, lots of animals and various ethnic groups, ancient populations that are still present with their traditions and ways of life.

For the organization of the trip I relied to a local tour operator, the Goldwing consists of Italians residing for a long time in Namibia. The proposed tour of 13 days was for me ideal for the life (I could spend more days in this trip) that the proposed route that included the passage in the main sites and areas of interest of the country. It should be considered that in Namibia the spaces are very different from those to which we are accustomed and transfers occupy an important part of the time of the tour. The organization has been very good as well as the choices made for the lodge that hosted us, always very nice, clean and located in a perfect natural setting to say incredible in some cases. On arrival in Windhoek it has been the small group of Italian with Paolo, the Italian local guide (a veteran of Namibia) who was also the driver of the jeep. Already in the first kilometers covered in the Kalahari desert to reach the private reserve of Camelthon Kalahari Lodge I was able to confront with the spaces, the colors and the nature of this land along the slopes endless, wide, dusty with a few vehicles. Within the private grounds of the lodge there was the first contact with the animals, oryx, springbok, various antelopes, giraffes, lions, etc. , All seasoned with a toast at sunset with sparkling wine drunk South African highlands overlooking the savannah, very impressive.

The next destination is Sossusvlei with its large red sand dunes. Enter the park early in the morning (the best time to observe the play of light and shade that these natural settings offer) we made several stops at the foot of these giants to admire them better and, like all the rest, we climbed the dune 45. dunes here are identified on the basis of kilometers away from the nearest town of Sesriem. The dune 45 is the most popular but not because it is the highest (only 90metri than other giants from 350-380 meters) but because the easiest to deal with to get on top of her walking on its crest. The overall scenario of the valley around which they develop these colorful dunes with their soft shapes and undulations incredible, hard to describe what you can see, looking all around and the pictures do not do justice to the beauty of this natural setting where the deep red color dominates the landscape. Another step, I would say obliged, within the park is the depression of Deadvlei, a former oasis of acacias now dead for many years. These trees are like petrified in what was once a lake that, after its drying up, left a salt flat white, a show really impressive where the colors of the white expanse of salt, black acacia, the red of the surrounding dunes and the blue sky combine to create a framework of strong colors and contrasts. The night accommodation at the Moonmoutain Tended a structure located in a place where no one would think to accomplish anything, a steep side of a mountain all stones and rocks. The lodge is all made out of wooden stilts (hall, restaurant, rooms, etc.) On which a wooden structure supporting the big tents. The reason for this is the scenario surrounding the Naukuf Desert Park which is best expressed at sunset when everything takes on a fiery color.

The next stop took us to Swokopmund Atlantic Ocean. This city is a stronghold of the German population living in Namibia (remember that Namibia was a German colony until World War II when it was invaded by the South Africans), tidy, clean and buildings with colonial style. Walking through the center you hear a lot about German and there are many signs of shops, houses and other in two languages (English and German). The area of the Atlantic coast are suffering from long periods with fog, low temperatures and high humidity of the southern winter. Also in our case, the morning was gray with sky closed for most of the day. Swakopmund was the basis for the trip to Walvis Bay, a boat tour in the lagoon of the same name to spot whales passing that we were able to glimpse and meet the dolphins that inhabit these waters and play with the boats of tourists. The lagoon is full of fish and major source of food for many animal species, where live big colonies of sea lions (in thousands) and large amounts of sea birds of various species. The presence of tourists no longer scares anyone of these animals, even some jumping on board a craft in the hope that someone can stretch a little 'fish, which the organizers of the trips they have become accustomed to. Near the bay is another beauty of Namibia, the sand dunes of Sandwich Bay. These giants of white sand, again with heights of hundreds of meters, are located close to the coast and extend for many kilometers. Walvis Bay organizes jeep excursions with experienced guides who "roam" between the dunes carrying tourists in the spectacular sights where you can observe the breathtaking views. The wind draws the dunes, creating peaks and valleys that follow the eye. Walking through these hills is very impressive. The tour concludes with a little 'of emotions that they live guides to tourists going at full speed over the dunes and with abrupt changes of slope once reached the crest and then inizire descent, in fact I think they enjoy more guides that do not tourists .....

The tour continues up towards the north and crossing a large granite formation that, as if by magic, emerges from the bush. The Spitzkoppe is a group of granite mountains from yellow-reddish, one of these is called the "Matterhorn of Africa" for its resemblance to our Italian mountains. Striking enter this area and turn in these mountains and huge stones are very old (about 700 million years) which were modeled by time and weather events, creating curious very rounded shapes and many boulders and polished stones. The region dell'Erongo is characteristic for this aspect, the presence of the granite that pop out of nowhere, some of them are modest in size but most have smooth profiles with peaks that look like mushrooms with a chapel and stem. In these areas there are sites with prehistoric cave paintings on rock. One of the best known is the woman warrior pregnant visible around the lodge Ai-Aiba. Also in this area we visited a village Bushman (men of the bush, also called San) one of the most ancient populations of southern Africa. The village still lives observing some old traditions but you can see that, inevitably, we are coming closer to a Western model. During the visit we find children, women and elderly, men exhibit showing the art of fire and the art of hunting, women show how they work some natural materials (ostrich eggs, nuts, etc.) To produce jewelry and small tools, all topped off with cute kids who do not stand still and play with the tourists who then buy some souvenirs produced by women

We continue our tour and going towards north we reach the area of Twyfelfontein sistemandoci in a lodge of the same name and is located under a mountain of red rock, surrounded by large rock fragments. Once again we are faced with a place where no one would ever think to accomplish something but looking well the context you begin to appreciate an area so rugged and wild with strong reddish hues. Also in this area it is a site declared by UNESCO "World Heritage". The site is located in a mountainous area consists of only wild red rocks, and in it are the graphites prehistoric rock attributed to the first peoples Bushmen. The inevitable landslide mountains, fractures of the rocks and their cautious downstream have fragmented the points where you can see these graphites that are really many, a sign of a large community who stayed in this area for many years. The site is well organized guided routes, protected trails and guides that explain what is shown in the graphites.

We are getting closer to the Etosha National Park, the largest and richest of animals in the country. First stop to endorse a village of ethnic Himba, another population with a recent history and troubled than other ethnic groups. The villages are made up of conical huts, made of branches tied together with palm leaves cemented with mud and dung. They are mainly nomadic herders although lately the movements are much less frequent. They have little contact with other people and this has meant that we have still retained many of their traditions to life. The men are not seen during the visits as out to care for the animals for which the villages are mainly women and children. Features are women for several reasons, not the least is the mixture of butter and clay with which cover most of the body. The mixture gives the skin a reddish color, and this practice has a function both aesthetic and functional, as it moisturizes the skin and protects from the sun as well as considering this as an embellishment. Another feature that immediately jumps to the eyes is the way in which they bring the hair, these are twisted braids forming larger that are then covered with the same mixture with which they cover the body leaving free only the final part. The mixture dries and braids become stiff and delicate. This tradition stems from reasons of necessity (as often happens) due to lack of water and the presence of various parasites. Wanting to maintain long hair in these conditions is not simple so covering it with these mixtures you could wash your hair less frequently and protected from pests.

And here we are at the park of Etosha's largest and organized Namibia. The park has a number of trails well marked and identified that cross and to introduce us to the pools of water that favor the encounter with animals, lions, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, hyenas, gazelles, antelopes, zebras and many others are missing, inevitably, animals that require significant availability of water as crocodiles, hippos and buffalo. We shot for two days, because sometimes it takes if you want to get in touch with the nature of this park, meeting solitary animals or groups more or less numerous. For those who have experience of visiting other parks in Africa, such as Kenya or Tanzania, you will notice the difference in numbers offset by a good variety. Released dall'Etosha we headed south toward the park's private Okonjima, a large park between plains, hills and mountains famous for the presence of leopards and cheetahs. The lodge is located within the park is truly remarkable, a new, modern, surrounded by nature with very large rooms (almost a small apartment) and well appointed. The surprise was in the large window of 7 meters which was used to see the front of the bush with the animals that passed before while comfortably lying on the big bed. Here we participated in an excursion to "hunt" of leopards. On a large off-road, guided by a park guide, we spent several hours turning between tracks, dirt roads and rocky savanna as long as, fortunately for us, the guide is raised to approach a splendid specimen. The animals are accustomed to human presence so the leopard did not care much for our presence leaving observe and slowly moving up to sit to be admired in all its beauty. It 'was a powerful experience, to enjoy the beauty of the animal in its natural context with the hidden fears of a possible reaction as we were about 8-10 meters away and the SUV was completely open laterally.
This was the last experience of this wonderful journey that I highly recommend for those who love nature in all its forms and its colors that are hot in Namibia, intense and pervasive.

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