Namiba - photo by DIVA007

Namibia – Dunes and Delicacies

From Swakopmund to Sossusvlei

As a country with one of the lowest population densities in the world, Namibia is not a typical tourist attraction. With less than three people for every square kilometer, there is a lot of ground to explore and we loved the long drive to Sossusvlei and the fantastic sights along the way. No matter how many foreigners there are traveling around the country at any given moment, the chances of them running into one another are slim. It is nothing like walking down a street in Spain and hearing at least five British and two Dutch conversations.

Spectacular dunes

Fog over Sossusvlei - Wikipedia
Fog over Sossusvlei (Wikipedia)

Like every tourist en route to Egypt plans to see the pyramids, everybody planning a trip to Namibia goes to see the spectacular sand dunes. Sossusvlei is where some of the world’s largest dunes are found – like the famous Dune 45. It is a protected area and no commercial ventures are allowed, so no sandboarding here – although we didn’t miss out because of this. We were thoroughly entertained in the days we spent camping in this area. Salt pans and waterholes draw hordes of flamingos, pelicans, oryx (locally known as gemsbok) and other animals after salt and sustenance. Sossusvlei is an incredibly scenic area that features unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife and as with most African countries, the locals are friendly and food is great. We explored the area and its striped, patterned and incredibly coloured inhabitants while it was light and experienced its unique ambiance after the sun set every day. On a previous trip I discovered the magnitude of an African sunset – this time I was amazed after dark. I discovered that a whole new world is born as soon as the glorious African sun disappears behind the dunes.

Visit Namibia – become a stargazer overnight

The lack of humans in Namibia is more than made up by the amount of stars in the night sky. Because it is not very populated, there is not a lot of light pollution, making the night sky incredibly clear. I have experienced clear skies on the western coast of Ireland but nothing like this. The night sky in Namibia is a dazzling spectacle, not to be missed. Gazing up at the dark sky and seeing it light up in all its glory makes you realise how boundless the universe is and how each of us is an integral part of it. Namibia is a place where self reflection is inevitable and where the rugged terrain reminds you of how fragile and precious life is. I learned a lot about myself on this trip and also learned a lot of interesting things about Namibia like:

  • The beer in Namibia is some of the best I’ve had, Windhoek brand in particular
  • The endemic Welwitschia Mirabilis is a fossil plant that can get as old as 2,000 years
  • Namibia is home to the largest underground lake in the world – the Dragon’s Breath
  • The indigenous people of Namibia are called the San and these guys know everything there is to know about the fauna and flora
  • The San click language is not difficult to pronounce – it is impossible!
  • There is a delicacy called Mopane. Don’t try it unless you are ok with eating fried caterpillars. We did after a few Windhoek beers and it was quite good – similar to barbecued chicken
Namiba - photo by DIVA007
Namiba photo by DIVA007

On the road again

After all our wonderful adventures, we started the last leg of our journey – the long drive from Sossusvlei back to the airport. We broke the five and a half hour journey into two parts by stopping over at the Naukluft National Park and camping at Kudusrus Campsite. This is where we saw how playful (and noisy!) a herd of zebras can be. We waved goodbye to our new friends in their stripy suits and enjoyed the last scenic drive in this fantastic country.

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