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Part 1 - Guide to Discovering Namibia: A 10-Day Adventure Between Nature and Luxury

Landscape Deadvlei

The 10-day journey in Namibia was undoubtedly the most incredible, surprising, and emotionally rich experience I have ever had. Thousands of kilometers on white roads, starry nights, breathtaking landscapes that were always changing, and unique emotions, all surrounded by animals and untouched nature. In this post, I will tell you how we organized the trip, some important tips, and our experience. It will be divided into two parts because there are really too many things to tell.

Our journey begins on August 9 with our arrival in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, a country where history intertwines with stunning natural landscapes, land of indigenous cultures like the Himba and the San, which represents a living example of coexistence between ancestral traditions and modernity. The conservation of nature and wildlife in Namibia is a fundamental principle, with national parks like Etosha offering refuge to endangered species.

The Lufthansa flight with a stopover in Frankfurt brought us here after several hours of flight. We did most of the planning from home, with the help of my boyfriend and our friends who joined us. Upon our arrival, the owner of Zambezi Car Rental was waiting to take us a few kilometers from the airport to hand over our cars. Both cars were equipped with a rooftop tent, camping stove, giant fridge, and everything necessary (and more) for camping. The cars had an additional fuel tank to cover long distances without having to worry too much about running out of fuel. And the service from Zambezi Car Rental was really perfect. The cars are equipped with GPS, and the company knows exactly where you are, so it is ready to intervene if there are any malfunctions (fortunately, everything went smoothly for us!).

Nissan with tent in Namibia

We decided to make our entire trip without a guide, and this really added a lot of adrenaline to the journey, but to do this, we prepared extensively before leaving to be ready. First, we brought a satellite phone, as sometimes we were hours and hours without phone coverage, and the satellite phone is a real peace of mind. We had an iPad where we downloaded our entire itinerary so that we had offline maps at every moment of our trip (this is crucial). Lastly, we brought radios to communicate between the two cars. This isn't essential, but it helped and was also fun for keeping us company during the journey!

But now, after this introduction, let's start with the actual journey, full of surprises and unforgettable moments. On the first day, also because my boyfriend was coming directly from Japan, we decided to drive for about forty minutes towards the magnificent Zannier Omaanda hotel and rest after the long journey. This hotel is magical, and upon arriving just after lunch, we checked in at a place that left us speechless, with its infinity pool and spacious rooms with a view of nature, the lake, and even a super romantic fireplace that is lit for the night. The hotel is luxurious and offers every comfort, providing a unique experience of sustainable luxury that harmoniously blends with the surrounding environment.

View from Omaanda Zannier Hotel

Despite the fatigue, there was the opportunity to go on a safari right in the afternoon in the park located around the hotel, and of course, we accepted. We got into this private off-road vehicle with a guide and incredibly encountered the wildest nature. We immediately noticed an animal carcass and lionesses around a few meters away, we couldn't stop taking open-mouthed photos of the landscape and animals. Continuing, we noticed elephants in the distance, and the guide had us get out of the car, and we slowly approached them, managing to see them up close. The experience was incredible, and shortly after, they took us to a clearing to enjoy the sunset. Our guide pulled out a table from the car, some snacks, and prepared perfect gin and tonics while we enjoyed our first African sunset. A sunset that captivates and stays in your heart. It was a magical moment. We never expected to see rhinos, lionesses, and elephants just a few hours after our arrival.

Returning to the hotel in the evening for a delicious dinner, we collapsed into bed, to regain strength for the next day. The second day we left at dawn to go shopping, fill the fridges in the capital, buy wood to venture into nature. The first day we drove for 350km towards Sesriem Oshana campsite, the camping closest to the dunes and the famous Dead Vlei. The dunes of Sossusvlei, some of which are considered the highest in the world, offer a postcard scenario and an unforgettable experience.

The journey was magnificent, we crossed mountain passes, and most of the roads were paved. We stopped right on a mountain pass with an incredible view of the plain below. We opened the side tent of the car, set up chairs and a table, and prepared sandwiches. It was an insane lunch with a breathtaking view. Arriving before sunset at the campsite, we were assigned our pitch where we even had a hot shower.

Camping on the road Namibia

The camping is very well-equipped, and it served us to get acquainted with setting up tents and spending our first night in a tent before facing the wilder nature! We lit a fire to warm up, indeed in August in Namibia it is hot during the day but cold at night, so it is very important to bring heavy clothes and a well-padded sleeping bag. It was fantastic to light the fire and gather all around it while we watched the sunset and saw animals in the distance. What left me speechless was the starry sky that dominates Namibia, something I had never seen and will never forget, millions of brightly shining stars.

Oshana Campsite fireplace

The night was a bit chilly but very romantic. I had never slept in a tent and despite some doubts, it was fantastic. Early in the morning, we woke up, prepared hot tea with the stove, and prepared a simple breakfast before closing the tents and setting off for Dead Vlei. The tents open and close with extreme ease, and that's the beauty of these cars. The journey towards Dead Vlei is magnificent because it lasts a couple of hours but the landscape changes completely, nature begins to change color, and you enter a real desert with very high orange sand dunes.

After visiting some dunes and driving on the sand, we finally arrived at one of the most unique places in the world, Dead Vlei. Dead Vlei is a clay pan surrounded by high dunes, famous for its dead trees that date back about 900 years. These trees, despite being dead, do not decompose due to the extremely dry climate, creating an extraordinary contrast with the intense blue sky and orange sand. It's a surreal panorama that seems out of this world. After parking and seeing some jackals, we walked for about 20 minutes on the sand to reach this extraordinary plain. The view of Dead Vlei, with its almost lunar landscape and dark trees standing out against the bright orange of the dunes and the blue sky, is an image that will remain etched in memory forever.

After many photos and videos in this magical place, we left to travel another 200 km towards another unique hotel in the world, Zannier Sonop. This place, immersed in an environment with the charm of 20th-century British colonial architecture, offers guests an experience from another time, while enjoying modern comforts and nighttime astronomical observations.

We decided to make this trip because it allowed us to alternate nights in hotels with nights in tents, making everything much softer and more enjoyable. After the night in the tent and the whole day in the sand, arriving at Sonop was like a mirage in the desert. After 200km of road through the most diverse landscapes, all off-road and without ever meeting a car all day.

Namibian desert landscape

It was a mystical experience, indeed I don't remember in many years of having spent an entire day without the internet and without meeting anyone. Just us and nature. This experience really changed my perspective and made me appreciate this unique trip even more. At Sonop, we were pampered like never before for three nights. The luxury of this hotel, the impeccable service, the sunsets, and the endless views of the landscapes of Namibia recharged our batteries for the continuation of our journey.

On August 13, we set off to reach the coast for the second part of our trip where we saw the dunes that reach the ocean, the wrecks of giant merchant ships, the Damaraland which is the home of the desert elephants, and then arrive at Etosha Park. A lot happened, but I'll tell you about that in the second part!

Namibia trip map itinerary

Here is a list of useful things to remember for a trip like yours in Namibia:

- Travel insurance: Sign up for travel insurance that covers medical assistance, emergency evacuation, and trip cancellation.

- Advance bookings: Book accommodations, car rentals, and any guided tours in advance, especially during the peak tourist season.

- Telecommunications: Consider purchasing a local SIM card to have internet access and communicate more easily.

- Camping equipment: If you plan to camp, make sure to rent a car with all the necessary equipment, such as a tent, sleeping bag suitable for cold night temperatures, camping stove, and kitchen utensils.

- Suitable clothing: Bring clothing suitable for both the daytime heat and nighttime cold, including a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

- Comfortable shoes: Prepare hiking shoes or comfortable shoes for walks, especially if you plan to explore the dunes or go hiking.

- First aid kit: Bring a first aid kit with basic medicines, insect repellent, and any personal medication.

- Cards and cash: While credit cards are widely accepted in cities and hotels, it is useful to have cash for minor expenses or in more remote areas.

- Maps and GPS: Even if you plan to use GPS, having paper maps can be useful in case of technical malfunctions or lack of signal. And download offline maps on your tablet

- Photographic equipment: Don't forget your photographic equipment to capture the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. A good zoom is crucial.

- Water and snacks: Always bring plenty of water and snacks, especially during excursions or long car journeys.

- Satellite phone or emergency communication device: Consider the option of a satellite phone or an emergency communication device, especially if you explore remote areas.


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