Heading out of Botswana our next country was Namibia which has an odd history. It was for years simply known as South Western Africa.
In the scramble for Africa by the European powers it was the Germans which came to dominate this part of the continent, that is until WW1. During the war the South Africans, under British direction, invaded and when German colonies were carved up after the war the South Africans ran Namibia under a mandate.
This state of affairs lasted until the 1990s when Namibia became an independent country but still retains significant links to South Africa. It has the second lowest population density in the world after Mongolia which means large, empty, open spaces cover the country.
Our introduction was in the Etosha national park and salt pan. Etosha is famous for it’s watering holes where, especially in dry season, all animals congregate together in a Noah’s ark like harmony to drink. Inside the park we immediately spotted lions by a dead zebra along with giraffe, oryx and other antelope at nearby watering holes.
Some of the camping sites we stayed at were particularly entrepreneurial and had set up their own watering holes which attracted mostly herds of elephants looking to cool down in the midday sun. Our first campsite in Etosha even had some military fortifications from the colonial days – what there was to patrol around these parts I have no idea!
Camping at night in the open stars our guide Marika had a wide angle lens and captured the most stunning pictures of the Milky Way. After trying with my camera I was reduced to taking photos of her camera display!
The long game drives were punctuated by the spotting of an odd animal like the famous Honey Badger – the most fearless creature in the animal kingdom or the secretary bird which eats snakes no less!
Other hours were spent playing would-you-rather where the finer details of being whether being savaged by wild dogs or a lion (lion if you are interested) was better among other bizarre cases.
In the middle of the park is a large salt flat which stretches out to the horizon with crunchy salt which is an eerie empty environment but perfect for creative photos
On our way south the landscape rolls from brush to rocky mountainous desert (much like Iran) we stopped to meet some Herero people. This tribe somehow picked up the habit of dressing like Victorians and have kept this up to this day – despite the fact it gets ridiculously hot in the Namibian desert. I thought it was all fake and put on for the tourists but apparently not! The ladies walking around in the baking heat clearly overdressed reminded me of the Shania Twain music video
Deep in the Namibian countryside we stopped at Spitzkoppe mountain and headed out on a bush walk. I was about to break off a leaf of a plant we stopped by until I was immediately stopped – apparently it was extraordinarily poisonous and the smallest amount of sap would have blinded or killed me – another This Is Africa moment!
Around the corner were ancient red pigment bushman drawings which indicated to each nomadic group the direction of animals and water and have been left there for thousands of years. Rhinos, hunters, giraffe could be seen and interpreted with the help of our guide.
From here we could take in the big open country and sky of Namibia which we needed to head into to get to the coast and our next stop of Swakopmund.