N A M I B I A  ’22

Namibia has long been a dream destination. Everyone who told us about this country raved about the fantastic motifs, the landscape and of course the wildlife. So we decided to spend the winter 2022 here. On December 3rd we will go to Windhoek, Christmas and New Year’s Eve we will spend near Etosha National Park.

We have planned plenty of time. Although our trip follows the classic route south from Windhoek, we have planned four to six days per stop to be able to explore the surroundings.

On the route are Mariental and the Kalahari, Lüderitz and Kolmanskoop, the Maltahöhe, Walfisbay, Swakopmund, Cape Cross, the Sossusvlei, the Naukluft Trail, the Spitzkoppe, Damaraland and last but not least of course the Etosha National Park.

December 3, 2022 – Day one

At 7.00 o’clock the alarm clock rang. After a quick breakfast we left for Frankfurt Airport. The highway was clear and we arrived in Frankfurt way too early. After a rather boring day in the airport, we were quickly through baggage check and security.

The flight was horrible and is one of my worst travel experiences so far. We had booked Lufthansa, but the flight was managed by Eurowings Discover, Eurowings‘ new long-haul carrier. Dinner consisted of two vegetarian „dishes“ to choose from: Pasta with cheese sauce and Pasta with tomato sauce. According to the motto of the catering, dishes from the destination region should actually be served here …

The seat distances were an impertinence, I could not accommodate my legs without coming with the knees to the front seat. I am 1.85 tall. I wonder how  someone who is 1.90 m or taller is supposed to sit here? During the night I did not sleep a wink, hours of forced posture were unavoidable. That is classified as torture according to the Geneva Conventions.

December 4, 2022 – Day two

We landed almost on time in bright sunshine in Windhoek. The check-in process took quite a long time and our suitcases and hand luggage were screened again. Apparently one does not trust the German authorities.

We picked up cash, phone card (MTC) and rental car (Europcar). This went quickly and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. The phone company salesman even set the phone for us. After a short reacclimation to the left-hand traffic, we went to the hotel. On the 40 km from the airport to Windhoek I noticed that I still get too close to the left side of the road, as I am used to right-hand traffic. Before Windhoek there was a first traffic control – but it was harmless. We also saw first wild animals – a gang of monkeys in Klein Windhoek.

It was warm, about 31 degrees and slightly cloudy. The hotel (Pension Casa Africana in Heinitzburg Street) is simple but clean, for one night ok.

We did a short tour, took pictures of Christ Church and the National Museum, which unfortunately was closed today, and bought 15 liters of water.

There are funny street signs in Windhoek. I wonder if the Imperial Secondary School still exists?

We had dinner at Joe’s Beer House. Supposedly there are better restaurants in the square but the ambiance is unique! The restaurant is built like a village with quite a few different locations to take a seat. Steffie spontaneously gave up her vegetarian diet and ordered a Bushmens Sosattie (Kudu, Crocodile, Oryx, Zebra and Springbok). The meal deserves a triple a rating. In addition we had Windhoek Lager, which was also ok. This location is an absolute recommendation in Windhoek.

But we were back at the hotel early to catch up on the sleep lost on the flight.

December 5, 2022 – Day three

With bright sunshine we woke up at 7:00, had a simple breakfast and left around 10:00 towards Mariental. Shortly after Windhoek the roads became deserted. Our rental car is a Renault Duster 4WD. It has already driven 50,000 km but such distances come together quickly here. The consumption is about 5,0 l diesel per 100 km – so far …

The landscape was first mountainous with many green bushes on the slopes. After about 80 km we stopped in Rehoboth and did some shopping. We drink a lot of water here, almost without noticing it. It is sunny with 32 degrees. The sky looks unusual. In the east it is bright blue with some small clouds, in all other directions it looks hazy, towards the horizon it becomes sandy. It is very bright, not to handle without sunglasses.

Along the road (B1) there are fences but we haven’t seen bigger game yet. A bat-eared fox fled from us. But there is a lot of roadkill, especially monkeys and birds. Behind Rebohoth the landscape becomes flatter, behind Kalkrand there are hardly any hills. Up to the horizon one sees thorn bush steppe. Only very sporadically there are still small trees.

At 11:30 we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn.

Shortly before Mariental we come to another traffic control. About 40 (!) different uniforms were standing around and seemed quite cheerful. A young lady wanted to see our warning triangle. She could not read my international driver’s license – but she laughed. Everybody laughed. We were allowed to drive on, seemingly without suspicion.

After 25 km we reached our next stop, the Africa Safari Lodge. It looked great on its own websites and the photos really don’t do justice to reality. We have a spacious „lodge“, pre-cooled to 18 degrees (in German offices this is currently seen as an imposition, here it is highly welcome!) with a huge bathroom right by the pool. An employee insists on driving us and our luggage with the E-mobile from the parking lot to the hut – 40 meters. From the terrace we have a unique view of the Kalahari. Spontaneously we have booked our first game drive for 15.00 o’clock.

The game drive lasted 2.5 hours, the driver’s name is Stanley. He was a little bit silent but very friendly and helpful.

We saw several species of antelope (springbok, oryx, sable antelope) and a Kori Bustard (similar to a secretary but slightly larger).

We managed to take some good photos. Around 19.30 o’clock we were back at the lodge and went directly to the dinner.

The scoop: Directly in front of us a rhino family was grazing at an artificially created waterhole – two adults, a half-strong lout and a baby. The animals stood only 20 – 30 m away and seemed quite calm. There was no fence between us! Because of the darkness it was difficult to get good photos.

December 6, 2022 – Day four

Today we drove directly after breakfast to the Hardap Dam. This is a dam that impounds the Fish River. It is the second largest dam in Namibia, located about 10 km west of Mariental. The lake is a recreational area. Here you can rent boats, swim etc. The Fish River flows south from here and joins the Orange River, the border river to South Africa.

The dam itself can be visited. At the nearby restaurant we saw some hyrax.

But much more interesting is the other side of the lake. Here is the Hardap Game Park (entrance fee for two persons with car 250 NAD).

The park is huge. We did not manage to visit all the places worth seeing in one day. We saw giraffes here for the first time – three in number! They were peacefully standing next to the road, eating the crowns of the surrounding trees.

Many antelopes crossed our way.

Bird’s Paradise is a drained area of the lake. Here are dead trees on land and also in the water – a picturesque setting. Pelicans and many other large birds live here.

We want to see the rest of the park the day after tomorrow. In the late afternoon we had another visit from „our“ rhinos. Later in the evening they were standing right in front of our hut about 6 m away, grazing peacefully.

December 7, 2022 – Day five

Today it was already 27 degrees at 9.00 am. At breakfast, the in-house ostrich lady joined us. She inspected the rooms, but kept her distance from us.

In the morning we drove east, past Mariental to far beyond Stampriet. In the middle of the Kalahari we photographed the vast steppe with the red sand. There are many termite hills here.

Further east, we quickly reached the border to Botswana. As we are not allowed to cross the border with our rental car, we turned around and drove back to Stampriet.

The town is tiny, but it has a petrol station, which we used. A litre of diesel costs the equivalent of 1.40 euros here – a relief if you are used to German prices. In addition, the petrol station attendant cleaned our windscreens. Here the service is like in Germany 50 years ago. Stampriet has also a nice little church.

We decided to see the rest of the Hardap Game Reserve today. This proved to be difficult, however, as the park is extremely extensive. There is no end to the gravel roads and in some places you really can’t get any further without a 4×4. Large stones and deep sand alternate. We drove about 15 km to the „Gemsbok Plateau“, but had to stop before reaching our destination in order not to endanger the tyres. A tyre change in the meantime at 38 degrees would certainly have been unpleasant.

But we reached the other location, a dry riverbed. This is – even without running water – an ideal place for a picnic.

The rhinos arrived late today, first the two parents and the one-year-old. When everything seemed safe, they caught up with the one-month-old baby and another female. They had waited out of sight before. The baby still seems very clumsy and is shielded from the family, sometimes not even visible. As soon as a noise startles the animals, they snort loudly and stand in a circle around the little one. The baby seems to be in good health, but is tired. It sits down again and again on its butt, preferably directly in front of the mother animal. Sometimes it lies down completely in the grass and nods off, but the mother never allows this for long. She then nudges the baby to get up again.

The baby is already eating grass, but still wants to drink from the mother. Its weight is difficult to estimate. Rhinos come into the world with about 65 kg, this one will already have about 90 – 100 kg. The bull surely weighs well over two tons, the two females are much smaller. The one year old should weigh about 400 kg.
The rangers have removed part of the bull’s horn to protect it from poachers. The female animals still have their horns.

Later in the night, the baby begins to frolic and makes mock attacks on its sibling. Then the animals retreat to the waterhole. The baby and some adult animals lay down here. Apparently they feel safe. They leave the field to the kudus.

December 8, 2022 – Day six

This afternoon we will do a game drive at Gondwana Kalahari Anib Lodge. We spend the morning at the pool. Here we have feathered guests.

Tomorrow morning we will leave the Africa Safari Lodge and drive to Lüderitz. We have enjoyed our stay here very much!

Around 3.30 pm we drove to the Kalahari Anib Lodge. After a short snack, we left for the Kalahari in four Toyota SUVs. The park has an area of about 100 km² and is mainly divided into long, shallow valleys, which run in an east-west direction and are about 500 m wide. In the north and south they are bordered by dunes of red sand. The dunes are not very high and we crossed them several times to get from one valley to the next.

Our driver was a young Himba woman. She explains the park to us and has an extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna. First we saw weaver birds and falcons – they live here in symbiosis.

According to the last game count, there are 50 giraffes living in the park, and since then four to five young animals have been added. We see a group of about 15 animals nibbling on the acacias. These are their favorite trees, but they fight back and produce a bitter substance that the giraffes do not like. So they are forced to move around.

We saw oryx and eland, steenbok and springbok and our „first“ zebras – also a jackal.

On a lookout hill we had a sundowner around 7:30 pm. We got to know an older German-speaking couple who are from Namibia. They gave us some valuable tips for the onward journey.

On the way back the full moon was just rising. We waited in the dark Kalahari until the moon was in the middle of a nearby windmill to photograph the scenery.

This game drive was the best yet and is definitely recommended. The cost was 750 NAD per person

December 9, 2022 – Day seven

We started early. It is about 560 km to our next destination, Lüderitz. We took the B1/B4, because they are in good condition, but there are some road works. The drive via Maltahöhe would have been significantly shorter but here there is only a gravel road.

Keetmanshoop we reached around 12.00 o’clock. Here we refueled and bought water and some snacks for the road. We continued towards Aus, a small village on a high plateau at 1,400 m above sea level.

Shortly after the village Aus begins the national park. Here the scenery changes dramatically. Vast expanses of sand and mountains form an impressive desert landscape that captivates us.

Wild horses live here, descendants of the horses left behind by the German Schutztruppen, which have mated with South African horses.

On the side of the road there are isolated abandoned buildings, for example the old loading station Garub. The dead trees next to the station look picturesque.

After about 80 km and thus about 20 km before Lüderitz, the landscape changes again. Here there are the first sand dunes and the wind blows sand veils over the road. The climate also changes. Here the temperature was only 23 degrees and it was very windy.

We drove past Kolmanskoop, the abandoned diamond town that we plan to visit later. We reached Lüderitz at 5:00 pm.

The town has, unlike most of the villages so far quite charm. Colorful facades and buildings from the colonial era alternate, the streets are lively.

 We check in at the Tranquility Guest House. Here we have a room with kitchen for self-catering. In the beautiful, planted courtyard you can barbecue and chill. For the first evening, however, we decided to visit „The Portuguese Fisherman“ – this is a seafood restaurant right on the harbor and almost directly opposite our guest house. We tested ourselves by different starters (among other things, there were baked oysters!) and two different main courses. Everything was very fresh and extremely tasty – a clear recommendation!

After dusk, we walked a short distance to the beach. It is quite rocky, but offers a phenomenal view of the orange-red evening sun.

December 10, 2022 – Day eight

Today we had breakfast at Cosy Corner Coffee Shop, then went shopping at Spar. Contrary to reviews, the store is very well-stocked, tidy and almost clinically clean. The prices are right.

Well provisioned, we then explored the peninsula west of Lüderitz. We took almost every road that offered itself to us. First was Griffith Bay. Here we filmed flamingos. The „Sturmvogel Bucht“ followed, but it had no petrels to offer. There was only a wide beach.

Shortly after we came to Diaz Point, the point where Bartolomeu Diaz was the first European to enter what is now Namibia on July 25, 1488. Here on a rock in memory stands the Diaz Cross. Next door there is an interestingly designed camp site, the Lüderitz Lighthouse, some colorful houses and the Skip Skop Coffee Shop. This has no connection to the power grid but nevertheless cool beer.

After a short break we drove on via Halifax Viewpoint and Essy Bay to a fjord. We reached this only on foot, because we did not trust the offroad capacities of our vehicle. The fjord is exceptionally worth seeing.

Next was „Witmur“, a rock formation with interesting geological layers. Here quartz veins cross the basalt.

At the southern end of the peninsula is the „Große Bucht“. Here nest many different sea birds, which we could not identify all.

On the way back shortly before Lüderitz we saw more flamingos.

In the evening we had dinner at „Barrels“, bar and restraurant. The Lamb Stew and the appetizer were excellent – a clear recommendation! Unfortunately, it was not air-conditioned here and it got quite warm.

December 11, 2022 – Day nine

After an improvised breakfast, we drove about 10 km east to visit Kolmanskoop, an abandoned diamond town.

In 1905 diamonds were first found on the site. This led to a diamond rush and the construction of a whole small town in the desert. All infrastructure had to be created first, then came buildings that were in no way inferior to stately homes in Europe. There was a swimming pool, an ice factory for cooling drinks, a bowling alley, a school and a hospital with the first X-ray machine on the entire continent. But this was used primarily to prevent diamond smuggling!

Individuals still lived here until 1960. The diamonds were found in the ground here. There was no real mine. However, the search exhausted itself over time and gradually shifted to the south, where the diamond restricted area is located today.

Today’s Kolmanskoop is a Lost Place of a special kind. Part of the buildings have been lovingly restored and serve as a museum. Here you can learn about everyday life as a diamond prospector. But what is really interesting are the unrenovated buildings, which are gradually being reclaimed by the desert. Large amounts of sand penetrate through doors and windows and engulf entire houses. The dunes inside the houses in front of the colorful walls, slanted doors and empty window frames create highly bizarre photo motifs.

The larger houses are especially interesting. At the west end are the residential buildings of the mine operator and the accountant.

Further east follow the buildings of the architect and the engineer. At the east end are the Doctor’s residence and the hospital, huge for a „town“ of 400 people. After that come some smaller houses, then the restricted area begins.

A brief statement on Namibian society

The Namibian government’s efforts to provide modest prosperity seem to be succesful. Tourism is contributing to a certain extent. Many Namibians are still unemployed – at least 20 %, higher for young people – Corona has not been helpful. Others work in catering, on the lodges and farms, and in the hotels. Integrating 12 ethnic groups with very different cultures will not have been an easy task. Unfortunately, this integration of the San has not worked so far. In Mariental, Ketmanshoop and Lüderitz we saw them standing in front of gas stations, supermarkets and on parking lots. Some of them hired themselves out as day laborers or helpers, others simply asked for money.

Due to their original way of life, San seem to have a particularly hard time when they want to give up their habits and join a more modern way of life. The lack of basic education on the one hand, but also the rejection by other ethnic groups in many places, which is obviously influenced by prejudice (we observed this at least a few times), does not allow alternative life concepts for the San. This problem does not seem to be solved by money alone and it is probably not a pure education problem. There is compulsory education in Namibia, but in practice the San do not have access to it. To enforce this across the board would probably mean the end of the San culture. With their original way of life, the San are well adapted to the environmental conditions and survive where less well adapted people would have no chance of survival. Things only get difficult when San want to give up their original way of life.

To provide these San with work, there are now programs in place, such as at the Namports, the Namibian ports, which rely heavily on relief workers. It remains to be seen how this will develop in the future.

December 12, 2022 – Day ten

This day started at 8:00 am with a catamaran tour by Penguin-Tours. The trip started in heavy fog and headed towards Halifax Island. The captain was very eloquent and told us about the harbor, the industry and planned projects to produce drinking water. Diamonds are also an ever popular topic here. In addition, there is probably an agreement with China that regulates the export of manganese ore. In the harbor of Lüderitz a ship was just loaded accordingly.

The fog caused a colorless rainbow. Along the coast before Diaz Point we saw the first seals on a rock.

Shortly before the island the fog cleared. Here penguins nest at a total of three nesting sites. Nearby were also flamingos (which cut an almost comical figure in flight) and cormorants.

There are some half-ruined buildings on the island. They still serve as shelters for the workers who collect guano here once a year, which is used as fertilizer. In former times there were also penguins on Penguin Island, just north of Lüderitz. Here, however, the penguin eggs were also collected, so that today no penguins live there anymore.

Right next to it lived several schools of small dolphins that hunted together with the seals that also live here. Later they played with our boat.

Around 10:30 we were back in Robert Harbour. The trip was short, but it is still recommended. The wildlife is extraordinarily diverse and many species are very easy to observe.

In the afternoon we set out once again to explore the peninsula. A look at the guidebook had revealed that we had passed a few bays here. We made up for that today. In the „Second Bay“ we could swim – contrary to other opinions, the water here was not cold, but had just the right temperature for swimming. Directly on the beach is a very photogenic shipwreck.

We also visited the „Caves“, the „Little Fjord“ and the „Bones Bay“. On our way back we saw flamingos in the fog.

We had dinner at the „Essenzeit„. The service was very good, but the food has to be differentiated. The lentil salad was ok, the steak was almost well done, although it was ordered medium rare. We spent the evening with a good bottle of white wine and in the company of the three in-house cats on the terrace.

December 13, 2022 – Day eleven

Today our stay in Lüderitz ends. We will keep the small town in good memory. There was good food here and the Tranquility Guest House was great. We took a last photo of Lüderitz station and the dunes.

We refueled and drove back to Aus. On the way we once again encountered the wild horses that live here.

In Aus we left the asphalt road and drove a total of 331 km of gravel road. The first stop was Helmeringhausen, actually not a town but a farm founded by a resident of Helmeringhausen in Hessen, Germany. Here there is a fuel station and of course the „best apple pie in Namibia“. We have no comparison but it was really fantastic.

Around 3.10 pm we arrived at Maltahöhe. We refueled again and got cash from the machine right at the fuel station. After that we quickly left the place. The landscape here is great. We saw apes and pelicans.

Gamis Farm showed up on our GPS after another 85 km at about 4.45 pm. The farmhouse is located in the middle of a large farm area (220 km²) and about 4 km from the road. We checked in and were first glad to have survived the distance without a flat tire.

December 14, 2022 – Day twelve

After we had gravel road in excess yesterday, we wanted to do only a small tour today. This led us to the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park. It is only about 40 km away from Gamis Farm. Up to the gate of the park it went quite fast, this was normal gravel.

Between the gate and the reception there are about 13 km. The road leading there is by far the worst we have ever driven. Deep cross grooves of any size on about 90% of the road make driving an imposition for man and material. At 10 km/h you take every groove with you, at 20 km/h you feel your seals, at 30 km/h you can’t read the speedometer anymore, at 40 km/h the whole dashboard rattles, at 50 km/h our GPS fell off the windshield, at 60 km/h – and you have to be almost tired of living for that – you can’t steer on the cross grooves anymore. That’s bad when it’s 20 m into the abyss to the left of the road.

Eventually, however, we arrived. The mountainous landscape is really breathtaking.

We wanted to hike part of one of the trails, but quickly realized that it was very hot to do so. The hike went past a group of monkeys into a dry riverbed.

At one point we were hissed at several times from the thicket and made our way back – not panicked but respectful. Predators are not supposed to exist in the park. However, what was hissing at us could not be seen. The lady at the reception guessed a monkey. Must have been then a rather large and angry monkey.

We drank another beer on site and then drove back the road described above, actually without damage to the vehicle.

We spent the rest of the day at the farm, especially in the pool. In the evening we enjoyed a spectacular sunset, as it probably only exists in Namibia.

December 15, 2022 – Day thirteen

We got up very early this time – 4.30 am. We packed the breakfast packages and set off at 5.00 am to Sossusvlei. The route after the Naukluft Park is quite special, there are very many fords.

Partly it goes steeply down and immediately again steeply up. Nevertheless, we came through relatively well and reached Sesriem at 7:15 am. Entrance fee we should pay only when leaving the park, so we went on immediately.

The dune landscape is great. Oryx roam around and look like they have been ordered in front of the dunes. We were able to photograph some of the larger dunes with a sunlit side and a shady side. Good thing we got up so early.

At Sossuslvlei there is a parking lot for 2WD vehicles and for the brave ones one for 4WD vehicles. In between there are some kilometers of deep sand but they are really tough. Since the recovery cost is 1,800 NAD, we parked in the 2WD lot and took the shuttle. That was a good thing – on the way back we saw tourists who had gotten stuck with a large 4WD vehicle.

After a few minutes we came to the staging area. First we wanted to climb the biggest dune at the site – Big Daddy, 350 m. Steffie made it to the top with a few breaks. Unfortunately I had to abort, my fitness didn’t cooperate anymore.

Our second location was the Dead Vlei. Here, about 900 years ago, the dunes have moved in front of the water inlet and the trees there have died. The ground here is extremely parched.

Because of the great heat they did not rot but almost petrified. They now stand here as witnesses to their own demise and provide a unique backdrop.

Dead Vlei has another plateau a little lower down. Here the groundwater is obviously closer and there are actually still some trees growing and providing shade.

On the way back we felt a bit tired and so we did not visit the Sesriem Canyon for the time being. We will make up for this in the coming days. Against 2.00 pm we therefore started the return journey.

December 16, 2022 – Day fourteen

Today we start slowly. Breakfast is at 9:00 am, then we go on a farm tour. We feed the birds, rabbits and chickens, visit the farm’s own cemetery – one of the former owners is buried here – and learn something about vegetable growing.

All this takes place on the hill around the farmhouse. The land is much larger overall. We also learn something about the history of the farm. In the past, sheep were raised here. The old guest house is still there, you can rent it as self-catering. There is also a former gas station and a landing strip for airplanes.

In the evening we took a short walk across the farmland. In the process we saw a steenbok. We also found some burrows filled with nesting material. We didn’t look to see what was dwelling in there.

Later we used the starry night for some astrophotos. The Magellanic Clouds were well visible.

December 17, 2022 – Day fifteen

Today we left quite early for Solitaire. The ride went through the middle of the mountains on a pretty good road. The distance was about 80 km.

Solitaire is a funny place with about 90 inhabitants. Here gas station, lodge, „Acitivity Center“, parking lot, restaurant, church, bakery and corner store are built close to each other. You have almost everything you need in one place. Even tires can be mended.

In the store I bought a Southwester, also there were postcards and stamps. For the posting, however, we have to go to Walfisbay, 220 km away. The square in front of the „center“ is adorned by wrecked cars – evidence of a much worse road between Solitaire and Walfisbay. In between ground squirrels were playing.

At 9:00 a.m. a very special game drive started – it went to the cheetahs. Five specimens live here on about 58 hectares of land, two males and three females. With the Toyota we got very close – up to three meters.

Nico, the guide had masses of information about cheetahs, including a lot of things that were new to us. The animals seemed very relaxed. They are fed here every few days, but can still hunt if suitable prey stray onto their territory.

On the way back to Solitaire we saw a single wildebeest and some vultures.

Later on the C14 we met a German tourist who had a flat tire. Although the gravel road here is of excellent quality, it had completely shredded one of his rear tires. Together with a helpful motorcyclist we helped to change the tire. That went surprisingly fast with the antediluvian tool from Europcar.

In the evening we took another walk around the farm area and saw a pair of Kori Bustards.

December 18, 2022 – Day sixteen

We drove to Sossusvlei again today and had a look at Sesriem Canyon – this had not worked out during our last visit here.

The canyon is about 1 km long and „six belts“ deep. That is about 7.20 m. The first settlers in this area wanted to draw water from the bottom of the canyon and needed six oxhide belts („Riemen“) to get to the bottom. This is how the place got its name: Sesriem means „six belts“.

The canyon can be hiked through. There are shady places and the canyon functions like a chimney. So it can get windy. There is no water at this time of year.

At the end, a path leads back up and you can walk back next to the abyss. There is also a great view from the top.

We took the opportunity to visit a viewpoint in front of Sossusvlei.

On the way back we saw the Namibian national animal – the oryx in front of the Namibian flag. As ordered.

Along the road back, weaver birds nest on the telegraph poles. The road has many fords, it goes as a constant up and down.

December 19, 2022 – Day seventeen

Gamis Farm has now hosted us for six days. The people here were very nice and accommodating. We would have liked to stay longer but our journey takes us further to Swakopmund. We take one of the team members of Gamis Farm with us. The young man has to go there for a family celebration. We leave at 10.00 am.

In Solitaire we refuel, then we drive on unknown terrain towards Walvisbay. That is 240 km of gravel road. In the mountains, especially on the passes, the roads are really bad, 50 km/h is the maximum.

During a break halfway we spot an eagle.

After that it gets better and about 120 km before Walvisbay the road becomes a solid sand track, which is really good to drive. It goes through the desert, right and left is only sand. Nevertheless the view is spectacular.

Around 2:30 pm we arrive in Walvisbay and continue directly along the road „Langstrand“ towards Swakopmund. The scenery is bizarre: On one side are the sand dunes, on the other side the wild Atlantic Ocean.

Arriving in Swakopmund we drop our passenger at a cab stand and drive to our accommodation, the Secret Garden Guesthouse. Here we have a lovingly decorated cottage in the middle of a walled garden.

Swakopmund is without a doubt the most appealing town in Namibia so far. There is really something going on here. The streets are busy, the beach is full, the houses are colorful.

We have seafood at the Lighthouse and we can really recommend that. The oysters, the mussels and especially the Kingklip are fantastic. With this comes a white wine „Saxenburg Chardonnay“ from Stellenbosch – a great wine.

December 20, 2022 – Day eighteen

Soon it will be Christmas and here we don’t notice anything about it. In Swakopmund it was a bit foggy at 22 degrees this morning. We drove about 120 km north to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. The drive was along the coastal road between the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean.

First we passed a place called „Wlotzkasbaken“. This is a vacation village with many colorful huts, each with its own color matching water tank on the roof or on a tower.
Then we passed through Henties Bay, also a resort but with full-blown cottages with sea views. The place has its own „mall“ and a well-attended restaurant in the center of town. We tried and enjoyed the Rock Shandy.

About 50 km further north is the colony of pygmy fur seals. About 250,000 animals live here in a small area. The noise is correspondingly great and the stench is infernal.

Of course, in such large colonies some animals die from time to time. But here already several dozens of dead seal babies lay on the parking lot and several hundred more among the adults. Some starved to death or died of thirst, some flattened by the adults and half decomposed. Not a pretty sight but this colony is real life, not the Disney Channel.

Some of the adult animals are real posers.

Around 14.00 pm we started our way home. On the way we photographed the Zaila, an Angolan trawler that was supposed to be towed to India for scrapping, but whose tow rope broke off the Namibian coast. The ship drifted towards the beach and ran aground. There it now lies as a motif worth seeing. There are rumors that the ship was intentionally brought there as a tourist attraction.

The places along the coast are named here after miles, counted from Swakopmund in northern direction. At „mile 32“ we sunbathed and watched the Namibians fishing in the surf..

Dinner we had today in Kücki’s Pub. Here we had oryx steak, which was some of the best meat I have ever tasted.

December 21, 2022 – Day nineteen

The Big Five are well known in Africa. They used to be the must-have of big-game hunters: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. In Swakopmund, a different concept has now been discovered that also serves to bring tourists closer to the desert: The Little Five, a „game drive“ of a special kind!

The half day tour starts at 8.00 am. Meeting point is a place directly at the Swakopmund River, which is also the starting point for all kinds of other tours. E.g. you can go with camels into the desert. But that was not our intention today. We drove with the 4×4 through the riverbed of the Swakopmund, which is dry at this time of the year, and behind it into the desert.

Ansgar, our desert guide had a lot to tell about this habitat and turned out to be an experienced tracker. Because everything starts with tracks if you want to find life in the desert.

Our first sighting was a blue-tailed skink, which lives under the sand and burrows as soon as it feels sand beneath it.

After that, we saw a sand viper on a sand hill. The snake only grows to about 20 cm long, but its bite is exceptionally painful, though not fatal. Sand vipers move up the dunes jumping sideways.

A little further we found a red-footed gecko or Namibia Desert Gecko (Pachydactylus rangei). It has no pigments and therefore does not tolerate the sunlight. So it immediately started to burrow.

A special specimen usually lives in a tube, deep in the sand: The White Lady Spider (Leucorchestris arenicola), also called Dancing Spider, because it rears up in case of danger and then it looks like it is dancing over the sand. This species grows up to 10 cm, „our“ specimen was fortunately much smaller.

Desert ground beetles exist here in many species. They run up the dunes with immense speed and are usually difficult to photograph.

Our tour ended at a wonderful viewpoint in the middle of the dune landscape.

We can highly recommend the provider Living Desert Adventures. Of course, this is not the only provider of these tours in Swakopmund – to our knowledge there are three or four. However, the original idea to get people excited about the desert with the Little Five concept apparently came from this one. At any rate, it worked. We will see this habitat with different eyes in the future.

In the evening we had dinner at The Tug, a seafood restaurant right on the beach with a wonderful view of the ocean. The Atlantic seafood soup was great, as were the main courses – pasta with seafood and black fish (grilled cod). Next door is the „Jetty“.

There is a German café and a glass-bottomed restaurant. Cormorants sit on the piers, exactly one bird on each pier – a bizarre sight.

December 22, 2022 – Day twenty

Around 10.00 am we set off in the direction of Spitzkoppe. The trip goes about 120 km on the B2 to the east. This road is a bit busier and it is immediately noticeable that some drivers are very careless here. We saw several spectacular overtaking maneuvers, sometimes cars came towards us in our lane and made no effort to brake.

We reached Spitzkoppe without an accident after another 30 km of gravel road. The mountain massif is clearly visible from a great distance. To climb the mountain you have to go to the National Park (240 NAD). Here we also recovered our first geocaches in Namibia, we had not had much luck with that so far.

The park is very well maintained and beautifully landscaped. We spent some time at the „Arc“. This is a stone arch made of 120 million year old granite and a popular photo motif. We were lucky and were alone here. After that we had some fun with big rocks.

In doing so we had curious observers.

Later we explored the park by car and finally climbed about 110 m to Bushman’s Paradise. Here there are 2,000 to 4,000 year old rock drawings of the San. They painted there the animals they encountered – and probably ate – on the plateau. You can see rhinos, kudus, eland and giraffes – as well as men with hunting tools and women with baggage.

The drawings were made with a mixture of animal blood, egg yolk from the ostrich egg, and fine white sand in an overhang to protect them from the sun and rain.

Around 6:00 pm we were back and had our well deserved dinner today at the Indian restaurant Garnish Swakopmund. This was very good Indian food and quite cheap for this quality.

Tomorrow we will leave our cozy hut for Damaraland.

December 23, 2022 – Day twentyone

Swakopmund we have now enjoyed four days and the small coastal town, surrounded by the desert has pleased us well. It is a little more touristy here than in other Namibian cities but also more lively. This morning the streets were really crowded. The buildings with their partly German architecture, the gastronomy and the many stores make for a good quality of life here.

We left around 10:30 am for the Damara Mopane Lodge. In Henties Bay we said goodbye to the Atlantic Ocean.

Until shortly behind Henties Bay the road was asphalted, after that there was only gravel road for about 220 km, except for the last 10 km. The road was really in a bad condition. On the C35 we saw a mirage. The telegraph posts seemed to be floating in the air – or standing in the water – depending on what you want to see.

The Damara country compensated us with a wonderful landscape. When we arrived, there were just a few drops of rain, but the sky looked as if all the floodgates were about to open. The rainy season should not be long in coming.

We reached the lodge around 4:30 pm. So far it does not quite live up to the high expectations. There is hardly any wifi and the room looks a bit smaller than on the lodge website. Two things have compensated for that, though: The high terrace, where we had a sundowner with a fantastic view of the surrounding valley landscape and of course the spectacular sunset.

And then there was the dinner: a game buffet that was quite something to behold. Plus, you can explore the grounds. There are several hiking trails. These are explained by a particularly knowledgeable specialist:

December 24, 2022 – Day twentytwo

After the long drive, we lazed around the pool this morning.

Around 1:30 pm we left for a half-day tour. About 50 km to the east is Vingerklip, a rock that stands upright like a finger in the landscape. It is on the grounds of another lodge, but can be visited. You can get to the base of the rock, but you can’t climb it.

It was windy on Vingerklip Hill, though today we also had the previous heat record here: 46° C.

The Vingerklip is, like the surrounding mesas, the remnant of a plateau that has gradually disappeared through millions of years of erosion. Now here is a valley that resembles a briar steppe in the upper part, but is green in the lower part. In the rainy season there should be regular flooding here and the water table is probably not too low.

On the drive here we again saw numerous termite mounds, but here they are white (the soil is light quartz sand) and larger than in the Kalahari. We saw specimens well over 2 m high.

The sunset took place today without clouds, which makes it much less spectacular. So we photographed the trees on the mountain behind the high terrace.

December 25, 2022 – Day twentythree

Christmas in Namibia: We had presents on the doormat in front of our hut 😉

Twyfelfontein had been on our list from the beginning. We refueled in the next town – Khorixas. There are food stores, a hardware store, car repair shop etc. here. Then we drove on gravel roads about 105 km to Twyfelfontein, where we arrived at about 11.30 am.

Our guide, a young woman accompanied us to the rock engravings left here by the San. The engravings are between 4,000 and 8,000 years old, the first traces of humans in this area are about 25,000 years old. The quality of the engravings varies from naively playful to realistic.

On this occasion we also learned how Twyfelfontein got its name: The first German settler here found a freshwater spring, but it provided water only very unreliably. Sometimes there was enough for man and cattle, other times not. Therefore, the place was called „Doubtful Spring“, which means „Twyfel Fontein“ in Afrikaans or „Zweifelbrunn“ in German.

With the rock engravings the San on the one hand depicted the animals they encountered here. Some of the engravings also show animal tracks with which the San children were probably taught: Some tracks are of animals that can be eaten, others of dangerous animals that are better avoided.

Seals and penguins can also be seen on one stone. Apparently some San migrated to the coast 150 km away and then returned. Here they then immortalized the strange aquatic animals in the stone.

Giraffes were engraved especially frequently. They were called raindrinkers and  considered by the San to  to bring rain and were therefore sacred to them. Of course they were not eaten.

On one stone the shaman drew a lion – apparently in intoxication. The lion has human hands and a tail with human arm and hand.

Particularly remarkable is a stone that apparently served as a map. The San have marked rivers and waterholes here in addition to the animal species. A circle with a dot in it denotes a permanent waterhole, a circle without a dot a temporary one. In fact, the Aborigines in Australia use exactly the same symbols! Unfortunately, today it is no longer possible to exactly reconstruct which area this map describes.

On the way back we wanted to have a look at a petrified forest. According to the guidebook, there should be a very recommendable „unofficial“ one next to the official one, only about 10 km away. We had to realize that the business acumen of the Namibians here is considerable after all: Meanwhile there were at least four „Petrified Forests“. We took one of these offers and were disappointed. Here price and performance did not match at all. For a 10-minute walk, on which we saw exactly one petrified tree and several piles of petrified wood, we paid the equivalent of 11 euros per person. To put that in perspective: A ticket to the Natural History Museum in Münster currently costs 7,50 € for an adult. Let’s hope that the market will regulate these offers.

Around 5.00 pm we were back at our lodge.

December 26, 2022 – Day twentyfour

We liked Damara Mopane Lodge but today we went to Etosha National Park and Toshari Lodge. The road there is well developed, all asphalt road, about 180 km and we got through well. On the way there was a road experiment – we were very excited … but nothing happened.

Furthermore, every few kilometers the warning signs with crossing animals changed. We wondered if they all knew when it was their turn to cross the road …

We were way too early at the lodge and made a detour to the southern entrance of Etosha, the Anderson Gate. From the lodge it takes about 15 minutes.

Toshari Lodge is located about 24 km south of the park and is a real recommendation! Everything is really right here. The people are friendly and helpful, the game is freshly prepared at the buffet on individual request and the size and equipment of the individual houses leave nothing to be desired.

Since it was too late for a visit to the park, we watched the in-house waterhole on the terrace. We saw many birds and our first warthog. It ate soulfully the freshly mowed lawn of the lodge.

When it saw me, it quickly disappeared into the vegetable garden.

December 27, 2022 – Day twentyfive

Finally to the Etosha National Park! We were there quickly, the road was almost empty. The longer it took with the access. Two controls, one by the rangers, one by the police – means filling out three lists with approximately the same information about nationality, previous destination, next destination, car, license plate, etc. Then you drive to Okaukuejo, the central village in the south of the park, to pay the entrance fee. Again in line, again one list to fill out by yourself, the other one is filled out by the staff. So there are already five lists. Fortunately, the entrance fee has not increased – 350 NAD for two persons and a car.

Obviously The Namibians have copied from the Germans the excessive bureaucracy – not a good choice!

We actually wanted to refuel here, but that took us too long and so we decided to drive off with 380 km remaining. Unfortunately, our car went on strike and the check engine light came on. A call to Europcar was unsuccessful. The young man on the emergency phone was very friendly but clueless. He was at least able to convey his lack of knowledge in excellent English. After about 10 minutes the check engine light went off by itself and we drove on without any problems.

We first drove east over the Nebrownii waterhole. Here we saw a herd of zebra, springbok, wildebeest and ostrich. The waterhole was really busy.

We continued to Gemsbokvlakte. Here giraffes drank at the waterhole and we saw a black-backed jackal. It was smaller than we thought and had not much to report among all the big hoofed animals. Kudus and giraffes were standing next to each other.

The next waterhole – Olifantsbad – was empty. Unfortunately no bathing elephants here as the name would suggest.

We drove on to Aus over a terrible gravel road. Here we saw the first „real“ predator, a spotted hyena. It was bathing and looked over with interest to the ibexes standing on the other bank. But these were visibly alarmed and also quite far away.

From Aus we drove back towards Okaukuejo. On the way we made a short detour to the salt pan. The dimensions of this completely flat and empty area are huge.

In Okaukuejo we shopped and decided to head north again. The waterhole Wolfnes was the next one. Here, only a lone oryx stood nibbling on a tree. A ground squirrel was watching.

Since we were running low on fuel, we decided to drive back. On the way, we visited the Okaukuejo waterhole right next to the village, which was also well visited. The zebras ran in a line.

Elephants and lions we have not yet seen but we still have a few days left.

December 28, 2022 – Day twentysix

Today we drove from 6.30 am to about 5.30 pm through the Etosha National Park – with a guide in a Toyota 4×4. We mainly explored the southwestern part under the Etosha Pan. We drove to some water holes several times.

First we met a hyena, some male lions and two black rhinos, shortly after that a group of female lions.

The guide also drew our attention to the different birds. We saw „helicopter birds“, eagles, a secretary, a kori bustard and a number of colorful songbirds.

A large puff adder had been hiding in a dried bush. It was well camouflaged and not noticeable from a few feet away.

We spent the afternoon looking for elephants. Around 3.00 pm we were successful and encountered a total of four males.

December 29, 2022 – Day twentyseven

Today we took a break from Etosha. We will go there again tomorrow and visit the Goas waterhole, which is considered an insider tip.

We tried a small hiking trail around the grounds of the lodge. There were lots of animals here – you could hear them – but so well hidden that we couldn’t see them. A hyena could probably have been standing 10 meters away without us noticing it. In fact, the camouflage of some animals is so good that it becomes difficult to work out a reasonable contrast in a photo.

We spent the rest of the day by the pool, looking out for the smaller animals that were all around us in the trees and on the rocks.

These included a gecko, a male weaver bird that was building its nest in the tree just across the pool, and a fire dragonfly that was resting on the hot rocks by the pool. Our spider monster actually had a body length of 3 – 4 mm.

December 30, 2022 – Day twentyeight

Today we wanted to visit the waterhole „Goas“ – not only because our hut in the Toshari Lodge is named after it, but also because the guidebook describes Goas as particularly rich in animals.

We were in Etosha around 8.45 am and already on the way to Okaukuejo we saw a mother jackal with three cubs and a horde of zebra mongooses digging holes at the roadside.

In the southeast under the Etosha Pan lies Camp Halali. We stopped here for a short rest. The camp is very clean and makes a good impression. Afterwards we went past two mountains to Goas. The waterhole is really beautiful. It has a natural lake with green banks. Water birds live here, among others Nile geese. We saw whole flocks of birds. The biggest animals here were three hartebeests.

The next stop was the Etosha Viewpoint. Here you can drive a few hundred meters into the salt pan. At the end you can see only light gray salt crust to the horizon. No plants and no animals live here. If you were to hike five kilometers into it, you would be disoriented. It is hard to imagine that this area is 5,000 km².

On the way back we drove again to Aus, Olifantsbath and Gemsbokvlakten, but there were hardly any larger animals to be seen here.  But we saw a steenbok and some wildebeests crossing the road. Also the waterhole in Okaukuejo was hardly visited. Maybe this was due to yesterday’s rain.

Before Ombika we drove once again in the direction of the east. Here was a beautiful landscape in the evening sun. I could finally photograph the Hornbill, which is jokingly called „flying banana“ here. At the Ombika waterhole we met another giraffe, then we went back around 5.30 pm.

December 31, 2022 – Day twentynine

Etosha National Park is divided into an eastern and a western part. While the eastern part is dominated by the Etosha Pan, the western part was not accessible for tourists until 2014. Only with the construction of the Dolomite Camp in the northwest of the park, this part could also be visited.

We therefore drove west today and crossed the Charl Marais Dam. Here a road leads dead straight to the west. Every 10 to 12 km there is a waterhole. Some were dried up, others well visited by zebras, wildebeests, ostriches and the springboks that can be found everywhere.

There are also some taller trees here that are quite photogenic. In one of them a small bird of prey was sitting, but we could not identify it.

In the afternoon the rainy season started officially. It poured like from buckets and the water holes were suddenly deserted. On a loop road we met a white rhino that seemed to enjoy the rain. It briefly showed interest in our car and approached curiously, but then turned away. We also saw a turtle crossing the road.

In the end we found the perfect tree!

January 1, 2023 – Day thirty

Today we had to leave Toshari Lodge because our vacation is coming to an end. We liked it very much here at Etosha and we could well stay another week.

The drive to Windhoek is exclusively on asphalt roads and took just under 4.5 hours. Directly before Windhoek we drove on the only Namibian highway so far, the „A1“.
The remaining range indicator in our car was always quite optimistic and so we reached Windhoek with only about 150 km in the tank.

We spent the night again at Casa Africana. Dinner we had again in Joe’s Beer House. One of the waitresses remembered that I had forgotten my sunglasses there a month ago and gave them back to me – unbelievable!

January 2, 2023 – Day thirtyone

We left Casa Africana around 10:00 am and took our car to the car wash. It took an hour but then the car was spotless inside and out – for 160 NAD.

We had lunch at Heinitzburg, one of three castles in Windhoek, all built by the same man. The castle now serves as a hotel. From the terrace here you have a good view over Windhoek and the adjacent mountains.

In heavy rain we then drove to the airport. We left the car with 6,472 km more on the speedometer. Even though we had some reservations about the Renault Duster before we started our trip – the car served us well and never let us down and we actually didn’t spare it and drove some rocky roads with it.

4.00 pm we checked in the luggage and went through passport control. That went much faster today than on the outbound flight.

The return flight was again a negative experience. Before boarding, tables were set up at the gate and passengers were asked to stand behind the tables, separated by men and women. Then there was an additional security check, which – according to the employees – was requested of Eurowings Discover. What was being searched for were lighters in particular. These had to be handed in, although it was explicitly stated on the back of the flight tickets that one lighter per person may be taken on board.

The main problem with this action was that the hand luggage was searched in front of all the other passengers, and in some cases laundry was pulled out of the hand luggage. This was really a degrading and disrespectful action. For us, this was the end of Eurowings Discover as an airline.


Apart from the bad experiences with the airline, the vacation was a very nice experience. Scenically, there were of course not only postcard motifs in Namibia, but also barren areas. Nevertheless – Damaraland and the Namib have inspired us. The animal world is great. We have never come so close to wild animals before. The people were friendly, helpful, but above all in such a contagious good mood, as we have rarely experienced.

We will definitely visit Africa again. Maybe it will be a longer trip starting in South Africa via Botswana to Namibia. In any case, we want to see Caprivi and the Fishriver Canyon.


  • The road gets less bumpy, when you drive faster
  • No full braking on gravel roads
  • Don’t grab into bushes
  • No clouds, no sunset