We’re back in the USA! We landed in D.C. on April 21 and have been enjoying the past two weeks with friends and family. While it’s been awhile since we were in Namibia, we wanted to share our stories and photos, both so that you can see them and so we can remember them! Thanks for following along, even when we get a bit out of sync with real time!
The two weeks we spent in Namibia were the most wild, adventurous, and adrenaline-packed weeks of the trip. We both agree that Namibia has moved into the lead as our favorite country we’ve visited because of it’s incredible scenery, amazing wildlife, interesting towns, and unique adventure activities. Here’s what we did:
Etosha National Park
We started our trip to Namibia with a visit to Etosha National Park. We spotted hundreds of animals including rare rhinos and huge herds of zebras and giraffes. We also got to visit the salt pans, a lake that dries up for part of the year leaving behind a huge, flat, empty landscape. This made for really fun photoshoots!
Next up was a stop at the Cheetah farm. The farmers living here have struggled with cheetahs for a long time; the cats eat their livestock and cause a nuisance. This family of farmers used to kill the cheetahs on their land, but eventually decided they’d capture them and keep them instead. They have three cheetahs they’ve raised as pets since birth that live in their home (crazy). They also have upwards of 30 cheetahs that live on the farm in huge enclosures. They have lots of space to roam and are fed every other day.
We made a quick stop in the Himba village to learn more about this tribe, known best for the iconic red clay that women use on their skin and in their hair to help with sun protection and hygiene. The women traditionally don’t wear any tops and it was both interesting and slightly uncomfortable to experience that. We got to tour one of their homes, learn more about their customs, and shop for jewelry and other crafts made by villagers. Interesting fact: men sleep with a wooden pillow, women sleep with no pillow at all. After seeing the “pillow” I think the women are probably better off…
From there, we went to beautiful Spitzkoppe for the most scenic camping we’ve ever encountered. Giant rock formations make for fun climbing and great pictures! We also saw some of the most incredible stars ever at this campsite.
One of my favorite stops was the Seal Colony at Cape Cross. When I heard we were going to a seal colony, I was excited. As an animal lover, I knew this would be great and I was hopeful we’d see a handful of seals. Little did I know how amazing it would actually be. There were seals EVERYWHERE. Like thousands of them. They were running, barking, swimming, and napping all over the beach. They were in the parking lot. They were lounging next to the boardwalk. They took over the picnic areas. It was amazing!
The downside? The place smells terrible. This was a huge turn off for some people – and I got majorly teased for my love of the seal colony – but the stench couldn’t keep me away from all of my new seal friends. I loved this activity!
Next up: Swakopmund, where we really stepped outside of our comfort zone. We heard that Namibia has some of the best skydiving in the world; in Swakopmund, the desert meets the ocean and it’s incredibly beautiful to see so much sand meet the sea. It’s also one of the most affordable places to try skydiving. John had already been planning to do it but I was very adamant I didn’t want to try it because that sounded SCARY. Upon arriving in Swakopmund, we went straight to a presentation about activities organized by the hostel. One of our friends, Silvio, asked if it would be possible to do skydiving that day – he wanted to write “Happy Birthday” on his hands and send it to his brother. When he asked who would join him, John’s hand immediately shot up. I shot John a death stare but ultimately decided if I wanted to try it, I wanted to go with John and that meant… doing it RIGHT NOW. Two other friends agreed to join and we quickly signed the waivers (terrifying), hopped in the van, and raced off to the airport.
Everyone jumps with a tandem instructor and, if you choose, a videographer. Two clients can go in a time at a plane and partners/jumping order is based on weight. I was randomly paired with a lovely woman named Karen who wasn’t part of our group and we were given the #1 jump spot. We got suited up and head off on the 20 minute plane ride to 12,000 feet. Frank, the instructor strapped to my back, did all of the work. On his count, we hurled out of the plane and had a 30 second free-fall and 5 minute decent with the parachute before returning safely to the ground to hugs and beer from the group.
John jumped with instructor David and had a blast. You can see in the pictures that he’s clenching his left hand tightly to avoid losing wedding ring #3!
We went back the next day to watch the rest of our friends do their jumps (and access Africa’s best wifi). Here’s the whole group of crazy skydivers from our truck with the instructors and camera guys:
We also went sandboarding, a less scary but more intense activity. We drove out to the dunes in the morning and had a rough 30 minute hike up the dunes to the top, made even worse because we stayed up too late at a Namibian dance club (who are we??). We did a quick boarding lesson and then took turns going down the dune. John was a pretty solid boarder, going off a jump after only one run! I took it nice and slow, spending lots of time steadying myself with my hands.
We had to hike back up the dune after each run which slowed us down significantly. We ended up doing 3 runs on the board and one run doing lie down boarding which was just like sledding.
We were glad we went and tried it but I wouldn’t do this again unless there was a chairlift up to the top!
Sand Dunes in Sossusvlei
From there, we continued into the Namib Desert to climb some of the world’s oldest sand dunes AND celebrate my birthday! We woke up bright and early to hike up Dune 45 for sunrise. We did this on a full moon day so we also got to see an epic moon set.
That afternoon we went to Deadvlei, an area with trees that have been standing for 600-700 years. The area is so dry that they haven’t decomposed so they look super weird. It’s also home to the world’s largest sand dunes, including “Big Daddy,” standing at over 300 meters.
The day ended with this epic sunset, a fun truck party (i.e. beers and music on the bus), a cheese-filled dinner, and fireworks in the desert. It was amazing! Some friends from the group also splurged on a room upgrade so John and I could sleep in a cabin and avoid a night of putting up the tent. It was so sweet of them!
Fish River Canyon
Last stop in Namibia: Fish River Canyon, the world’s second largest canyon! We had a quick pit stop to do a leisurely 30-minute hike along the rim and take tons of photos. It was beautiful!
We can’t stop talking about Namibia. We had the best time here and had some of our most memorable experiences of the whole trip. Put it on your travel bucket list ASAP! It would be great combined with a visit to South Africa… more about our time there coming up soon!