Coming from Ghanzi (Botswana), the B6 took me and my small travel group via Windhoek to our first big highlight in Namibia, the Etosha National Park.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is Namibia’s most important protected area and is home to 114 different species of mammals, 340 species of birds, 110 species of reptiles, 16 species of amphibians and one species of fish.
We pitched our tents at the Okaukuejo Restcamp, which is beautifully situated in the immediate vicinity of one of the very popular waterholes, where one can spend the morning and evening hours observing great animals.
During the day we went on two extended safari drives through the eastern and western part of the park.
The name “Etosha” comes from the “Oshiwambo” (Bantu language) and means something like “big white place”. In summer, when it rains heavily, the park turns into a lush green oasis. In very rainy years, it can even happen that the otherwise dried-out Etosha Pan fills up to 10 cm with water, attracting numerous flamingos and other water birds. Difficult to imagine, because most of the plants looked pretty wilted.
After the Etosha National Park we went to the coastal town of Swakopmund, 500km to the south, probably the most German town in Namibia. Many street names, hotels, restaurants and public buildings have German names and the architectural style is reminiscent of the colonial era.
The city borders to the south on the Namib Desert in whose dunes you can undertake very exciting quad tours. Another highlight is the beach. After almost two weeks of steppe, desert and savannah, it was nice to finally be able to take a look at the sea.
After eventful days in the African wildlife, we set off today for the “Namib Skeleton Coast National Park”, the eighth largest national park in the world. This consists of several former smaller national parks, including the “Namib-Naukluft Park”, the “Fish River Canyon” and the Skeleton Coast. The 1570 km long national park stretches along almost the entire Namibian coast.
The vegetation in this national park changes frequently. We drove through barren savannas, overgrown bush land and rocky mountains with high plateaus. Interestingly, there are different rock types from different ages. The mountains were formed by continental drift and plate movements. Even on the plateau live zebra, oryx, springbok and cheetah. Around noon we stopped briefly at the “Tropic of Capricorn”, the southern tropic of the sun. The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost circle of latitude where the midday sun hits the earth vertically (perpendicular) on the summer solstice (winter solstice in Europe) on December 21 or 22 at 12 noon.
We spent our midday stop at lunchtime in Solitaire, a lovingly designed car graveyard, where one can also get nice food.
Our way led us over several 100 km of unpaved roads to the “Sossus Oasis Campsite” in central Namib, where we had a wonderful view of the Milky Way far away from any light pollution.
At 6.30 a.m. the gate of the “Sossusvlei Park” opened, where a long line of cars was already waiting. “Sossus” means “dead end” and means the place where the dunes meet and prevent the “Tsauchab River” from flowing any further. In the Nama language, “Vlei” means something like “empty space” or “place where nothing is” and thus refers, for example, to the clay and salt pan at the Sossusvlei dune. We stopped at dune 45 on our way to Sossusvlei dune. This got its name because it is 45 km away from the gate. It is one of the most photographed dunes in the world. We braved the sandstorm, climbed the approx. 170 m high dune and enjoyed the view of the dune landscape from above. The red dunes, almost 350 meters high, are among the highest dunes in the world. The sand gets its color from a layer of iron oxide that encases the grains.
The well-known “Dead-Vlei”, a clay pan, which is characterized by a large number of dead acacia trees, is beautiful and quite bizarre in appearance.
Today we had another long drive ahead of us. In the middle of nowhere we reached our hotel “Seeheim” in the afternoon. It bears its name from the southern Hessian community of Seeheim near Darmstadt, from which the ancestors of today’s hotel owner came.
Today’s highlight was the visit to the “Fish River Canyon”. This is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest canyon in the world after the “Grand Canyon” in the USA. It is about 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and up to 550 m deep. The Fish River is Namibia’s longest river with a length of over 650 km and flows into the Oranje River. At noon we stopped at Canyon Roadhouse. The service area has a very special flair. License plates from all over the world hang on the bar. A gas pump is also integrated. The ambience is lovingly designed with old cars, wine crates, etc. There is also a small shop with souvenirs.
Today’s accommodation, the “Norotshama River Resort”, is idyllically situated on the “Oranje River”, 50 km north-west of Noordoewer and is still partially under construction. The region is known for its table grape cultivation. The grapes are exported to South Africa, among other places, but also to Europe. With a length of 2160 km, the Orange River is the second longest river in southern Africa after the Zambezi and flows through Lesotho, South Africa and Namibia. It forms the national border between Namibia and South Africa.
My short trip through Namibia ended here and the next morning I continued to the fourth country of my trip, South Africa.
All images were taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 and the following lenses: Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4, Fujinon XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 and Samyang 12mm f/2.0