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Just back from….Namibia

With a population of 2 million in a country the size of the UK and France combined, there is no better place than Namibia to escape for unpolluted skies, dramatic scenery and vast remoteness; the kind that gives you goosebumps when it finally sinks in how far you are from civilisation.  On our recent trip we visited some of the country’s most exciting new lodges and camps, and re-visited the Skeleton Coast, a region which, since our first trip to Namibia nearly 10 years ago, still holds rank as our ’most incredible place in the world’. Read on for Sally and Alice Travel Co.s latest news from Namibia, with all photos courtesy of Sally’s iPhone/ compact camera (#nofilterrequired!)


WINDHOEK

There are few capital cities where you can land at the international airport to be greeted by 360 degrees of nature reserve and farmland, and not a skyscraper (or even a house) in sight.  First impressions of Windhoek are; impeccably clean, organised and hilly. Sally and Alice Travel Co., and our clients, particularly enjoy the intimate and owner-run Olive Exclusive boutique guesthouse.  For a real treat book one of their spacious  individually-themed Premier Suites, each comes with a private plunge pool.   For those who prefer to take in the city views from a ‘turreted’ vantage point, the family-owned and run Hotel Heinitzburg, originally a 19th century castle, is now a 16-bedroomed luxury hotel.  Aside from the views, service and attention to detail, the real wow factor here comes from their fine dining restaurant and sundowner terrace.


SKELETON COAST

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is sandwiched between the windswept Atlantic Coast and the endless sea of the Namib Desert dunes,  a starkly beautiful world of shipwrecks and whale skeletons.  The remote Hoanib Camp is a two hour’ flight from Windhoek and flying in a light aircraft at 10,000 feet affords incredible views of the changing scenery – be warned: you will have an imprint on your forehead from gawping out of the plane window, not to mention repetitive strain injury from photographing the changing colours below - mountains, streatic rock formations and dry ephermal rivers.

Striking in both location and style, Hoanib Camp’s eight luxury tented suites look over a busy waterhole, which attracted plenty of elephants during our stay.  Nature drives, walks and scenic flights to the Skeleton Coast are the main activities on offer here – we would also highly recommend a visit to their recently completed Research Centre, where you can learn more about resident researcher, Flip Stander’s desert lion conservation. On a 3 night stay, a day trip to the coast is included, highlights of the day are driving the width of the Skeleton Coast Park (the entrance is only 3km from camp), climbing up (and sliding down) the giant roaring dunes, picnicking alongside a million plus seals on the beach near Mowe Bay, observing the rare desert wildlife and the scenic flight back to camp.


DAMARALAND

A close second to the Skeleton Coast in terms of unique topography and wildlife experiences is the flat-topped mountain, dry riverbed and rocky plained scenery of Namibia’s Damaraland, a region which is well-known for its large population of desert rhinos and desert elephants.  One of our all time favourite camps, Desert Rhino Camp offers a rare opportunity to track the highly endangered black rhino with an on site research team from the Save The Rhino trust.  Few wildlife sightings can compare on an adrenaline level with coming up close to a black rhino on foot…

On this trip, we also stayed at the well-established and often overlooked, Damaraland Camp.  Popular with fly-in and self-drive clients, the camp oozes personality and warmth, which comes from the tight-knit family of fun-loving staff from the local Torra Conservancy.  Damaraland Camp is a model of how community-based tourism can, and does, work.  Aside from the people and community aspect, the pristine wilderness is an outdoor playground with various hiking trails in the neighbouring rocky outcrops, ancient rock art at Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site and guided game drives in search of the desert-adapted species; elephant, rhino, brown hyena, cheetah, giraffe and oryx, amongst others.


NEW OPENINGS FOR 2015

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Namibia, indeed it is increasingly difficult to find availability at the smaller luxury lodges, (for peak season i.e. April to October, we recommend booking several months in advance). We were therefore thrilled to hear that this year sees the opening of four brand new camps from a new low impact/ high value operator; Namibia Exclusive Safaris.  With an impressive team behind it, N.E.S will open access to a previously undiscovered area from their remote Khaudum Lodge, and also introduce a new level of exclusivity at their camp on the western edge of Etosha National Park, the first private concession in the Park.  We were also excited to hear that the well-established, scenic haven in the south, Wolwedans, are now offering horse riding from their camps in the NamibRand Nature Reserve.
If the striking colours, open spaces and endless skies of Namibia have caught your eye,  get in touch at:
home@sallyandalice.com