Family Safari Adventure in Namibia If you’re after an exceptional family holiday, but don’t want to break the bank, then it’s really worth thinking about a self-drive safari in Namibia. Though this southern African country isn’t considered the top safari destination for wild life viewing, Etosha National Park will certainly satisfy the little people who’re desperate to see Lion King, for real. Namibia is more about the extraordinary landscapes and dramatic colours that will evoke a sense of never-ending space and other worldliness. The long days and huge horizons will edge you gently into the slow-lane and you and with a self-drive, at your own pace, you and your family will experience that luxury that we’re often so lacking in our every-day lives – time.
Of course ‘slowtopia’ has to be punctuated with the exciting, particularly when you have children in tow, and Namibia is full of the extraordinary. At Sossusvlei, a saltpan, in the southern Namib desert (easy to reach by road), you will find the biggest dunes in the world that just demand to be climbed. The highest dune of all is appropriately named Big Daddy and the view from the top is truly outstanding, as you see wave after wave of burnt orange sand, stretching far out in front of you. The best time to climb is sunrise to get the most of the colours. You can take a balloon ride here or strike out into the desert on quad bikes, with a guide, which will take you on a loop through the dunes. There are interesting animals to look out for here too, desert adapted creatures such as spiders that cartwheel down dunes and the Namib desert beetle that carries water on its back, garnered from early morning fogs. You’ll find oryx and ostrich here too, but it’s the colours and landscape that are really extraordinary. There are great places to stay too, close by, and for the adventurous, a night on the roof, where you lie back and absorb the creamy canopy of zillions of stars above your head, is an experience hard to beat. These are big skies. Unlike some other countries in Africa, Namibia is very safe to self-drive, which really keeps the costs down. The joy of this is you do things at your own pace, spend more time, where you want to and less where you don’t. It’s a big country but if you pick your places and routes carefully, (it’s best to speak to a company that has expert knowledge of safaris in Namibia), then you can pack a huge amount in. From Sossusvlei, the drive to Swakopmund, takes about 5 hours. As the name suggests, Namibia was colonized by the Germans in the mid 19th Century and therefore has a very different feel to it, in a good way. It’s definitely worth spending some time in this town, not least because it’s great to be on the extraordinary Skeleton coast. A Walvis Bay boat trip is great fun, you get to see dolphins and Cape Fur Seals, some of which the boat captains have made friends, and on most journeys they’ll jump onto deck, lured by a fresh fish lunch. Pelican have got to know the boats too and will dive on board and grab fish out of your hands.
North from Swakopmund into Damaraland and the topography changes dramatically as you get into rugged, mountainous terrain. It’s really wild and beautiful. Pre-history is very much in evidence here, with its two-million year old giant volcanic craters, a petrified forest and a vast array of ancient rock paintings depicting the creatures, symbols and tracks of the hunter gatherers, who lived here thousands of years ago. This is an awe-inspiring place, right in the middle of nowhere that’s a reminder that there are still really wild places in the world. Moving on to northern Damaraland and you reach the part of Namibia, that’s the Africa you and your children recognise from numerous wild life documentaries. This area is rich in big game; the desert elephant, which have adapted to the dry terrain and regularly trek for 70 kms or so in search of water and food and the endangered Black Rhino. This is home to the black faced Impala and Hartmann’s mountain Zebra. Etosha National Park is teeming with plains game, lion, cheetah, giraffe and elephant and there are plenty of really excellent camps and lodges, within the park, that range from the seriously luxurious to the very affordable. The best way to see wild life is with an experienced guide, so again it’s really worth planning your trip with a really good safari and wilderness travel company, so you get to see exactly what you want and very importantly travel at the right time of year. Namibia is one of those rare countries that provides a bit of everything; wilderness, wild life, culture and a wealth of adventure that will really get your family buzzing. A safari in Namibia is a family experience that’s seriously hard to beat.