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Namibia. Big Cat Safari

Updated on December 12, 2014

Namibia. Fancy a Safari Vacation with a Difference?

Namibia is off the beaten track for the average beach/safari tourist. The desert, sand dunes and wildlife make it one of the best places in Africa to visit. This article is about where to go and the things to see in this wonderful safari destination, travel tips advice and recommendations and lots of Namibia photos. Namibia has excellent wildlife viewing, like many other countries in Africa, especially in Etosha National Park, but with fewer tourists and generally a higher quality experience. The famous sand dunes at Sossusvlei, which are the tallest in the world and the Kalahari desert also make Namibia a different and special experience. Okonjima Lodge, the home of The AfriCat Foundation is also a wonderful place to stay. It is easy to discover the country on a self-drive holiday or combined with safaris accompanied by experienced guides.

See My African Safari Photo Gallery

And Other African Vacation Destinations

Namibia. The home of giant sand dunes, and fantastic African safari

Namibia is one of the few countries in Africa that can claim that the animals are more dangerous than the people. In all of Africa it is probably true to say that the mosquito is the most dangerous animal, but in Namibia it is the hippopotamus that comes in second instead of man. Namibia has a very small population of fewer than 2 million people. It now however also has a small high quality tourist industry. The wildlife is less abundant than many other parts of Africa on the usual safari tourist trail, but the lack of bus-loads of tourists on a day trip away from the beach makes it far more pleasant and the wildlife viewing more satisfying . The varied landscape of the country, from the huge sand dunes (allegedly the biggest in the world?) to the Kalahari dessert and game viewing in Etosha National Park make it a wonderful holiday destination for lovers of the natural world.

When I went to Namibia I did a ten day self-drive holiday with my partner, starting and finishing in Windhoek. At each safari lodge I gave up my hire car in favour of being driven in a more suitable four-wheel drive vehicle with an experienced guide, although at the Etosha National Park it would have been possible to self-drive there too. I would however generally recommend taking the guide. I was hoping for a large 4x4 to drive myself through the dessert, as I had done in the outback in Australia recently, so I was bemused to be given a VW Polo to traverse the hostile landscape. It, however, had no problems are the roads were mostly quite good.

We flew BA from London Heathrow via Johannesburg to Windhoek, where a driver arranged by Audley travel (www.audleytravel.com) who put together this taylor-made itinerary for us, was waiting to take us to our hotel.

Heinitzburg Hotel, Windhoek is a great place to stay at the beginning and end of a safari trip in Namibia (or Botswana which is easily accessible by small plane from here too) This splendid old castle which has been extended and converted into a luxury hotel, with a fine wine cellar, good food and a terrace with views over Windhoek. We briefly ventured into Windhoek (I had been before a few years earlier for a trip to the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but that is the subject of a future review) There are the usual African tourist shopping opportunities, but I didn't sample anything more cultural there.

Namibia Map - Etosha National Park and the Capital of Namibia, Windhoek

A markerWindhoek, Namibia -
Windhoek, Namibia
get directions

The Drive Through The Kalahari Desert

We had our car delivered to the hotel and set off into the wilderness. Our first stop was Sossusvlei, 4 to 5 hours drive away, stopping only for a packed lunch provided by the hotel and to look at a few monkeys playing. The only other wildlife en-route being a few birds of prey. On arrival we stayed at Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, a fantastic place to stay, surrounded by huge sand dunes. Cabins on stilts, with balconies and small plunge-pools, on the edge of a cliff, look out across the wilderness to the dunes many miles away. We dropped the car at the thatched reception and were driven through the camp in a 4x4 to the lodge/bar for check-in. We partook in a medicinal gin and tonic and enjoyed the most memorable of sunsets, followed by an exploration of the stars with a large telescope, escorted by a member of staff (The sky is so clear and the light pollution negligible) A wonderful dinner was served to all the guests, with free wine (my favorite variety) The Wilderness Camp provide guides and transport to explore the dunes, setting out before sunrise and stopping for a picnic breakfast. Not much wildlife apart from the usual springbok, birds of prey etc. but the sunrise over the enormous dunes is stunning.

We drove on to Swakopmund, officially about 4 hours away, but we took 6 hours. Quite a tough drive through the dessert. We stayed at the Hansa Hotel overnight. The best hotel in a not very inspiring town. The town was completely closed apart for one bar. The hotel however was fine and its restaurant was really quite good serving local delicacies such as Kudu steak, and German style buffet breakfast. The bar was very good too, with an open fire and reproduction furniture in keeping with the surroundings (the hotel was built in 1905)

Sossusvlei, Namibia: The Biggest Sand Dunes in the World

Essential Photographic Equipment to take on Safari

If you don't already have an SLR camera and a long lens, it would be a good idea to get one, because a compact camera will not get good results. Typically a zoom lens going up to at least 300mm would be ideal.

I have written a more detailed recommendation of cameras here:

Nikon DSLR Cameras

but here is some good kit for a safari:

Ongava lodge

Etosha National Park

Next stop was Okonjima Lodge, Ongava lodge, next to Etosha National Park entrance, via Otjiwarongo and Outjo. Tarmac roads made the drive somewhat easier. Occasional Ostrich, kudu and monkeys kept us alert. On arrival at the lodge we were greeted by the friendly staff with cold towels and drinks then shown the thatched hut with balcony overlooking the water hole, then immediately ushered into a Land Rover for our first game drive. We saw a female white-rhino with a baby very near-by and the guide whispered, "This is the most aggressive animal in Africa. If it sees you it will attack... so, lets get out of the car, and who wants a Gin and Tonic?" We watched the sunset with our sun-downers. A magical experience, and possibly the best G&T I have ever had. Back to the lodge and restaurant for dinner and more wildlife watching from the bar. From the lodge, during the day it is possible to do game drives in Etosha Park next door where lions, antelope, elephants, zebra, lots of birds and the occasional squirrel may be seen. You can also get just as good a view from the bar/lodge in wonderful relaxing surroundings. This is an absolutely wonderful place to stay.

I have published a related article on Helium

Some useful reading if you plan a safari in Africa...

Okonjima Guest Farm/Bush Camp

run by the Africat charity (www.africat.org)

On the way back home we stayed over night at Okonjima Guest Farm/Bush Camp, which is run by the Africat charity who help rescue leopards and cheetahs. The accommodation is also in the form of traditional huts, with luxurious beds and bathrooms inside, but here the half-mile walk through long grass to the lodge with a torch is even more traumatic. Leopards wander around the grounds freely, although rarely eating the guests. The same format of game drives and communal dinners with sun downers while game viewing is used here, but with a different selection of wildlife. The hides for watching the leopards made viewing and photography from close-up exceptional.

I would certainly recommend a holiday in Namibia to a keen wildlife enthusiast, while much more expensive (our trip more than £2,000 each for 10 days) than the cheapest safari/beach holiday in Kenya or Tanzania I would imagine it will give a far more memorable experience.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Taking an evening virtual tour sipping on my 'Black Dog' seems to be no match for your G&T adventures! :)

      Enviable travel tales and certainly enjoyed the vistas from your voyage! Cheers! :)

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your trip to Namibia. Especially enjoyed the photos.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Cool photos! Can't wait to go.

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

      Another great lens from you

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      amazing. these are all rare photos. you have done a great job here. ~blessed~

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Wow your images are amazing. Beautifully done.

    • imolaK profile image

      imolaK 6 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your lens. Blessed!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Good photography

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      What is more magnificent than the big cat?

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Angel blessings, and a happy new year!

    • lakshyaa profile image

      lakshyaa 8 years ago

      Very informative travel lens, with amazing photos!

    • admiralglass lm profile image

      admiralglass lm 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your photos with us. They are stunning. I wish one day i could do similar trip myself.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Your photos are inspiring. Of all the wild animals, the big cats are my favorites. Great travel lens!

    • NatureMaven profile image

      NatureMaven 8 years ago

      nice leopard photos, I'm jealous! ;) *****

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I'm trying to remember which lenses I have visited before, been here!

      A lovely safari lens Andy! What an exciting life you live. You must really

      enjoy life whole heartedly!

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 8 years ago from Australia

      What a thrilling lens! I'm all a-quiver looking at your big cats - they're very BIG aren't they? I wish you lived close so you could take a photo of me, I know you would capture my fluid grace - what there is left of it.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Hi,

      My name is Elizabeth Jean Allen and I am the new group leader for the Nature and the Outdoors Group.

      Welcome.

      Lizzy

    • nekoneko profile image

      nekoneko 8 years ago

      Really ineteresthing lens ..I heart it!

    • nekoneko profile image

      nekoneko 8 years ago

      Really ineteresthing lens ..I heart it!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I just love your photographs

    • profile image

      QueSea 8 years ago

      Oh am I ever envious! I'd love a trip like this. Thanks for sharing it and the pictures.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      I'm voting for you on Squidom!!! Way to go - great lens - great illustrations 5*s

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      I love the cats. They're so graceful and fluid.

      Lizzy

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I love wildlife of all kind. Very nice lens! Next time you go on a Safari, take me with you. LOL

    • Kittyluver profile image

      Kittyluver 8 years ago

      Nice pics. Just now I have started a squidoo on wildlife conservation. Do you like it?

    • Kittyluver profile image

      Kittyluver 8 years ago

      Nice pics. Just now I have started a squidoo on wildlife conservation. Do you like it?

    • SylvianeNuccio1 profile image

      SylvianeNuccio1 8 years ago

      I love cats...all of them big and small. There are just gorgeous animals.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 8 years ago

      I would love to go on Safari, But I think I would need you to go with us to make sure we see it all.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      I love this lens, those leopards and cheetahs are beautiful! I can't even imagine how exciting it would be to see them in person in the wild. Gorgeous lens!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I can't really imagine anyone who enjoys traveling who would NOT want to visit Namibia! Wow!

    • profile image

      topstuff 8 years ago

      I love the big cats, great photos, I would love to see them in the wild

    • profile image

      Mayflowerblood 8 years ago

      Beautiful cats beautiful lens!

    • profile image

      rydigga 8 years ago

      Hi Andy, Awesome imagery and a great lens. I love big cats and one of my biggest dreams is to go on safari. Thanks so much for sharing these amazing photos.

      Ryan

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Wow! The pictures keep getting better and better. I wish I had your talent.

      Lizzy

    • anthropos lm profile image

      Lamar Ross 9 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for joining ”Anything and Everything Travel” Group. We look forward to seeing your other travel related lenses in our group. Keep up the good work. For a categorized list of my travel lenses and other lenses see my Lensography..

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 9 years ago

      Wow - what great photos of the big cats. You have had an adveturous life! Nice site.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 9 years ago from Covington, LA

      I love the big cats. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.

    • TheBookGarden1 profile image

      TheBookGarden1 9 years ago

      You could do with some more text in the intro here, to balance the photo you have. Also, searchengines love intro's so you aren't capitalising on this.

      Overall a great piece of work and some great photos!

    • Rich-H profile image

      Rich 9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Wonderful pictures and a great lens! 5*s

    • profile image

      coopd 9 years ago

      Great lens!! 5* Thank you for joining my Nature Lovers group :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Mighty fine work Po!

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 9 years ago from Edinburgh

      Dooyoo know, I think that was a fab lens :)

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Great lens. Great pictures :)

    • estherjane13 lm profile image

      estherjane13 lm 9 years ago

      Another great lens with fantastic photos.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 9 years ago

      Amazing pictures and a lot of great information here. I would like to see the animals in their native environment one day....

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      How I'd love to see these big cats in their natural environment. Lovely picturs.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      I would love to do an African Safari for the photography, but not to hunt the wild game. Beautiful pictures! 5*****

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Looks like a fun trip! Welcome to All Things Travel.