Finding Beauty in Namibia

The sign at the Twyfelfontein UNESCO World Heritage Site in Namibia said “Train your Eyes” and “See Like the Artist”. I found that this sage advice applied not only to my viewing of these ancient rock engravings but were truly words to live by during my entire trip through Namibia.

Namibia is a land of great natural beauty, wide open spaces, ever-changing landscapes, unique wildlife, enriching cultural encounters, and warm and welcoming people. A trip to Namibia allows you to step back from the normal hectic pace of life, disconnect and unplug from the digital online world and slow down and re-connect with nature.

Namibia will reward even experienced safari-goers with sightings of specially-adapted desert animals in breathtaking and varied habitats, plus many diverse activities including hiking, quad biking, dune climbing, hot air ballooning and more!

Highlights of Namibia

When I return from a trip, people often ask “What was your favorite place?”. For Namibia, I find it impossible to answer this question since each area is unique and different, and I cannot choose just one since each was a highlight in its own right.

I had many magical moments throughout my trip, and here are just a few of the many highlights for me.

  • Gazing in awe at some of the highest sand dunes in the world in Sossusvlei. These incredibly beautiful red dunes look more like artist’s sculptures than natural formations, and are every photographer’s dream in the early morning light. Whether quietly observing or actively climbing, these dunes will not disappoint.
  • Sitting in the silence amongst the eerie and otherworldly skeletal trees of Deadvlei, surrounded by enormous red dunes everywhere, and feeling one with nature.
  • Appreciating the spectacular night skies in the Namib Rand Nature Reserve, an official Dark Sky Reserve and one of the darkest places on earth. It was like being immersed inside Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night!
  • Indulging in a breathtaking scenic flight along the intriguing Skeleton Coast—its strong current the cause of many famous shipwrecks including the Eduard Bohlen. The long wall of shifting sand dunes dropping sharply to the water’s edge is truly spectacular to see.
  • Experiencing the incredible Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and all that it has to offer, including an amazing coastal experience to visit the roaring dunes, oasis and seal colony plus a surprise picnic lunch overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic. While here, another special treat was interacting with one of the many researchers, learning more about the desert lion and rare brown hyena.
  • Marveling at the incredible desert-adapted elephant and their ability to survive in such harsh and dry conditions, in wide open spaces so vast that they seem never-ending.
  • Stepping back from the frenetic pace of everyday life to find peace and tranquility in the phenomenal and amazing natural world that surrounds us.
  • Meditating on the possible meanings of the ancient petroglyphs at Twyfelfontein.
  • Sitting quietly at one of the many waterholes in Etosha and watching a menagerie of different animals arriving to take a drink. My patience was rewarded when we were getting ready to leave the watering hole after spending some time observing the wildebeest and zebra, and I saw some giraffe off in a distance and decided to wait to see if they were making their way over to us. Truly nothing is more fascinating than a giraffe’s difficult yet graceful pose required to bend down to drink, bringing to mind the flexibility of a dancer or an advanced student of yoga!
  • Learning about the fascinating customs of the Himba culture and observing and appreciating their traditional way of life. They have a unique beauty enhanced by their intricate hairstyles, with flawless and youthful looking skin protected from the harsh sun by a mixture of red ochre and animal fat (which had many of us wondering “Hey, can we bottle that?”). I don’t speak or understand a word of their Herero dialect, yet I will never forget their animated discussion about the best time to harvest the mopane worms – lively, energetic and something that I will always remember fondly.
  • One of my favorites moments was the day that our Land Rover temporarily became a school bus! We left the Himba village on a Sunday afternoon and offered a ride to three children who were headed on a very long and hot walk to the village where the school is located. Along the way, we offered a ride to more and more children headed to town, and soon our vehicle was filled with the laughter and huge smiles of 16 happy schoolchildren who serenaded me with a song. It touched my heart, and I will cherish this magical moment forever.
  • I will also never forget celebrating Namibian Independence Day, when the camp staff proudly sang traditional songs which I continue to hear over and over in my head as the sounds of Namibia.
  • Spectacular sunsets — too many to mention! My best sundowner spot was at Camp Kipwe in Damaraland. It was totally worth the effort of climbing the 92 steps cut into the rocky hillside for stunning views and witnessing the great evening colors reflected off the huge boulders surrounding me.

In Namibia, there is beauty everywhere you look, and if you travel with your artist’s eye you will be rewarded with many amazing natural wonders at every turn.

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. – Vincent Van Gogh