African adventure: visit magical Namibia

Namibia

This stunning country, bigger than Britain and France combined, has a population of two million, so there’s plenty of room to breathe. You’re more likely to see a prancing ostrich than a fellow human!

Crossing the border from Botswana is straightforward and you’ll soon be driving past thatch and mud huts, and women in traditional dress carrying babies on their backs and water on their heads.

Stay at Mahangu Safari Lodge on the Okavango’s banks, and climb the viewing platform to spot your first hippo.Take a sunset cruise and you’ll also see crocodiles and a plethora of exotic birds.

At Rundu, 150 miles away, wander the local market, shopping for boldly printed fabric, which the seamstresses will sew into skirts on the spot. Then head for Etosha National Park, with Namutoni campsite at its heart. A wooden walkway leads from the site to the water hole, where animals come to refuel.

Using one of the park’s route maps to drive and explore, you can spend all day spotting wildlife, but a three-hour stretch reaps rich rewards. Expect to see zebras, giraffes, jaguar and bison, roaming leopards, haunting hyenas and looming birds of prey. At Halali, another well-run camp within Etosha, the floodlit water hole is like an amphitheatre, perfect for watching endearing rhinos performing.

Back on the road, it’s hard not to stare at the Himba women. Covered in ochre and butter paste to protect them from the sun, wearing goatskin headdresses but few clothes, they flock to tourist spots to sell their jewellery.

Refuel in the charming seaside town of Swakopmund. Its colonial buildings and enticing coffee shops are a legacy of the Germans who once colonised Namibia. Then make for the Namib-Naukluft desert, stopping at the Solitaire campsite to buy apple pie from Moose McGregor, whose famous bakery has coachloads of tourists pulling in to eat.

Seeing the sculpted mountains of sand in the huge clay pan of Sossuvlei is a spectacle. Campers at the Sesriem site can enter the national park at 5am, to see the sun rising. The morning air is cool, so it’s a good time to climb a gigantic dune or walk wide-eyed through the Dead Vlei with its 900-year-old trees.

Our suggestions
● Stop off at Outjo in Damaraland to try delicious apple strudel.
● In Swakopmund, dine in style at The Jetty on Namibian-style tapas and local oysters (around £20).
● Take a boat trip from Walvis Bay, near Swakopmund, to see pelicans, cute seals and dolphins (£55, www.pelicantours.com).

Tip Fill up whenever you see a petrol station. It may be a while before you see another one!

How we got there
Carefree – part of The Camping and Caravanning Club – offers the Southern Africa Discovery tour, which includes South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. This 39-night trip, November to December 2013, costs £5450 per person, based on two sharing a four-berth motorhome (from Bobo Campers, www.bobocampers.com), including tour escorts, fl ights with South African Airways, campsite fees, vehicle insurance and excursions. This well-run tour is a safe way to embrace this amazing adventure. Carefree also o ers individual itineraries – a tailor-made trip for 28 days costs around £3900 per person in October/November 2013. Visit www.motorhometouringholidays.co.uk or call 0845 601 0905. 

More ways to go
● Rainbow Tours offers a ten-day camping safari in Namibia from £1950 per person, including flights. Visit www.rainbowtours.co.uk or call 020 7666 1250.
● Thompsons Africa offers the Namibian Discovery 11-day tour with accommodation, most meals and fully guided excursions. From £1800 per person. Visit www.thompsonsafrica.com.
● Africa Odyssey creates personalised tours all over Africa, including Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa. A Tanzania safari and beach adventure costs from £1999 per person, including international and internal flights and three nights’ safari at Lake Manze Adventure Camp, followed by three nights at Pongwe Beach Hotel on Zanzibar. Visit www.africaodyssey.com or call 020 7471 8780.
● Fly to southern African with South African Airways from around £600 (www.flysaa.com).

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