Namibia - Africa's crown jewel
Updated: May 31
The desert, wildlife, jungle and enormous mountain scenery are just some of what this country with less than half of Norway's population has to offer.
This is a contribution from our guest authors: Bilivoka. In love with traveling and Namibia - read for yourself. More about the authors can be found in the last section.
Have fun while reading.
After traveling the world for three months, we've been asked one question more often than any other: What's the best place you've visited? Answering that is certainly not easy. Which is best depends entirely on what you like. Was it historical experiences and nature in Peru, almost uninhabited islands in the Pacific or big city life in Japan? It all depends on what you prefer, but we think a slightly differently worded question is easier to answer: Which country surprised you the most? The answer to that is Namibia.
When we booked the trip, Africa was something we thought would be good to experience, but it was not particularly high on the wish list. You hear the stories about war, hunger and disasters, and quickly conclude that this is the case everywhere in Africa. But it really becomes as strange as saying that because there is a war in Ukraine, and both Norway and Ukraine are in Europe, it must be dangerous in Norway as well.
From the first moment the car rolled into Namibia, we understood that our prejudices had to be left behind, for this was a country very different from what we had imagined. Although Namibia is larger than Turkey in area, the population is less than half that of Norway. That makes the population density lower than even Australia, with only Mongolia as a more unpopulated country. And when people are far apart, combined with a focus on nature conservation and sustainability, nature experiences and wildlife become close.
Fish River Canyon
Early on in the trip, the landscape opened up and in front of us stood one of the world's largest canyons. Fish River Canyon is often referred to as the world's second largest canyon, and it is not without reason that it is also the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. Showing the size of the landscape in a picture is not easy, but the experience of standing on the edge of the mountain shelf and looking down into the enormous valleys undoubtedly gave a feeling of humility towards the mighty landscape.
It is perhaps even stranger to think that this dry stone landscape has been dug out of water over thousands of years. Today there is still water here, but only a small river at the end of the summer which is otherwise only a collection of narrow pools of water. After taking as many photos as we could, the trip continued to the campsite where we watched the sun set over the Namibian desert landscape.
A little north of Fish River Canyon is an area called Sossusvlei, known for its large sand dunes and desert landscape. The Namib Desert is considered the world's oldest, but what is more incredible is that this desert borders the sea. Yes, here the landscape goes straight from the Atlantic Ocean into a dry desert!
After driving far into the desert, we got to try our hand at climbing one of the dunes, called Dune 45, which rises 80 meters above the landscape. Although the walk up didn't seem that long, it really took a while. For every step we took in the sand, we slipped half a step back again.
Our guide recommended going in the morning before the sun made it too hot, and indeed it was a good thing, because on the way down it went much faster. Not only because of the downhill, but also because the sand had already managed to get scorching hot!
Sossulsvlei is also home to an ever so small dried out forest. In the middle of the dunes is a flat area with dry, dark tree trunks. Here there is a real downpour less than every ten years, and the trees here are believed to have been dry since the 14th century. The combination of large sand dunes and trees on an otherwise flat, white plain is something we will never forget.
Although large parts of Namibia are desert, that does not mean that there is no life here. Animal life is not only vivid due to the lack of people, but also that a whopping 17% of the whole of Namibia is national parks. The best known is probably Etosha National Park in the north of the country. Africa's well-known "big five" that every traveller would like to experience in Africa are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo. We saw four of these five in Etosha National Park.
Although the animals roamed freely, there were so many of them that that the encounters were not long in coming. In addition to the familiar animals, we also saw giraffes, zebras and a number of other animals.
At the end of our trip, we came to a place known as the Caprivi Strip. This is a thin strip of land that stretches away from the coast and into Africa. The dunes end here, and jungle, rivers and green bushes dominate the landscape.
Crocodiles and hippos patrol the area, which the signs gave a clear reminder of! It was possible to swim in a fenced area, but we didn't take the chance...
After getting used to life in the more humid part of Namibia, we were at the border on the very other side from where we started. One step forward into Botswana. Behind us lay the country that has surprised us most positively and given us a number of travel memories we will never forget.
About the authors
We are a travel-loving couple who love to experience new places and see more of the world. The journeys are documented on the blog Bilivoka, and together we have over 60 countries behind us. Our journey around the world took us all the way west around the globe until we ended up east and back home. We also got married at Mount Everest Base Camp - because "hvis man elsker hverandre høyt må man jo gifte seg høyt!".