Tracking in Namibia

Because I’ve always wanted to…

Issue 24 / October 2016

Autumnal Greetings to you all!

Having visited Southern Namibia in 2010 to experience the starry skies of the Namib Rand Desert, the iconic Sossusvlei dunes and track the remaining wild black rhino in Damaraland, I decided a trip to the north of Namibia was long overdue, especially as the Namibian dollar is pegged to the South African rand.

This area is all about safari and, my word, do you see animals in numbers of every size imaginable! Some of the highlights are the AfriCat centre at Okonjima, the Etosha Pan, the ochre coloured moon like landscapes of Damaraland, the rock paintings of Twyfelfontein and the rugged skeleton coast with its desert adapted elephants, giraffe and lion. It really is a photographer’s dream.

The roads in Namibia are superb, so self-drive is definitely an option, though if you wish to reach remote areas such as the Skeleton Coast (Hoanib) or Serra Cafema on the Namibian/Angolan border, charter flights are a must. Please click here for my detailed itinerary.

Helen and I are off to some of the more remote areas in Indonesia next month namely West Papua/Raja Ampat and Sumba Island so more on that before the festive season.

With my best wishes

Laterally yours,


Okonjima is a 55,000 acre game reserve two hours north of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. The highlights are their cheetah and leopard safaris, though you are also guaranteed to see a plethora of other species. It is home to the AfriCat Foundation which is responsible for rehabilitating wild dogs, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards.  Some of the latter two big cat species are radio collared so you are almost guaranteed a sighting or three!

Okonjima has accommodation to suit all, ranging from a private camp site to drive-in lodges, right up to bush suites with a stunning bar, lounge, dining area and pool to its three unbelievably stunning villas.  This is a must- stop destination especially if you are travelling as a family.  I saw a leopard and two cheetahs on a kill during my first afternoon’s game drive.

Click here to view the website

Onguma The Fort/Etosha National Park

Some three hours’ drive north of Okonjima lies Onguma game reserve, positioned on the eastern edge of the Etosha pan. I stayed at Onguma Tented Camp but visited the nearby Onguma Bush Camp, Mushara and Onguma The Fort. Of the four, my stand out favourite was The Fort. It consists of 12 mini suites all built beside an outrageously designed Moroccan/Rajasthan styled fort complete with towers, ramparts and stone spiral staircases. The pool runs down 2 sides of the Fort with a bar where one sits, feet dangling in the refreshing pool water, whilst you watch lion and rhino at their waterhole. Famous for its sunsets over Etosha and architectural uniqueness, the Fort would be my preferred stay choice.

Click here to view the website

Ongava Lodge/Little Ongava/Etosha National Park

Sharing a common boundary with the western edge of Etosha, this 30,000 hectare game reserve is considered to have some of the largest concentrations of game anywhere in the world. The small and intimate Little Ongava, at the top of the tree accommodation-wise, is definitely a special occasion camp. Ongava Lodge is not far behind, though much larger and similarly perched high up on a ridge with stunning views across the plains. At night a floodlit watering hole adds to the excitement animal wise.  Ongava Tented Camp is really an extension to the wild African Mopani Bush – emphasised by the noise of animals walking across my balcony floor at night! I saw lion, eland, water buck and kudu at the watering hole on most evenings, just 50 metres away from the bar at cocktail time. This is wild Africa at its best.

Click here to view the website.

Lion drinking at a watering hole – Image taken by Andrew Shaw

Mowani Mountain Lodge, Damaraland.

After a five hour drive from Ongava, I was delighted to arrive at my “Mountain Suite” at Mowani Mountain Camp, in Damaraland. Nestled amongst the most extraordinary boulder strewn Flintstone-esque topography I have ever seen is this unique accommodation dwelling.  Stunning rooms with views to die for, a pool that was small but set amongst boulders which added to the Mars-like topography. A narrow track in the rocks led you to the sunset bar – which looks like the launch pad of an inter galactic space pod – simply unreal but my goodness what a place for a chilled glass as the sun dived down over the skeleton coast in the distance!  There is plenty to see here, such as the ancient rock engravings at Twyfelfontein and the wonders of rocks like organ pipes at Mowani/Kipure. You could go out on a safari drive looking for desert adapted elephants but I chose simply to relax in their amazing pool, soaking up the views morning, noon and sunset and then enjoy watching the night sky erupt in meteoric bombardment.  What a place!

Click here to view the website

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.

Nothing prepares you for the flight from Doro Nawas airstrip to Hoanib camp. It is unlike arriving anywhere else on the planet. A handful of luxury tents, reception, bar area, restaurant, pool and camp fire area for pre and post prandial drinks are all situated in the dry river bed area of the Hoanib. This can only be described as remote luxury at it most lateral! Your days are spent on safari searching along the dry dusty river beds for desert-adapted lion, giraffe, elephant, oryx, springbok, cheetah, jackal, hyena and ostrich, all of which I saw.  A three hour safari drive from camp and you emerge over the vast dunes to witness the enormity of the Atlantic Coast of Africa – the Skeleton Coast. Here you can visit museums full of coastal finds such as whale bones, drive past seal colonies with 10,000 or more barking adults and pups sun bathing on the rocks or surfing in the waves. The scenic flight back is breathtaking as you fly down the coast, over the ship wrecks, sand dunes and oases, and 15 minutes later you are sitting around the camp fire nursing a G and T, looking at each other’s photos and swapping tales with the other guests. This new Wilderness camp is utterly unique.

Click here to view the website.

Serra Cafema/Namib Desert.

After a one and a half  hour  flight from Hoanib I landed at one of the most remote camp airstrips in Africa. Following a scenic drive across the Hartman valley, the Kunene River and Angola explodes in front of your eyes as if from nowhere. To cross such parched brown landscape to suddenly come across this green fertile valley and snake along the mighty Kunene River has to be seen to be believed!  This camp is best visited at the end of a busy trip around Namibia, and probably not a place to take young children.  There are 8 riverside wood, canvas and thatched well-appointed villas on decks abutting the rushing and roaring waters of the Kunene river.   The mMain activities are game drives, boat trips upstream to view the lazy crocs on the river banks, Quad biking across this unreal landscape and visiting the local Himba tribes.
An afternoon spent on the deck of your Villa, watching the river flow past you, pondering the magnificence of your recent journey around this incredible country, is a must do –especially with a cold bottle of wine to keep you company!!

Click here to view the website

Up Periscope

In June I was lucky enough to spend 1 week exploring various properties in the Northern Atolls of the Maldives. Whilst I came across a consistently high standard of resort, there were none that really stood out above the rest. Then I arrived at Six Senses Laamu in the most southerly area of the country. Whilst this resort is not the flashiest of all the ones I saw, it is certainly to my mind, the best for any number of reasons that would take me back again. With unbelievably friendly and well trained staff, it’s the ONLY resort in this Atoll so no other  Island  guests about and no jets flying over your island whilst they queue to wait to land at Male. A great beach with stunning beach villa accommodation for those that prefer terra firma to over the water. The whole resort is uniquely built over the water, not just the accommodation. There is a great variety of restaurants and eating areas with sublime food and a stunning chill out bar, also over the water of course. Brilliant scuba diving and snorkelling too. The manta ray cleaning station and the outer channel dives shot straight into my top ten. A superb place to learn to surf and, for the experts, other areas to really challenge yourself on some massive waves! Six Senses Laamu is everything you would hope for about a place in the Maldives – and a whole lot more.


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