“In their passionate quest to show us black rhinos, our guides deciphered dung mounds and crushed vegetation, and spotted the subtlest footprints in the dust.”
High above the Namib in the morning light, any notion that deserts are monochrome is quickly dispelled as you float over vast expanses of red, yellow and purple dunes dotted with blinding white salt pans and bordered in the distance by stark ochre cliffs. Gazing down from your hot-air balloon, you’re soon speechless – and may still be searching for words back at the luxury mountain lodge, as you take in the desert solitude on your bespoke adventure in Namibia.
Before heading there we suggest you start in the north at Etosha National Park, where you can forget the grandeur of the Serengeti or the lushness of the Okavango: this is the “Place of Mirages,” a stark expanse of dusty plain stretching out forever under sun-bleached skies. Yet despite the harsh environment, Etosha is home to enormous herds of wildlife. For expert advice on capturing the spectacle on video, we can arrange for an acclaimed BBC wildlife cameraman to share his secrets. We’ll take you to the best watering holes to watch animals lining up for drinks (or snacking on others in the queue). And at day’s end you’ll enjoy your own superb food and drink around the outdoor fireplace in an exclusive tented camp.
Next we’ll arrange a day of tracking the last free-roaming black rhinos in Damaraland, a timeless basalt landscape near Etosha. And if big cats are your thing, we’ll visit a research team dedicated to the conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores. They’ve saved and rehabilitated nearly 1,000 over the years, so as you explore the beautiful regions near the Omboroko Mountains in the company of field researchers, you’re almost certain to spot a cheetah or a leopard.
Another must is the Skeleton Coast National Park, an eerie, windblown seaside wilderness that begins near the northern border and extends into Angola over the Kunene River. In a land of striking contrasts this is yet another surprise, damp with fog and dew after the overwhelming dryness of the interior. From the coastal hiking trail, the huge colony of 100,000 Cape fur seals reminds us oddly of the Côte d’Azur in high season: a mass of grunting activity, and somewhere beneath them sand. Though, as with the beach in Cannes, you’ll be lucky to set foot on it. Indeed, this is the only place in Namibia where you’ll ever find a crowd.
Finally, for if you’re interested in the history of diamonds – or just a radical change of scenery – we’ll get you past the “No Trespassing” signs into the 1,000-square-mile diamond-mining enclave of Sperrgebiet, in the heart of De Beers country…
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