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From Bush to Beach
Text & main photograph Elzanne Erasmus
When you’re curious you find lots of interesting things to do – Walt Disney
BLESSED ARE THE CURIOUS, FOR THEY SHALL HAVE ADVENTURES
I hate wearing shoes. Which is why, if I think of the 2015 that was, all my favourite memories involve sand between my toes. But wanting to be barefoot is tricky if you live in the city. People tend to give you some looks and can be very ‘judgy’, which is why our group of Wanderlusters rarely spend a weekend in town. By now you’ve followed us to the far-off reaches of Namibia on our shoestring budget trips. You’ve chilled with us in the rapids at Popa Falls, climbed the highest dune in the world at Sossusvlei and been amazed by the 6000 year-old rock paintings at Twyfelfontein. If you haven’t, then you have some extra reading to do! Walt Disney said a magical thing once: “When you’re curious you find lots of interesting things to do.” Well, guess what… Namibia is the ultimate wonderland for curious young adventurers…who hate to wear shoes.
YOU’LL FIND ME IN THE WOODS
So you’re ready to be an adventurer and spend more time breathing in fresh air than learning the name of the newest Kardashian. Follow me! Step one: get outside. And I’m not talking walk-into-your-backyard outside. No. There are tons of amazing wild places to explore throughout Namibia at low cost and with high reward. A weekend in the bush is the perfect quick fix to your city-living blues. From Windhoek there are a number of really cool day trip destinations to choose from. Head about an hour east of the city to N/a’an ku sê for an awesome day of hanging out with new friends. Join the N/a’an ku sê Cheetah Walk or Carnivore Feeding Tour and get up close and personal with some amazing animals that are part of their rehabilitation programs. You can also get your San skills on at the Ancient Skills Academy, where San groups from the Nyae Nyae Conservancy display their cultural heritage and skills to visitors. Keep your eyes peeled on www.staytoday.com.na for regular specials. Another option is to take the short drive to Elisenheim Guest Farm, 15 km north of town, and hop on a horse at Equitrails Namibia for a sundowner ride. For more information visit www.equitrails.org.
If you have a little more time, say an entire weekend, I would highly recommend the following excursions. Two hours north of Windhoek lies Erindi Private Game Reserve with over 70 000 hectares of wilderness. Pitch your tent at Camp Elephant and go on an early morning game drive with the reserve’s guides in the hope of seeing rhino or even lions, or take a self-drive via the demarcated routes. Grab an ice cream at the camp shop and relax by the waterhole, which is frequented by elephants on a daily basis. Sunday lunch buffets at Old Trader’s Lodge are an experience you won’t forget soon. Not only is the huge spread well worth the N$150, but you’ll also be joined by hippos, crocodiles and maybe even some African wild dogs at the enormous waterhole right in front of the restaurant area.
There is no place better during a full moon than to be at the enigmatic Spitzkoppe. The campsites here are run by the local community and are beautifully maintained and come at a lovely low price. Climb one of the rocky outcrops or visit the rock paintings and be sure to stay awake as late as possible and watch the enormous glowing moon rise over the inselberg. You’ll never forget the sight.
Photo ©Elzanne Erasmus
TOP 10 BUSH TO BEACH TO-DOS:
1. Go on a Carnivore Walk at N/a’an ku sê
2. Spend the weekend camping and self-driving through Erindi Private Game Reserve
3. Spend the next full moon at the Spitzkoppe, for the best view of the evening sky
4. Go on a sundowner horse ride at Elisenheim Guest Farm with Equitrails Namibia
5. Experience the fun of Henties Bay at their annual Touchies Tournament on the 26th of December
6. Drift in the dense waters of the man-made salt-lake just north of Henties
7. Have a sundowner at Tiger Reef Beach Bar on the edge of Swakopmund
8. Hit the dunes on a quadbike or speed dune the face of one on a sandboard
9. Spend the day bodyboarding or kayaking in the waters along one of the coast’s beautiful beaches
10. Dance the night away or bring in the New Year with a bang at any of the coastal towns’ fun waterholes
HERE COMES THE SUN
If the bush isn’t really your thing (i.e. too many thorns in your bare feet) you can always head to the beach! Namibia’s coastline has so many fun and exciting things to offer the young traveller, so pack your sunnies and head west. Both the Swakopmund-Long Beach-Walvis Bay area and the more northern fisherman’s town of Henties Bay are great locations for a summer beach holiday. In Henties, spend your days lounging at the beach and soaking up the sun. About 20 minutes north of town you can find an old quarry hole where locals like to drift in the salt-rich water, which keeps you afloat not unlike the Red Sea. During December there are lots of events to keep you busy, including the annual Touch Rugby Tournament held on the 26th. Watch guys running around barefoot on the beach playing one of Namibia’s favourite sports, or have a cold one in the beer tent. At night there are many interesting waterholes to enjoy. Go have a sokkie (Afrikaans for a form of couples’ dancing) at Legends or learn to play the German parlour game Knobel at Pirate’s Cove.
If you’re in Swakopmund or Walvis Bay I recommend hitting the dunes. Go on a quadbike sundowner dune tour with Daredevil Adventures or join the guys at Alter Action for an amazing sandboarding adventure or spend your days on the long stretch of beach between Long Beach and Swakopmund, bodyboarding, kayaking or jetskiing. Jump on a Mola Mola Catamaran Cruise and explore the waters off the coast of Walvis Bay. You’re likely to meet pelicans and a host of other birds, as well as dolphins and seals. The seals sometimes even like to come say ‘Hi’ on the boat. During December Swakopmund is a hub of activity and host to many parties and events. Don’t miss the Beach Bash in Long Beach at the beginning of December or choose from a number of different New Year’s Eve celebrations. A great sundowner spot in Swakopmund is Tiger Reef Beach Bar and nights out on the town can be enjoyed at Kücki’s Pub, Napolitana, The Locker Room or Hotel Grüner Kranz.
WHY THE HELL NOT?
Whatever your preference, whether it’s bush or beach, be sure to step outside this summer and enjoy Namibia’s natural delights. Life is about collecting moments and when you’re young and hungry for adventure, there are endless opportunities to do just that throughout Namibia. Don’t let your wanderlust – that need to explore new places – be ignored. Jump to it! Adventure is waiting.
Photo ©Sean McCulloch
Photo ©Marcia Venter
COCKTAIL HOUR AT THE COAST
Tiger Reef in Swakopmund • Hotel Grüner Kranz in Swakopmund • Kücki’s Pub in Swakopmund • The Locker Room at The Dome in Swakopmund • Napolitana in Swakopmund • The Oyster Bar in Long Beach • Pirate’s Cove in Henties Bay • De Duine Hotel in Henties Bay • Solitude Beach Bar in Henties Bay • Legends Pub in Henties Bay
Photo ©Ilsje du Plooy
This article was first published in the 2015/2016 Summer issue of Travel News Namibia