NATURALLY NAMIBIA – Untamed. Unrivalled. Unforgettable.


Robbie Stammers, spends a spectacular 18-day road trip across the length and breadth of Namibia, to experience all that the Naturally Namibia group has to offer.

Text   Robbie Stammers

From the Summer 2022/23 issue

This is not my first rodeo. Over the last 20-odd years, I have been blessed to travel far and wide to some of the most luxurious destinations, both abroad and especially across Africa. I admit to being spoiled rotten – much to the annoyance of my family and friends – to experience places that in ‘normal life’ I would not be able to visit or afford.

So when I was offered the opportunity to spend 18 nights, visiting and experiencing all that Naturally Namibia offers, it took me less than a second to respond in the positive.

The ideas behind Naturally Namibia are simple. Whilst the individual lodges, safaris and activities are as diverse as the beautiful regions in which they are hidden, when combined they provide a perfectly encompassing trip to Namibia. The partners at Naturally Namibia are also often your hosts on these journeys and I was excited about getting to meet all the ‘family members’ at each unique destination.

What I was not expecting was to be completely enamoured and overwhelmed by the impact all of these people behind their brands would have on me. Suffice it to say that I would have stayed for another 18 days or forever if that had been an option. (Sadly, not in my case. I even asked but my South African passport would scupper this dream.)

There is a saying that the greatest asset any company has is its people, which rings true for all the special maestros involved in Naturally Namibia. If one is measured by the company one keeps, this group of owners and hosts can hold their heads high above the African sunset.

As one expects, my journey began in Windhoek, where I was to lay my hat for the first night at the Windhoek Luxury Suites, the ideal venue to start or finish any Namibian trip before embarking on my road trip. I had the pleasure of being hosted by well-known Namibian personality, André Compion, one of the men behind the Windhoek Luxury Suites, the Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Stellenbosch Tasting Room restaurants, directly across the road from the Luxury Suites, and to boot, is FlyNamibia’s Managing Director. (Watch this space for a big deal about to happen with South African Airlink that will accelerate Namibia’s post-pandemic recovery and drive the expansion of efficient scheduled airline services to, from and within Namibia.) Joining us later was Roger Fussell from Big Sky Lodges, Rob Moffett from Ongava Private Game Reserve and Miriam Schmidt, Head of Marketing for Naturally Namibia.

What a great place to wine and dine to start my Namibia adventure. Not only is the steak exceptional and the wine choice splendid but the place itself is magical with an interior garden that oozes tranquillity.

Early the next morning, I headed off with Rob Moffett and Desiree Le Roux for the 4-hour trip to Ongava Tented Camp past Outjo. Immersed in the African mopane bush, Ongava Tented Camp is a natural extension of this wild and wonderful landscape. The classic safari-style camp is tucked in a hidden valley at the foot of a dolomite hill on Ongava Game Reserve bordering Etosha National Park. Above and beyond the tented camp, are an exquisite Lodge, along with a very bespoke Little Ongava retreat and another larger camp called Anderssons at Ongava.


Spending time over two glorious days across the prolific 30,000-hectare private game reserve that is now a haven to large concentrations of wildlife, in the company of the above, along with Stephanie Periquet, a resident scientist at the Ongava Research Centre, Cameron Pearce, voted the Overall Winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2022 and Professor John Mendelsohn, one of Namibia’s top scientists, was not only enlightening but an absolute pleasure. Sometimes people just click and it would be difficult not to with these people in your company.

From Ongava, it was off through Etosha to the Mushara Collection situated approximately 8 km from the Von Lindequist Gate, Etosha’s eastern entrance. Driving through Etosha accompanied by Cameron, Stephanie, and Desiree, meant I had my own private consortium of wildlife knowledge and plenty of belly laughs.

We arrived late at Mushara, following a late leopard sighting that meant we had to talk our way out of the closed Etosha gate. Consisting of a spectacular Lodge, the elegant Mushara Outpost, a magical Bush Camp and two exquisite Villas, Mushara caters to the most discerning traveller and offers a superb combination of splendid accommodation, exceptional cuisine and personal service for an unforgettable experience. I had the rare privilege of staying in one of the Villas (as everywhere else was full, which you can imagine was not a problem for me!)

Here I was hosted by a power couple, Marc and Mariza Pampe, who have infused their passion for an excellent guest experience with the very highest standards of service, and are a remarkable duo.

Saying a sad farewell to the friends I had made from Ongava and Mushara, I was back on the road heading to Okonjima. A place I had the pleasure of visiting in 2013, just after a certain famous couple had stayed in the exclusive Villa, they were known as ‘Brangelina’ (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Okonjima Nature Reserve is world-renowned for sightings of abundant leopard, brown hyena and the rare pangolin, and to top it off there is the acclaimed AfriCat Foundation that supports the survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat. Okonjima has everything anyone could wish for with a vast spectrum of accommodation options, ranging from well-appointed private campsites to breathtaking safari lodges. Okonjima Nature Reserve is recognized as one of the premier places to witness true carnivores and to be educated about conservation, whilst doing so in absolutely majestic surroundings.

Here I was reunited with Tristan Boehme, who heads up Okonjima marketing and is a shareholder in Okonjima Lodge. What a mensch! I stayed at Okonjima’s Luxury Bush Camp, which is spectacular. We witnessed an amazing viewing of a leopard munching away on a springbok kill a the tree, with brown hyena sitting below it, waiting for any scraps to fall. The highlight was going on the pangolin safari. I have been blessed to have spent many fruitful years in the bush but this was my first pangolin experience, and I was absolutely amazed. Following it on foot, I felt like I had transferred across to a Star Wars meets Jurassic Park film skit. 

The next day I spent with Tristan and Karen Codling, who heads up the Africat Foundation, where I got to learn about all the excellent work they do for the endangered species of Namibia.

From Okonjima, Tristan drove me back to Windhoek, where I met up with Henk Schoeman from Skeleton Coast Safaris. I had already heard loads about the legend of the Schoeman family and their love and knowledge about the Skeleton Coast but nothing quite prepares you for just how incredible this experience is. 

‘Flying high’, a fly-in with Skeleton Coast Safaris is one of the most fascinating ways to explore Namibia’s wild northwest.

Here you experience fascinating bird’s-eye views of shipwreck remains along the coast, diverse and ever-changing geological formations and the refuges of desert-dwelling animals such as the endangered black rhino and desert-adapted elephant. Guests are taken on excursions by Land Rover to be introduced to the scenic and ecological aspects of the environment with its wide diversity of flora and fauna.

Henk is an expert with decades of collective experience and a wonderfully dry sense of humour.  I frankly felt like I found my Mojo flying above the desert. Who knew it had been sitting there all this time in Covid! Accommodation consists of three incredible tented desert camps that nestle into the natural environment. The first of these is in the lower reaches of the Huab River in Damaraland, the second on top of a beautiful ridge overlooking the Hoarusib Valley in Kaokoland, and the third on the north-western Namibian border overlooking the Kunene River. I never knew this was on my bucket list until I did it and was absolutely enthralled.

Saying a sad farewell to Henk, I was met by Roger from Big Sky Lodges on my landing in Swakopmund and we headed off to a lovely lunch in Walvis Bay and then on to Villa Margherita for the evening.  A charming boutique hotel for connoisseurs in the heart of historic Swakopmund where the fusion of contemporary art and colonial history becomes eclectic luxury. Here we had an impeccable dinner and woke up early the next day to watch the Springbok rugby game (we lost!) before heading off on a 5-and-a-half-hour journey to Etendeka in the Kaokoveld. The greatest pleasure of driving through Namibia is that any journey flits by so quickly as each different valley or turn, reveals an incredible new vista or flora. It is like a Director shouted “Change Set!’ from one place to another.

Set in the foothills of the Grootberg massif, Etendeka Mountain Camp appeals to the traveller who is prepared to step outside of their comfort zone and experience this remote wilderness with its harsh beauty in an authentic way. Here one is reminded that we are all guests of Mother Nature. A rich and diverse environment to be explored on foot or on a scenic drive.

Roger and I met up with Dennis Liebenberg, who has been here for more than two decades and is a legend in the area. Etendeka Mountain Camp was one of Namibia’s first safari camps, and since 1993 has been known as a gem by aficionados (The crystals on the walk alone will have you gobsmacked). We slept under the stars at the Mountain Camp (literally under the stars as we had open-roofed tents on the foothill of the mountain) and the next day we were treated to an incredible 14km walk through the beautiful surroundings, witnessing loads of animals as we walked with our guide. Our next night was spent at the main camp, where Dennis amazed us with a star-gazing and telescope treat of everything planetary.

With no rest for the wicked, Roger and I headed off to the Erongo Mountain range to our next destination, Ai-Aiba. Ai-Aiba -The Rock Painting Lodge is famous for its rock painting sites (over 200 in fact and counting) and is a mystical exploration of nature.

If the energy of the granite mountains inspires, guests can join a nature drive with one of the experienced guides, learn about San rock art, explore the beautiful granite landscape by foot, or visit the San Living Museum ( authentic and riveting). Ai Aiba has developed a network of mountain bike trails that will blow mountain bikers’ minds and give them the opportunity to explore this spectacular landscape at their own pace. These trails range from “Slow-Coach whilst watching giraffe” to proper hardcore trails at your discretion. From here Roger and I were off for another epic road trip (thankfully enjoying the same music and each other’s company). We headed off for a 7-hour journey to Sossusvlei. 

Last but by no means least, was my Bucket List item of a lifetime – Namib Sky Balloon Safaris. At sunrise, in the world’s oldest desert, one starts off witnessing a spectacular hot air balloon inflation, followed by the flight of a lifetime. Soaring with the winds for an hour, over the oceans of sand and mountains, endless vistas of shadows and lights. Whether it’s the Sossusvlei dunes or the splendour of the desert, your heart will skip a beat. Then you come back down to earth with an “Out Of Africa” style champagne breakfast set up in the middle of nowhere. It is an experience like no other, the experience of a lifetime.

And with a bump as much as the hot air balloon hitting the ground, so ended my incredible time in Namibia. What an absolute pleasure and a lifetime experience to treasure. New friends and memories forever are banked. During this trip, we decided to come up with a slogan for the Naturally Namibia group and it took only a few seconds to come up with Untamed. Unrivalled. Unforgettable. It sums it all up perfectly.


More to explore

Read full issue online