by Annelieke Huijgens
Earlier in 2012 I was lucky enough to spend 8 weeks travelling across the amazing African continent. My trip to Africa took me through Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe & Kenya and I was lucky enough to see a wonderful array of wildlife and inspiring landscapes.
I’ve compiled some snapshots of the true highlights of my Africa trip starting with my time in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
We rose early in the morning to be at the gate before the sun was completely up, ready to experience the highest sand dunes in the world.
You either need to travel here early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is reflecting off the dunes making it one of the most spectacular experiences in the world.
The colour reflecting off the dunes is just beautiful. You can climb up, which is a bit of an effort but you get rewarded with some spectacular views. It is not hard to imagine how easily people would get lost in the dunes, the area is massive and they are all differently shaped to one another due to the wind. No footsteps are left behind as they all disappear within seconds. You can have some fun trying to run down the dunes or just tumble down. The area is huge and there is no land between the dunes and the seas. It’s easy to get lost in Africa!
We also visited the Dead Vlei. Dead Vlei is famous for its white colour clay with many dead trees known to be a photographer’s paradise. These days you can even get married here. We spent a couple of hours here to wander around the area and to walk up some of the dunes enjoying the views and taking some memorable shots.
Etosha National Park
With binoculars at the ready we were off to explore Etosha National Park, located in the northern part of Namibia. The park is the size of Holland so you never know what you are going to find, it is government owned and there are sealed roads throughout the park. Etosha is also famous for its clay pans that stretch out for miles and miles.
What we did find was beautiful birds, a pride of lions, zebras, a leopard on the hunt and we had to stop for a turtle crossing the road, just to name a few. Being part of the animal environment was such a thrill. Observing them in their daily activities in the comfort of our air-conditioned van, and the fun of trying to spot the animals whilst driving through the park, was a great experience.
The Caprivi Strip
We spent two nights along the Kanvango River which runs into the Okavango River and onwards to the well-known Okavango Delta.
It is an area that is in stark contrast to the barren parts of Namibia which we had previously toured through. The mosquitoes were alive and well there too. In this part of Namibia you find smaller tribal villages.
We took time to relax and enjoy sunset cruises on the river where we spotted birdlife and watched the local go about their business. With some luck, if you have the chance to make it there yourself, you might also be lucky enough to see your first hippos. The ones we saw were amazing. Wow, they were just huge with very cute little ears. Very peaceful animals (vegetarians) as long as you are not between them and the water. Hippos live in pods and are extremely protective of their young and they also like to have a bit of a wrestle amongst each other. Early in the morning or in the late afternoon you can see the hippos grazing along the water’s edge. Of course the sunsets in Africa can be quite breathtaking, but not always guaranteed.
We went back to basics for the next two nights, sort of. It was camping but we really didn’t have to do anything. Our tent was ready with 2 stretcher beds, portable toilet and shower blocks for every couple of tents and in the morning we got a bucket with warm water to splash our faces with before we started out on our game drive. This was an experience I will never forget. We travelled into the Okavango Delta and camped in Moremi for 2 nights.
Daily games drives in search of Africa’s abundant wildlife, a cruise on the delta, a campfire in the evening with a nice drink to reminisce about the day and share stories, while dinner is being prepared for you make for a perfect day and an experience not to be missed.
Chobe National Park
The home of elephants and much more. Our lodge was located on banks of the river, where we spent two nights. A sunset cruise was on the menu and we travelled past the national park in search of hippos, crocodiles and birdlife.
Our early morning game drive carried us into the national park and here we kept our eyes peeled for lions, antelope, herds of elephant, wild dogs and anything that happened to cross our path. This national park is rich in vegetation and is known for a rich variety of wildlife.
The small township of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is full of shops and markets where you can buy some souvenirs with your left over US dollars. Our cruise at sunset on the Zambezi River was relaxing and gave us plenty of time for some wildlife spotting. With some free time in the afternoon we enjoyed high tea at the Victoria Hotel which is grand and full of history. But that all paled as we approached the moment we had been waiting for – a visit to the falls themselves. This was simply spectacular.
The park had a long walkway which took us to some fantastic viewing points of the Falls. At any time of the year it makes for some spectacular viewing. Another way to get a good idea of the magnitude of the Falls is to take a helicopter flight over the falls. If you are game and fit, whitewater rafting, which we did, is an exhilarating and fun experience.
Continue to Africa Part 2 here