Audley client Henry and his wife Rebecca traveled with us to Namibia, arranged by Africa Specialist Chris Yanasak.
Dreaming of Namibia
I first started thinking about making a trek to Namibia many years ago. I had seen a special on TV about the desert lions and desert elephants, and I became intrigued. I had always wanted to go to Africa, but I didn't want to do and see what everyone else does. Over several years, I did some research on desert animals, explored Namibia on the internet, and got lots and lots of information about “treks” that one could take and the agencies that would do it for you.
For a while it was only dreaming. But then the opportunity to tack an African trip on the beginning of a cruise presented itself, and I jumped at it. My wife agreed, and the two of us began planning this entire journey together.
Lions, Rhinos, and Geoffrey the Giraffe
The wildlife on this trip was amazing. First and foremost were the giraffes, especially Geoffrey the giraffe at Andersson’s Camp in Namibia. After having seen them in the wild, my favorite animal is now the giraffe. What incredibly huge and graceful animals they are. We saw some on our own, but Geoffrey captured our minds. He was just spectacular, and we got to get so close to him, but he was remarkable from any distance.
Next were the lions. On one of the days while staying at Andersson’s Camp, we went on an afternoon cat hunt. We finally spotted a lioness, our guide followed her, and suddenly we were in the middle of the pride. There were grown cubs, partially grown cubs, and a foursome of little cubs. They were incredibly cute. My wife got so excited she had to be reminded to sit still in the jeep.
Aside from the excursions, Andersson’s Camp also had a watering hole right in the camp area. There was an underground pathway that took us to within 10 feet of the water hole, and right when we got there we immediately saw all sorts of animals. One night, a single rhino came to the watering hole.
Finding wildlife in Okonjima
When we traveled to Okonjima Camp in The Central Highlands, we did a few more wildlife viewing trips. The one that stood out the most was the trip that led us to see Inkosi the leopard. Our guide explained that “Inkosi” meant king in Zulu. Our guide had taken us on a hunt to find him, and after quite some time we eventually spotted him at a watering hole. He was quite the cat, and very beautiful.
Looking into his eyes was just as frightening as looking into a lion's eyes — maybe even more so. What depth of character those eyes conveyed!
To top it off, I am convinced that somewhere in his brain he was saying, “Ah, another set of tourists. I’ll put on a show for them.” He was pawing at the ground, grunting, jumping, and running up into the tree. He was a cat with a personality.
And I can't fail to mention all the kinds of ungulates we saw. From deer to rhino to zebra, we spotted an incredible number of varied hoofed animals. It is an interesting feeling to be looking into the face of one of them, and suddenly realize that they are looking equally intent at you, with questions also swirling around in their head. These are intelligent animals.
Mowani Mountain Camp
We arrived at Mowani Mountain Camp in Damaraland in time for an afternoon drive along the mesa, where we looked for game and had a drink at sundown. The views down from the mesa into the deep valley were incredible. We saw lots of game, big and small, and our first zebra.
We also spent almost four hours staying and watching the elephants on a drive while staying at Mowani Mountain Camp. They didn’t seem to be at all concerned that we were there. They would come together then spread slightly apart, but they always stayed semi-close. They were magnificent creatures to observe.
Fish River Canyon
We have seen the Grand Canyon, so we didn't know how they were going to compare. And we had our concerns, since we drove a long way just for the canyon. We were blown away and the views were incredible. The drive there was long and windy, but when we finally got there the canyon seemed to sneak up on us.
The freedom to enjoy Fish River Canyon is without compare. Often times, it seemed we had the entire place to ourselves, and no one stopped us from getting as close as we wanted. What a great feeling!
I was afraid the side trip to the canyon was not going to be worth it, but I was very wrong. It was a fantastic place, and we took some fantastic photos. It may not be as deep as the Grand Canyon, but it is just as beautiful. In fact, there are aspects of Fish River Canyon that I liked even better. After being so concerned in the beginning about the extra trip to the Canyon, there was no doubt afterwards about having done the right thing.
Traveling The Audley Way
We had considered working this trip out on our own, as we generally make all our own travel arrangements, but we’d never done anything this big before. After getting so much varied input from different companies, we lucked into finding Audley one day. Deciding to try Audley was the start to our great trip.
We were impressed straight away with the fact that Chris knew the places and sites we were talking about, and he had been there. Chris listened, and he made suggestions and warnings when necessary. Every place we stayed was great.
At one point, we remarked to each other that every place we stayed was better than the last, and we couldn't see how that was going to continue. But it did!
All of our guides were friendly, well-educated, and provided interesting information about the areas we visited. They kept us safe and were always prepared for the weather, and we had some great conversations with our guides along the way.
We certainly would use Audley again in the future.
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