Enjoy a digital detox in awakening Namibia
BY DAY 10 my Namibia travelling companions wanted me to use something other than the word extraordinary to describe the vast desert country.
But that was hard as no other word could truly encapsulate the nature of a country gradually emerging into its own since gaining independence from South African in 1990, and finding its feet through its natural resources and tourism.
In early August Wilderness Safaris took me on my first 4WD experience, rolling out of the capital Windhoek in a 7-seat truck with the phone turned off and in the company of three Americans, two of which were professors, a medical specialist from Melbourne, my husband Gary and myself, and the most amazing guide, Jeremia.
The striking landscape unfolded as we soon left the paved highway and started out across the rolling dry savannah, past craggy hills and into the desert.
Just before sunset, when I was starting to wonder where our camp could be in the seemingly deserted landscape of rocks and then rough sand, appearing before us and nestled under a craggy outcrop was our first glamp.
The permanent tents of the Kulala Adventurer Camp looked out across the pristine desert of red and yellow. A short distance away was a watering hole for the desert-adapted wildlife to visit.
No amount of photos or words could have prepared me for the beauty, comfort, but also enthralling rawness of this location.
It was on that first night, sitting around the camp table, accompanied by white linen, cool wine and interesting company that I came to realise our guide was going to deliver the most amazing journey.
His depth of knowledge of everything from the stars, landscape, birds, geology, country history and culture was without exception and readily shared. The six of us were back in the classroom and ready to learn.
We started each day before sunrise, catching the first rays as we downed our ample breakfast and welcome cups of tea.
On the road Jeremia had packed cool drinks, plentiful lunch and even a secret supply of dried fruit for snacks. We also learnt not to waste any food, with leftovers collected and handed to people we met along the desert tracks.
The Namib Desert part of our trip took us to south to Sossusvlei and the red dunes where we climbed the fine edge of one of the steep dunes only to then have to work our way down its edge to the dry pan below where it hadn't rained since 1965.
From there Jeremia, who quickly was nicknamed hawkeye, took us back north and towards Walvis Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. We were already seeing oryx, springbok, black-backed jackal, wilderbeast, ostrich, zebra, chameleon lizard, meerkats and even cheetahs.
This coastal centre was an interesting diversion from the desert with its busy port and amazing thick sea fog, but we were all happy to get back on the road, heading north to Etosha National Park.
A short stop at Cross Bay where a massive fur seal colony made for pungent viewing was our last view of water for quite some time as we headed back inland to Damaraland Camp to view herds of desert-adapted elephants and discover minerals.
A visit to the Twyfelfontein UNESCO World Heritage site where the rock drawings are between 2000 and 6000 years old and then onto the Living Museum village were the last memorable moments of our time in the desert before headed further north.
As the savannah rolled out in front of us Jeremia told us of Namibia's battle to save its rhinos. As we crossed into Ongava Game Park's Andersson's Camp, next to Etosha, he told us in the first two weeks of July, already four rhinos had been poached in Etosha.
During our final days of the adventure we saw white and black rhinos, impala, ground squirrel, lots of guinea fowl and small birds, giraffe, warthogs, more fabulous zebras and elephants, and a lion.
My husband wants to go back there, soon, and so do I.