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An Experience to Remember

By Stacy Weigant

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The first time I considered traveling to Africa, was to visit the cosmopolitan areas of South Africa. I was not very interested in “going on safari”, but an opportunity came up to visit Cape Town, and a safari to Botswana happened to be included in the program. From the moment that the small plane landed on a dirt airstrip in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, my entire concept of what Africa was about, changed forever.

The safari experience became ingrained in my soul and I became passionate about returning time and time again, not only to Botswana and South Africa, but also to Zimbabwe and Namibia. Africa is such a life-changing experience for all ages. It is sometimes hard to convey to those who had not had the chance to travel there. Once people do visit, their perceptions of the region changes in a very positive way. Because of this, I wanted to share the journey with family, and see Africa through the eyes of a child. I took my nephews, in their mid-teens, to Botswana to see the wildlife, and to Namibia for the culture and the desert.

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Imagine a place that is so hauntingly beautiful and remote, it takes your breath away. Traveling in Namibia is a journey unlike any other. It is as if you are playing in the sandbox of the gods, traversing dunes so spectacular both in hues and dimensions. Game drives there are exciting but there’s so much more to Namibia! The real draw of Namibia is the amazing landscape that includes dramatic, sweeping desert dunes, the oldest living desert, and a vibrant bushveld that’s home to the Big Five safari animals. It’s harsh coastline is scattered with rocks, dunes, old shipwrecks and the bones of sea based animals, giving it the name “Skeleton Coast”. There are eight national parks here and many private game reserves. Bordered by Angola and Zambia to the north, South Africa to the south and east, and Botswana to the northeast, Namibia is in the southwestern coast of the African continent.

Most visitors to Namibia arrive in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city located near mountain ranges in the center of the country. South African Airways and Air Namibia fly there by way of Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa. Settled by Germans in the late 1890s, this quaint city of 300,000 people features colonial architecture; cultural activities; and restaurants serving delectable Namibian oysters along with other seafood, “braai” (barbecued meat), and tasty lagers. West of Windhoek and on the “Skeleton Coast” are Walvis Bay and the town of Swakopmund. This German town is a haven of art galleries and museums. In the desert just outside the city, adventure activities abound. Try sand boarding, sand skiing, or ATV tours. On the bay you can book dolphin cruises or take kayak tours. You’ll want to visit the Namib Desert, south of Walvis Bay, to see the salt and clay pans of Sossusvlei. This is one of the most photographed places in southern Africa and you’ll be wowed by some of the tallest sand dunes in the world. For the more adventurous and fit, you can climb to the top of “Big Daddy” and slide down to its base which ends at a salt pan that has a haunted feel, where dead trees have been fossilized in a dried up lake.

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If you plan to visit other African countries during your trip, a good jumping-off point is the Caprivi Strip in northeast Namibia. This unspoiled area is at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers and is the gateway to Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe and Botswana’s Chobe National Park. This 248-mile-long, narrow strip of land shares borders with Angola, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Namibia’s incredible landscapes and people define the country and will enchant you to return again.

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Interested in planning your own South African adventure?
Contact Stacy Weigant at Forest Travel; 1-800-432-2132 extension 107 or stacy@foresttravel.com

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