Namibia Safari Review; Interview with Angie

Will Bolsover

17 Feb 2015

we caught up with angie after her trip to namibia 

What made you choose Namibia?

I started planning about a year in advance for an epic birthday trip.  I brainstormed some ideas: I knew I wanted to go somewhere amazing that had a lot of wildlife, and somewhere exotic where none of my friends had been. I am a veterinary nurse and my boyfriend a veterinarian, so we really love animals. Originally I settled on Madagascar, and contacted Will who planned out an idyllic two-week itinerary for my Super Awesome 30th Birthday Adventure. However, as we were finalising the details, some civil unrest developed in Antananarivo and Will advised that it would be best to choose an alternate destination. Namibia was our second choice; my boyfriend is an avid sand collector and photographer, and we both knew we would love an African wildlife safari. Namibia had the perfect combination of scenery, animals, and birds – and was off the beaten path enough to make it a unique destination, but with just the right amount of tourist infrastructure to keep us comfortable and maximize our experience.

What was the best natural world experience of your trip?

There were so many individual moments that stick out in my mind, of an overall incredible trip.  Giraffes everywhere – they were like squirrels over there, so plentiful! Being awakened on my birthday by lions growling at each other outside our chalet. The startling flash of brilliant blue when a Lilac-breasted Roller flew past our car. I fell in love with them all, every animal and bird that we saw.

There were two encounters that turned into the kind of stories that I always tell over and over again.  The first was when we were driving through Damaraland on our way to our lodging at Doro Nawas. Just a few kilometers out from the lodge we saw a small group of desert-adapted elephants grazing in the distance. We got out of our car (something we later learned was rather dangerous!) and started taking photographs. After a minute we noticed more elephants across the field behind us – they were much closer than the first group and had obviously noticed us. We retreated back into our car as the elephants started making their way towards us. Two other cars had stopped and the bull elephant seemed to be annoyed by our presence. He (I think it was a male) walked right up to our car and trumpeted!  We sat inside our vehicle in awe, amazed by these massive wild creatures so close. As the bull stood in front of our car, the rest of the herd walked behind our vehicle to join the other half of their group which we’d first spotted across the plain. Once all his charges were safely past us, he seemed to be placated and followed his family, leaving us stunned with delight and, to be honest, shaken nerves.

The second encounter happened as we were driving ourselves across Etosha, on our way from the Ongava Lodge where we’d stayed our first three nights on the west side of the game reserve, to the Mushara Outposts where we were spending the next three nights. We had seen so many amazing creatures already and had checked a lot of bird and mammal species off our lists. But we hadn’t yet seen an eland, and we were really hoping for a glimpse of one. So when we came upon a turnoff called Eland Drive, we thought we better try our luck off the main road. Sadly, we didn’t see any eland on this road, or much of anything at all.  Finally after half an hour of driving without any wildlife sightings, we saw a black-backed jackal running past us and down the road.  

We stopped the car to take his photo and were wondering what he could be running from. Just then my boyfriend looked out his window and said, “That’s probably what he was running from.”  Sitting just at the side of the road, not 3 meters from our car, was a magnificent adult leopard!  He was so beautiful. He just sat there, surveying the area, paying no attention to us as we frantically clicked our shutters like mad paparazzi. After a moment he strolled across the road in front of our car, so close that we couldn’t even see him over the hood. On the other side he trotted off into the woods as if we meant nothing to him.

What was the best activity of your trip?

I think that would have to be the hot air balloon ride that we took in the desert.  We got up before dawn and were driven out to Sossusvlei, where an inflated balloon awaited us. We took off and floated over the plains as the sun rose above the dunes. Tiny springbok and ostriches trotted far beneath us. The views were incredible.  After about an hour the balloons touched down and we were led to a champagne breakfast spread out in the middle of the desert.  It was an amazing experience!  

Favourite accommodation?

All our accommodations were comfortable and attractive, but I had a couple favorites: at Doro Nawas, we were able to roll our bed out onto the open patio and sleep under the shooting stars. At Ongava, the lovely staff sang to me at breakfast on my birthday! Our lodge at Okonjima had a little box of bird seed outside so we could invite the beautiful birds to join us for photographs.

Can you sum up Namibia in 3 words?

Beautiful. Exciting. Adventurous.

Who is your natural world hero?

David Attenborough!  I love his nature programs – meeting him is number 2 on my bucket list!

Where have you travelled since this trip?

I try to go somewhere new once a year; most of my other trips have been self-planned.  I visited Europe for the first time in 2010 – and then went back twice more after that.  Most recently I was in Chile, visiting Easter Island (on Easter Day!) and the Atacama Desert.

What is your ultimate bucket list destination?

Madagascar is still number 1 on my bucket list since I didn’t make it there for my 30th birthday.  I hope to be able to plan a trip there in the next couple years and when I do I’ll be using Natural World Safaris to handle all the details – because a bucket list adventure is one that has to be done right!

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