I had the chance to go on a trip of a lifetime to Namibia with Natural Habitat Adventures. I had seen photos of the amazing Namibian landscapes and was very excited to experience them first hand. I knew that visiting Namibia was an atypical choice for one’s first African safari since so much of the trip is focused on landscape and photography rather than wildlife. But I have a plan to see the whole world and all of its wonders, so what the heck, let’s go to Namibia. I went in with one expectation: to see one-of-a-kind beauty.
The dunes of Sossusvlei were absolutely stunning. For the next several days the dunes of this area wowed us with their splendor and great photo opportunities. My expectation for one-of-a-kind beauty had already been met.
Our next destination was another photogenic desert location—the dry Hoanib River and the Skeleton Coast. Upon our arrival, we found out it had been raining for quite a few days and the river was not so dry. While this was a beautiful sight, it slightly changed the logistics of our trip, since driving down the dry riverbed was not always an option. Nevertheless, the evening we arrived, we set out for a short drive and in no time at all, I saw my first giraffe in the wild! These small desert-adapted giraffes strolled up, one after the other, and left me in total awe. Due to the flowing river, we flew to the Skeleton Coast from camp instead of driving down the river bed. The beautiful dunes and garnet-colored beaches of this area drew me in. The giant colony of Cape fur seals was a grand treat and I enjoyed every minute of watching them commune and frolic in the water. These animals have so much personality and I just couldn’t stop taking photos and videos of them.
So, up to this point, I had gotten more than I expected and I was quite pleased with my choice to join this trip. Our final destination was the Ongava Reserve on the edge of Etosha National Park. At this point, everything changed. Suddenly the landscape was lush and green and the recent rains had created watering holes all around the reserve. As we headed out for our first evening drive and I tried to get a shot of a lone springbok, my friend, who is a veteran Africa traveler, chuckled and said, “you’ll have a few more chances to get that shot.” In no time at all, I was holding on tight as we caught sight of a young lion and two lionesses on the hunt. I was in too much shock to get a good photo of them before they disappeared into the underbrush, but I would have my chance. Not long after that, we came across two lion cubs relaxing in a meadow. 100 photos later I realized why people fall in love with Africa and feel the need to make as many return trips as possible.
Over the next three days, we never left Ongava Reserve. Despite the fact that Etosha is known for its abundant wildlife sightings around its famous watering holes, the recent rains had made the entire area a giant watering hole. Wherever we went in Ongava we were wowed by beautiful creatures on land and in air. The highlights for me were seeing several small herds of white rhino, many lions and their adorable offspring, an albino jackal and a mama cheetah with her two juvenile offspring.
Success! The goal of Natural Habitat Adventures is to exceed expectations and I can truly say that goal was met on this trip. I got everything I wanted and more. The photos, and more importantly, the memories captured on this trip gave me an incredible sampling of what a visit to the African continent has to offer and whet my appetite for several more visits to this diverse land in the future.
By Mandy Scott, Office Manager at Natural Habitat Adventures