One cannot paint southern Africa with one broad brush stroke, let alone all of Africa. I recently returned from two weeks in Namibia and Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend the Adventure Travel World Summit in Windhoek and Swakopmund. Of course, while there, who wouldn’t do a bit of exploring? Let’s go.
At Dulles airport, bound for Namibia, via NYC and Johannesburg.
I arrived in Windhoek, but my luggage didn’t. Waiting for it at the Olive.
If you want to get a Happy Meal, not be one.... Windhoek, Namibia.
Dreamy dune. Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert has some of the world’s oldest and highest sand dunes.
Long, tortuous climb up. Short, skippy trip down the dune at Sossusvlei, in the Namib Sand Sea. That creamy patch is the Deadvlei.
The Deadvlei. A field of desiccated trees, approximately 800 years old. Surreal forms and colors.
View from the open-air loo. Tok Tokkie Trail, within the huge NamibRand Nature Reserve. Slept on camp cots under the stars. Star-filled firmament but hard to sleep knowing this is leopard country.
That's Namibia’s capital of Windhoek in the middle there. Right now I'm in the coastal resort town of Swakopmund directly to the west. Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola to the north, South Africa to the south, Botswana to the east.
The open road, Namibia style. Tok Tokkie Trail, NamibRand Reserve.
Line in the sand. The most southerly ring of latitude where the sun goes directly overhead.
Moderated a conversation with these two masters of travel literature, Tim Cahill and Pico Iyer. Swakopmund, Namibia.
Seaside in Swakopmund, Namibia.
Not Germany but Namibia. A misty morning in Swakopmund. (The country was a German colony until WW1. It still has a Teutonic feel and gets lots of German tourists.)
How much is that kitty in the window? Swakopmund, Namibia.
Oryx in the desert. Hartmann Valley, in the remote northwestern corner of Namibia.
Sunset on the dunes in Kunene, in the remote northwest of Namibia, along the Skeleton Coast.
That’s Angola on the other side of the Kunene River and a crocodile in the water, lower left.
Women of the Himba tribe cover themselves in a paste of powdered ocher, fat, and fragrances. About 1,000 still live the semi-nomadic life in this remote region of Kaokoland.
A boy in Kaokeland.
Dot in the map.
Room with a view. Okahirongo Elephant Lodge. Namibia.
Desert-adapted elephants. The little guy made a mock charge earlier.
This is a bathroom.
Leopard lookout. Namibia.
Mom and cub tuck into fresh impala. Okonjima Game Reserve, Namibia.
Honey Badger don’t care that he’s surrounded by porcupines. Seen from a night hide, Namibia.
Zebra in a tiara at 33 Melville, a three-room hotel in the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Hadeda ibis with jacaranda, on roof in the Hydepark suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.
French tourist gives a local child a lift on a bike tour of Soweto. On this tour we also cycled by the houses of Nobel prize winners Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, just down the street from each other.
An hour at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is not nearly enough. Riveting exhibits, film clips, and architecture.
The northern neighborhoods of Johannesburg, abloom with jacarandas.
Just a few short weeks ago I was in Johannesburg on this jacaranda tree-lined street where Nelson Mandela had a house and spent his last months. A transformative figure who had many facets worth learning about. His ability to reconcile with his jailers is a lesson for us all. I recommend the biography Mandela, by Martin Meredith. And, of course, the movie Invictus.
Photos © Norie Quintos