Babymoon in Namibia

Babymoon in Namibia

Text & photos by Timo & Michele Denys

In May 2020 we’re expecting our first little “bush-baby” to join us on this beautiful planet of ours.
So we decided to do one last trip with just the two of us.
The destination?
Easy choice… Namibia! 

Namibia is the country where Michele and I have met, the place where I have lived for almost 14 years and the place where our “Atelier Africa” adventure has started. So next to a holiday, this would also be a great trip for us to visit our friends and explore some new places to stay. 

Namibia is also perfect for a “Baby-Moon”. Next to the fact that we know the country like the back of our hands, it is also largely malaria-free, safe and very easy and comfortable to travel around ( if you get a good 4×4 ) 

We plotted a route around Namibia, combining all the contrasts of the country and all locations where friends of us live. The Kalahari, the Namib, the Skeleton Coast, Erongo Mountains, Etosha National Park and Okonjima in the Waterberg Area are the 6 regions we’ve selected to spend about 16 days of slow-travel in.

Omaanda Lodge - Namibia

Arrived. 

Our first day (and night) we spend at Omaanda Lodge, a new lodge, just outside of Windhoek, only 30 min. from the airport. This place is absolutely perfect for your first day(s) in Namibia! 

After a long flight you are welcomed here by an amazing view over the “bushveld” and cocooned in a stunningly designed lodge decorated in warm colours. The heated pool is a fantastic feature, especially if you get here in the winter-months when this part of Namibia can get very chilly at nights!

Omaanda Lodge is not only a stunningly designed lodge, with amazing food and fantatisc staff, if is also located on a 9000ha large wildlife reserve that is currently home to (as far as i know) the largest pack of Wild Dogs or Painted Wolves in Namibia! .. And we got to see them, all 14 of them out on a hunt!
We didn’t keep up with them until they succeed in a kill, but knowing their success-rate in hunting is close to 85 percent, these guys are among my personal favourite animals to spot in Africa! 

From Omaanda we made a quick stop in Windhoek to meet our friends and collect our 4×4 rental car, a Toyota Hilux Double-Cab, automatic with a 160L diesel tank and a 40L fridge on board! The perfect car to comfortably cruise around Namibia in for the next couple of weeks! 

Springbok Kalahari

Kalahari Safari from the pool. 

Only 250km south of Namibia our first hold on our self-drive would be the Intu Afrika Kalahari Game reserve. A place I know very well and a have visited many times in the past, but it simply never ceases to amaze!

But time around, the reserve looks extremely dry, the manager and rangers are begging for rain to come and bless the land. Although this part of Namibia is the Kalahari Desert, I’ve never in the past 15 years seen it this dry. But the drought also makes it extremely beautiful! 

Intu Afrika’s grounds are crossed by around 77 stunning orange dune-belts, running over the full length of the reserve and scattered with ancient Camelthorn trees which offer shade and shelter for an abundance of wildlife! Just alone next to the pool we were already able to spot some Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe and plenty of Springbok!

Namib Desert Roads

New hotspots in the oldest desert. 

From the Kalahari, we missioned our way further south into the Namib Desert. Since this trip for us is a combination of work-and-pleasure and since we always like to have first-hand experience in all available accommodations at the destinations we offer we’ve spend 4 nights in this region in 3 different lodges, all within driving distance of the number-one Namibian highlight, the Sossusvlei and it’s Deadvlei. 

Each of our stops here became to a total different experience, but each of them we’ll also gladly promote in the future as possible stays in this area. 

At Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, located at only about 30 min from the gate we experienced a whole new level of luxury in a stunning minimalist decor! This lodges has been around for many years but has just recently undergone a complete revamp. The very spacious rooms all come with their own pool, a fully stocked “bar”, you can’t call it mini-bar anymore when it has every possible flavour tonic and a large frozen bottle of vodka and Jagermeister inside! Since this is our baby-moon, we opted for a very tasty alcohol-free Gin Tonic and simply enjoyed the gorgeous endless views over the world’s oldest desert! 

At night, right after we devoured an amazing 3-course meal, the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge also has an in-house astronomer who we spend almost two hours with gazing into our galaxy. 

Sonop Lodge Namibia

SONOP

Just a little less than two hours drive further south into the Namib Desert we arrived at a brand new location, a piece of Namibia we had never seen before. Just 35km west of the stunning D707 bypass-road we get to “SONOP” which simply means sunrise. 

As we we arrived here for our two-night stay we immediately knew that would probably be to short for us to fully enjoy this fantastic location! We’ve been to many places around the world were we had the luxury of having been invited to some out-of-this-world locations and we’ve stay at some seriously impressive places, but SONOP is really something else! 

The Zannier hotel group created this stunning place last year and for interior, service and overal lodge experience it simply gets all points. Most lodges and camps in Africa we choose for their get location near a safari hotspot like the Sabi Sands in South Africa or the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, but this place simply is the destination on its own! 

From Sonop we headed back north and made one last stop in the Namib Desert at a new place inside the Namib Nauklauft Park. Being inside the park has the very big advantage that you’re allowed inside earlier and can stay later in Sossusvlei and Deadvlei compared to visitors from outside the park. However that is for us personally the only advantage of the new Death Valley Lodge. Being so close to the entrance of the park it is always busy around the lodge. There is another enormous lodge, and two camp-sites only a few meters further, so in peak season, when those are all full it must be very busy around here and that takes away the whole empty desert feeling, the luxury of space is completely gone. But just for one night to be able to stay extra long in an almost empty park it is absolutely a great place to stay!

Pelican Point Lodge Namibia

Over water. 

We left the Namib Desert behind us and continued on a very bumpy C14 towards another gem in the most amazing location on the Skeleton Coast: The Pelican Point Lodge. We have stayed here before and so have many of our “guests” we’ve guided around Namibia.
But this place still ticks all the boxes on we want great accommodation to have. The whole lodge is actually more a destination on its own. 

Getting here and getting back is also part of the adventure! We met with the lodge guide at the Walvis-Bay Yacht-club where we left our 4×4 and hopped into his with our luggage. 

The guide took us over the 28km-long sand-dune that makes up the peninsula of Walvis Bay. Although I have driven here myself a couple of times in the past, I’m happy this time we have someone who really knows the area and guides us to various corner of the peninsula, which is full of life on both the bay side and the Atlantic Ocean side.
We’ve spotted Flamingoes, Dolphins, thousands of seals and almost right in front of the lodges even a whole family of jackal that comes and drinks from the sweet-water basin that the lodge fills up! 

We stayed at Pelican Point Lodge for two nights, enjoying the spectacular view of the dramatic fog that pulls in over the coastline in the evening. We had a beach breakfast, lobsters for lunch on the deck and amazing fine dining dinners inside as the evenings get pretty cold here. On our last morning we had and early breakfast before we head back to the “main-land” by boat. 

Pelican Point Lodge has its own private little boat “Flipper” that took us across the bay back the Yacht Club where our car was parked. We didn’t head back in a straight line, but took our time to explore a bit more of the bay, we got to see a small group of dolphins and even had a seal joining us on the boat! 

Erongo Mountains Namibia

Paradisebirds.

From the skeleton coast our path continued back inland. After a fantastic lunch on the Jetty of Swakopmund we drove towards the Erongo Mountains to an amazing location near Omaruru. 

The Erongo Wilderness Lodge has been around for a very long time but this gem is one corner of Namibia I hadn’t seen yet and Michèle had not been here in ten years. Next to the amazing location between enormous boulders, what most astounded me was the fun-fact that this area is home to not just one, but 8 unique bird species!! 

We hiked to the top of their “Sunset-Mountain” to watch the spectacular colour-change over the Erongo Mountains, and in the morning at sunrise we sat outside our spacious safari tent, with a warm cup of coffee, simply listening to the most joyful bird-songs we ever experienced! 

Here is what that sounded like: 

Namibia Rhino

Wild by Nature.

From the Erongo Mountains, it is only a short drive ( in African measurements) to the Etosha National Park. To explore this area we picked two locations.
The first one is the newly revamped Andersons’ Camp. This place is actually not revamped but it has been completely rebuilt from scratch. The old tented lodge was much larger where the new camp now only has 9 enormous rooms overlooking one of the busiest waterholes on the Ongava Reserve. We chose Ongava not only because it simply is the closest location to the Etosha entrance gate, but this reserve also has an absolute abundance of resident wildlife!
There is so much wildlife on this reserve that it has its own, very well equipped anti-poaching team. There must be around 60 lions in this area spread over 3 major “prides”. This and the fact that both black and white rhino are also home here make it a great location for wildlife researchers, so next to the new lodge Ongava now also has a great and very interesting research centre with resident international researchers. We had lunch with one of them who told us about the amazing A.I. technology they are currently developing and testing to help count and register wildlife on the reserve. The installed camera traps will be able to tell the difference between giraffes, zebra, leopards etc.. by looking at their spots and stripes, really exciting stuff!
On the Ongava Reserve, we also visited the Ongava Tented Camp which upon our arrival immediately made it to our nr.1 wildlife lodge in Namibia. This classic Hemmingway-style tented camp is safari heaven! It is located in the far corner of the reserve, so it is a bit of drive from the gate to get here, but it clearly is also one of the favourite corners for the wildlife to hang out and it is smacked down right in the middle of all the action. During our short visit here we constantly saw wildlife coming and going to the waterhole and this is middle of the rainy season. We’ve been told the elephants will even come drink from the pool while you’re still inside. The wildlife is so relaxed here around the camp that it feels like they become part of the guests visiting the bar.
From Ongava we drove straight through Etosha National Park. From the Anderson’s Gate to the Von Lindequist Gate. It rained most of the day so we didn’t get to spot much inside the park. Animals are smart, they prefer to leave the trees and plains around the waterholes alone during the rainy season when they can find both plenties of water and food in the middle of the park. When the dry season comes they move closers to the waterholes, so they don’t have to walk too far to get food.
Ongava Tented Camp
Giraffes Onguma

After Rain…

On the East-side of Etosha National Park, we spend a couple of nights on the Onguma Reserve, another real gem among the reserves in Namibia and home to some amazing lodges. Onguma The Fort will probably forever be our favourite here, but actually, the Tented Camp is the place that stole our heart here this time.
Onguma Tented Camp is located in a “mini version of the Ngorongoro Crater” I would like to call it. The rooms are on the rim overlooking a frequently visited waterhole in the middle of this mini crater.
We know the lodges on Onguma are amazing, the staff and service are fantastic, but it is the wildlife here that keeps on surprising us every time. This reserve is actually an extended corner of Etosha National Park, so this is one of the few places where you can drive off-road and follow tracks around Namibia’s largest wildlife reserve.
After an enormous thunderstorm in the late afternoon, we still decided to go out with our ranger and see if there would be anything special out and about in the bush. It took only 10 minutes before we encountered a female cheetah and her 3 juvenile cubs.
They were active, so probably looking for something to hunt, we decided to track them and see if we could get lucky. Not even 15 minutes later, the group ran into another animal, sadly not the fresh meal they were looking for, but a young male lion! This immediately put mother cheetah in high alert and see took of with here the whole family in the direction of the national park. In no time they covered a couple of kilometres leading them straight through a small hole in the fence and back into Etosha. No-kill, but still very special to experience!
Onguma Safari Namibia

One last safari with just us two. 

Our last stop-over on this babymoon though Namibia is again in a location we had actually been before, but in a different lodge. We’re staying at the Okonjima Bush Camp in one of their private villas. 

We practically have our own house, or “Hobbit Cottage” (you’ll get it when you see the photo)  in the middle of a 22.000ha large reserve that is home to close to 50 leopard, a couple cheetah families and a serious amount of Hyenas.. but all the lodges are fenced off from the cats, so we should be fine 🙂 

On Okonjima we went out for what would probably be our last safari with just the two of us, just Michele and me and our little bun in the oven. With that in mind, we got going in the open Land Cruiser with Rohan as our guide, no knowing that we would get the most amazing leopard experience in the following hours. 

First we encountered Okonjima’s leading lady leopard, a beautiful female that has been around this area for a long time. Not much later we also found her youngest cub hanging around in an enormous Camelthorn tree, right next to the road. To top is all off we got to track down, and slowly follow, his father for almost an hour in the sand of the dried-out riverbed as the sun was setting over the savannah. 

Okonjima Bush Villa

Prehistoric Pangolin.

Before finishing this amazing babymoon with a few nights in Windhoek, we got another special treat for our last night in the bush! We went to find the Pangolin!

Pangolin are extremely rare scaly anteaters, and a highly endangered species. In all our 15 years of safari experience we had never seen one in person before, so we were quite excited, even though it meant we wouldn’t be sleeping much here the last night.

Around midnight we left in our 4×4 with a guide, the bushmen tracker had been looking for tracks for a few hours and had announced via the radio that he might have found something, so we accompanied him. With long sleeves, long pants and headlamps on we pulled through the bush between the bushes. It was dead quiet when the guide signaled us to stop. What we saw then is really something to never forget!

Pangolins are incredibly beautiful animals, with a huge tail perfectly balanced horizontally parallel to the ground, yet only walking on their two legs!

Their many hard scales make a loud rattle and they move quite fast, but we can perfectly follow our found specimen on foot until it stops at an active ant nest and starts to feast on it with its enormous long tongue. She is immediately attacked by thousands of ants, but she does not move a millimeter. What a beautiful prehistoric animal!

Unfortunately, Asia still believes that the scales of these animals have healing powers and hundreds of thousands are poached every year.

We therefore hope to contribute to protecting African nature with our “Atelier Africa Safaris”. In all safaris we created, we always try to show our travelers the most beautiful protected areas in Africa, because to conclude in the words of Sir David Attenborough:

“Nobody will protect what you don’t care about.
And no one cares about what they’ve never experienced. ”

Pangolin

If this story makes you long for Namibia, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information!

We glaldy help you create unforgettable memories in this country we know so well!

Timo & Michele Denys – Atelier Africa Safaris –