News from the road – Namibia & Botswana – June 2024

Truly an experience of a lifetime.  Our group packed endless adventures into our recent tour of southern Africa, and we were left with indelible memories.  As one of our group remarked a couple of weeks after returning home: “Never-ending memories.  They keep going around in my head — always a sign of a perfect trip”.

First to Namibia and the great Namib desert that gives the country its name.  Vast areas of sand, constantly blown by the wind into new shapes.  A dry lake with skeletons of trees that have stood for a millennium.  We saw stark and arid landscapes, rock engravings made thousands of years ago and a large petrified forest.

Elsewhere the wildlife captured our imagination and our hearts.  From comfortable lodges and a safari camp in both Namibia and Botswana we ranged out morning and evening to see an incredible range of species including the elusive cheetah, leopard and African wild dog.  There were herds of zebra, wildebeest, baboon and antelopes.  Giraffe, elephants and even lion were commonplace.  Every sunset out on safari was an opportunity for a sundowner, with our friendly guides serving drinks and snacks as we watched the sky turn yellow and orange.

A brief side trip to Zimbabwe saw us staying at the historic Victoria Falls Hotel, with a ringside seat to “the smoke that thunders” as the falls are known in the local language.  A close-up look at the powerful waterfall left us all deeply impressed by this natural wonder of the world.

After the tour of Namibia and Botswana (and Zimbabwe) was over, most of us continued to Cape Town in South Africa for a completely contrasting visit.  A modern city, the dramatic Table Mountain, great scenery as we explored the Cape of Good Hope and of course excellent wineries.

But our trip wasn’t all about dramatic landscapes and diverse wildlife, as extraordinary as they were.  We learnt about life under apartheid and visited shanty towns on the outskirts of cities in Namibia and South Africa, where hopeful people live in very simple surroundings.  We saw some of the underbelly of Cape Town and heard from a former political prisoner what it was like to be imprisoned on Robben Island.

As always, it is the people who left the greatest impression.  We were warmly welcomed with genuine hospitality.  People were pleased to see us and tell us their stories.  Our safari guides came from very humble backgrounds but were proud to be helping us have the experience of a lifetime.

Africa — it gets under your skin.  It was great to share this tour with such a great group of people and have a trip we won’t forget.