Event Category: Sports
With over 300 days of sunshine a year, a Technicolor dreamscape of swirling apricot dunes, and a population celebrated for its friendliness and diversity, Namibia is a true African gem. As the largest diamond-producing country in the world in terms of sheer volume of stones, and the second least-populated country in the world, Namibia makes us feel as if we have a piece of it all to ourselves. Combining the stunning landscape with a passion for service and safari, we have the ingredients for the journey of a lifetime.
Few countries in Africa invest as much in the education and health of their people as Namibia; its press is one of the most free; and it holds one of the highest “business competitiveness” rankings with the lowest levels of corruption. However, Namibia is confronted by two formidable challenges: controlling a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic and correcting the world’s worst income disparity that leaves far too many in poverty, with a third of Namibians surviving on less than a dollar a day.
Upon arrival in Windhoek, the nation’s capital, we head north to our project site. Our home for the next two weeks is a small rural village. The villagers live adjacent to the Okavango River and face many challenges living in the countryside. Infertile soil, lack of water pumps and the absence of sustainable farming practices all combine to make this one of the most demanding areas in which to live. HIV/AIDS plagues this area as it does much of the country. Most kraals – residential units for families and extended families – are mainly inhabited by elders and the surviving children. We work alongside the residents, constructing sanitation systems, laying water pipes to aid in the farming of crops, and other important projects of their choosing. When not working, we play soccer with local children, teach English, and learn about the native tribal dialects and culture within the community.
After our project is completed, we head out on safari. We begin at the world-renowned Etosha National Park, a haven for wildlife and one of the most important ecological and wildlife systems on the continent. After setting up our tents we take a late game drive, visiting waterholes looking for elephant, lion, kudu, giraffe and large herds of springbok, zebra and wildebeest that survive in this region. Our game drive takes us to Namutoni via the Etosha Pan, a vast depression which can be seen from outer space. We spend the evening viewing a flood lit waterhole famous for its visits by rare black rhinos. Large migrating herds can completely surround waterholes, and it is not uncommon to see competing animals rubbing shoulders for a drink. Our next day we visit the Himba community, a nomadic pastoral tribe of Northern Namibia known for their women, who cover themselves in ochre and butterfat. Here we learn how traditional life and the modern world live side by side.
From Etosha, we head south through the desert to Spitzkoppe, a huge inselberg towering above the dry desert plains, where we see the amazing effect of erosion on rock formations. At first light we leave for Sossusvlei, a giant ephemeral pan set amongst the tallest ochre-colored dune waves in the world — and quite simply, one of the most beautiful locations on the planet. Heading up to Dead Vlei we see the large expanse of bleached, cracked clay and skeletal camel thorn trees contrasting with the backdrop of huge orange-red dunes. Taking the opportunity for a swim, we explore nearby Sesriem Canyon and sleep under the bright stars of the Southern Hemisphere. Heading back to the capital city, Windhoek, we stop for those last minute gifts at the Okahandja Craft Market before departing from one of the most stunning countries on earth.