Namibia – Off the Beaten Track by Rachel Gill

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Blessed with some of the greatest landscapes of Africa and adventure beyond thought, follow our wanderlust duo Rachel Gill & Cameron Hammond as they journey off the beaten track to Namibia this September for #faithfulltravels

Namibia always held a certain mystique and exotic connotation to me.  Years ago when I was living in Cape Town, I listened to people rave about the Namibia desert, so when Cam expressed interest in photographing the unique dune-scapes, I made sure Namibia was part of our around-the world adventure.

Cam and I flew from Europe to Cape Town, and then onwards to Walvis Bay, Namibia where we checked ourselves into a charming AIRBNB right on the lagoon  From our doorstep we could see (and hear!) thousands of beautiful pink flamingos.

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The sight is nothing short of breathtaking and the photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset are magical.  I even braved the muddy waters to get a little closer to the cute pink birds.

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Our hosts Katja and John Lund proved to be some of the most amazing people Cam and I have ever met!  They were hoping to get away for the weekend, as the president was in town and sleepy Walvis Bay had been turned upside down by festivities, so they offered to drive us to the Soussusvlei in Namib Desert and promptly booked themselves into the same accommodations we had reserved for ourselves.  A couple’s road trip was suddenly on the cards!

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We departed around noon the next day with a boot full of beers and picnic supplies.  After a very scenic 3-hour drive where we spotted zebra, oryx, springbok and ostrich, we arrived at our camp for the night, Namib Nakluft Lodge, a great little camp set among some stunning scenery not too far for the gate of the Namib Nakluft National Park.

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Lucky, we were just in time to enjoy an epic sundowner, and the sunset certainly was a sight to behold as we watched the incredible African sun in all it’s glory set over the desert in a huge red ball of light.  Beer never tasted so good as we basked high on the rocks overlooking the camp and the surrounding landscape.

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The next morning started with breakfast and coffee over a view of the desert featuring a few very playful African squirrels.

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After, we hit the road to drive to the national park, home to the Soussusvlei.  Once inside, the dunes just seemed to get bigger and bigger.  Cam and I had a go at climbing the famous Dune 45 and excitedly high-five after reaching the top.  By now the temperatures were scorching and we couldn’t help but be proud of our efforts climbing one of the highest dunes in the world.

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Onwards to the Soussusvlei for a quick lunch with Katja and John, before we attacked the crown jewel of the Namib Desert, the Deadvlei.  This group of dead trees in the middle of the dunes was one of Cam’s dreams to photograph, and I couldn’t hide my excitement over being about able to share this moment with him!

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Getting to the Deadvlei requires walking over several dunes, which only adds to the appeal as one gets an amazing reveal upon cresting the second dune.  The Deadvlei itselves remains mysterious, as it isn’t visible from the road.  The moment is pure bliss as Cam and I first lay our eyes on the spectacle.  We run towards the Deadlvlei, loving every moment of the incredible landscape around us, and to add to the scenario, we are completely alone to savour this moment.

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After far too many photos, we finally have to say goodbye.  It’s nearly impossible to describe the beauty and magic of the Deadvlei.  I can only say that if you have the chance to go, do it!  It’s hands down one of the most stunning places on earth (in my opinion of course!), and I trust you will also know what I mean, when I say it’s quite hard to describe what it’s like to stand in there, alone among the trees.

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Sundowners are calling and Katja, John, Cam and I settle back at camp to celebrate an amazing day over a delicious Namibian brew.  After a dinner of hearty African specialties at camp, Cam and I head over to the pool to watch the stars before calling it a night.  We eagerly try to spot more shooting stars than the other, the Milky Way stretching out in all it’s glory before us.  Cam beats me tonight, 3 shooting stars to my one, before we give up and head to bed.

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The next morning it’s back to Walvis Bay and time to say goodbye to Nambia, but not before one last amazing sundowner with Katja and John at The Raft Restaurant overlooking Walvis Bay, which has a wonderful local vibe and serves plentifully delicious food and beer.  Don’t miss the chance to stay with Katja and John if you make it to Wallis Bay.  They made our time in Namibia special, and there really is nothing like seeing a place from the locals perspective.

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Cam and I are already looking froward to visiting Namibia again, as the warm people and stark natural beauty made a lasting impression on us.  The place seems constantly bathed in warm, orange light and there is something so innately comforting about that.

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Written by Rachel Gill + Photos by Cameron Hammond 

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