Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls: an Africa adventure of a lifetime!

by | Jan 15, 2017 | Africa, Blog, Botswana, Latest Posts, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe | 6 comments

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Celebrating Christmas Day in the desolate Sossusvlei, Namibia, chasing the flamingos and shipwrecks along its Skeleton Coast, ringing in the New Year at the iconic Victoria Falls and kicking off 2017 in style with a bucket list trip into the Okavango Delta: it was finally time for our Africa adventures. Two weeks, four countries and a million memories, Africa we’re on our way!

A Namibian Christmas

We waved goodbye to the cold Irish winter and spent Christmas Eve navigating the skies between Dublin and Windhoek in Namibia keeping our Christmas spirits high by breaking out our Christmas hats and the occasional Christmas tune. After touching down in Ethiopia and South Africa our thoughts of Christmas quickly turned to new adventures and we substituted our turkey dinner for a crisp sandwich (cos that’s how we roll!) and continued on our way!

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Celebrating Christmas Day in Johannesburg Airport!

As we touched down in the blistering sunshine of a Namibian summer it felt like we were in a different world.

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Sunshine and desert!

Sossusvlei

Potholes and gravel roads were our introduction to Namibian driving and we amused ourselves spotting mongoose (in my heart I still hope they are meerkats but, either way, they’re beautiful!) and onyx. Our first stop was Sossusvlei, the heart of the Namibian desert, and, with its burnt orange sand dunes and endless desert sands, it was akin to landing on the moon. The open plain of Deadvlei where the isolated, and long dead, camel thorn trees stand, reminded us of the battle of life overcoming all challenges and its stark beauty was overwhelming. We ran through hot sands, climbed the huge sand dunes and giggled uncontrollably as we made out of control descents down their steep sides.

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Climbing dunes…it’s harder than it looks!

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Deadvlei, one of the most beautiful and eery places on the planet

Skeleton Coast

Stories of shipwrecks and seals led us up to the Skeleton Coast where the treacherous Namibian coastline has long been a graveyard for unsuspecting ships. We checked out the ship wrecks on land and shore and ended our journey at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve where the seal population stands at over 100,000. We gagged at the smell, oohed and ahhed at the plentiful and very cute seal pups and watched as the adults fought over their tiny patches of land. It was an incredible sight to behold.

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Skeleton Coast Shipwrecks

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Never have I ever..seen so many seals! Cape Cross Seal Colony

Our skeleton coast adventures came to an end with a stopover in Walvis Bay where vibrant pink flamingos lined the bay, giant sand dunes surrounded the town and the beautiful sunsets took our breath away.

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The beautiful pink flamingos of Walvis Bay

New Year at Victoria Falls

With New Year fast approaching it was time to hit the road for Zambia to check out the mighty Victoria Falls. We celebrated in style at the iconic Royal Livingstone Hotel and happily lapped up the never ending luxury. Our evenings were spent drinking G&Ts on the sundeck watching the mist rising above the thunderous Falls while zebra and giraffe wandered among us on the grounds.

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Chilling at the Royal Livingstone!

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Would you like a G&T with that? Sundowners with our giraffe pals!

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to hang over the side of the Falls in the terrifying yet irresistible Devil’s Pool. Our adventure saw us zipping along in a speedboat, swimming across the mighty Zambezi river and clinging on for dear life in the Devil’s Pool as water thundered over our shoulders into to the Falls below. Devil’s Pool is by far the most terrifying thing we’ve ever done and a true once in a lifetime experience.

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With Zimbabwe just down the street it was inevitable that we would pop over the border and we were rewarded with incredible views of the Falls in all its glory. As the mist of the Falls cooled us down in the intense Zimbabwean sun there was no place we’d rather have been.

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Double rainbows from Zimbabwe!

A dream come true: the Okavango Delta

A few hours on the road and one speedboat trip later we entered the lush green surroundings of Botswana where elephants and giraffe lined the roads as we drove towards Maun, a busy Botswana town which is the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Our obsession with wildlife documentaries had propelled the Okavango firmly to the top of our bucket list and we couldn’t wait to explore one of the greatest wildlife areas of the world.

Getting into the Delta was as beautiful as our time in it: we hopped on a tiny Wilderness Air plane which flew us into our first camp, the stunning Little Vumbura .The views were incredible as we soared over the crystal clear waters and swampy grasslands, passing over the meandering Okavango River and spotting huge herds of elephants that wandered through the plains below.

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The view from our window: hello to the Okavango Delta!

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I spy elephants, zebra and wildebeest!

Every moment in the Vumbura Plains brought unexpected adventures: hippo splashed beneath our sundeck as we slept, a three day old baby elephant taking one of its first journeys under the protective guard of its mother stumbled alongside our safari truck, a majestic cheetah stalked for pray and sunbathing lions lolled in the grasses as we drove in the evening sun. We listened to lions roaring across the plains as we sipped sundowners in the bush and were met with a grumpy hippo blocking our path home as he took the opportunity to cool down in a puddle in the path rather than the deeper waters surrounding them.

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The view from our room: so much love for Little Vumbura!

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Sunrise in the Delta

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Following in the footprints of a leopard

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I see the most beautiful wild cat in the world…I’m pretty sure he sees dinner!

 

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Calling for her mate: a leopard stalks the trees of Vumbura

As we left Vumbura for our second Wilderness Safari camp, Xigera, we couldn’t believe it when a tiny plane landed on the airstrip and we took a private flight across the Delta. Xigera was just as memorable as Vumbura and we saw a different side to the African bush. Vast plains stretched out as far as our eyes could see and new borns skipped through the plains among the huge herds of impala, red lechee, wilderbeast and zebra. Stunning birds in a rainbow of colours flew alongside us and we awoke each morning to their beautiful calls.

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Terrace views, total bliss!

Our excitement at the wildlife sightings are intertwined with the fun of our camp adventures: dancing to local African songs, sipping G&Ts at the campfire, excited 5am wake up calls, easy chats over dinner and cheeky monkeys having a party on our roof before dawn. Our Okavango dream came to an end all too quickly and we left camp with a tear in our eye and promises to return for more adventures in the Delta.

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Bush banter on our morning coffee break!

Two weeks of incredible African adventures came to an end as we made the long trek back to Johannesburg for our flight home our heads filled with memories of deserts, shipwrecks, the thundering Victoria Falls and the unknown wilderness of the stunning Okavango Delta as we already plot our return to the continent that has captured our hearts.

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Traffic jams Botswana style!

6 Comments

  1. Sarah

    This is a beautiful post and your photos are magical! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • David Murray

      Thanks Sarah, really glad you liked the post!

      Reply
  2. Anne G

    great post and would dearly love to follow in your footsteps! How safe was driving around Namibia and Zambia?

    Reply
    • Elaine McArdle

      Hi Anne!

      Hope you get the chance to travel there, they are beautiful countries! Namibia was fine to drive it but there some rules we followed- don’t drive at night, watch out for animals on road and be careful on the gravel roads in case the car goes off road (check out this section in our itinerary post if you haven’t seen it, we included tips on driving). We didn’t take the car into Zambia – we took a transfer over from Kasane as it was easier than taking the car through immigration/customs as it can be expensive and time consuming.

      Hope that helps, if you have any other questions ask away!

      Elaine

      Reply
  3. Eva Horvath Sydow

    Great post and photos! We will be doing Cape Town, Namibia in December. I really would like to add Victoria Falls to the itinerary, but I’m a bit hesitant because of the possibility of malaria. Prefer not to take meds – awful side-effects. Did you guys take any anti-malarial? Or just used mosquito repellent? Thanks, Eva

    Reply
    • Elaine

      We took the anti-malarials Eva. I’m a mosquito magnet and got bitten so bad during sunset drinks – I wasn’t wearing any spray though and usually, I would. Dave got no bites as usual! I don’t get any side effects to the tablets thankfully!

      Vic Falls is totally worth it! Have a fab trip!

      Elaine

      Reply

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