Namibia Made Easy

First image...
Lions spook Burchell’s zebras away from their watering hole in Etosha National Park.

Game On

Your playbook for Namibian wildlife.

A bull—or, male—elephant.
A family stops for a drink in Etosha National Park.

By Aaron Gulley
Photography by Jen Judge

When to Go
With mostly temperate, desert conditions throughout the country, Namibia is pleasant year-round. The rainiest season is from December through March, though precipitation is largely localized and comes in short-lived afternoon storms. April and May are vibrant, green, and crisp, and June through August brings glorious daytime temperatures and freezing nights. Though September through November can be dry and dusty, it’s often the best time to see game, as the animals gravitate to watering holes.
Getting There
South African Airways flies to Johannesburg daily from New York City and Washington, D.C., with half a dozen daily connections to Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, the departure point for most safari itineraries in the country.
One of the most striking jumping-off points for the dunes at Namib-Naukluft Park is the andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, whose timberand-slate main building, complete with a swimming pool, sits up above a vast plain speckled with zebras and ostriches. Ten private, split-level glass-and-stone villas fan out on either side, and a resident astronomer helps guests decipher the night sky at the on-site observatory.
Namibia’s safari circuit typically includes Sossusvlei, Damaraland, and Etosha National Park, and most operators customize trips with add-ons to farther-flung destinations. Like many in the country, African Travel, Inc. draws on a network of refined camps for trips such as this ten-day flying safari. Not all of Namibia’s camps are joint ventures with local communities; to ensure your dollars provide the most benefit, ask your travel advisor to inquire about staying in those that are whenever possible. Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ 12-day itinerary pumps up the exclusivity factor with a stay at the andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge as well as two nights at Okonjima, home of The AfriCat Foundation’s cheetah sanctuary, where activities include radio-tracking tours of collared cats and up-close encounters with the cheetahs at feeding time.
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, July 2014.

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