A Visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

A Visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

​I first heard about Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from a fantastic post by Wayfaring Views and knew that I had to visit during my trip to Namibia. Founded in 1990, the CCF has created a set of integrated, evidence-based programs focused on saving the cheetah from extinction. 
​CCF is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker to help conserve the dwindling numbers of cheetah in Namibia. In the 1980s, thousands of cheetahs were killed, a large number by farmers who blamed them for killing their livestock. Dr. Marker knew that Namibian farmers themselves would be key to protecting cheetah and ultimately increasing their numbers. To this end, Dr. Marker began talking to local farmers.
I first heard about Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from a fantastic post by Wayfaring Views and knew that I had to visit during my trip to Namibia. Founded in 1990, the CCF has created a set of integrated, evidence-based programs focused on saving the cheetah from extinction. 
​CCF is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker to help conserve the dwindling numbers of cheetah in Namibia. In the 1980s, thousands of cheetahs were killed, a large number by farmers who blamed them for killing their livestock. Dr. Marker knew that Namibian farmers themselves would be key to protecting cheetah and ultimately increasing their numbers. To this end, Dr. Marker began talking to local farmers.
Over time, Dr. Marker and her team created a plan that now includes:
1. Educating farmers – CCF educates farmers about cheetah as well as how to identify which predator actually killed their livestock. Cheetahs are shown to be responsible for only 3% of predation of livestock. Farmer collectives have also been formed in effort to further decrease human wildlife conflict.
​2. Dog breeding – CCF breeds, raises, and trains Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs that will help to protect livestock from predators. They sell these dogs for a small fee to local farmers. Their waiting list is now in the hundreds and hundreds of dogs have been placed so far.
3. Research – CCF contributes to the cheetah census, helps to locate cheetahs in the wild, and studies cheetah health, behavior, and habitat restoration. They are able to conduct their own research in their on-site genetics lab.

​5. Education – CCF visits classrooms around the country as well as hosts student groups at their site to help educate others about cheetah conservation.

​6. Environmental conservation – CCF understands the importance of saving the environment to save the cheetah and so they are committed to doing their part. For example, CCF removes overgrown native thornbushes and uses them to manufacture Bushblok, a high-heat, low-emission log to burn for fuel and cooking.

​Overall, CCF aims to change attitudes, conserve habitat, and work with the community to save Namibian cheetah.

FACT: An ultra-flexible spine, a tail like a rudder, long legs, and semi-retractable claws allow the cheetah to run up to 110 kmh/70mph. It is the fastest land animal in the world. 

A Night in the Kalahari: Kalahari Anib Lodge in Namibia

​This is the first in a series of posts focused on accommodations across Namibia. If you haven’t been to this beautiful Southern African country, you are missing out! It’s affordable, the people are kind, the wildlife is plentiful, and the landscape is out of this world. If you are looking to explore Namibia, the properties in this series will each provide you with a comfortable home base to recharge between adventures.
​One of the accommodations I was most excited about was located in the iconic Kalahari Desert. The red sands, the sunsets, and the wildlife make this part of Namibia simply magical. And right in the middle of it? The beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge.
​The Kalahari Anib is one of 15 Gondwana Collection properties throughout Namibia. Known for their hospitality, Gondwana is focused on conservation and sustainability while still offering all the comfort and amenities weary travelers prefer.
​Kalahari Anib is located in eastern Namibia and is reached easily by car. After a drive of about 30 km from Mariental, we were greeted by the beautifully landscaped grounds of Kalahari Anib, which is an oasis in the red desert sands.
We were scheduled for a sunset game drive with Jurgens, the park manager, who was so knowledgeable and answered our many questions about the birds and animals, the sand and landscape, and the abundant plants and trees. We were surprised to see the wide variety of animals and plants in the desert but it was the red sand that had us hooked. Jurgens told us that the iron particles in the sand oxidize to the rusty red color in the rain; it is beautiful, especially at sunset. During our drive, we saw giraffe, gnu (wildebeest), zebra, kudu, springbok, and even eland, the largest antelope in Africa. I was most excited to see oryx though (also called gemsbok), which I had never seen before and is Namibia’s national animal. We were also not disappointed as birders either, as we saw korhaan and the giant nests of sociable weaver birds.
​After an incredible drive and a spectacular sunset, we headed back to the lodge for dinner. The dining room and bar area of Kalahari Anib is ample, complete with outdoor seating. The buffets were delicious with plentiful choices to suit all tastes. The staff employed at the lodge offered excellent service and were attentive and kind on all accounts.
Back in our room, we got a lovely night’s sleep. The room was private and quiet, with a firm mattress and mosquito net surrounding the bed. Like the rest of the lodge, the rooms at Kalahari Anib are tastefully decorated, comfortable and clean. Our room included aircon, a safe, bathroom with shower, and bright sliding doors leading to a private veranda with a fun hanging chair in addition to a bench and table perfect for reading and relaxing.
​Kalahari Anib has ample outdoor space that is well-maintained. The grounds include two pools as well as several hiking trails for those who would like to do some exploring on their own. We opted for another game drive in the morning instead and once again, were not disappointed with the beautiful sunrise and wide variety of wildlife.
Kalahari Anib Lodge was a fantastic start to our Namibian adventure! We thought it was our favorite because it was our first lodge but it held up throughout our time in Namibia and ended up as one of our top three favorite accommodations of the trip. (Read about the second and the third as well!) While all Gondwana Collection properties are fantastic, Kalahari Anib is special, so be sure to book a stay here when in Namibia.
Tips:

  • Stay at least two nights at Kalahari Anib to enjoy game drives but also spend time relaxing at the pools and on your terrace.
  • Be sure to visit the gift shop!
  • Don’t be afraid to rent a car and drive yourself from Windhoek to Kalahari Anib Lodge; it is accessible with a sedan but you’ll be most comfortable in a high-profile vehicle or 4×4 throughout Namibia. The lodge is easy to find from signs along the B1.
  • Opt for a Comfort level room if you can for some extra luxury.
Thanks to Kalahari Anib for offering one of us a complimentary stay. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.
Have you been to Namibia? Where was your favorite place to stay? What makes an accommodation excellent in your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

14-Day Namibia Itinerary

Thinking about traveling to Namibia? (Hint: If not, you should be!) If you are, look no further! After reading an article or two about Namibia’s Skeleton Coast years ago, I knew I had to travel there. I’ve traveled to South Africa six times (for doctoral research in libraries there, leading a university group, and holiday) and Swaziland once, and so am familiar with this part of the world… or so I thought! Namibia is very different from South Africa and Swazi but just as amazing, with incredible landscapes, warm people, and an abundance of wildlife. More posts on this trip will be coming soon but for now, check out where we went, what we saw, and what we did!

This itinerary assumes you will fly into and out of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and so begins and ends there. I would recommend renting a vehicle and driving yourself around the country, just make sure you familiarize yourself with driving in Namibia and rent a higher-profile vehicle such as a Fortuner or Hilux to make the driving more comfortable. Unfortunately a two-week itinerary doesn’t allow for exploration of the southern part of the country or Caprivi Strip area in the north but if you have an additional week, you could absolutely add on Fish River Canyon and/or the Caprivi Strip.

Days 1 and 2: Arrival and Exploring Windhoek
Windhoek is a growing city with lots of new construction occurring but the historical charm is still there to explore. One place to take in is the Christus Kirche (Christ Church), the oldest evangelical church in Namibia, built in 1896. You can also explore the Namibia Craft Centre for souvenirs and the National Museum of Namibia for a history lesson. Visit the Parliament Gardens for some serenity and beauty as well as the Trans-Namib Railroad Museum if you are a railway buff. We stayed at the Hilton Windhoek (only because I was on business for part of our stay) which was comfortable and centrally located but as a Western-style hotel, it lacks some originality and charm. You may choose to explore alternatives such as hostels or Airbnbs. As far as restaurants, try the Hilton Skybar for a city view, Gathemann for German food, Joe’s Beer House for a fun vibe, or Cafe Balalaika (also known as Cafe Zoo) for delicious game choices.

Day 3: Kalahari Desert
After picking up your rental car, head a bit southeast of Windhoek towards the Kalahari Desert. This is probably the first time you will say, “This looks like another planet!” but it certainly won’t be the last. The city landscape will give way to desert scrub and sand in beautiful reds, oranges, and browns. Take it all in and have your camera ready! That night (or maybe two!), be sure to stay at the beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge, part of the Gondwana Collection of properties. They offer a phenomenal sunset drive as well as delicious dinner and breakfast. Kalahari Anib was one of our favorite accommodations during this trip.

Day 4: Namib Desert
After an amazing morning drive provided by Kalahari Anib, jump in the car and head west to the Namib Desert. Landscapes will change again but be no less beautiful. You will also start wondering, “How can anything live in this climate?” The folks at the Namib Dune Star Camp, another Gondwana Collection property, will be able to tell you when they lead you on a desert walk that uncovers secrets of insects, lizards, plants, and larger mammals. Sleep under the stars at Dune Star Camp, as each of the nine cabins has a deck onto which the double bed can be rolled out onto in order to enjoy fresh air, sights, and sounds of the Namibian nighttime. What a relaxing and unique experience!
Day 5: Explore Sossusvlei
After being transferred from the Dune Star Camp, have breakfast at the Namib Desert Lodge to prepare for the day exploring Sossuvlei, the iconic red dunes of Namib-Naukluft National Park. Be sure to take plenty of water, sunscreen, and sunglasses for the walk to Deadvlei or hiking the other dunes in the area. If you are up for it, make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, an incredible display of rock formations to explore. When your adventure is complete, head back to the Namib Desert Lodge in time to take in their sundowner drive followed by a delicious al fresco dinner.
Day 6: Solitaire and Walvis Bay
​After enjoying a breakfast in the company of weaver birds and oryx at the Namib Desert Lodge, pack up and head north to the oceanside resort towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. On your way, a stop in Solitaire for Moose Macgregor’s famous apple pie. Explore Walvis Bay and Swakop that afternoon and evening and choose from a variety of accommodations depending on your preference. We stayed at an amazing beachfront Airbnb between the two towns in an eco-c0mmunity called Dolphin Park. If you are interested in more information about this property, contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions.
Day 7: Kayak tour, Moon Landscape, and Welwitschia plants
​After a relaxing dinner in Swakop and a good night’s sleep, it’s time for adventure! For our first excursion, we went kayaking with seals with Eco Marine Kayak Tours. Owner Jeanne Meintjes is a spectacular guide and even if you have never kayaked before, this is an accessible must-do tour for you! You get up-close and personal with these seals as they frolic, jump, and swim. They are such curious animals, they will want to check you out as well! Be sure to book this excursion in advance so you don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
After the morning kayaking, we grabbed a bite to eat and drove out to see the Moon Landscape and the 1000-year-old Welwitschia Mirabillis plants. Once again, the landscape is unreal and you will see very few other cars or people. In fact, you will need a permit to drive this area, so be sure to pick one up at Sesriem Canyon. After an afternoon of desert driving, we looked forward to a relaxing dinner and we weren’t disappointed at The Farmhouse Deli in Swakop. Located in The Strand Hotel, The Farmhouse Deli was charming and comfortable and the food was absolutely delicious. My partner said her steak was one of the best she’s ever had (and it was, I had a few bites!), so don’t miss it. With full bellies and cameras loaded with pictures, we headed back to our amazing home on the beach for a wonderful night’s sleep.
Day 8: Quad biking and Cape Cross
As Walvis Bay and Swakop are known for their adventure sports, be sure to book another excursion while there! From sandboarding to dolphin boat tours, it was hard to choose, but we are so happy we went with Kuiseb Delta Adventure‘s Historian quad-biking tour! Again, book any of these excursions in advance so you are not disappointed and come prepared with camera, water, hat, sunscreen, and any other items your guide suggests so you will be ready for anything. We had never been on quad bikes before but Fanie du Preez, the owner of Kuiseb Delta Adventures, was patient and thorough. He made sure we were confident and safe the entire time (4+ hours!) and the tour was nothing short of spectacular! More than just a romp through the desert, this tour is informative and fascinating; Fanie shows you fossilized footprints from animals and humans that are over 2000 years old as well as peeks into the plant and animal life you wouldn’t discover on your own. Exciting, focused on history, and dedicated to being environmentally responsible, I can’t recommend this tour enough! ​
by Karla J. Strand
Thinking about traveling to Namibia? (Hint: If not, you should be!) If you are, look no further! After reading an article or two about Namibia’s Skeleton Coast years ago, I knew I had to travel there. I’ve traveled to South Africa six times (for doctoral research in libraries there, leading a university group, and holiday) and Swaziland once, and so am familiar with this part of the world… or so I thought! Namibia is very different from South Africa and Swazi but just as amazing, with incredible landscapes, warm people, and an abundance of wildlife. More posts on this trip will be coming soon but for now, check out where we went, what we saw, and what we did!

Thinking about traveling to Namibia? (Hint: If not, you should be!) If you are, look no further! Here is your ultimate 14-Day Namibian Itinerary! www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

This itinerary assumes you will fly into and out of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and so begins and ends there. I would recommend renting a vehicle and driving yourself around the country, just make sure you familiarize yourself with driving in Namibia and rent a higher-profile vehicle such as a Fortuner or Hilux to make the driving more comfortable. Unfortunately a two-week itinerary doesn’t allow for exploration of the southern part of the country or Caprivi Strip area in the north but if you have an additional week, you could absolutely add on Fish River Canyon and/or the Caprivi Strip.
Days 1 and 2: Arrival and Exploring Windhoek
Windhoek is a growing city with lots of new construction occurring but the historical charm is still there to explore. One place to take in is the Christus Kirche (Christ Church), the oldest evangelical church in Namibia, built in 1896. You can also explore the Namibia Craft Centre for souvenirs and the National Museum of Namibia for a history lesson. Visit the Parliament Gardens for some serenity and beauty as well as the Trans-Namib Railroad Museum if you are a railway buff. We stayed at the Hilton Windhoek (only because I was on business for part of our stay) which was comfortable and centrally located but as a Western-style hotel, it lacks some originality and charm. You may choose to explore alternatives such as hostels or Airbnbs. As far as restaurants, try the Hilton Skybar for a city view, Gathemann for German food, Joe’s Beer House for a fun vibe, or Cafe Balalaika (also known as Cafe Zoo) for delicious game choices.
Day 3: Kalahari Desert
After picking up your rental car, head a bit southeast of Windhoek towards the Kalahari Desert. This is probably the first time you will say, “This looks like another planet!” but it certainly won’t be the last. The city landscape will give way to desert scrub and sand in beautiful reds, oranges, and browns. Take it all in and have your camera ready! That night (or maybe two!), be sure to stay at the beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge, part of the Gondwana Collection of properties. They offer a phenomenal sunset drive as well as delicious dinner and breakfast. Kalahari Anib was one of our favorite accommodations during this trip.

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

The beautiful accommodations at Kalahari Anib. (Photo by Karla Strand)

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Our chalet at the Dune Star Camp. (Photo by Karla Strand)
Day 4: Namib Desert
After an amazing morning drive provided by Kalahari Anib, jump in the car and head west to the Namib Desert. Landscapes will change again but be no less beautiful. You will also start wondering, “How can anything live in this climate?” The folks at the Namib Dune Star Camp, another Gondwana Collection property, will be able to tell you when they lead you on a desert walk that uncovers secrets of insects, lizards, plants, and larger mammals. Sleep under the stars at Dune Star Camp, as each of the nine cabins has a deck onto which the double bed can be rolled out onto in order to enjoy fresh air, sights, and sounds of the Namibian nighttime. What a relaxing and unique experience!
Day 5: Explore Sossusvlei
After being transferred from the Dune Star Camp, have breakfast at the Namib Desert Lodge to prepare for the day exploring Sossuvlei, the iconic red dunes of Namib-Naukluft National Park. Be sure to take plenty of water, sunscreen, and sunglasses for the walk to Deadvlei or hiking the other dunes in the area. If you are up for it, make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, an incredible display of rock formations to explore. When your adventure is complete, head back to the Namib Desert Lodge in time to take in their sundowner drive followed by a delicious al fresco dinner.

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Deadvlei (Photo by Karla Strand)
Day 6: Solitaire and Walvis Bay
​After enjoying a breakfast in the company of weaver birds and oryx at the Namib Desert Lodge, pack up and head north to the oceanside resort towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. On your way, a stop in Solitaire for Moose Macgregor’s famous apple pie. Explore Walvis Bay and Swakop that afternoon and evening and choose from a variety of accommodations depending on your preference. We stayed at an amazing beachfront Airbnb between the two towns in an eco-c0mmunity called Dolphin Park. If you are interested in more information about this property, contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions.
Day 7: Kayak tour, Moon Landscape, and Welwitschia plants
​After a relaxing dinner in Swakop and a good night’s sleep, it’s time for adventure! For our first excursion, we went kayaking with seals with Eco Marine Kayak Tours. Owner Jeanne Meintjes is a spectacular guide and even if you have never kayaked before, this is an accessible must-do tour for you! You get up-close and personal with these seals as they frolic, jump, and swim. They are such curious animals, they will want to check you out as well! Be sure to book this excursion in advance so you don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Sunfish was our kayak! (Photo by Karla Strand)
After the morning kayaking, we grabbed a bite to eat and drove out to see the Moon Landscape and the 1000-year-old Welwitschia Mirabillis plants. Once again, the landscape is unreal and you will see very few other cars or people. In fact, you will need a permit to drive this area, so be sure to pick one up at Sesriem Canyon. After an afternoon of desert driving, we looked forward to a relaxing dinner and we weren’t disappointed at The Farmhouse Deli in Swakop. Located in The Strand Hotel, The Farmhouse Deli was charming and comfortable and the food was absolutely delicious. My partner said her steak was one of the best she’s ever had (and it was, I had a few bites!), so don’t miss it. With full bellies and cameras loaded with pictures, we headed back to our amazing home on the beach for a wonderful night’s sleep.
Day 8: Quad biking and Cape Cross
As Walvis Bay and Swakop are known for their adventure sports, be sure to book another excursion while there! From sandboarding to dolphin boat tours, it was hard to choose, but we are so happy we went with Kuiseb Delta Adventure‘s Historian quad-biking tour! Again, book any of these excursions in advance so you are not disappointed and come prepared with camera, water, hat, sunscreen, and any other items your guide suggests so you will be ready for anything. We had never been on quad bikes before but Fanie du Preez, the owner of Kuiseb Delta Adventures, was patient and thorough. He made sure we were confident and safe the entire time (4+ hours!) and the tour was nothing short of spectacular! More than just a romp through the desert, this tour is informative and fascinating; Fanie shows you fossilized footprints from animals and humans that are over 2000 years old as well as peeks into the plant and animal life you wouldn’t discover on your own. Exciting, focused on history, and dedicated to being environmentally responsible, I can’t recommend this tour enough! ​

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Our quad bikes in the Namib Desert! (Photo by Karla Strand)

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

We saw these 2,000 year old footprints on our quad biking tour. (Photo by Karla Strand)
After our tour, we filled up our bellies and our gas tank and headed to Cape Cross. Cape Cross is home to a huge seal colony but we arrived just a few minutes too late to visit. But our disappointment faded quickly when we arrived (practically next door) at Cape Cross Lodge, our accommodations for the night. Cape Cross Lodge is an oasis in the midst of practically nothing else and it is wonderful. Right on the beach, we wandered for a long time looking at shells and taking photos. The restaurant is large and lovely with a fireplace and sitting area but we chose to have a light dinner at the bar and retire fairly early. The butternut squash soup and rolls warmed us and the atmosphere is homey and comfortable.  ​
Day 9: Skeleton Coast and Twyfelfontein
​After a relaxing night’s sleep at Cape Cross Lodge, we hit the road again for what I had been waiting for… the famed Skeleton Coast. Aptly named, the Skeleton Coast is an unforgiving stretch of coast that is known for its diminishing shipwrecks and barren landscape. After a stop at the gates for a permit, you proceed along coast and one or two shipwrecks, an abandoned oil rig, and the otherworldly landscape offer haunting photo opportunities. We went about as far as Torra Bay before turning east to exit the park and head to Twyfelfontein to see the ancient rock carvings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be aware that this tour requires some hearty shoes and the ability to scramble up and over some rocks and terrain that may be a bit challenging to some. But it is worth it – the tour guides are informative and charming and the carvings are fascinating. In the interest of time, we skipped Burnt Mountain and Organ Pipes but if you had time, these would be interesting additions and are very close by Twyfelfontein. Instead we made our way to our next accommodations, Damara Mopane Lodge, another wonderful Gondwana Collection property.
Days 10 – 12: Etosha
Etosha National Park is Namibia’s best-known park and is a must-visit while there. There is a shocking abundance of wildlife especially because again, you will wonder how anything could possibly live there, in such a harsh climate. But you will see oryx, springbok, wildebeest, giraffe, elephants, as well as lion and leopard if you are as lucky as we were. Spend a couple of nights but be sure to book accommodations well in advance if you want to stay within the park. I highly recommend staying at Mopane Village Etosha, about 14 kilometers outside of the park. Seriously, Mopane Village Lodge was our favorite place of the entire trip because of the personal attention, accommodations, food, and atmosphere. Take guided as well as self-driven game drives into the park but be sure to bring cash because there is no ATM at the Etosha entrance and when electricity goes out, you won’t be able to pay with plastic.
Day 13: Waterberg Plateau and Cheetah Conservation Fund
​After having breakfast at Mopane Village, we got an early start in order to get to the Cheetah Conservation Fund by mid-morning. CCF does such valuable work in the conservation of cheetahs, it is really a must-visit while traveling in Namibia. Be sure to read our post about Cheetah Conservation Fund to learn more about their work. Depending on where you stay on this night, take in an evening sundowner or game drive before getting a good night’s sleep for beginning your trip home tomorrow.
Day 14: Windhoek and Departure
As all good things must come to an end, on this day we left the Waterberg Plateau area and drove back to Windhoek to start the long journey home.
Disclosure: I received sponsored stays from Gondwana Collection, Cape Cross, and Mopane Village Etosha as well as tours from Cheetah Conservation Fund while in Namibia but my opinions are always honest and my own. Thank you to Gondwana, Cape Cross, Mopane Village, and CCF!
This is just one example of a two-week itinerary in Namibia. If you have more time, you can add sites such as Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes, the White Lady, or as mentioned earlier, time in Southern Namibia or the Caprivi Strip. Have you been to Namibia? What was your favorite part of your trip? Comment below to let me know!

 

Packing List for an Epic Trip to Namibia

If you follow this blog or our social media, you know we are gearing up for an epic trip to Namibia next week! You’ll be glad to know that I finally booked flights and a car and most of our accommodations and excursions. So this post will give you a look into what we are packing for our trip, so you can use it when you visit Namibia

Having never been to a place, it can be challenging to know what to take and what to leave behind but I do have the experience of visiting Swaziland and South Africa a number of times, so most decisions I am basing on those experiences. But I have done enough research to know that Namibia is different in its “wildness” as well as its desert coverage, so we need to be prepared for lots of sand and hot weather this time of year. Just a note: we are not luxury travelers. We backpack and stay in lodges or bush tents as much as possible. If you are one for luxe travel, you may have a very different packing list! 😉

So as backpackers, we find one of the most important items to be the backpack itself. We love Osprey packs but my advice is for you to go to your local outdoor store and actually get fitted for a pack. Try several on with weight in them and walk around the store to get a feel for each. This is not a place you want to skimp. (And we would say the same about hiking shoes and boots!) After packing, we secure each pack in a handy zippered bag so that the straps don’t get caught in the airline’s equipment and then check them to our destination. Then we each bring a carry-on, in the form of a flashpack, regular backpack, or a camera bag with camera plus room for other carry-on items.

Suggested in carry-on bag:
  • Passport and drivers license
  • Cash/Credit card/Debit card
  • ​Copies of:
    • Passport
    • Credit cards
    • Itinerary
  • Emergency contact info
  • Snacks and gum
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Camera, memory card, charger
  • Stuff to do on the plane: iPod, journal, books, Kindle, etc.
  • Lip balm, lotion, eye drops, saline nose spray
  • Travel tissues
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Chargers and batteries if you might need them
  • Light change of clothes
  • Basic toiletries
  • Travel pillow
  • Pashmina or scarf (optional)
  • Eye mask/blanket (optional)
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Reading light​ (optional)
  • Medications/prescriptions
  • Contacts/Solution/Glasses/Case
  • Anything valuable that you have to bring!
Suggested in checked bag:
  • Walking/hiking shoes or boots
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Buff and brimmed hat or cap
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 2-3 pair walking or cargo pants/shorts
  • 3-4 T-shirts/short sleeved shirts
  • 2 Long sleeved shirts and/or base layers
  • Fleece or hoodie
  • Wool socks
  • Washcloth and towel
  • Outlet converters
  • ​Ziplock bags
  • Weather-resistant coat/raincoat/windbreaker
  • Knit hat, mittens, gloves, if needed
  • Protein bars or other snacks
  • Insect repellent/sunscreen
  • Binoculars
  • Solar charger, other chargers, batteries
  • Toiletries
  • Swimsuit, if needed
  • Undergarments
  • 1 pair of pajamas
  • OTC medicines (anti-diarrheal, pain reliever, etc.
  • Headlamp and/or flashlight

Other suggestions for the rookie traveler:

  • Don’t overpack. It can be costly and a drag!
  • Attach a luggage ID tag to each of your bags, even your carry-on bag. It’s also suggested to put your name and address on the inside of your bags as well.
  • Carts are available in airports, usually for no (or a nominal) fee. Safes are normally available in hotel rooms or hostel front desks. Make use of these!
  • Carry-on luggage must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin of the aircraft. I suggest you carry all prescription medications, a light change of clothes, basic toiletries, and any valuables in your carry-on bag. This is helpful if luggage is delayed for any reason.
  • ​A pillow and blanket are provided on the international flights. I suggest bringing your own travel pillow. Bring a travel blanket and/or eye mask if you prefer.
  • Zip lock bags, plastic bags, or packing cubes can help keep small items organized and keep dirty/wet items from soiling other items.
  • Never underestimate the power of a clean, dry pair of knickers or socks. Bring plenty of ’em or, even better, bring your own travel-sized, environmentally-friendly laundry soap, clothespins, and even a clothesline to wash and dry your items yourself.
  • Think of packing interchangeable pieces of clothes for maximum versatility and convenience. Don’t plan to bring a new outfit for each day.
  • Layering clothes can offer versatility in changing climates and conditions; plan to bring a windbreaker, fleece, or hoodie, etc., as well as short-sleeved shirts and base layers. It will be COLD on early-morning game drives and overnight in tented accommodations. Wool blankets are usually provided in game drive vehicles and bush tents but if you are someone who gets cold easily, consider bringing a knit hat, gloves, etc. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes for the flights.
So this is my packing list for Namibia! What am I missing? What do you see on the list that you think is unnecessary? What other suggestions do you have?  Let me know in the comments below!

Travel Shortlist – NAMIBIA: In the Top Spot

I have never not had my plane tickets just three weeks prior to a trip abroad. But here I am. Three weeks before a dream trip to Namibia and I don’t have tickets yet. Or a car rental. But those are just details, right?  
​I have wanted to visit Namibia since I started going to South Africa in 2009. After going to support my doctoral research, I simply fell in love with South Africa, so I went back five more times since then. At some point I read about the Skeleton Coast of Namibia and decided I had to see it. I’ve always had a love and respect for Africa but besides South Africa and Swaziland, I have seen very little of this amazing continent. So I decided to start heading north and as Namibia was sitting atop my Travel Shortlist, it would be my next stop.
So for this Shortlist installment, I thought I would share with you some of my plans for my trip next month. I am a planner (despite evidence to the contrary… the plane tickets and all) and create a spreadsheet for each trip. With the bones in place, I started at the GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library of course, and went through each link on the Namibia Resource Guide. There are not a ton of resources out there on traveling in Namibia but these articles, blog posts, and other sites gave me a good idea of the things I wanted to do and see while there.
From these, I was able to piece together a framework itinerary for Namibia that I would fill in and change around as I learned more about the places I wanted to visit and the distances between them. Distances are important when driving in a country as expansive as Namibia; petrol stations don’t pop up behind every sand dune, so planning ahead is important! I think this is what I like about creating itineraries: it’s like a puzzle to me. And I love puzzles! I have learned to not plan every last minute but to at least have a place to stay every night and an idea of areas to visit throughout the days.
I knew I would start and end in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. I am presenting at a conference on women and poverty at the University of Namibia there before heading out on the road trip. I also knew I wanted to drive (I always want to drive when I travel) and I knew the Skeleton Coast would be part of the itinerary. I also heard incredible things about Etosha National Park so of course I had to see the wildlife there. Since both of these are in the northern part of the country and I only had two weeks, I decided to head north and unfortunately save the southern attractions such as Fish River Canyon until next time around.
​In addition to the desolation and shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast and the oryx and other wildlife of Etosha, I have to see Sossusvlei, located in the Namib Desert. If you haven’t heard of it, you most certainly have seen the photos of the giant red sand dunes, white salt pans, and black dead camel thorn trees that after 900 years have still not decayed because of the dry climate. Four nights we are staying at Gondwana Collection properties and I am especially looking forward to sleeping out under the stars at their Dune Star Camp. As this will be my first desert visit in Africa, I can’t wait to step on the sand and take in this otherworldly place.
As this will be my first desert visit in Africa, I can’t wait to step on the sand and take in this otherworldly place.
Also on the itinerary is Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. While in this area, I am going to book a 4×4 tour and a boat trip of Sandwich Harbour in hopes of spectacular views as well as flamingoes, dolphins, seals, and whales. Rounding out the trip will be exploring the ancient rock carvings at Twyfelfontein and visits to the Cheetah Conservation Fund and/or AfriCat Foundation near Waterberg National Park.
​So the itinerary and bookings are coming together, and even those pesky plane tickets, but hopefully I will have some time left over before I leave to get everything set for the blog and social media. I plan to post while I am there but who knows what the internet access will be like in the desert! I am certain to be able to post occasional pics to InstagramFacebook, and Twitter along the way, so be watching for them… and many blog posts will be written and posted upon my return, to be sure. And the photographs? Opportunities for incredible shots of this country will be innumerable!
Disclosure: I received sponsored stays from Gondwana Collection and tours from Cheetah Conservation Fund while in Namibia but my opinions are always honest and my own. Thank you, Gondwana and CCF!
So now that you’ve read about the things I am planning for my Namibia trip, it’s your turn! Have you been to Namibia? What am I missing? Where are you headed next? Comment below to let me know!
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