Stargazing in Namibia with Meredith Katz
Head out to the Namib desert for some dune climbing and star watching.
Read Part 1 of Meredith’s trip: Cape Town
Namibia is one of the greatest road trip destinations anywhere. And one of the best ways to see it is to grab a friend or two, rent a 4x4 and do a self-drive with destinations mapped out by a company like Wild Dog Safaris or Cardboard Box, hitting all the sights along the way. I didn’t do that because a.) I was traveling alone and b.) my main reason for visiting Namibia was to see a family friend who has been living there for the past 25 years. She married a man named Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, a freedom fighter who fought for Namibian independence from S. Africa and Apartheid – they had met while she was doing work as a lawyer at the UN — and he had just returned from years in prison at Robben Island.
After visiting my friend in Windhoek, I rented an SUV and drove out to see the famous, surrealist dunes of Sossusvlei. I love to drive, and I love driving solo, but this road took a lot of getting used to because rocks were smashing into and cracking my windshield and I barely saw anyone else on the road the whole time.
Sossus Dune Lodge
I stayed at the Sossus Dune Lodge which has roughly 22 lovely bungalows all set out on the desert plain, plus a pool, bar and restaurant which is quite good. Before sunset, I drove out to Dune 45 and climbed to the top and watched the colors of the dunes change with the sunlight. I was blown away and loved it more than I thought I would. Plus there were only two other people there when I went which made it all the better. The next morning I went out to Deadvlei before sunrise (you need a 4x4) and climbed Big Daddy dune, then photographed the dead camel thorn trees at Deadvlei.
Gondwana Dune Star Camp
Namibia is one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing because of its location and the lack of light pollution. I stayed at Gondwana in the Namib Desert because I heard you could wheel your bed out onto the patio under the stars. This place was so special and peaceful. The staff cooked dinner for all the guests and we ate together while chit chatting and drinking wine. It felt a bit like being in your mom’s dining room.
At sunset and sunrise, a guide walked us through the desert and told us all about the trees and the animals that live in the area. I ended up having such a good time hanging/chatting with the ranger that I got to bed too late and didn’t take any night photography which was kind of the whole point of going! The stars were totally insane, though and I just liked it here so much!
Things in Namibia I Didn’t Do that I wish I’d done:
Damaraland – Track desert elephants and visit Himba Tribal villages
Etosha Safari – Visit the nighttime watering holes
Quiver Tree Forest - I will someday take nighttime photography, and this is where I’d want to do it
Luderitz – Mining ghost town that has been filled in with sand and looks like Salvador Dali paintings