Overlanding in Africa: Part 1 – Swakopmund to Etosha National Park

Whilst in Southern Africa I had also organised to do a quick 2 week overland trip from Swakopmund to Victoria Falls with Africa Travel Co (ATC). Once finishing my time at Harnas Wildlife Foundation I gradually made my way over to Swakopmund on the other side of the country, very sad and depressed after leaving my Harnas family!

The first 2 ½ days were spent in Swakopmund where I met the 7 other people on my trip as well as the tour guide, driver and cook for the truck I would be on. During my time there I went sandboarding and quad biking on the giant sand dunes that line the coast south of Swakopmund. Sand-boarding down the dunes was a lot of fun – I did it lying down instead of standing as I’d never been sandboarding or snowboarding before but it was still awesome, it just meant I got a faceful of  sand all the time! The only problem was that once you slid down the sand dunes you had to climb back up again, and that was super hard! The quad biking was also a lot of fun – it was quite difficult to keep the bike smooth to start with but I soon got the hang of it! I also decided to tag onto a dolphin cruise in Walvis Bay with two of the other girls on my trip which was very relaxing – we saw lots of seals, pelicans, flamingos and dolphins and the seals even jumped onto the boat and got fed!


Quad biking along the sand dunes in Swakopmund – endless nothingness!
The seals kept jumping on the back of the boat in Walvis Bay because they knew we had food!

Leaving Swakopmund was the real start to the overland trip as it meant that we were actually in the truck! I didn’t really have any expectations of what the truck would be like because I’d never done a tour before, let alone an overland tour. It was actually quite comfortable – it was high, had lots of openable windows and as we had a small group, everyone got 2 seats to themselves. 

The first drive was only about 3 hours from Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe – a group of huge granite peaks in the Namib Desert, the largest of which is 1784m above sea level and 700m above the desert floor below. At Spitzkoppe we did a walk to see the bushmen paintings and some of the rock formations, however the highlight was definitely the sleeping arrangement – under the stars on top of a huge rock boulder! It was super cool and relaxing falling asleep looking at the stars and listening to the sounds of the african desert – it was also surprisingly comfortable!


A view of Spitzkoppe from the road (the main peak is on the left)
Sunrise – sleeping on top of the boulder

Next stop was the Cheetah Park. We left Spitzkoppe in the early morning and went via a couple of tribal areas where the tribe woman were selling lots of jewellery and handmade crafts whilst wearing their traditional clothes which was interesting to see, even if it did feel a bit fake and set up! After a long days drive we arrived at the Cheetah Park – a park owned and run by a family who rescue cheetahs from nearby farms. They currently have 4 tame cheetahs wandering around their house as well as numerous wild cheetahs in outside enclosures that are fed daily. Personally, after Harnas I found this place to be extremely touristy – we were sent to an area to take photos with the tame cheetahs for around 20 minutes, however there were only 4 cheetahs to share between around 40 people (another truck was there at the same time) so I ended up feeling quite sorry for the poor cheetahs instead of enjoying my time with them!  However, it was still cool to be up close and personal with these amazing animals that I had fallen so in love with.


The cheetahs were very good friends with the pet dogs!
On day 5 we drove from the Cheetah Park to Etosha National Park, however that’s a whole other story 🙂 Stay tuned for part 2!
Thanks for reading!
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