I was planning my short trip to South Africa but was having a difficult time deciding on where I wanted to do a safari. I had already booked my flight in/out of Cape Town and was hoping to avoid Jo’burg (Johannesburg) on this trip mostly because I had heard so many stories about how dangerous it was. As a gateway to Kruger National Park, that was a deterrence for me. But I was also a little turned off by all the ads on Kruger. I got the feeling it was over-commercialized and saw it as the “Disney World” of safaris. I felt like ads were saying you HAD to go there, so that made me want to find something else other than Kruger. Plus, how many people/vehicles would be there? And therefore, how many animals would I see? I was imagining that the sound and noises of all the vehicles (fellow theme park workers, imagine toll plaza parking on a peak day) would scare many animals from the roadways. In doing all of my research on the Western half of South Africa, I wasn’t feeling good on any safaris (or the lack thereof) that I was finding.
Around the same time, I saw a twitter post from a travel blogger who had just returned from Namibia and South Africa and that made me think…Oh, I could do 2 countries in one trip! I never thought of that for this trip, especially since it was only 2 weeks long. I looked at the map and realized how close the two countries were.
I was already a fan of Namibia because I knew that one of my favorite films, Mad Max Fury Road, was partially filmed there (starring the most talented actor in the universe, Tom Hardy)! It didn’t take much else to sell me on this. I mentioned the idea to an ex-colleague whose wife is from Durban, South Africa (the two of them return often). He said it was a great idea and I wouldn’t be disappointed – that it was one of the most beautiful countries in Africa.
From there I began researching tours in Namibia because I knew it was too remote to backpack on my own (I did not want to rent a car and knew public transportation would be scarce). I found tours that included the red sand dunes that looked amazing, and I found tours that went to Etosha National Park for safari game drives. But I didn’t want to spend half my entire trip in Namibia, and to see both safari and sand dunes would require a tour of almost a week. I continued my research, did a lot of thinking, reached out to tour companies, worked on my budget, and eventually decided it would be best to do the combo safari/tour so I could knock out a 3-day safari and do the red sand dunes and desert in 3 days. Otherwise, I didn’t see an opportunity for a long safari in South Africa that could work schedule-wise.
Once I’d decided on my plan, it took a few days to confirm availability on a tour that I could do without cutting so close to my South Africa departure flight back to the US (because the tours had specific start dates). But I finally squared everything away with a very nice and responsive tour operator based in Windhoek, Namibia, called Chameleon Safaris. I paid, signed my indemnity forms, and had one less thing to worry about. Namibia, here I come!!!