Singing along to “Africa” by Toto which was playing on the radio of her rental car, the woman drove through the Namibian landscape, on her way to Etosha National Park. The song seemed appropriate since this was her first time on the continent.
Three days ago, she sat in her apartment in the centre of London, planning this trip with the looming awareness of the pandemic weighing on her mind. Was it safe to travel? Worth it? Judging by her own research, the cases in southern Africa were not that high. It was safe, at least in her eyes. The recently imposed and later lifted travel bans reminded her of the hastiness of governments in their efforts to curb the spread of the virus. With seemingly little knowledge about the complexities of the new variant, there was a clear response by the ‘’first world’’ to Southern Africa: Shut them out.
All these thoughts kept playing in her head when she was contemplating whether to go through with her trip. So, she searched for guidance and answers from the best possible source; someone on the ground, in Namibia.
John was a tour guide from the north of Namibia, born in a town called Eenhana, and had been working in the industry for more than 20 years. Starting out as a cleaner in a local lodge close to his hometown, his thirst for knowledge about his country and passion for sharing its beauty with the world, drove him to sit down with his manager about a promotion. His lack of qualifications had been made up for with his experience, and willingness to partake in all elements of the lodge. Soon, he was awarded a sponsorship to acquire his guides license and learn German.
He was the perfect person to talk to, it seemed. Although everything about his past and his present had been communicated to her through the screen of her computer, she still felt like he was the right person to ask. So, that was what she did. Their endless thread of emails about their careers, his love for his country and her interest in visiting, the Covid-19 situation in the country and her safety in Namibia, resulted in John putting her in contact with an experienced tour operator in Windhoek, who showed her personal care and customer service and arranged her itinerary.
That conversation with John felt like it had taken place ages ago. She found herself in a total state of relaxation and familiarity in the country. From the moment she landed, she was greeted by a pristine airport, and friendly local people eager to make her experience unforgettable.
She was halfway through her “Roadtrip Playlist”, thinking about what drew her to Namibia in the first place. Everyone she knew had been gushing about the unique diversity of the various landscapes found in the country, the different cultures. About the wildlife and vegetation. The penguins down in Lüderitz, the desert adapted lions in the Namib, and the Welwitschia mirabilis plant, Namibia’s very own living fossil.
All of it proved to be even more amazing than she had initially expected. Namibia was so different from the grey, busy, crowded streets of London. There were wide open vistas. There was actually space to breathe. She could see the stars clearly at night down in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, without the effects of pollution obscuring her view. Instead, what she got was tranquillity, quiet and peace.
Soon she came to the end of her trip. With a heavy heart, she made the trek to the international airport in Windhoek in time for her flight back to London. She was happy to have had the chance to meet John, where they had conversations until the early hours of the morning against the backdrop of Namibia’s magnificent dunes.
This was a trip to remember, unlike anything she had ever experienced before. A journey of a lifetime.
The team at ATI Holidays wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We hope to see you soon!