• emanuelegallone

Overland expedition to Namibia, Botswana and Zambia

The whole world these days of April 2021 is either in lock-down or with heavy restrictions on travel and border crossing due to the Covid19 pandemic.

Fortunately not Dubai, where residents are allowed to come and go. So we looked at what places we could visit from here that had similar relaxed entry rules.

Friends of us with family suggested this trip to #Namibia and #Botswana, so we got immediately hooked into it.

The idea was to get into Namibia with a flight from Dubai (stop over in Ethiopia) and rent 4x4 cars with all camping gear on it, roof top tents. From there on, we would then just venture through the countries with a faint plan and some offline gps maps.

Sounded like an adventure so we were all-in for it!

So we took 2 weeks off from work and decided to take another 2 additional weeks where we would work-from-home from Namibia (if the internet condition were good). So plan was to stay 1 month in Africa.

We gathered the group of 6 adults and 6 kids, flew to Windhoek Namibia and rented 3 fully equipped #ToyotaHilux and set off for the wild!

The first part of the trip was to go straight into Botswana, crossing the border into Ganzi and then direct towards #Magadikgadi national park and #Nxaipan park.

A pretty long stretch of asphalt to start our trip with, but once there we knew that the sights were incomparable and from there the driving ours meant to decrease. So we drove.

Once reached, we were quite impressed of the incredible amount of wildlife in every corner of these national parks on the east part of Botswana. We couldn't count the amount of #elephants, #giraffes all sorts of #deers (kudu, impalas, gazelles, ...) that we've seen anywhere. Surrounded by the typical #savana landscape dotted with beautiful #baobab trees.

One of the highlights of this part was the #Nxai pan. A huge flat piece of salt land that is dry most of the year and turns into a lake during the rain season. Looking at the horizon separating the bright blue of the sky with the pale white of the land is magical.

Nearby there we also took a little detour to go spot the famous #meerkat, Timon friend of Pumba, from the lion king!

After this part of Botswana we took what would be the toughest driving part of the whole trip. From Maun into the absolute wilderness of the Moremi and Savouti parks, where we had to cross circa 300km of dirt and sand roads, very often dotted with river and lake crossings where the Hilux had been put at tough work!

It was not an easy crossing, especially because April is right after the rainy season and there is water everywhere. But once we reached there the wildlife that we encounter was remarkable. Wildlife here thrives.

Once we left Savouti, we headed towards Chobe Riverfront, a huge river separating Botswana from Namibia and ending into the #victoriafalls.

We arrived on the river in the late afternoon, and luckily, cause this is when the animals go to the river to drink for a last time before the night comes (and won't be safe for them anymore to drink at night). So we are suddenly surrounded of hordes of giraffes, elephants, deers, monkeys, birds, in a beautiful landscape at sunset. Incredible.

After spending few days in this paradise of the #choberiverfront, we decide to make a day trip into the biggest waterfalls in the world: Victoria falls. An incredible geographic place, where four countries borders meet in one single place: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It was a bit of a crazy idea to do this in Covid19 times, due to the number of controls and corona-tests that we had to do on both boarders, but we said that, being there and not having seen the falls, was a big miss. So, leap of faith and hop we went!

Definitively worth a visit to grasp the energy and majesty of that place!

Once back, our part of the trip in Botswana was coming to an end. So we crossed the border of #Kasane, back into Namibia and headed towards the west coast of Namibia, with two stop in between. The first one in the #Waterbergplateu national park, an impressive red #sandstone rock formation in the middle of the Savana.

The second stop on the way was in #Twyfelfountain, a rocky sandstone desert that once thrived of life, water and vegetation, inhabited by local tribes (#bushmans) but now taken back from growing desertification and visited only by tourist for the impressive landscapes.

This was again a very long road trip from Botswana all the way to the #skeletoncoast of Namibia. But in this (less then) one day of driving we saw an incredible change in landscape, from Savana into a coastline of first rocky mountains and then sand dunes and salt lakes terminating into the Atlantic ocean.

The name skeleton coast could not be better placed, due to the absence of vegetation in this area. On 400km of a salt road along the coast we encountered a multitude skeletons of seals, elephants and shipwrecks, The only interval of life was a seal colony, a "city" of 3000 of these mammals mating and living on a cape of this coast, apparently a mecca for fisherman.

We drew all the shoreline headed towards the next natural wonder. #Spitzkoppe, a #granite mountain in the middle of the desert, raising from 1000m to 1700m asl. A stunning rock formation where once also life thrived but, once again taken back from desertification.

At this stage our group of friends separated. All our fellows returned to Windhoek as their holiday was over and me, my wife and our daughter went to #Swakopmund, an ex-German town colony, on the west coast, very interesting on his own, with buildings and population that resembles a typical German village. This was the perfect base for our two weeks of home office. Good internet connection and lots of facilities.

From here we took another last weekend trip into #etosha national park, in the north of Namibia. One of the largest national parks of Africa, were we encountered again amazing landscapes and hundreds of animals, including quite a bit of #wildcats, #crocodiles and #rhinos!

This was the most beautiful way to end of our trip.

Time to return to Dubai, with 7000km of trip covered with an amazing crew and the most impressive and unconventional landscapes!

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