Purple Travel

[April 11 2023]

“Souvenirs” from Namibia by Louis A. W. Sheridan

Cutting a swift path out of Windhoek behind the wheel of a juiced-up Land Cruiser, the tarmac beneath our tyres ends without fanfare. Less than an hour from the cosy confines of a familiar-feeling city, buildings, cars and phone signal fade away into a raw reddish horizon. Flying over these same stretched-out expanses a week later, the reality of their emptiness sinks in. But it’s from the gun-straight gravel road with a dust cloud in the rearview mirror that Namibia’s wild thrill first hits fever-pitch.

With a few hundred oryx, a handful of zebra, a roll-call of other safari supporting cast and only the one breakdown, the six hours to Zannier’s Sonop felt too short. The camp’s rocky silhouette was the first hint of how the trip would play out on a series of lunar-landscape stages, with each new basecamp cranking up the absurdity.The next stop was a few sand-strewn hours west, Little Kulala. Here’s where Deadvlei’s lifeless trees frame abstract shadows on drifts that look like high-piled spice. “Go early morning” is the guides advice, but last light of the day is quieter and even more haunting.

Then it was back to Windhoek and bundled into the first of many ever-shrinking Cessna’s. This one flies straight to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, a sci-fi-meets-spaghetti-western set in the far north, not a world away from Angola. The dry riverbed surges with herds of elephants, prides of desert lions, giraffe, rhino and every animal in between. For sense of scale, the Skeleton coast itself is another flight away, named for the way rusty limbs from hundreds of shipwrecks mix with the bones of ancient animals all along the shoreline.

For the final leg it’s back behind the wheel and on to Habitas for a soulful end to the desert quest, having barely scratched the surface. 

Photos by Louis A. W. Sheridan


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