How to listen to Namibia

When travelling to a new place you are exposed to a variety of new and different experiences, usually distinct to the unique location of your destination. This sentiment can very easily be applied to Namibia as well. We have often written of the unique locations and the special people you will meet and experience during your travels through this distinctive country, but we have never focused on the other senses. The things you experience without having to see them. As we know our sensory experiences of places and things add so much to the memories we leave with. From something as simple as a smell or a sound, you can be reminded of a moment in time that left its mark on your memories forever. With this in mind we have compiled a list of sounds that should not be missed while traveling through Namibia.

The sound of the whistling wind…cliché yes, but also a very accurate way to describe the sound. The main reason you come to Namibia is to see the wide open Namibian bush lands that have a treasure trove of secrets hiding just beneath its tranquil looking surface. And there are few sounds more soothing that the soft whistling of the wind through the branches of a camel thorn tree.

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If you find yourself walking through a quiet night, to your campsite or chalet, keep an ear out for the sound of the crickets. Soft and subtle as they sing the savannah’s lullaby. This is a sound most Namibians have come to take for granted, as we view their song as more of an annoyance than an intrigue, but none the less this sound is one that can assure you the night ahead will be a peaceful one.

The crackling of burning wood. We have all been to our fair share of braais and barbeques, but when you’re in the Namibian bush, the sound of a crackling fire takes on a new sense of significance. In the days of old, fire was the symbol of life and survival and to this day we use this element to stay warm in the cold nights.

Image: Rolf Beiter

Image: Rolf Beiter

The soft sound of cracking wood and the flames lick across the surface is a sound that is not rare in any way but it means so much to be able to listen to it. To have the soft dancing flames sooth our minds and our souls as the day comes to an end.

The sound of a game drive. The idea behind this one is our favourite, as despite being uniquely different on each trip the sounds somehow sounds familiar as well. A game drive is something associated with every trip to Africa, never mind Namibia, but when you find yourself on the back of a cruiser again, listen not only to the natural world around you, but the people that are sharing the experience with you. There are the familiar sounds of cameras zooming and clicking, hushed whispers of delight when they see something amongst the greenery in the distance, the silent sound of appreciation for the Namibian wildlife.

Whispering desert sand… the Namib is both unique because of its age, its location and its migrating dunes. But a quality that makes this incredible desert so specifically unique is its whispering sand. Bear with me, we haven’t completely lost our minds. When you are in the desert, standing among the ancient dunes, take a moment to listen.

Image: Ferdinand Wolf

Image: Ferdinand Wolf

You will see the wind quietly guiding the sands to their next homes, but listen too, because you will hear the sand whispering as it quietly moves along the existing dunes. When you are in Namibia, take the time to go listen to the soft murmuring of the Namib for yourself.

And then finally, because the concept is so ultimately arbitrary…Namibia is one of the few places in the world where you can still hear the sound of silence. Yes it sounds strange and stupid and you know what silence sounds like, or basically that is doesn’t have a sound at all…but that is where you are wrong. Silence isn’t necessarily soundless and as Namibians, we can vouch for that. When you are standing on the rim of the great Fish River Canyon or in the middle of the bush during a hike and for a single moment there is no sound.

“Hell’s Bend” in the Fish River Canyon at the main viewing point.

“Hell’s Bend” in the Fish River Canyon at the main viewing point. Photo: Gondwana Collection

No wind whistling through the trees, no sands whispering their way across the landscape and no birds singing their songs…there is nothing but the sound of your own breathing. The silence can become so intense that it almost feels like your ears are ringing. That is the true sound of silence. When there is nothing but your thoughts and your breath and the beauty of an undisturbed natural phenomenon.

Aus area by Michael Bonocore

Aus area by Michael Bonocore

That is the experience you want to have when visiting Namibia. The experience the moment where for a single second everything comes to complete silence and time stands still.

As Namibians we have all experienced these sounds, we have been annoyed and moved by every experience and we often take them for granted. We invite you to come to Namibia, not only to see, but to listen. Because here, in our little corner of the world, we don’t just see our country, we experience it and we invite you to do the same.

If you know of any other Namibian sounds that should not be missed and are worth mentioning, please share them with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.PP for Blog

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Surfing Donkey Bay in Namibia

The surf’s up in Namibia and we didn’t even know about it! Well I am sure everyone keyed into the Namibian (and also international) surfing scene were well aware, as for the rest us plebs who enjoy the waves from the side lines…We have news for you!

Donkey bay, close to Swakopmund and just outside of Walvis Bay on your way out to Pelican Point, is home to one of the world’s best waves to surf.

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You don’t have to take my word for it though, world class professional surfers such as Benji Brand and Koa Smith, to name but a few have made their way to our little coastline to experience this extreme wave. Watch the above mentioned surfers take to the Donkey.

The wave, which has come to be known as the Donkey, was first discovered in 2007 when American Surfing Magazine launched a competition to find new surfing locations around the world. The winner of this competition Brian Gable, found the Donkey while searching through Google Maps and came across something special. And from there on its popularity has steadily increased.

Image: Surf Europe magazine

Image: Surf Europe magazine

While researching the wave and the surfers who have had the courage to face it, it quickly becomes apparent that the wave is reserved for professional surfers only. The intimidating wave seems to have quite a taste for surf boards as well, as pro-surfer Slade Prestwich says“[He] heard Donkey eats boards for brunch and dinner.” Not quite an enthusiastic way to prepare for the wave, but oh well everyone has their ritual. Either way it seemed that he enjoyed the swell in May 2014.

Slade prestwich - Image: Tyrone bradley red bull content-pool

Slade prestwich – Image: Tyrone bradley red bull content-pool

In 2015 this wave was referred to as the best discovered wave in the world, at least for that year. It is known for its barrels that seem to stretch on forever at incredible speeds and has even been said to go for a solid kilometre before settling out. Surfers also explain that the speed of the wave is what makes the ride so incredible, as you can travel about 50 metres in just two or three seconds.

Image: daily surf videos.com

Image: Daily surf videos.com

Another regular at Donkey bay is Jordy Smith, the Top World Surf league Championship Tour surfer. This successful surfer used our “little” wave to practice his backhand tube riding for the world class competitions. But the wave can also be terrifying at best, as Sean Holmes, another top surfer was caught off guard while out in the waves. He explains that “one wave coming down the point was so big that I didn’t know which way to go,” in an interview with Zigzag Magazine. “I made it over the wave, but afterwards I paddled in as fast as I could, as I was way out of my depth.” This however did not keep him out of the water for long and he has since returned to Donkey Bay for most swells.

Image: timeslive.com

Image: timeslive.com

Those in the know (as I am not) explain that the wave is fast and hard, and may be the most difficult wave to get a handle on. This is because every aspect of the wave, from catching the wave to getting to the bottom of it, and then of course holding on for dear life to keep from wiping out on the sand bank that lies just below. The surfers that go out to Donkey Bay are seriously committed to the wave, but never regret the experience it offers them. Something about the Donkey definitely makes the ride worthwhile and keeps these surfers coming back year after year.

Image: magic sea weed.com

Image: magic sea weed.com

Below is a video made by pro-surfers Aritz Aranburu, Naxto Gonzalez and Aletxu Gironi who travelled to Namibia to catch their share of the Donkey and made the best of their time in Namibia, enjoying every experience.

#GOARITZ – NAMIBIA from aritzaranburu.com on Vimeo.

If you need more information on the wave you might just find what you’re looking for on wannasurf.com…and for the incoming swells be sure to visit www.magicseaweed.com .

And more importantly, if you have any of your own experiences of the Donkey or more information on the wave, we invite you to share it in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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My Namushasha experience

Working for the Gondwana Collection has offered me frequent, unique and exciting opportunities to travel and experience Namibia from a perspective I had never seen before. And my latest trip allowed me to travel to the northern regions of Namibia for the first time. This trip included a three night stay at the Namushasha River Lodge along the Kwando River in the Zambezi Region.

Namushasha River Lodge

Namushasha River Lodge

The first thing I noticed when I got out the car was the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds the area. As I was handed a refreshing welcoming drink, I was drawn through the massive wooden arch and onto the viewing deck overlooking the Kwando River. Looking over the calm waters and into the Bwabwata National Park I was awed by the vast open plains that stretched out before me. After a few moments of staring in disbelief at the wonders Namibia holds, I was guided down a path to my room.

Bwabwata National Park

Bwabwata National Park

Well simply put, the view from the deck is incredible, but once I got to my room and walked onto my own private balcony I considered never leaving. The slow movement of the river flowing only a few meters below and massive trees stretching up and over the river banks…as a Namibian I have always loved my country, but seeing it from this point of view I fell in love once again (excuse the soppy sentiment). And of course I am sure it comes as no surprise that I enjoyed every sunrise from my little sanctuary along the river front, listening to the life in the water below.

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I was scheduled to go on a river cruise right after arriving and was keen to get back to Reception. Well, I just about jumped out my skin when I opened my door to find a small velvet monkey sitting at the steps (I only found out it was a velvet monkey about two days later). The little creature disappeared into the trees, probably having gotten the fright of his life at seeing me, but he wasn’t gone for very long. I noticed him jumping across the tree branches above the restaurant later that evening.

Namushasha River Lodge Restaurant

Namushasha River Lodge Restaurant

Anyway, back to the cruise. We met up with our guide and made our way down to the river side and onto the boats. The guide/skipper quickly explained all the necessary safety precautions and we were off. As the Kwando loops from side to side, we did’t have to wait too long to find a pod of hippos lounging on a sand back. As we approached they ducked into the cool water and all you could see were the tiny ears flicking above the water surface.

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Gliding across the water, we were awed by the stunning brightly coloured birds that swooped and hovered around the boat. After a short break with a snack platter and refreshing drink our group was on our way back to the lodge, right as a small herd of elephants were crossing the river and playing in the mud.

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Namuushasha River Lodge boat cruise

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Having seen so much just while cruising along the river, I was curious to find out what we would see when we move on solid land. Surely enough, I was not disappointed… Other than a massive herd of elephants hiding between the trees and a smaller group of giraffes, the morning game drive also presented a large group of elephants crossing the river with week-old babies in tow!

Bwabwata National Park

Bwabwata National Park

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The next day I decided to head out onto another game drive, this time going out in the afternoon. Once again I was pleasantly surprised. Our guide was super informative, explaining how some fruit could be used as medicine and how some plants could be turned into soap when mixed with water…but the best treat of all came late in the afternoon.

Namushasha activities

Namushasha activities

Driving along the side of a quiet water channel that flows from the river, I noticed something in the road up ahead, pointing it out to the guide. He quickly switched the car’s engine off and we silently rolled closer to find a young leopard lounging in the shade. Being a typically curious cat, he watched us as we watched him and lazily walked around the car and disappeared into the riverside foliage. Of course he stayed long enough to allow our group to get a few beautiful photographs of him.

From there we set out to Horseshoe, a bend in the river’s flow, and enjoyed a delightfully chilled sundowner while another, smaller herd of elephants made their way to the water for a drink.

As a Namibian I have been on quite a few game drives in my life, at various locations. And I can honestly say that this was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had.The realisation of how close nature truly is fully sets in when you’re lying in bed just before sunrise and you can hear the hippos making their way to the water, splashing and calling to one another. Or you see a pride of lions waltzing along the riverbed across from the viewing deck.

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Namushasha River Lodge is a special place, it is a unique opportunity to relax and experience a different way of life. And it’s an experience I am happy to have enjoyed.

If you have visited the Namushasha River Lodge before, we invite you to share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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