My Life Enriching Journey Through Namibia

by Ashley Pacelli

July 11, 2019 Trip Notes

Upon touching ground on African soil, my life-changed forever. A continent I had dreamed of visiting since I knew what it was, I finally had the immense privilege of traveling to Namibia with MT Sobek. Beyond any kind of explanation, the desert draws me in, as every work opportunity carries me to the sand and sun of earth’s harshest environment.

The sheer magnitude and beauty of Namibia goes beyond what words can describe. It exceeded all my expectations. With a population of about 2,000,000 people in a landscape so vast, you truly can find complete solitude, serenity, and silence. Standing in the world’s oldest desert inspires some serious soul-searching and self-reflection.

Delving deep into the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, our journey focused on adventure and exploration. Once off what the locals call “the tarmac” on Day 1, the tires of our invincible vehicle wouldn’t touch anything but sand and rock for the days to come. Off-the-beaten-track travel at its finest, our time was spent traversing sand dunes, dry river beds, and rocky hillsides, in search of stunning views and desert-adapted wildlife.

Though seemingly desolate, this landscape is abundant in flora and fauna of all shapes and sizes, housing countless creatures endemic and indigenous to these areas. Even in the desert, life finds a way! From tracking black rhino to marveling at sociable weaver nests; extremely close encounters with elephants to a surprising cheetah sighting; male leopards vying for territory to porcupines enjoying a midnight snack, arid Africa proves to present unique and exciting wildlife interactions.

With no shortage of spectacular scenery and varied terrain, panoramic views were never far from sight. Envisioning Namibia as a barren land with nothing but sand, my expectations were very quickly surpassed by my surroundings. The diversity of this rugged landscape continued to take my breath away, and was always fully enjoyed with a proper African ‘sundowner.’

While the layers of jagged peaks, free-standing dunes, and rugged rock formations were enjoyed on foot, the view from above during our scenic flight from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei provided a whole new perspective. Enormous dunes spilling into the sea, expanding out into the vast desert, seemingly endless in every direction. Aboard our plane aptly named “Tweety Bird,” we caught our first glimpse of the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia, and the infamous area known as Sossusvlei.

Visiting Sossusvlei was one of the highlights for me, and the sheer beauty of this place truly is beyond what words can describe. You’ll just have to see it for yourself!  Known for its vivid orange sand dunes, this region more than lives up to its reputation. Arriving at sunrise, you enter the park as first light hits the earth, unveiling a spectrum of colors, hued by sun and shadow. Housing the largest and oldest free-standing dunes in the world, you feel like a speck of sand yourself in the presence of Sossusvlei. Before the heat of the day, we ascended to the top of ‘Big Daddy,’ the largest dune in the park, at just over 1,000 feet tall. Slowly making my way to the top, the wind whipped wildly over the sand, showcasing the formation of this amazing place. The descent lead us straight into Deadvlei, an iconic white-cracked clay pan littered with centuries-old dead acacia trees, one of the most picturesque places in the world.  Not even pictures can do this place justice!

Every night under the star-studded African sky was spent in comfortable lodges and camps, some of which felt more remote than any place I have ever been. My favorite camp was the exclusive Huab Under Canvas located in the heart of the ‘Damaraland.’ The trek to get there was an adventure in itself, and upon arrival you realize you have truly reached the ‘African Bush’ yet are still warmly welcomed in true African hospitality. When it came time to rest our heads, the beautiful blanket of the night sky above was best enjoyed beneath the blanket of one of the many ‘star-beds’ along the journey.

Our path through the desert was led by our extraordinary leader, Franco, a true representative if MT Sobek and all that we stand for. His immense knowledge, endless enthusiasm, and adventurous spirit heightened the whole experience. Endless gratitude to Franco and MT Sobek for my life enriching journey through Namibia. My heart is full, and my soul feels stronger than ever.

Ashley Pacelli — Regional Specialist, MT Sobek

Looking for your own life enriching journey? Check out our Namibia itinerary here!