Namibia Sand Dunes with TeensBy Ellyn Ludwig
April 15, 2020
“You took four teenagers to Namibia? Seriously?” Well, yes. Namibia is a pretty serious place. When my sister and I were looking into a family excursion for summer 2017 we were looking for something out of the ordinary. We’d booked two other trips to Africa with Bushtracks, and loved their below-the-radar, greased skids approach to an African adventure.
We knew we’d get the full African experience without the touristy twist that so many companies offer. And our last trip to Africa had gone above and beyond our expectations in providing thrills for our teens. There were animals at every turn in the road, and excitement in every hippo pond. But this trip we wanted something a little deeper.
So, we booked a trip that sent us throughout Namibia starting with the Namibia sand dunes. When we got to our jump-off point after all the flights and layovers, I was starting to second-guess my decision to choose a country that wasn’t the typical postcarded glory safari, lions included. Were my kids going to appreciate my decision to take us through Africa on the scenic route?
My worry lasted for seven minutes, which was the time it took for us to drive from our breathtaking cottages in the Mars-landscaped desert oasis where we were staying, to the base of one of the tallest dunes in the world. A yelp went up from the kids.
“We’re climbing THAT? I can’t believe we are really HERE!” And that was that.
We rode electronic bikes through the Namib moonscape, circumnavigating sleepy oryxes. We rolled and slid down the backside of one of the world’s tallest sand dunes. We looked out the window from our private aircraft for the glint of diamonds lying on the beach. Our Land Rover tour actually used the Land Rovers in the way in which they were intended, providing us 45° angle views as we roared up and down deep dunes in roller coaster ride fashion. We ATV-ed up to an actual Himba tribal village and swapped earrings with the red-skinned elders as our teens played ball with the kids in the dirt.
When we finally pushed on into more of the game-drive part of the trip, we had to work a little harder to see the game than on previous Bushtracks trips. We tracked a crash of rhinos and drove alongside a galloping tower of giraffes. It took us over an hour to find those rhinos, with all of us hanging off the vehicle, confirming the direction of the tracks.
A pride of lions were equally as elusive. We took turns following the tracks from the Land Rover for several hours. Along our way to find those lions, we spotted jackals, zebras, giraffes, and “gazelle stuff.”
But the thrill of turning that bend and ending up face to face with the lions we had been tracking all morning? Priceless.
Thirteen bloody-chested and bloated lions laid in the shade of an acacia glade. We sat with them, quietly, for almost an hour. They were our lions. We had tracked them and participated in their morning affairs. Not boring. Even to a teenager.
So, yes. We took four teenagers to Namibia. And for our next trip? They have already requested the scenic route.
The first version of this article was posted on 21 Jul 2017 at 12:25 PM.