Traveling in times of Corona - a good idea?

Sossusvlei nachdenklich

I asked myself this question long before I packed my bags however, I wanted to find the answer for myself. I am a tour operator and consider myself a travel expert, and with our experience and our know-how I consider it my duty to support people in their travel decisions.

That is why it was particularly important for me to travel now; to be able to provide qualified advice in this abnormal situation. It is not my aim to give a false picture and to persuade any unsure clients to travel. It should realistically reflect what I experienced on my trip during this Covid-19 period.

Preparatory phase

Why did I choose Namibia? Namibia is one of the few African countries which is not listed as a risk country according to the RKI, the German Centre of Disease Control. I have children who go to school and I run a company, so I wanted to avoid a possible quarantine after my trip. Namibia offers unique experiences, especially for self-drivers, ranging from the amazing animal world to some of the oldest deserts as well as a nearly 1.600 km coastline along the majestic Atlantic. Due to the attractive Namibian Dollar / Euro exchange rate, Namibia suddenly offers many visitors a unique opportunity to make a dream come true. A trip to Africa, otherwise difficult to achieve, is suddenly well within reach. Along with this, the guarantee of sunshine was another key factor playing against the autumn-flu weather currently in Germany.

Important to enter Namibia is negative Covid-19 PCR test, which must not be older than 72 hours upon entry. I flew from Frankfurt on a Thursday evening, arriving at 8:00 am in Windhoek, I took the test on Tuesday morning at around 11:00 am in my hometown (costs are between 60 - 160 Euro) and on Wednesday morning I received my negative result in German. Unfortunately, it was not possible to get the test results in English from the laboratory, somehow typical for my home region. If possible, I recommend getting a test in English in order to avoid any questions at the port of entry. I have been told by other travelers that the test at Frankfurt International Airport is a good alternative, should you have a longer stopover.

I also recommend signing up for an additional Covid insurance prior to your travel. From as little as only 5 Euro, I was able to insure the trip in the event of falling ill or getting a positive test result. In such a case, the insurance would reimburse the cancellation costs for the trip.
It is also very important to take your foreign travel health insurance with you. I had to provide proof of this at the airport check-in counter. In addition, every traveler must fill out a health-related document that can be downloaded from the following website before starting the journey: www.namibiatourism.com.na

Then of course the normal entry formalities must also be observed; such as a valid passport (at least 6 months after departure) with a sufficient number of remaining blank pages. The Foreign Office provides detailed information about the modalities and also possible vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis.

Flughafen Berlin Tegel
mit Mund-Nasen-Maske im Flugzeug

Flight from Berlin Tegel to Frankfurt and on to Windhoek

It turned out to be an emotional farewell to Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) as it was my last flight from this unique place. How often have I started off  on great holiday destinations from here. The new BER airport awaits me on the way back, I am already very curious.

At check-in I had to submit all the necessary documents: passport, negative Covid test, proof of travel insurance, and all completed health documents – as my end destination required this. The plane was full and not everyone had to provide a negative Covid test, as trips within Germany do not require this. Everyone wore mouth and nose protection masks. Perhaps the train would have been a better alternative? I do not know.

The lay-over in Frankfurt took a few hours. Only a few shops were still open, but unfortunately the restaurants were all closed. Mouth and nose protection masks are also mandatory here, however I slowly had already gotten used to wearing them. Then the check-in took place. My departure gate was crowded. Everyone wanted to travel, I was amazed. They still exist… tourists!

I was very tense because I only had the negative PCR test in German. “Hopefully they will let me go through”, I thought. It all worked out well though. There were very strict controls. Without a negative test, no flight. With that thought in mind, I already felt safe. The probability of getting infected on this plane was close to zero as everyone was tested negative.

Mouth and nose protection masks had to be worn on the airplane the entire time. We were only allowed to remove our masks for eating and drinking purposes. They offered dinner and breakfast, however some of the food choices we were used to in the good old days were gone; fresh rolls or scrambled eggs, just to name a few, somehow disappeared. At the same time, there was no shortage of disinfectant wipes. I was also sorry for all the packaging material used to wrap and protect the food, probably impossible to avoid this during the Covid period.

All in all, day 1 was associated with some smaller challenges, but certainly provided no reason to have any serious doubts about my trip.

Flug über Namibias Wüste

From Windhoek to Sossusvlei

The arrival was unspectacular. We were welcomed by a sunny Windhoek and were greeted by friendly airport staff, also wearing mouth and nose protection masks.
One of the first remarkable differences in comparison to Germany was when entering the arrival hall, every traveler had to disinfect their hands before proceeding to passport control. Wonderful.

Here too, there were questions about my state of health and my corona test result was required. I pulled out my questionnaire and the German negative PCR test result from my pocket. Unfortunately, for non-native German speakers, the phrase “not detectable” does not immediately indicate a negative test. A couple of minutes later, after a few attempts to explain the document, I could finally proceed without hazzles. Our luggage also arrived fast and soon our driver welcomed us, also wearing his face mask and the obligatory name tag.

I was happy. After the quick 47km transfer into the city, we collected our off-road vehicle. The check-in was very informative and quick. We were the only clients. In order to be able to take turns when driving long distances in Namibia, we registered both driver's licenses. Although the international driver's license was not required, it is recommended to carry it with you in case of possible police controls. I brought along my international driving license, which I reissued one day before my departure. Before starting to our first long drive, we stopped in a nearby mall to buy some snacks for our journey. Here we also saw disinfectant dispensers we have already become familiar with and only had people wearing face masks all around us. We also had to measure our body temperature, on the wrist, which indicated a temperature of 35.5 degrees.

Spontaneously we settled for a little lunch in the restaurant in the shopping centre. Freshly squeezed vegetable smoothies and a delicious cappuccino on the sun deck gave us a long-forgotten holiday feeling. Off we went for our 4-hour drive towards our first resort in Sossusvlei.

Mit dem Auto in Namibia unterwegs

I was anxious about the reception at our lodge (Taleni Sossusvlei Lodge), which I had last seen 14 years ago. Yet again, the same familiar images. All employees were wearing face masks throughout the entire property.

Eingang der Sossusvlei Lodge
ohne Maske keinen Zutritt ins Restaurant der Lodge
auch die Angestellten tragen Maske

Due to the few guests, there was always a first-class seat, whether by the pool, on the terrace or at the bungalow with a wonderful view of the Namibian desert landscape. Advice on activities for the following day was also possible spontaneously and without queuing. Our choice fell on a visit to the sand dunes on our own and a guided sundowner in the late afternoon. For dinner there was a 5-course a la carte menu.

Dinner mit namibischen Sonnenuntergang

Namib Wüste - Sossusvlei

Getting up at 5:45 am was a bit challenging, however in anticipation of the desert landscape, it was doable. Equipped with a large picnic basket which we had ordered the evening before, we set off to the entrance gate to Sossusvlei, which was only 5 minutes away from our lodge.

In strong contrast to the usual car ques and long waiting times, we were able to pass without any delay. After an additional one-hour drive to the final destination, we could already see our first African animal; a rare brown hyena crossed our path! When we arrived at Sossusvlei, 60kms from the entry gate, there were only 5 SUVs in the parking lot. Usually, dozens of tourists gather here, ready for the walk into the desert. Now, only a park ranger asked us if he could borrow our compressor. We were happy to help out.

Geared with plenty of drinking water, sun protection and a camera, we set out to climb the dunes. The kaleidoscope of colours on the ascent changed with every step and was breathtakingly pretty. Combined with the unusual silence, this was a unique experience. The thought occurred to me that Covid doesn't only have bad sides ...

Die Dünen des Sossusvlei - die Kamera immer dabei
Herz in den Wüstensand gemalt
verdorrte Bäume im Sossusvlei
Dünen des Sossusvlei

After our 2-hour hike we returned to the car, where we couldn't wait to open our picnic basket. “Set the table” was the motto. Whilst having coffee, muesli, toast and fresh fruit we met a young couple from nearby Cologne. I used the opportunity to do a spontaneous interview and found out that they were very happy with their short-term decision to have consciously turned their back to the dire situation at home. Their professional situation allowed them to even explore options for extending their stay. Remote office from Africa - what a great idea. It's a shame that this privilege is not possibly for every one of our customers.

Picknick in Namibia

When the sun reached its highest level, we went back to the lodge. We relaxed a little by the pool and enjoyed looking at the pictures we took.

For the sundowner trip which we booked on arrival, we met our ranger and two other guests, who as it happened to be, came from Berlin and they were staying in Namibia for a TV documentary. Of course, I wanted to know how they deal with the entire Covid situation. Despite their promise to keep their friends informed about traveling during Covid times, they decided against posting on social media, in order not to be confronted with possible criticism at home. My conclusion after speaking to both these German couples we met that day; the greater the knowledge about Africa, the less the concerns about traveling in times of Covid. Both couples were very travel-savvy and knew how to appreciate Africa. I was wondering how to take away possible fears from people who have never been to this continent. I don't have the perfect answer yet.

During the sundowner trip we decided to take off our mouth and nose protection masks. We were all unanimously of the opinion that in an open off-road vehicle, the air circulation works so well that there is no risk of infection. Our ranger however, kept the protection on, but even with the mask on it was no problem for him to explain the fauna and flora in the desert. We were then surprised with snacks and drinks at a fantastically located sundowner spot. With a glass of champagne in my hand, I watched the sunset. An indescribable feeling overcame me, the sort of feelings you have about freedom and lightness.

From the desert to the coast of Swakopmund

Today it was time to say goodbye to this unique desert landscape. On the 4-hour drive through partly moon-like landscapes, we encountered very few cars. Exhausted from the long drive, but happy to have arrived at the coastal town of Swakopmund, we checked into our new hotel, the Strand Hotel Swakopmund, again the usual unspectacular fashion. Here, too, the familiar picture, mouth and nose protection for the staff, disinfectant dispensers at the entrance and in the elevators. The weather was pleasant and the fresh breeze on the skin felt extremely good after the hot desert sand.

Auf dem Weg nach Swakopmund
Namib Naukluft Park

In the evening we met with Regine and Joel from the African Vocals, a traditional choir from the local township. The African Vocals had already managed to tour Germany several times with their talented singers. During a meal in a nearby fish restaurant, they told us about how difficult it is without hardly any tourists around and the little opportunitiy to earn an income at this moment. “The people are desperate, it's all about survival”, Regine tells us very emotionally. “I can well imagine that”, was my comment, but Regine replied “No, you can't imagine…”. I wonder how much longer people can deal with this situation with only a fraction of their income due to the lack of tourists. We immediately started philosophising and developed new ideas on how Venter Tours can integrate African Vocals into future tour programs. I was impressed by the stories Joel told us on how his career began in the German male choir in Swakopmund, his first trip to Europe and the strong desire to finally be able to perform in front of people again.

Full of new ideas, we left our friends at a fresh 16 degrees and planned the next day. The next morning started with work, after a short fitness run along the Atlantic coast. After all, my blog should reach people in Germany as soon as possible. I made myself comfortable on my balcony with a sea view and a cup of coffee and started to write my story, sorted the numerous photos and posted the content on our Venter Tours website. Suddenly I thought of using this beautiful remote office for a longer period of time. Is that perhaps a “travel” alternative in these difficult times? For those who are flexible, there are many good reasons that make such an idea attractive. Good internet access, friendly people all around, very low cost of living, good food, no time difference, and all of this combined with the possibility of taking a spontaneous excursion into the middle of Africa at any time. I immediately shared my idea with our team in Germany and we decide to offer this as an option for our customers as soon as possible and to create attractive packages.

Homeoffice Swakopmund

After I had completed my work, it was time for a long walk. We strolled through the partly deserted streets of Swakopmund. We somehow missed the flair of people-filled streets, the voices and the chats in the shops or cafés were absent. At that moment Swakopmund reminded us more of an extinct gold rush town which has to be brought back to life. German colonial history is still omnipresent today, from the Bismarck pharmacy to the beer garden. It was not surprising that we met a German tourist couple in the famous Kückis Pub restaurant. The two pensioners from Hessen and Berlin are 100% travel professionals and have been exploring the most remote corners of the world with their own camper van for years. And Covid? Not an issue with this "risk group". Their plan was to travel to the far north of Namibia and then visit South Africa. Much to their regret, this time not together with their friends. They cancelled the trip at short notice due to Covid. Not everyone is as tried and tested as our female plus 70-year-old pensioner who lives in an international flat share in Berlin and went on a one-year couch surfing tour shortly after her retirement. Back at the hotel we read the news about the results of a highly effective vaccine and there was immediate hope that Swakopmund would soon wake up from his slumber.

Swakopmund
Swakopmund

From Swakopmund to Palmwag in Damaraland

The drive north to Palmwag was long and dusty. The landscape became more and more barren by the minute and it felt like we were the only car far and wide. Along the way, local tribe people, the Himbas and Hereros kept waving to us, hoping that we would stop and buy from their souvenir stands. Children also held up empty water cans begging for water. We struggled between stopping or driving. It is hard to imagine how you can support a family in this area without the support of tourists.

After a 5-hour drive, the first giraffes greeted us a few miles from the entrance gate. What a beautiful sight, how they strutted majestically along the path. Giraffes are one of my favourite animals, they have accompanied our company our logo for 18 years. I found it difficult to move on, however we had to keep going due to the sun slowly setting in the scenic background.

Damaraland
Giraffe Damaraland

We finally arrived at the remote Palmwag Lodge. As expected, we were greeted here with a friendly smile, hidden behind a face mask, disinfectant in the one hand and our welcome cocktails in the other. When our personal details were recorded, the mandatory questions about wellbeing were asked and the temperature was once again measured on the wrist, “the same procedure as every time (James)”.

Covid-19 Palmwag Lodge
Willkommen Palmwag

The view was wonderful. We looked into a dried-out water hole surrounded by palm trees and enclosed by the typical mountain formations that make up Damaraland. For the next day we quickly booked the Rhino trekking offered by the lodge, a really rare experience. Our guide joined us for dinner, which was also served à la carte. Erwin, our guide, informed us about the rules for tomorrow's trek, no perfume, natural-coloured clothing, sturdy shoes, sunscreen and, above all, great respect for the animals. He also told us about the wild Rhinos in the area: they hear well, they a great sense of smell, they have poor eyesight, they are wild, they are fast (up to 50 km/h) and last but most importantly; they are dangerous. Trekking means hiking, so we should get very close to the large animals on foot. We were excited. With a glass of wine we lingered a little longer by the campfire. We met a German pensioner who was traveling alone with her own tour guide. She clearly enjoyed the peace and solitude. We were only 4 guests, last year at the same time the lodge was fully booked with roughly 60 guests.

Aussicht Palmwag Lodge

Rhino trekking and the spectacular visit of Jumbo

The alarm clock rang at 5:15 a.m. We jumped out of our beds, we were excited and full of anticipation. We have already been warmly welcomed by our guide Erwin and his apprentice Rodney. Rodney, a long-time guide in Etosha National Park, is now also being trained as a Rhino trekker. After a small breakfast in the lodge, we started off. Packed in warm ponchos, a good protection from the cool morning air, we climbed into the open off-road vehicle. On the way we collected two specially trained Rhino trekkers. It was now over hills and valleys, off the beaten path, right in the middle of the red mountain landscape.

It wasn't long before the trekkers saw 4 rhinos far in the distance. It took me an eternity to guess something. I was embarrassed that even 5 minutes later I still couldn't see anything. It became clear to me that the local trekkers must have a completely different eyesight which had to be perfectly adapted to the area. We drove closer and quietly got out of our vehicle. With the camera ready, we walked over the countless stones in the direction of the 4 rhinos. They browsed comfortably in the middle of some bushes. The trekkers were able to control the direction of the wind again and again with regular foot pokes into the sand. The wind was the greatest danger for us. When it was blowing in the right direction, we were able to stalk the rhinos up to 60 meters by hiding behind some bushes, but we had to make sure the wind was not turning. One could clearly hear the grinding of the teeth while browsing. We stood frozen and didn't dare to breathe. What if they scented us and storm towards us? Our trekkers and guides were on the move without weapons, only a stone in their hand should steer the rhinos into a different direction in case of danger. It was just as exciting as to watch the trekkers at work as it was watching the rhinos, as the trekkers worked with such courage, respect and a lot of joy. We observed, we took photos, and we were happy!

Rhino Tracking Palmwag Lodge
Rhino Tracking Palmwag Lodge

After a while, we made our way back quietly, trying not to disturb the tranquillity of it all. I still can't believe to have come so close to these animals in the wild - what a unique experience. On the way back we stopped and to our surprise a table was set up with snacks and drinks. During coffee, tea and crackers we were able to ask the trekkers many questions about the rhinos. We learnt how bad the poaching, for the rhino horns in Namibia, has increased, and how they try to protect the animals with their observation program. Due to the declining income from rhino trekking tours, there is now an elevated risk that protection can no longer be guaranteed.

By the way - Covid was not a topic at all on this hike, as none of the trekkers wear a face mask with them, except for our guide Erwin, who always wore it on his wrist. The unanimous opinion of the locals was that this virus cannot survive in the hot temperatures of over 30 degrees.

Rhino Tracking Palmwag Lodge
Rhino Tracking Palmwag Lodge

Back at the lodge, the next sensation awaited us. I could hardly believe my eyes as two elephants were looking for the way to the lodge and drank with relish from the swimming pool and ate the fresh green grass in the garden. I only knew such experiences from YouTube videos and now I was in the middle of one myself. We learned that the older elephant, at a respectable 40 years of age, was called Jumbo and that he frequently visits the lodge. Today, for the first time, he was accompanied by his son, a young and still very agile bull elephant. Maybe the son will take over the father's legacy one day. It was very funny to see when Jumbo put his trunk over an irrigation system and the water gushed into the trunk like a nasal rinse. What a smart guy, I thought. Now that Jumbo also released #1 and #2 at the middle of the walkway between two lodge buildings, the experience was truly unique.

Watching animals in the famous Etosha National Park

In the morning we said farewell to the lodge and to our guide Erwin, who on the days when there are no excursions due to the lack of tourists, he stacked stone on stone to give the lodge a nicer look.

To make the long drive through the barren landscape more interesting, we listened to the funny story of Tommy Jaud "Hummeldumm", a group tour through Namibia told with a lot of humour. As it was time to fill the tank of our vehicle again, we stopped at a petrol station and in no time we were approached by two friendly Himba ladies with baskets full of handmade souvenirs. I was adamant not to buy anything, however after 5 minutes of persuasion, two bracelets and two key rings were in the car. The feeling of having done something good certainly also helped, the exact same key rings are already at home, a common souvenir from past trips. One last picture of the ladies and we were on to our next destination.

Himbas Damaraland

In the afternoon we reached the newly built Etosha Oberland Lodge. We wore our mouth and nose protection masks in an exemplary manner, but soon realised that we were the only guests and that we felt kind of silly wearing them. In addition, none of the few employees at the lodge wore a mask, Covid didn't really seem to be an issue here. I only noticed the frustration of the team members. After the lodge opened its doors for the first time this March, it had to close again shortly thereafter due to the local lockdown. According to one employee, not all workers could continue to be employed. Governmental short-time subsidies like in Germany do not exist here. Everyone has to figure out on his own how to make a living. Wildebeest and a few  antelopes were grazing on the grounds of the lodge and I couldn't believe it, even some rhinos! With the experiences of rhino trekking in mind, it was an unreal feeling to be so close to the rhinos here at the lodge.

Nashörner beim Grasen am Pool
Etosha Oberland Lodge

We couldn't wait and drove towards Etosha National Park for the so called "golden hour", just before sunset. This is when the big cats are supposed to be most active. We soon noticed that the sky was closing and the first big rain of the season was about to fall. We drove back to the lodge, where the head chef Erasmus more than compensated us for the missed animal encounter by serving a wonderful meal. We would have given him the Michelin star immediately.

Regen Etosha
Etosha Oberland Lodge Chief
Etosha Oberland Abendessen

The next morning we again had to get up early, as we wanted to experience the famous Etosha National Park with its variety of African animals all day long, of course starting with sunrise. There were no queues at the entrance gate, which is rather unusual under normal conditions. We drove through the breath-taking landscape and could stop spontaneously at any of the countless water holes any time we felt like it was time for another “moment of miracles”. It is impressive to watch the animals carefully approaching the precious water, always on the lookout for possible dangers. It was a constant coming and going. Zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, springboks but also elephants crossed our path. Above all, we kept a rather spectacular picture in our memories, a hyena bathing with pleasure, which all alone prevented more than a dozen animals from approaching the waterhole for what felt like an eternity.

For my research, it was also important for me to visit the state camps in the park. I was shocked how dempty the otherwise crowded resorts Okaukujeo, Halali and Namuntoni were. I was truly devastated.

The next day we drove east through Etosha to our next destination. After many more animal encounters, a “kissing” giraffe and the fantastic view of the Etosha pan, we reached Gondwana Collection’s King Nehale Lodge, which was only completed in June this year, in the early afternoon. To our surprise, we met a few guests. We later learnt that local citizens could take advantage of the lodge's attractive offers. At check-in, the usual temperature was taken on the wrist. A full buffet, very much unthinkable in Germany at the moment due to Covid, was prepared by the lodge for dinner. It was not necessary for the guests or the waiters to wear mouth and nose protection masks. The mild summer evening finished off with African rhythms and singing by the lodge staff.

We experienced our most impressive Namibia highlight on a safari trip to the lodge's private waterhole. An animal lookout, right next to the waterhole, made it possible for us to observe the animals in unusual proximity, outside of the car. We experienced a natural spectacle that was far better than anything I have seen even on the most impressive TV documentaries. One after the other, three herds of elephants made their way to the waterhole. As direct spectators there were black rhinos, giraffes and zebras. It was fascinating to see how the different elephant families communicated with each other and how apparently existing rules were followed between them. The leader's trumpeting was the signal to march off and move on in an orderly manner. As in real life, there were some naughty youngsters here too. Two young bull elephants acted out their disagreements and clashed their tusks, it cracked quite loudly. “Mein. Dein. Afrika.” ("My. Your. Africa.") - just as we all dream.

On our third day in Etosha, we ended up meeting animals not seen thus far on our journey. The camera lens was catching warthogs, turtles and the very shy dikdik, the smallest antelope in the world, this time. Only a lion was not granted to us, which led the guard at the exit of the park to want to send us back immediately. She thought that with so many lions in the park this was not acceptable. We smiled at her, perhaps a little embarrassed and drove on to the nearby Onguma Game Reserve. With a measured body temperature of 33 degrees (smile), we were allowed to pass the main gate. Probably they were measuring the outside temperature.

When we arrived at the tented camp (Onguma Tented Camp), we were welcomed by staff wearing mouth and nose protection masks in an exemplary manner. As luck would have it, we met a couple from my hometown Neubrandenburg. They were the first clients we sent to Namibia after its borders were opened again in September. We talked about the current difficult situation in Germany and about the feeling of traveling during this time. Fear did not play any role with them, and good preparation helped to provide peace of mind. The couple avoided the flight from Berlin to Frankfurt and preferred to drive the long distance from North to South in their own car. The flight experience was very similar to ours. They told us enthusiastically about the many wonderful travel experiences and even thought about extending their stay in Namibia. At the end of a very informative conversation, they proudly presented us with their film recordings of three imposing lions that roamed through the reserve the evening before. I envied them quite a bit! But that's also what makes these trips unpredictable and special, in the wilderness of Africa not everything is guaranteed and through such moments, the experiences become unique. At nightfall, we were partly compensated with a mighty lion roar which kept as awake for a bit longer. The hyenas joined in with their loud calls. How exciting!

Leopard Trekking at the AfriCat Foundation

Sadly we had to say goodbye to the animal-rich Etosha and set off on our southbound journey. I really wanted to pay a visit to the AfriCat Foundation, because the project there is very close to my heart. The goal of the not-for-profit foundation is to research the life of leopards and hyenas on the reservation. In addition, in a fenced section of the part, there is also a rescue and care station for cheetahs and lions in need. It was interesting to hear that the goals of the project were also adjusted over time, based on the knowledge they gained with the research projects. For example, the team learned that the cheetahs released into the wild were ultimately not able to survive in the territory dominated by leopards and hyenas. Unfortunately, Covid also had negative effects on the work of the Foundation. All nature conservation projects had to be put on hold. According to Tristan, the local manager, the lodge can only survive economically, during this point of time, if it only focuses on what is absolutely essential.


We stayed at Okonjima Lodge which manages the AfriCat Foundation. In the entrance area, you could find very useful and practical tips around Corona, displayed at large info boards. Again, all staff wore mouth and nose masks in the check-in area. For the first time I also saw protective plexiglass panels. Disinfection racks everywhere. Corona protection is taken very seriously here.

 

In the late afternoon we went on our last sundowner tour. Our hope was to catch one of the rare glimpses of a leopard. Equipped with a tracking device, we set off with three other guests and our tour guide; Martin. We drove in an open SUV through almost unpassable terrain. Suddenly, he was standing in front of us. It was as quiet as it can get, we didn't dare move, holding our breath. Only the clicking of the cameras could be heard. Completely unimpressed, the leopard trotted past us. When I looked into his sparkling eyes, a cold shiver ran down my spine. What happens if the big cat suddenly feels disturbed? But the leopard remained calm. With a high level of confidence, he positioned himself directly in front of our vehicle and now blocked our onward journey. Here in the bush, it is very clear who is in charge. For sure, it was not us.

Just in time we got to our lookout point, where the sun disappeared in front of an impressive backdrop on the horizon. A grand finale like a romantic fairy-tale.

Our journey is coming to an end. It is time to draw a conclusion. Traveling during Corona times - a good idea?

For me personally, the answer to the question is a confident “yes”.

The holiday experience was unique in an almost carefree spirit, despite and certainly also because of all the hygiene precaution measures. At the same time, the low number of tourists and the current very good exchange rate offers a unique opportunity, which seems impossible during “normal” times.
Corona can be both, a blessing and a curse. I am saddened for the local people who have lost their income because of the lack of tourists, while at the same time I am happy for mother nature, which is given at least a short recovery.
What can I recommend people who have followed my blog and are thinking about a trip to Africa? Ultimately, the decision must remain with the reader.
Without doubt, the preparation is a bit more complex, the flight is not quite as comfortable as usual and we are perhaps all still not really used to the mouth and nose protection masks. However, the "efforts" are bearable and, if at all, mainly take place in ones head.
In Namibia, due to the big size of the country and the low population density, the current climate and the corresponding precautionary measures, the risk of an infection is not more compared to Germany. I noticed the local efforts and measures to contain the pandemic, however, like in Germany, these were not always followed consistently.

I can understand very well when people do not want to take the risk of infection by traveling. Personally, I think that people who feel uncertain by Covid and want to reduce contacts to a bare minimum, should postpone their trip to a later date. In order to really enjoy Namibia, it is actually good to switch off and to get what I call “peace of mind”.

One part from our audio book “Hummeldumm” comes into my mind when the German tour group talks for hours about the danger of animal attacks over a wine evening in Namibia. The local guide has to answer questions about possible emergency patient rescues and nearby helicopter landing areas. Imagine a similar discussion in a pub in Germany. Unthinkable. But what about the risk of a traffic accident, a glass of wine is legal and should be fine ...
With this thought, the Namibian travel guide leaves his group behind.

Sundowner Okonjima Lodge