Majestic Namibia is a land of contrasts

IT felt good to leave the cool, overcast weather of Gauteng last week for an overnight stay in Namibia's southern Kalahari.

IT felt good to leave the cool, overcast weather of Gauteng last week for an overnight stay in Namibia's southern Kalahari.

What I did not expect, though, was to be hit by temperatures in the mid-30s at 10am when I stepped off the plane at Windhoek's Eros International Airport.

Word filtered down to our touring party that the day before the temperature at our destination, Suricate Lodge, had reached a sweltering 45degrees at midday.

"Sure hope the beers are cold," I thought.

We first had to endure a 30-minute charter flight to Bitter wasser and a two-hour drive to Suricate Lodge.

What a pleasure it was to drive on tarred roads free of potholes. Long, long, immaculate roads that pass through breathtaking scenery.

"But what could be so beautiful about kilometres of nothing," I was asked on my return.

And that's exactly the point . it's the serenity, the emptiness of the area that generates a beauty of its own.

The sun shimmering off the melting tarmac creates a hazy effect as we eat up the kilometres along the D1239.

Apparently this particular part of Namibia can go for months, if not years, without rain. But thankfully the heavens had opened a few weeks before our visit. The transformation of the normally arid land into a green wonderland was magical.

Small yellow flowers scattered about like confetti made a beautiful contrast with the red sand, while a plethora of camel thorn trees reached up to the sky.

Massive anthills dot the side of the road while every now and then the odd wild horses or donkeys casually stroll across the road with not a eare in the world.

The last 20 or so kilometres to Suricate Lodge are made up of a mixture of sand and gravel.

Believe me, the long drive is worth it.

A refreshing cool drink and a cold wet towel on arrival were just what was needed before we took in the beauty before us.

The camp itself consists of 12 luxury walk-in tents, each with a private deck, en-suite open bathroom with hot and cold water and an essential shower.

After a quick shower it was time to chill in the open lounge that looks out over the dry pans of the Auob River, while the lovely pool looked inviting from the oppressive heat.

Watching a herd of 20-odd gemsbok lazily grazing on the grassy plains only 50metres away from the comfort of a sofa was a timely reminder of how beautiful Africa can really be.

The reserve in which the lodge is situated is just more than 10000hectares and is home to a wide variety of birdlife and game.

Make no mistake, the area is remote and activities available include game drives, bush walks or quad biking. Apart from that it's a case of just chilling out and getting back to nature.

With the sun quickly disappearing, it was time to board a game viewing vehicle to be transported to dinner at the Suricate.

En route we spotted a couple of majestic giraffe, springbok and eland grazing happily in the cool of the early evening.

Dinner was a braai on a ridge, and as the sun set in the west a majestic full moon crept up over the horizon.

We ate like kings - venison, lamb chops, chicken sosaties and salads - while savouring the landscape before us.

After an 18-hour day it was time for another cold shower and the twin bed - with mosquito netting attached - never felt so good.

A 6am wake-up call signalled that it was time for another game drive.

The highlight of this drive was an encounter with two adult lions who stood on a ridge like statuettes.

Camera-shy, the two felines lazily strolled off, but the 10 minutes we spent admiring them were truly memorable.

South Africa is often referred to as a land of contrasts. Well, Namibia is the same. I have been to Namibia before, but every time I go there, I discover something new. From the sand dunes in Walvis Bay to the chilly waters of the Skeleton Coast, from Swakopmund with its strong German heritage to the remoteness of the Kalahari, there is something for everyone.