In The Moment

On a Ker & Downey-curated trip to Namibia and Botswana, travelers John and Renata Harbison photographed the haunting scenes and many moods of two of Southern Africa’s most alluring destinations. They share the experience in their own words. Photography by John Harbison

Visiting Namibia is about entering a landscape of expansive vistas and sweeping scenery with an otherworldly feel. We arrived in Namibia in June, and wound up enjoying the isolation and remoteness that comes from a country bigger than Texas with a population of only 2.1 million people. Other than Windhoek, the capital city, it is an experience largely absent of people and only sparsely inhabited by wildlife due to the intensity of its desert environment. It is easy to fall into the spell of this enchanting spectacle.

John took this at Hoanib Skeleton Coast in the remote northwestern part of Namibia. It was just at dusk, and the last rays of sunlight were struggling to penetrate the haze of a dust storm caused by winds that started blowing around midday. Within minutes, the wind and dust would subside, but this image captured much of the feel of being in Namibia.

John took this at Hoanib Skeleton Coast in the remote northwestern part of Namibia. It was just at dusk, and the last rays of sunlight were struggling to penetrate the haze of a dust storm caused by winds that started blowing around midday. Within minutes, the wind and dust would subside, but this image captured much of the feel of being in Namibia.

Most of Namibia’s Atlantic Coast is covered 40 miles or so deep in dunes, representing an area approaching 80,000 square miles of inhospitable and inaccessible dunes. The largest dunes are at Sossusvlei, and Big Daddy is almost 1,000 feet tall.

Most of Namibia’s Atlantic Coast is covered 40 miles or so deep in dunes, representing an area approaching 80,000 square miles of inhospitable and inaccessible dunes. The largest dunes are at Sossusvlei, and Big Daddy is almost 1,000 feet tall.

At Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in northwest Namibia we experienced a rare treat—watching a herd of six elephants slide down a 15-foot steep sandy embankment one-by-one. They were clearly enjoying themselves. The last was the big bull elephant, and he trumpeted his presence at the top before putting his two front feet forward and kneeling on his back legs as he swooshed down the dune.

At Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in northwest Namibia we experienced a rare treat—watching a herd of six elephants slide down a 15-foot steep sandy embankment one-by-one. They were clearly enjoying themselves. The last was the big bull elephant, and he trumpeted his presence at the top before putting his two front feet forward and kneeling on his back legs as he swooshed down the dune.

We spent three nights in the privately-owned Ongava Game Reserve which is on the south-west boundary of Etosha National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Namibia. There, we saw several black rhinos, quite relaxed and foraging close by in the last rays of sunset. There are only about 5,000 in the world. 

We spent three nights in the privately-owned Ongava Game Reserve which is on the south-west boundary of Etosha National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Namibia. There, we saw several black rhinos, quite relaxed and foraging close by in the last rays of sunset. There are only about 5,000 in the world. 

We stayed at Jack’s Camp in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert primarily to see meerkats. We started at sunset on our second day and enjoyed them in the warm last light of the day, although they were shy and wouldn’t let us get too close to them.  On the last day, our perseverance paid off: Renata experienced a once in a lifetime treat of a group of ten meerkats huddled around her, with two of the youngest ones on her lap.

We stayed at Jack’s Camp in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert primarily to see meerkats. We started at sunset on our second day and enjoyed them in the warm last light of the day, although they were shy and wouldn’t let us get too close to them. 

On the last day, our perseverance paid off: Renata experienced a once in a lifetime treat of a group of ten meerkats huddled around her, with two of the youngest ones on her lap.


Pro Tip!

Take along your Ker & Downey buff. It can be used as a bandana, sun guard, scarf, hat, neck gaiter or dust screen. - Tiffany DeSalvo, Luxury Travel Expert