Namibia +

I have just concluded a busy winter and I’m now in Europe, ready to commence a busy spring.  I’m sitting in the newly opened, beautifully remodeled Rijksmuseum atrium café, in Amsterdam Netherlands.  They have covered the inner courtyard with a glass ceiling making a light and airy space - a la Louvre.  Like the Louvre, the remodel has made entering the museum much more efficient and pleasant.  I’m excited to take my group through the complete collection for the first time in a decade.  As the museum has only recently reopened it is quite a scene here.  LONG lines to get in and crowded galleries.  I even had to wait to get a seat here in the café. Earlier in the day I had a coffee with my friend and now colleague Hans DeKiefte.  He used to run a B&B in Haarlem and later became our “local guide” for the Best of Europe tours.  Some of you might remember him taking us on a walking tour.  He loned me a bike and I rode out to the seaside - something I’ve never done in all these many years of coming here.  It was a pleasant, mostly flat, half-hour pedal each way.  I passed by a couple miles of dunes before descending to the windy beach.  As the sun was shining the hearty Dutch were populating the beach - though I didn’t see anyone in the water on this blustery, 60°-ish day.  It was good to do something physical, which always helps with jetlag.  My busy winter was spent planning and plotting for Africa.  Some of my alums with the luxury of time have a great attitude:  if you are going halfway round the world, you might as well stay and see as much as you can.  There was a flurry of emails discussing options and opportunities and we’ve settled on an optional Namibia extension.  It was a challenge to find an add-on that was not repeating experiences already planned for the tour.  But this fit the bill perfectly - a completely different set of experiences altogether.  Namibia is largely a desert state so we’re going to explore some unique and different landscapes.  We’ll start our excursion in Swakopmund on the famous Skeleton Coast.  Swakop, as the locals call it, has become the adventure sports capital of Namibia.  Activities range from ocean fishing to skydiving.  I’m interested in the sand dune boarding and four-wheeling.  But the foremost excursion is clearly the scenic flight option that features the magnificent Sand Dune Sea of the western Namib desert.  The opportunity to see the world’s largest sand dunes from the air has got to be special.  The dunes stretch for miles in every direction, are the highest in the world (up to 1000 ft), and consist of red sand.  You’ve probably seen these dunes on many occasions.  They are a favorite location for any big budget movie that features rippling dunes stretching out to the horizon.  The flight also includes the rugged and scenic coast.  We will also see the dunes from the ground as our second stop is Sousevslei in the midst of the dune sea.  Imagine the photographic possibilities as we’ll have a full day to explore in our custom safari vehicles.  Climbing on foot is also an option for the ambitious and fit.  After the dunes we’ll continue south toward South Africa.  Our destination is the second largest canyon in the world, after our own Grand.  Fish River Canyon displays a similar level of epic grandeur and colossal scale.  We’ll be taking an easy hike along the rim and enjoying the glowing light of sunset and sunrise, sandwiched around our single night.  A short travel day follows with a brief stop at some natural hot springs and a canoe trip on the scenic Orange River, the natural border between Namibia and South Africa.  The long drive south to Capetown will be broken up with an overnight in the Cederburg Mountains, one of the best hiking regions in South Africa.  Iconic Table Mountain will grow ever larger on the horizon as we approach our final destination of Capetown. We’ll arrive in time to relax for 24 hours before the regular tour begins the next day.  Once we developed the Namibia extension for our first tour we decided to offer it for the other two departures as well.  An extra week of tour travel is a lot, but necessary considering the great distances we’ll cover.  But the reward of an entirely different and unique travel experience is too good to pass up.  Combined with the regular itinerary, which features beautiful Capetown (Cape Point excursion; Table Mountain excursion; and Wine tasting), five days of safari in the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, Botswana (mokoro excursion; vehicle, walking, river, and night safaris), and mighty Victoria Falls (Boma dinner and entertainment, township visit, lunch in a village home), I’m convinced we’re covering the best three weeks Southern Africa has to offer.  Although all three 2014 #Imprinttours Southern Safari tours are full, I am certain we will be offering the tour with the optional Namibia extension in future years.  If this sounds like an intriguing travel experience, pencil us in for April 2015 and let us know of your interest.Signing off from Amsterdam - Reid