I’m an adrenaline junkie. My idea of the perfect day would be skydiving before breakfast, rappelling down a waterfall to get to whitewater rafting, lunch on the river, flyboarding and scuba diving, dinner at the beach, and a sunset, aerobatics biplane flight over the ocean. I don’t know if all of that is possible during one day, but now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I’ll add it to next year’s list. So why was southern Africa so high on this year’s list? Do you see it as an adrenaline rush? While jumping out of a plane or rafting down a river is extreme and it gets my blood pumping during the adventure, it would take all of those activities combined in one day to equate to the adrenaline felt during a Namibian safari. If you want a real adrenaline rush, watch Africa animal attacks on tv or YouTube before going to Namibia. Your hair will be standing up the entire trip. It’s the wild, after all, and anything can happen. I went on a self-driven safari in Etosha National Park, Namibia. From the time I entered the park until the time I was well into deep sleep that night, my adrenaline was pumping. It’s the ultimate, adrenaline adventure.
There are real threats in Namibia and I started to thing about them when we entered Etosha National Park. What if we got a flat tire in the park? I’m not going to get out and change it with a rhino next to the truck! Would you? That’s just looking for trouble. The thought was always in the back of my mind, reminding me that this was one wild ride. It’s intense all the time and that’s before you add dozens and sometimes hundreds of animals into the mix.
On the first day, we were in a traffic jam with hundreds of zebras. I came to a complete stop. They surrounded the vehicle. I don’t think I was in any immediate danger. They moved around us like it was common for them, but before my trip I watched a YouTube video of a zebra attack a young girl and it was vicious. Its teeth were massive and its kick was even worse. I thought about how unpredictable animals can be and my heart began racing once again. They were just zebras but the mind is a powerful thing and images of that zebra biting the girl’s neck and the instant rush of blood all over her truck was graphic. As one slowly walked by my truck, I put the window up. With all of these attacks fresh in my mind, this was going to be interesting.
Our next stop was at a watering hole. Antelope and other small deer-like animals played around the water and some drank peacefully. Then, as if I was in a National Geographic video, a lion appeared from the bush. He began running; something was dripping from his mouth. Was it blood? Had he already eaten? His eyes were focused, driven, deliberate. He wasn’t fast enough, thankfully. I was enthralled. I was able to witness the hunt without the ugliness of the kill. It was like I was part of it. When he ran, my heart sped up and my eyes became fixed. Unconsciously, I snapped pictures with the camera. It became my eyes but with better vision. I was hunting too but for a great photo. This untagged, wild animal was within walking distance to me. Not even skydiving could compare to the excitement I felt at that moment.
Elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, oryx, springbok, hyena, kudu, gemsbok and eland all appeared before me throughout the day. Sometimes I had to focus a great deal to see them while other times they walked out in front of the truck commanding my attention. It was so unpredictable. Every minute of the day consisted of something new. It kept me on my toes at all times.
You’d think that leaving the park would put your adrenaline in check and give you time to recoup but the accommodations are equally as exciting. Staying at Doro Nawas Camp was an extraordinary thrill.
I could see the camp from half a mile away. Perched atop a rocky knoll, the unspoiled views of the Etendeka Mountains were breathtaking, but it was the massive suites with a veranda for stargazing or sleep-outs that left me speechless. This was the reason I came to Africa! Experiences like these don’t come along often. I wanted to soak it up and mingle with the stars! How could I sleep inside when this was an option?
Before I turned in, or should I say rolled my bed out, for the night, dinner was in the agenda. Told to dress warm, I figured we’d be dining on the patio overlooking the mountains but the staff had something prepared that was even beyond my exotic, wild imagination.
We drove 20 minutes to a private dinner under the stars in the Namibian plains. Candles lit the path to our table, our backs to the sounds of the wild. This is the place of fairy-tales. That night will remain on the top of my best dinners for the rest of my life. They rolled out the green carpet and I dined with the stars and whatever wild African animals lurked nearby.
I returned to the camp feeling exhilarated! I was ready to sleep outside, confident that I could make it through the night. I crawled into the bed with my emergency horn and headlamp.
I was feeling less confident. There are lions out here. I could be attacked. No, I could be eaten! Alive!
Then… it happened. I heard something. It was being attacked. Was it being eaten? It sounded like something was being eaten. Was there a lion? Were there several? I was going to be next. I ran inside. Closed the doors! Turned off the lights. Waited!
Darn it! Why did I put both beds outside? I’m going to have to go get them. I waited longer. Any thought of actually sleeping outside was completely gone. I ran out with the headlamp shining in all directions. My head was on a swivel.
Frantically and chaotically, I pushed the bed back inside. The others could have their outdoor adventure. I was fine with sleeping inside.
As I drifted off to sleep, I thought about my Namibian safari. How could any day compare to this one? It was one adrenaline rush after another with no down time in between. Driving and dining even presented there own thrills. I knew that an African safari would find a place in the best adventures of my life but I had no idea it would be so adrenaline filled. One day in Africa is like a month of adventures anywhere else.