Excellent Adventures: Africa with Michael Libis

Our newest excellent adventure comes from Michael Libis on his recent trip to Africa. Michael started his trip in Namibia, located just above South Africa along the Atlantic Ocean and home to one of the world’s oldest deserts, the Namib. Namibia is an excellent location to experience and photograph wildlife because it has one of the least dense populations in the world. The other area he visited was Cape Town, which is located on the most south-western corner of South Africa, sitting at the foot of the famous Table Mountain. Cape Town is the second most populated city in the country and considered one of the top surf destinations in the world. Namibia and Cape Town are roughly a 15-hour drive from one another, which gave Michael even more opportunity for beautiful photographs and new places to be explored.

In an era of social distancing, and grounded international flights it’s nice to reflect back on past adventures. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Namibia and Cape Town - two places that had been on my list for years.

Africa by Michael Libis for Bather

Namibia is a sparse, arid, and lightly populated country on the west coast of Subsaharan Africa. It’s also one of the most photographic places I’ve ever been to. The main entry point to this magical country is through the capital, Windhoek, which has a population of 325,000 and is by far the most densely populated city in the country. I rented a 4x4 vehicle (a must) at the airport and drove north a few hours to Erindi Private Game Reserve. I can highly recommend this place if you’re looking for a taste of wildlife, but also the spoils of comfort. The dining area and your room overlook a watering hole frequented by various animals, and meals and game drives are all included in your cost of the stay. It’s by no means a rustic experience, but you’ll have an opportunity to get up close and personal with a large amount of Africa’s finest wildlife. During my morning and evening game drives, I was lucky enough to see everything from Elephants to Leopards, and everything in between, even a lion hunt/kill of a large water buffalo. If you’re into photography I highly recommend bringing a zoom lens with you to capture these magical moments (minimum 70-200mm, but the larger the better).

Michael Libis wearing Bather Multi Gradient Stripe Swim Trunk in Africa

Africa by Michael Libis

After leaving the Erindi Game Reserve I head down to the empty and beautiful Namib Desert. The desert is really what drew me to this country in the first place, and it did not disappoint. For about 5 days I stayed in and around Sossusvlei national park. You can find great options on booking.com, but depending on the time of the year prices fluctuate greatly. Check out the following:

Moon Mountain Lodge - situated on the side of a small mountain, overlooking vast desert landscapes. This place leans towards a glamping experience with tent-like accommodations, complete with private verandas and small wading pools.

Sossus Dune Lodge - operated by the Namibian national park organization (NWR), this lodge is located inside the Sossusvlei park. It’s quite expensive, however, you get the benefit of access to the park before and after sunrise/sunset, which is a must if you’re hoping to take interesting photos of the dunes. Once the sun gets too high in the sky, not only do the dunes start to lose the amazing shadow contracts, but it also gets unbearably hot.

A few warnings to anyone planning a trip in the future: spend the extra money and get a proper 4 wheel drive SUV. Once you get off the main highway you’ll find yourself driving for hours on unpaved roads. Also, you’ll need to drive on the left side of the road, so make sure a) you’re comfortable with that and b) you get yourself an automatic transmission.

Rounding out the trip I made my way back to Windhoek and flew to Cape Town, South Africa with Air Namibia. The flight was extremely affordable and the views flying in over Table Mountain were incredible. Now, where do I start with Cape Town? Do you know the feeling when you arrive somewhere and immediately think “I could live here”? Well, that was Cape Town for me. Ample amounts of the ocean, beaches, stunning landscapes, great food, a thriving cultural scene, and affordable. I spent 6 days in the city exploring everything it had to offer and staying just off of Kloof st at an Airbnb. I’m happy to share a few gems here:

Kloof St – amazing bars, restaurants and quite safe

Lions Head: Hike up at sunset for incredible views of Table Mountain

Table Mountain – Hike, or take the cable car up at sunset for views over cape town. Airbnb experiences offer locals guides that can show you the most unique ways up to the top!

Tide Pools – Cape town is surrounded by ocean, and it seems like every beach has amazing man-made tide pools for comfortable/safe swimming.

Bo-Kaap – Situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center, Bo-Kaap is one of the oldest and the most fascinating residential areas in the South African city of Cape Town. The area is characterized by brightly colored homes and romantic cobblestoned streets that date back to the 18th century.

Champman’s Peak Drive – A stunning stretch of ocean-front highway offers amazing views

Boulder Beach – Swim with wild African penguins!

Babylonstoren – A farm/winery just outside of Capetown - go have lunch, explore the gardens and do a wine-tasting

Be sure to follow @secretcapetown on IG for inspiration!

All in all, this part of the globe is not to be missed. I feel like I only scratched the very surface, and know I need to go back again to dive in deeper, but I hope this article helps to motivate your own adventure to Subsaharan Africa!