In our world, with all its beauties, there is still so much more to discover. Some are already very much known to the public, while others have kept their secrecy. Off the beaten track takes you to these places where the roads are merely untrod, and tourists are scarce compared to our big metropoles. Let’s get inspired!

Namibia, a country home to the oldest desert in the world, vastly diverse wildlife and empty plains as far as the eye goes. In some areas, you will presumably encounter more wild animals than people, as Namibia is the least dense nation in Africa, with only 3 people per square kilometer. This country is home to about 3000 cheetahs, making them the world’s cheetah capital. Besides animals and wildlife, there is something else that makes Namibia stand out in its kind. Even though they have some of the world’s driest regions, there are about 4 vineyards that produce a relatively small number of bottles each year, which makes it distinctive!

How to non-rev to Namibia


There are 10 airports in Namibia, but the Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) is the only international one and is based 45km from the capital city of Windhoek. From this airport, there are only flights to 9 destinations in 6 countries, of which the only one in Europe is Frankfurt. There are no direct flights from North America, Australia, or Asia. Because of these limited connections, most people either fly in from Frankfurt or Johannesburg. Still, there are also some other airports to fly from. One thing for sure is that you’ll probably need a connecting flight.

Johannesburg
South African & Airlink
Frankfurt Lufthansa
Cape Town Airlink & Westair
Doha Qatar
Addis Ababa Ethiopian
Luanda TAAG

From the airport to the city center is only a 40-minute ride. Public buses run from the airport but do not have a specific timetable. A bus ticket is around 150NAD (10 US dollars), but a better option may be a taxi if you prefer a bit more certainty. This will cost you approximately 350NAD (23 US dollars).

The Weather


Mostly, Namibia has a subtropical climate with temperatures that can vary greatly. With 300 days of sun, it is one of the sunniest countries in the world. However, June and July are the coldest months, where temperatures can drop from 25 degrees to zero. In the summer (December and January), temperatures can rise to 30-35 degrees in the daytime. The rainy season also starts in January, with an average rainfall of 300mm. These rains may still occur in April and May but barely as much as the months before. Most visitors prefer to travel between May and October when the temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is minimal. It does get cold in the evenings though so bring a warm sleeping bag! These months are also ideal for safaris!

Na'an kû se


Where most people go to the capital of Windhoek and follow a well-known itinerary along all the country’s highlights, there is another place you can add. This is Neuras, part of Naankuse Foundation Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary outside Windhoek focuses on accommodating injured and orphaned animals that cannot be safely released into the wild. Not only are cheetahs taken care of here, but they also nurse lions, mongooses, wild dogs, baboons, meerkats, you name it!

You can imagine it takes some human hands to fulfill all the daily tasks needed to keep the sanctuary running. That’s why they welcome volunteers all year round to roll up their sleeves and contribute to protecting wildlife and conserving landscapes. I can speak from experience when I say that this is far from boring! Every day is different. One day you’re spending the day preparing food and feeding it to all the animals, and the other day you’re standing eye-in-eye with a giraffe on one of the nature walks. If that is not exciting enough (can’t imagine) you get to walk with baboons, drive around looking for rhinos and do cheetah walks, all guided by the most amazing staff. One thing is sure, no day goes by without seeing animals!

Neuras


Naankuse has multiple research sites, and one of them is Neuras. This is a 14,500-hectare oasis open to volunteers, day visitors, and overnight guests. This place combines all of the aspects mentioned earlier of the country with its breathtaking scenery and exciting activities that can be done.

As a day visitor or overnight guest, you get to taste the wines this unique vineyard produces and get a behind-the-scenes peek with a tour around their cellars and estate. They have 4 red wines, a rosé and a rum, of which they only produce a couple of thousand bottles per year. Like the other wineries in Namibia, these noncommercial amounts make it unique. With these wines comes a delicious cheese platter that will surely fill you up. If this is not the case though, they also offer delicious 3-course lunches and dinners, after which you can rest at their pool.

Aside from the beautiful accommodation and lovely wines, Neuras is also home to 7 cheetahs rescued due to human-wildlife conflict. As a visitor you get the unique opportunity to feed them and learn more about these cats and the conservation efforts of Naankuse. You can as well enjoy a scenic drive through the honey-canyon and end the day with a sundowner, including your favorite snacks and drinks!

As a volunteer at Neuras, you will actively participate in these conservation efforts for a week by helping, among other things with camera trapping, game counts and wildlife tracking. Day trips or activities like visiting Sossusvlei and hiking the Naukluft mountains are also optional.

Altogether, this is an excellent detour off the beaten path of your itinerary. Getting to experience the wildlife as well as the wines is a unique experience, and if you have more time on your hands, you can even contribute to the preservation and conservation of the land. So, enjoy! (and cheers for later)

Directions from Windhoek to Neuras:

  • Direction south on B1 towards Rehoboth 89km.
  • Drive through Rehoboth.
  • After 3km turn right onto C24.
  • Travel for 115km on the C24.
  • Drive over the Rietoog River.
  • After 1km turn right onto the D1206.
  • Travel 28km until you reach the C14.
  • Turn left onto the C14 and travel 1km.
  • Turn right onto the D854.
  • Travel 38km along the Naukluft Mountains.
  • Turn left onto the D850 and travel for 7km.

You will see the Neuras sign board

Let’s see the cheetahs!