My Just You Story: Anne

Despite it taking three years to pluck up the courage to go solo travelling, Anne now has two trips with Just You under her belt. We caught up with her on her Namibia adventures…

It was my sister who first put me onto Just You as she’s a travel agent and recommended them for my first solo adventure. I decided on China and it was just perfect, I felt very safe and looked after.

I love making use of the airport lounge access, most of us had a Just You luggage tags on our hand luggage so we could easily spot each other and start getting to know each other and relax as we were all checked in and got through security smoothly.

The trip, similar to Namibia struck all the right chords, for its nature, history and geography – they’ve always been my tick-list travel interests.

Happy to be alive

Namibia was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and the photography opportunities were stellar. I’ve recently finished a photography course so was able to put my new skills to good use with such wonderful light and colours to play with.

One of my ‘happy to be alive’ moments as my sister monikers it, was out on a game drive. We were trundling along in the truck when suddenly our driver stops. We all looked around wondering what was going on when an elephant appeared on the horizon. It was like we all stopped breathing for fear of ruining the moment, but the best was yet to come.

Another elephant appeared behind the first one, then another, and another. There must have been 50 or more in the herd, and to hear the thuds of their footsteps – well it’s something that will be etched in my mind forever.

Funnily enough I think it’s moments like that when you don’t feel the need to take lots of photos in case you miss a beat – I got all swept up in the moment.

Dolphins to desert

Elsewhere on the wildlife front, we enjoyed an optional Walvis Bay dolphin and seal cruise. We even had pelicans and a seal join us on board which was quite surreal! And we were fortunate to spot dolphins out on the water too which was great. And we were treated to oysters and champagne on board which was a nice treat.

It’s so hard to put it into words, even just watching the sun go down and observing birds in the distance, it’s that back to nature encounter that is unlike any other wildlife trip I’ve ever encountered.

The deserts and dunes of Sossusvlei were incredible – the vivid colours in the early morning light were just a joy to observe and capture on camera, I can still visualize it all now. On the face of it you think the Big Daddy dune would be impossible to climb, and I’m not a hill walker by any means, but it was easier than I thought to get there and over. Fortunately there is an alternative route if you feel that the dune is a little too out of reach.

This is were you will also experience the iconic trees of Petrified Forest, thought to be 700 years old, it was a wonderful contrast in the landscape. I would have liked to have spent some more time here if I could.

A sense of community

I also enjoyed the visits we had to see some local communities, it felt like we could travel with a bit more meaning and focus some time on more than just the wildlife.

Visiting the Himba tribe was insightful, they lead a nomadic way of life, and very self sufficient in making the most of living off the land around them with handmade jewellery, clothing and even their own unique deodorant made from a blend of herbs. It was fascinating learning about how people live and I bought some wonderful bracelets made by some of the women here, so it’s nice to know that this money has a direct effect on the community!

We enjoyed a similar encounter at Damaraland, but there they had rocks carved with petroglyphs dating back as far as 2,000 years ago. Our attention was drawn to some engravings which are believed to be an early map which showed different waterholes.

The group was a nice mix of ages and everyone had such a mix of life stories and experiences – they were a fascinating bunch of people to travel with. Four of us in the group got on particularly well and we’re making plans of things to do here in the UK.

On the last evening, our guide kindly took four of us on a trip to the mountaintop to see views of the plains. He even organised a little picnic of biltong and crisps, plus drinks to toast to a perfect ending.

All the hotels were wonderful too, and Namibian hospitality is just filled with so much warmth – being able to engage with people and have genuine interactions with people is something that I’ll treasure forever.

Even in a shop in the middle of a desert, the shopkeeper was telling me how sad she was about the passing of the late Queen – it’s those interactions that just add to your experience.

It was also totally unexpected when the staff in one hotel came out to say goodbye and even joined together to sing a song of farewell – it was completely heart-warming and another ‘happy to be alive moment’.

All the hotels were fabulous, I could almost write another story just on those. In one hotel, we were very close to a watering hole and it was quite bizarre to be enjoying a swim and then see some kudu strolling on past!

Collecting memories (and tips!)

My top tips from this trip would be to take some boiled sweets with you, you can be in some very arid climates so it’s a nice relief to have some to stop the desert sands getting to you.

If you love photography, a longer lens is obviously going to serve you well for wildlife, I invested in some extra dust caps too just in case.

I like to research where I’m going and make use of the Just You Community before I set off anywhere and it’s proved really useful for advise on currency and it’s a good way to ‘meet’ people before you travel.

We didn’t have much free time on tour but that’s just the way I like it and even though you might feel tired after a day out on the road, that’s not what you’re going to remember when you get home. So for me, it was about collecting as many travel memories as possible.

Our Local Guide was full of knowledge about his homeland, and took us to places that we perhaps wouldn’t have considered.

Throughout the trip we enjoyed a number of surprising little moments. On one occasion, the guide on our 4x4 Dune Safari made an unexpected stop and we wondered what was going on. He got out of the vehicle and brought back a lizard or gecko for us to look at before returning them to their rightful place. It’s those little things that add up to the big experiences, we loved it!

Next up I’m heading to Vietnam with my sister and her husband so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking at Costa Rica and Africa (to hopefully spot a leopard as it was the only animal I didn’t get to see) to enjoy more of the same!

Let us take you there

  1. Namibia - Tribes and Natural Wonders

    Explore Namibia’s unique landscape of plunging canyons and towering sand dunes and set your sights on its national parks to discover thrilling wildlife.

    • Return flights
    • 11 nights in great quality hotels & lodges, 2 nights in flight
    • 21 meals: 11 breakfasts, 10 dinners

    14 days from
    £5,449
    was £5,699