Dispatch: Moonlight in Namibia

By Joy Phelan-Pinto July 26, 2011

The chill in the air made it even more dramatic: a rare central lunar eclipse in the sky above, with four rare white rhinos outlined in silvery moonlight at the waterhole below. It was absolutely otherworldly.

We chose our fabulous Namibian lodge for a few reasons: 1) With only three exquisite bungalows, we could take it over for our family alone; 2) Located within its own private game concession, it’s rich in lion, cheetah and more; and 3) It’s within striking distance of legendary Etosha National Park. But most importantly, 4) it had a high-powered Swarovski Optik telescope for watching the eclipse!

Sasha and Tristan man the telescope

And what a show the moon put on for us. We settled down to dinner on the terrace next to the telescope and watched while we dined—ooh-ing, aww-ing and photographing madly as bites were taken out of the oversized white moon. After it completely disappeared behind the earth’s shadow, we played a rousing game of Jenga awaiting its reappearance. All in all, it was a night to remember and an especially unforgettable experience for Sasha and Tristan.

The moon rapidly disappearing

Namibia has brought other unexpected surprises and delights. Namibians, we’ve decided, are amongst the most enlightened, educated and up-to-date people in Africa.

Formerly a German colony, Namibia gained independence in 1990 and seems to have been doing everything right since then. It’s one of very few countries in the world to specifically address conservation and protection of natural resources in its constitution. What a stellar example for other countries to follow.

From a traveller’s perspective, it’s also well-organized, spotless and exceedingly friendly. Communication is effortless since English has been the official language for decades, and rarely in Africa have we experienced such uninterrupted, seamless cellular reception. This is a blessing and a curse, of course. We can speak to Joy’s mother in Connecticut whenever we wish, but we also receive continuous email from the office…

Our stay here has been a relaxing first safari stop, especially considering the long and busy month ahead of us. We’ve had a sumptuous lodge all to ourselves (other than the family of rock hyraxes who love our bungalow’s sunbeds and the multitudes of birds who visit our plunge pool), a low-key day visiting Etosha National Park to see its famous elephants, as well as flamingoes on the salt pans (millions more will migrate back any day, turning the pans into a pink wonderland), plus we’ve enjoyed day and night game drives in the lodge’s private concession, effortlessly locating the resident trio of lion brothers hunting each day.

Even the bathroom is breathtaking
Even the bathroom is breathtaking

What’s next on the Pinto program?

The sweet, sleepy town of Swakopmund – if it sounds familiar it’s probably thanks to Angelina and Brad, who took up temporarily residence a few years ago, awaiting the birth of their first child. Then, the stunning Sossusvlei Desert with Graham, our private plane pilot who we can’t live without, followed by Botswana via helicopter, bush plane, elephant back, dugout canoe, ATV and speedboat. What fun!

In the bush: Tristan, Sasha, Jane, Felix, Joy and Dennis

We’ll be posting again soon. In the meantime, we’re wishing you a very happy summer wherever you may be!

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