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Floating Over the Namib

Traversing the world’s oldest desert by hot air balloon

Reserve your balloon safari for the beginning of stay in South Africa to ensure plenty of time to reschedule in the event of bad weather.
When traveling through southwest Africa, the world’s oldest desert – the Namib in Namibia – is an awe-inspiring must-see. Few views convey the vast beauty and tranquility of a desert as one 1,500 feet above ground at sunrise.

Namib Sky Balloon Safaris depart from the desert floor of the Namib-Naukluft National Park a half hour before sun up. Once your basket (which holds about a dozen) has cleared the majestic star sand dunes reputed to be the world’s tallest, the roar of the butane gives way to an almost eerie silence that’s echoed in the expansiveness below. What appears infinite is actually 1200 miles north to south and 120 miles east to west where it fades into the Atlantic Ocean.

From the sky, it’s easier to fathom how the desert’s multi-directional winds hone the sand into pyramidal mounds with sloping faces on multiple arms that radiate from the dune’s central peak. The long shadows at sunrise glide between the crests and troughs of the mountainous orange dunes that contain sand that’s five-million-years old.

There’s life to spy below too. Gemsbok, the national antelopes that resemble unicorns, and the smaller Springbok roam in sturdy herds seeking shade and reserving their energy. Black-backed jackals dig through the sand in search of ostrich eggs when the scrub hares give too good of a chase.

Once you’re back on solid ground an hour and a half later, the champagne breakfast waiting will keep your head blissfully in the clouds.

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