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IWC Schaffhausen

The Journal

Exquisite journey to Namibia

Exquisite journey to Namibia
Read Time: 3 min
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Madeline Lu

Madeline Lu

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JOIN SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER MADELINE LU AS SHE REVEALS HER FAVORITE SPOTS, ACCOMMODATIONS, AND ACTIVITIES IN THE NAMIB DESERT.

Madeline Lu visiting the Desert in Namibia, Deadvlei

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst,” William Penn once said. In a world where the clock never stops ticking, the luxury of time often eludes us. That’s why when we had one week free in October to travel as a family, we knew that we wanted to spend it somewhere extraordinary. Somewhere that would make every second count. Our destination of choice, in the end, was Namibia.

The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388111
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Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41

IW388111

Pilot's Watch Chronograph 41

€ 8.400

Stainless steel case, Automatic winding. Black dial with luminescence, Black calfskin strap with EasX-CHANGE system, Strap width 20.0 mm.

Made in Switzerland

— Safari Time at Zannier Private Reserve with the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388111

 

 

THE UNFILTERED DRAMA OF NATURE

 

After landing in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, we were swiftly transported to Zannier Hotels Omaanda, which was just a short 35-minute drive away. Nestled in a private nature reserve, the lodge perfectly marries luxury with nature. There are 10 round thatched huts paying tribute to the traditional architecture of the Ovambo people. Our two-bedroom family hut was a spacious and elegant one, blending traditional Namibian artistry with modern comforts. But what really caught my eye was the panoramic view of the savanna right from our bathtub and private terrace.

 

During our two full days at Omaanda, we embarked on four sunrise and sunset wildlife safari game drives in the 9000-hectare Zannier Private Reserve, N/a’an ku sê. The experience was unforgettable. With our seasoned guide, Johannes, we traversed the savanna, witnessing the unfiltered drama of nature - four lions prowling around in search of prey during sunrise, mother and baby giraffes gracefully picking leaves from the thorny bushes and a herd of three bull elephants basking in a watering hole. I wished the arms on my Portofino Chronograph 39 would move more slowly so I could savor each second longer. 

 

 

The absence of engine noise, the purity of the air, and the vast openness of the desert made the outing a genuinely therapeutic experience.

 

 

BLENDING INTO THE LANDSCAPE

 

Then it was time to head to NamibRand Nature Reserve, which is one of the largest private reserves in southern Africa. It was established in the 1980s when Albi Brückner integrated several livestock farms into a protected wilderness area, and today, it has become a model of conservation success. There are strict rules about the number of lodges built in the area, making our trip a totally private and entirely exclusive adventure.

 

Our lodge was the Zannier Hotels Sonop. After driving for almost six hours through the desert, we thought we were still looking at even more desert. Then, there it was. After another change of direction, the lodge surprisingly revealed itself to us. The canvas tents were scattered among massive piles of boulders, upon which they were constructed, and perfectly blended into the landscape. From afar, it was nearly invisible. 

 

Sunrise over a canvas tent at Zannier Hotels Sonop in Namib Desert

— Sunrise over a canvas tent at Zannier Hotels Sonop in Namib Desert

 

 

Madeline Lu at Zannier Hotels Omaanda, Windhoek

— Madeline Lu at Zannier Hotels Omaanda, Windhoek 

 

The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388111 (left) and the Portofino Chronograph 39 IW391502 (right)

— The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388111 (left) and the Portofino Chronograph 39 IW391502 (right)

E-BIKE ADVENTURES AND HORSEBACK RIDING IN THE DESERT

 

Built to resemble a 1920s British colonial explorer camp, the lodge has this old-world charm that evokes a sense of timeless luxury and elegance. Vintage furniture and objects, such as travel trunks, pith helmets, binoculars and vintage books, can be seen everywhere. I felt like I was stepping onto the movie sets of “Out of Africa” or “Lawrence of Arabia.” However, what my heart felt for most was the beautiful claw foot bathtub facing the Namib desert.

 

Despite being so remote, there were actually many activities offered by the lodge. On our second day there, we were introduced to a dash of adrenaline with an e-biking adventure through the desert. We pedaled through sandy trails, the electric assist making light work of any resistance. We also seized the chance to go horse riding across the desert. The experience was magical. With our guide, Austin, leading the way, the rhythmic motion of the horse allowed us to connect with the landscape on a deeply intimate level. The absence of engine noise, the purity of the air, and the vast openness of the desert made the outing a genuinely therapeutic experience.

 

TIME FOR OUTDOOR CINEMA

 

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the staff at Sonop transformed the outdoor pool into an open-air cinema. With a blanket and a bag of popcorn, we settled into our comfortable bean bags and watched the most classic movie about Africa of all time, “The Lion King.” The screen was framed by a dazzling sky full of stars. It was one of the most romantic and magical settings imaginable. 

 

— Sunset hour at Zanner Hotels Sonop, Namib Desert

I had seen many photos and videos of the infamous red dunes and the decorous swathes of desert, but nothing prepares you for the moment when you see it for yourself.

 

 

MAGNIFICATION OF PRECIOUS MOMENTS

 

Our most memorable excursion, however, was the trip to Sossusvlei. I had seen many photos and videos of the infamous red dunes and the decorous swathes of desert, but nothing prepares you for the moment when you see it for yourself. The place was humbling. There is something peaceful and spiritual about it. It was definitely one of the most striking and soul-stirring places that I have ever visited.

 

One might not find the Big Five wandering around the harsh Desert of the NamibRand, but the dunes are home to wildlife that has adapted in many fascinating ways in order to survive. Take, for example, the gemsbok with their white bellies that reflect the heat of the sand and their sophisticated vascular system that cools the blood around the brain.

 

The thing with time is, eventually, it always runs out. As our week in Namibia drew to an end, I couldn’t help but reflect on the importance of time and how each moment had been magnificently amplified by experiences like game drives, the cinema under the stars or walks on the red dunes. In a world where time is the ultimate luxury, this trip to Namibia has definitely proved to be the ultimate return on investment.

 

Madeline Lu wearing the Portofino Chronograph 39 Ref. IW391502 at Sossusvlei
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Portofino Chronograph 39

IW391502

Portofino Chronograph 39

€ 7.400

Stainless steel case, Automatic winding. Beige calfskin strap with quick-change system, Strap width 18.0 mm.

Made in Switzerland

 

— Madeline Lu wearing the Portofino Chronograph 39 Ref. IW391502 at Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan in Namid Desert

 

 

 

 

IWC Schaffhausen