Namibia: Just the Facts


This week, Christina and John set off to escort a small group through Namibia! This large country lies on Africa’s southwestern coast, north of South Africa and west of Botswana. It’s well-known for its dramatic desert landscape and rugged coastal line.

Namibia is not exactly high on the US traveler’s list, but its breathtaking wildlife and terrain guarantees a fair contender to India or Brazil!


Did You Know? — Some of our Favorite Fun Facts of Namibia

  • After some time as a German colony, Namibia was captured by South Africa in World War I. The nation only recently declared independence in 1990.
  • It is the second least densely populated country, after Mongolia.
  • The three most common languages are Oshiwambo (49%), Nama/Damara (11.3%) and Afrikaans (10.4%); in addition English is often used for public communication.


  • The unique landscape is primarily desert and semi-desert plateau, with the least rainfall of any sub-Saharan African country. Its desert is the oldest in the world, approximately 55-80 million years. Here you find the Welwitschia Mirabilis, an incredible plant with a lifespan of up to 2,000 years!
  • The sand dunes of the Namib desert are beautiful and ever-changing. The red dunes of Sossusvlei, in the marsh of no return. Dune 45 remains the most photographed dune in the world, particularly early or late in the day when the shadows are at their most dramatic.


  • Conservation plays a big role in the society. It was the first country in the world to addresses conservation in its constitution.
  • Namibia wildlife is free-roaming, mostly found in communally-owned conservancies, and a few parks. Namibia is home to 2500 roaming cheetahs, the largest population in the world. 95% of the desert black rhino is found here.
  • Etosha National Park is home to diverse wildlife: the tallest elephants, endangered black rhino and 91 other mammal species.
  • Hunting and possession of protected wildlife without a permit is illegal. Despite this, Namibia is currently undergoing a poaching crisis threatening its wildlife. Since 2011, 230 elephants, 100+ black rhinos, desert lions and pangolins are reported to have been poached. To date, there are only an estimated 130 desert lions of the Kunene region in Namibia.


  • Last June, 45 trail runners dashed across 200km of arid Richtersveld over 5 days in the first cross-border trail run between South Africa and Namibia.
  • Namibia is a paradise for thrill-seekers, with opportunities like paragliding, dune-surfing and serious rock climbing on the beautiful Spitzkoppe and Erongo Mountain Range.
  • The Gibeon meteorite shower, the largest meteorite shower in the world occurred in prehistoric times. The local Nama people used the meteorite shards to make spearheads for centuries. The largest one weighs 66 tons and is a major tourist attraction at Hoba.
  • Lake Otijkoto is the world’s largest underground lake, in Dragon’s Breath Cave, and remained unknown until 1986. Its surface area is 4.9 acres and depth is at least 300 feet deep, probably more.

Subscribe to Africa Geographic for more stunning photos and articles about the African continent.

Dreaming about Africa? Our Agents have organized and escorted trips to the Continent for decades. Drop us a line at and we’ll be sure to get back to you to start your African Adventure!

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Namibia & the Newsletter


Christina and John Cooper are leaving later this week to Namibia, to escort a small group through this amazing destination! They will be there for a few weeks. Look for later reports from their trip here on the blog!

Christina is the founder of Willamette Intl Travel and almost every year she and John have escorted groups to Africa: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. Though they have sent dozens of clients to Namibia via the fabulous ground operator Ultimate Safaris—this is the first group they have escorted to Namibia! So as you can imagine we are quite excited to hear all about it.

Sign up to our seasonal newsletter to receive news on future escorted groups and more!


speaking of…

Have you checked out our Summer 2016 Newsletter yet?

Twice a year, we put together a fun and informative newsletter for our subscribers to enjoy. This summer we released our 2016 Summer issue, featuring what’s new and inspiring in the World of Travel. If you haven’t picked up a FREE copy yet, be sure to drop us a line!

The 2016 Summer issue is full with handy travel tips, inspiring client and agent trip feedback, calendar updates, event invitations, offers on sale and more.

Call us to order a FREE paper copy at 503-224-0180

Or click here to read it online


In this issue, you’ll find: 

  • Summer staff updates in the office — new faces!
  • Best place to watch the Sunset in Paris
  • Details on the 2017 Tanzania & 2017 Kenya Escorted Tours
  • Japan Heritage with Amy Osaki
  • Spotlight on Alaska cruises, with Un-Cruise and Celebrity
  • Cuba by Cruise
  • Club Med Punta Cana
  • PLUS Agent trip reports on Stockholm, Panama, Bordeaux
  • & Client trip reports on the Shetland Islands, Galapagos, Viking River Cruises, Tanzania and Antartica with Lindblad Expeditions


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Travel News of the Week: Hawaii Travel App

Hawaii’s First Travel Destination Mobile App Launched

Created by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), tourism agency for the State of Hawaii, the GoHawaii app is a one-stop mobile reference guide for travelers wanting fast, accurate and trustworthy information while exploring all that Hawaii offers. The GoHawaii app offers valuable travel tips for each of the six major Hawaiian Islands: Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Island of Hawaii. App users will discover useful information to help them enjoy Hawaii’s wide variety of sites, activities, special events and cultural festivals statewide. A listing of essential Hawaii websites and phone numbers is also provided to direct travelers to other reliable sources for information and assistance. Helping visitors experience Hawaii safely is a significant aspect of the GoHawaii app, which contains important advice for ocean activities, hiking and weather conditions on each island. Visitors are outdoors most of the time in Hawaii. This app helps keep them safe while they enjoy the beauty of the Islands,. A special app feature is the “Locomoji,” Hawaii-inspired emojis that can be shared with family and friends. Locomojis include images of an ukulele, aloha shirt, erupting volcano, shave ice, and Spam musubi, among many others. The GoHawaii app is free and may be downloaded in the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store. It is offered in English, German, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. Searider Productions, a career development program in arts and communication at Waianae High School on Oahu, created a video about the new app.


Niagara Falls Latest Natural Wonder to Add Zip Line
Niagara Falls is the latest natural wonder to add a zip line. The elevated cable rides have evolved from a novel way to explore jungle canopies to a major tourist attraction. There has been a booming popularity of commercial zip lines over the past five years, with at least 200 in the United States alone. Visitors can ride above the tree line at New River Gorge in West Virginia, over California’s Catalina Island, above lush Hawaiian landscapes and in view of Denali in Alaska. A zip line ride in Mexico’s Copper Canyon runs more than 1 ½ miles, one in Nepal has a drop of 2,000 feet and another in Sun City, South Africa, boasts top speeds of 100 mph. At Niagara Falls, WildPlay’s Benson said his four lines angling 2,200 feet along the Canadian side of the gorge were designed to be sensitive to the local environment.

Serenity Departs For Northwest Passage Trip
The Crystal Serenity has embarked on a 32-day journey through the Northwest Passage!! This is an unprecedented voyage. Following more than three years of planning and preparation the ship sailed from Seward, Alaska, through Northern Canadian Waters and will conclude its trip next month in Manhattan. The ship and its crew have been through extensive training and fitting for the trip. Serenity will sail with additional crew, training and equipment in consideration of the unique operating conditions in the far north. Two veteran Canadian Ice Pilots will be onboard to advise the Master of Crystal Serenity, Captain Birger J. Vorland and his bridge team. Earlier this year, the Captain and ice pilots attended an ice navigation simulator training in St John’s Newfoundland, and during a routine scheduled dry-dock in May, Crystal Serenity was outfitted with two ice searchlights, forward looking sonar, a thermal imaging camera and software to improve the ability to pick up small contacts on the radar such as small amounts of ice. During the route of the Northwest Territories the ultra-luxury ship will be accompanied by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, an ice classed vessel with a crew that has years of experience operating in polar conditions. Crystal will sail this route again in 2017. Those cruises are not sold out yet — so call your Willamette Agent Today!


World’s First Dementia Friendly Airport
Heathrow has announces its commitment to becoming the world’s first dementia friendly airport. Heathrow is working with Alzheimer’s Society to change global attitudes towards dementia as part of the charity’s Dementia Friendly Communities program. The airport has pledged to make all 76,000 people that work at the airport dementia aware through the provision of ‘Dementia Friends’ sessions, training and online resources. The initiative, which is part of the Prime Minister’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia, encourages businesses to sign up to being dementia friendly so people with the disease feel understood and included. Heathrow is leading on transforming air transport in this area. Heathrow has already implemented a number of initiatives, which includes: Creating training for all frontline staff and the wider Heathrow team based on Alzheimer’s Society courses, to ensure all employees have increased awareness and knowledge of how they can support passengers with dementia to travel. Training the frontline Special Assistance team, who regularly interact with passengers affected by dementia as ‘Dementia Friends.’

Celebrity Brings Back Caribbean ‘Quickies’ In Early 2018
Celebrity Cruises is reintroducing quick escapes to the Caribbean starting in early 2018. Vacationers can choose four or five-night getaways aboard Celebrity Summit from Fort Lauderdale to ports including Key West, Nassau and Cozumel. The four-night cruises provide an extended weekend getaway to Nassau and Key West, while the five-night mini-escapes include Cozumel, Key West and two days at sea, with passengers returning home to a three-day weekend still ahead of them. Celebrity Summit’s winter homeport is San Juan, Puerto Rico. A seven-night cruise will take it to Fort Lauderdale for the new short sailings, and the ship will return to San Juan afterward via a seven-night voyage. These repositioning cruises call at destinations like Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. The new short cruises are available for booking now for travel beginning in early 2018 and during spring break and Easter. Call your Willamette Agent to find a voyage just for you.


American Offers Free Wi Fi
American has started offering all in-flight entertainment for free on any domestic flights with seat-back entertainment systems or wifi. Customers traveling with the Oneworld carrier are now able to enjoy premium shows such as HBO’s critically acclaimed Game of Thrones TV show as well as new movie releases like Captain America: Civil War, The Boss and The Lobster. This is a significant upgrade to the passenger experience on domestic flights, as AA had previously only offered a portion of its entertainment options for free. Seat-back entertainment is offered on nearly 300 of the airline’s aircraft, with more being added every month. While AA’s domestic mainline aircraft and two-class regional jets may not have seat-back screens, they do offer in-flight wifi. Passengers can download the carrier’s mobile app during their flight, and gain access to streamed entertainment content.

“Travel (trav-el) – noun
The only thing you buy that makes you richer”

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Dolphin Swims and Helicopters: Our Agent in Hawaii



WIT Agent Krista traveled to Hawaii last winter and came back with some fantastic stories, which we published in the seasonal newsletter. In case you missed it, we’ve republished her feedback here, along with some of her lovely photographs. Check it out!

Thinking about vacationing in Hawaii but don’t know where to start? Our Agents are well-versed in the properties and activities on O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i and the Big Island! Call us up and we’ll arrange the perfect holiday! 503-224-0180 or email

Also check out our 7 Reasons You should Visit O’ahu (as if you need more) and that time when WIT Wailana went scuba diving with the sharks!


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Blog Update!


Hello readers! A quick announcement: We’ve made a couple (small but essential) changes to the blog!

We have a wealth of archives to share with you (over 4 years’ worth!) and now you can access them quickly with sections like “Destinations” and “Tips & Articles” (up there in the Menu Bar). This is a lightning-fast way to delve straight into the heart of our archives without any fuss.

Heading to Europe and want to find out more? Click on Destinations > Europe for all of our Europe articles. Thinking about an ocean or river cruise? Tips & Articles > Cruises will provide a wealth of opportunities. Loved our article featuring Celebrated Experiences and want to read more in the Conscientious Traveler Series? Look no further than Tips & Articles > Conscientious Traveler.

Ready to take the next step and figure out your travel plans? Call our agents up for firsthand recommendations and expert travel arrangements! We’re at 503-224-0180 or email

Have you caught up with us on Facebook or Twitter? We’d love to hear your comments!

Read More! Top Posts from 2016:

UnCruise in Oregon and then in Alaska

Stockholm with Context Travel

The Conscientious Traveler: Maui’s Napili Kai

Malta Trip Report

A Day in Elliðaárdalur Park

The Elephants that Came to Dinner

The Answer has always been right in front of us

Have a destination in mind that isn’t featured yet on our blog? Shoot an email to our social media editor Wailana at and she’ll see if we can post about it!


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This Week in Travel News: Celebrity in the Caribbean this Summer

Celebrity in the Caribbean during Summer

Reminder for Caribbean 2017 summer season: Celebrity is keeping the Celebrity Equinox in the Caribbean all summer (Aug-Sept)! This is the first time in 6 years that Celebrity will have a ship in the Caribbean during summer. Instead of the traditional deployment of 5 ships to Europe, they are deploying 4. This is huge good news for honeymooners, families and couples as there is always a shortage of good ships and good cruise lines for the season in Caribbean. 

A Small Fire Caused The Outage That Shut Delta Down

Flights operations returned to normal yesterday for Delta Air Lines after a power outage caused more than 2,000 cancellations this week and numerous delays. Company officials said the problem was caused by a small fire at the carrier’s Atlanta technology center, which blew up a transformer and cut power to company servers. The outage began Monday and led the carrier to scrap about 1,000 flights. Cancellations affected about 800 flights Tuesday and another 300 Wednesday, and caused numerous delays. Delta is asking anyone who wishes to apply for a $200 compensation as a result of a delayed flight of more than 3 hours to do so on their website:

Disney To Drop Main Street Electrical Parade At Disney World

The Main Street Electrical Parade will end at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on October 9. It willbe packed up and sent to the Disneyland early next year for a “limited engagement.” The original Main Street Electrical Parade debuted in 1972 at Disneyland. Disney did not say what would replace the Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom.

Hainan Airlines Announces First-Ever Nonstop Service Between China And Las Vegas

Hainan Airlines has filed an application with the US Department of Transportation to launch an historic new route connecting Las Vegas to Beijing, the first-ever nonstop flight between Las Vegas and Mainland China. The service will begin December 2, 2016 and will initially operate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Hainan is a new member of the Alaska mileage program.

Angkor Wat And UNESCO World Heritage Wants To Stop Smoking, Littering, And Taking Topless Selfies.

Ticket prices to enter the Cambodian Historical Site are going up significantly come February, with a single-day pass rising from $20 to $37 per person, 3-day tickets increasing from $40 to $62, and a one-week ticket price ticking up from $60 to $72. Two dollars from every ticket sale will go to the Kantha Bopha Foundation, which runs children’s hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Travelers are also being asked to cover their shoulders and knees at all time while visiting Angkor, which is still an important and active site for Buddhists, and anyone whose clothing doesn’t meet the standard will not be allowed to enter.This is similar to other dress codes at holy sites around the world, from the Hagia Sophia to the Vatican. 

Condor Airlines To Add Nonstop Flights Between US and Germany

Condor Airlines is increasing its flights between the US and Germany with plans to add 10 nonstop flights by 2017 and expand service to 11 total US destinations. And PDX is getting out Condor nonstop back May 3: Three times a Week! The airline announced it will add transatlantic flights to New Orleans and San Diego next summer. Other highlights include year-round nonstop flights from Seattle to Condor’s hub in Frankfurt later this year and twice weekly flights from Las Vegas to Munich beginning May 2017. 

Italian Coastguards Fining Those Who Save Spots On Beaches Overnight

The Guardian reports that the Italian coastguards are implementing a fine for tourists that are trying to secure their favorite spot by leaving their gear on the beach overnight. The Coastguard says it has had enough. Authorities from the coasts of Tuscany to Sardinia are cracking down on holidaymakers who seek to reserve prime beach territory by leaving their gear out overnight, with those responsible facing fines of €200. The forces behind operation Safe Sea say the use of deckchairs and umbrellas by tourists who want to stake optimal spots is widespread and unfair to others who follow the rules. Last Saturday, the Livorno coastguard seized 37 deck and beach chairs, 30 umbrellas, towels and even some bathing suits, according to a report in La Repubblica. 

Eurostar And Virgin East Coast To strike

Eurostar staff have voted for strike action that will take place over two weekends in August totaling 7 days of strikes as follows: Four days of strike action from 0001 Hours on Friday 12th August 2016 until 2359 hours on Monday 15th August 2016. Three days of strike action from 0001 hours on Saturday 27th August 2016 until 2359 hours on Monday 29th August 2016.”

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Wales: Year of Adventure


Many are lauding Wales as a top destination this year and it’s no wonder: the country is celebrating its “Year of Adventure” in 2016! This small state is often overshadowed by its louder neighbors, but with no good reason! Whether you’re into cultural or action escapades, Wales has it all and more for the traveler among us.

Wales is a playground for adventure travelers, with a wealth of fun and adrenaline-packed activities like surfing, rafting, biking, hiking, and zip-lining. The country is proud to feature two prominent adventurers, Bear Grylls and Richard Parks, who are official Adventure Ambassadors for Wales in 2016.



Or for the more peacefully inclined, why not stop by at one of Wales’ Michelin restaurants for some award-winning lobster? Two thousand and sixteen is also a year of food and drink festivals from Cowbridge to Pembrokeshire.

Step into Dylan Thomas’ boathouse or follow the footsteps of King Arthur–his spirit is still alive and well on these moors. You’ll definitely want to be in Cardiff town the weekend of September 17-18, soon after Dahl’s centennial birthday, when the city will erupt in a gigantic celebration of his life and work, with displays, characters, singers, and dancers.


Our Agents at Willamette Intl Travel are intimately familiar with Wales and can arrange an idyllic vacation for you and yours. Whether you’re a couple or a family, you can count on us! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email for more information.

Reading List for Travelers bound to Wales: Pick up a Book before you Go!


Jan Morris, The Matter of Wales. Half-Welsh travel writer Morris immerses herself in a fiercely nationalistic portrait.

P.H. Jeffery, Ghost, Legends and Lore of Wales. Excellent introduction to Welsh myths.

Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, Wales – A History. A spirited history of Wales from one of the land’s most beloved writers.

Bruce Chatwin, On the Black Hill. An entertaining novel of twins on a farm.

John Davies, The Green Bridge. A collection of 25 short stories that give you a broad spectrum of Welsh authors in the 20th century.

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