When travelling to a new place you are exposed to a variety of new and different experiences, usually distinct to the unique location of your destination. This sentiment can very easily be applied to Namibia as well. We have often written of the unique locations and the special people you will meet and experience during your travels through this distinctive country, but we have never focused on the other senses. The things you experience without having to see them. As we know our sensory experiences of places and things add so much to the memories we leave with. From something as simple as a smell or a sound, you can be reminded of a moment in time that left its mark on your memories forever. With this in mind we have compiled a list of sounds that should not be missed while traveling through Namibia.
The sound of the whistling wind…cliché yes, but also a very accurate way to describe the sound. The main reason you come to Namibia is to see the wide open Namibian bush lands that have a treasure trove of secrets hiding just beneath its tranquil looking surface. And there are few sounds more soothing that the soft whistling of the wind through the branches of a camel thorn tree.
If you find yourself walking through a quiet night, to your campsite or chalet, keep an ear out for the sound of the crickets. Soft and subtle as they sing the savannah’s lullaby. This is a sound most Namibians have come to take for granted, as we view their song as more of an annoyance than an intrigue, but none the less this sound is one that can assure you the night ahead will be a peaceful one.
The crackling of burning wood. We have all been to our fair share of braais and barbeques, but when you’re in the Namibian bush, the sound of a crackling fire takes on a new sense of significance. In the days of old, fire was the symbol of life and survival and to this day we use this element to stay warm in the cold nights.
The soft sound of cracking wood and the flames lick across the surface is a sound that is not rare in any way but it means so much to be able to listen to it. To have the soft dancing flames sooth our minds and our souls as the day comes to an end.
The sound of a game drive. The idea behind this one is our favourite, as despite being uniquely different on each trip the sounds somehow sounds familiar as well. A game drive is something associated with every trip to Africa, never mind Namibia, but when you find yourself on the back of a cruiser again, listen not only to the natural world around you, but the people that are sharing the experience with you. There are the familiar sounds of cameras zooming and clicking, hushed whispers of delight when they see something amongst the greenery in the distance, the silent sound of appreciation for the Namibian wildlife.
Whispering desert sand… the Namib is both unique because of its age, its location and its migrating dunes. But a quality that makes this incredible desert so specifically unique is its whispering sand. Bear with me, we haven’t completely lost our minds. When you are in the desert, standing among the ancient dunes, take a moment to listen.
You will see the wind quietly guiding the sands to their next homes, but listen too, because you will hear the sand whispering as it quietly moves along the existing dunes. When you are in Namibia, take the time to go listen to the soft murmuring of the Namib for yourself.
And then finally, because the concept is so ultimately arbitrary…Namibia is one of the few places in the world where you can still hear the sound of silence. Yes it sounds strange and stupid and you know what silence sounds like, or basically that is doesn’t have a sound at all…but that is where you are wrong. Silence isn’t necessarily soundless and as Namibians, we can vouch for that. When you are standing on the rim of the great Fish River Canyon or in the middle of the bush during a hike and for a single moment there is no sound.
No wind whistling through the trees, no sands whispering their way across the landscape and no birds singing their songs…there is nothing but the sound of your own breathing. The silence can become so intense that it almost feels like your ears are ringing. That is the true sound of silence. When there is nothing but your thoughts and your breath and the beauty of an undisturbed natural phenomenon.
That is the experience you want to have when visiting Namibia. The experience the moment where for a single second everything comes to complete silence and time stands still.
As Namibians we have all experienced these sounds, we have been annoyed and moved by every experience and we often take them for granted. We invite you to come to Namibia, not only to see, but to listen. Because here, in our little corner of the world, we don’t just see our country, we experience it and we invite you to do the same.
If you know of any other Namibian sounds that should not be missed and are worth mentioning, please share them with us in the comment section below.
Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.