Pamela MacNaughtan

Self Portrait in Spitzkoppe

A self portrait at Spitzkoppe, Namibia

Sleeping under the stars in Africa is one of those things that many of us dream of. It’s the ultimate camping experience. It’s being one with nature. It’s exposing oneself to the elements and praying that karma is not mad at you.

One of the first things George warned us about before we entered Namibia was the fact that there are scorpions. Lots of them. We were told to keep shoes and tent bags inside our tents so Scorpions wouldn’t pay us a visit. We were told to drag our tent away from where it had been pitched before packing it up, in case scorpions had decided to sleep under them. We were also told about a girl who had been stung and how her leg and vajayjay had turned black before they could get her to the hospital (she is fine, and apparently her vajayjay is fine too). I realize that his motive was to ‘gently’ warn us of the dangers of scorpions, but when one is too nervous to go pee in the middle of the night, one has to wonder about sleeping outdoors under the stars.

When George announced that we could sleep under the stars in Spitzkoppe, Namibia, I was both excited and nervous. I believe the first question I asked was about scorpions.

“Don’t worry. The Scorpions and snakes are not a problem there, they stay under the rocks.”

I wasn’t sure if I believed him, but I decided to take his word for it and opted to not pitch my tent (at this point, I am done with pitching a tent solo).

I walked over to the small rock formation on the right side of the truck and looked for a place to put my gear. A few people opted to climb the higher rock formation and camp up there, however, I was not that daring. My aim was to sleep away from the group. I wanted a place that was more secluded and peaceful. I walked passed the bedrolls and sleeping bags and over to the other side, found a small indentation in the rocks and dropped my gear. I unrolled my mat and sleeping bag and placed everything so I would be sleeping on a slight curve, hoping that this would give me optimal sleeping comfort. I then walked back to the truck to join the rest of the group for dinner and to wait for the stars to come out.

Unlike most nights when we linger and chat or head to the bar, we opted to head to our various sleeping areas, climb into our sleeping bags and look up at the sky. The air was still a little warm as I laid down on my mat and sleeping bag, and looked up at the dark blue sky littered with bright shiny stars. The moon was 3/4 full and as the night progressed, I enjoyed watching it move closer to the horizon. It was truly fascinating (I know I have said that a lot, sorry).

Sleep did not seem like much of an option. I wasn’t that I didn’t try to sleep. I did. Many, many times. However, I happened to be sleeping near a crack in the rocks, with weeds growing out of them and for some lame reason I kept thinking about scorpions coming for a snuggle in the middle of the night. Why I never worried about the snakes (as they freak me out just as much) is beyond me.

As the night began to slip away and the sun began to rise, I continued to lay on the rocks, reluctant to move. I slowly packed up my gear, took it to the truck and then returned to the rocks to view the sunrise with a cup of tea in one hand and my iPhone4 (my camera) in the other.

I don’t remember sunrises lasting a long time back home, but in Namibia, the sunrise seems to stretch on and on and on. Perhaps I was just so engrossed in the moment that time became non-existent. I don’t know. Either way, I had enjoyed a (somewhat sleepless) night under the stars and watched the sun rise in the morning. Namibia, I think I am starting to crush on you!

Thinking of traveling to Africa?

Traveling in Africa, solo can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 



  • September 20, 2011

    I wish that I could see more sunrises in my life. I can only imagine how romantic they are in Africa!!! Thank goodness you didn’t encounter a scorpion ahhhhh!

  • Anonymous

    September 20, 2011

    We cycled and camped from Cairo to Cape Town and camping in Namibia was some of the best experiences at night in Africa. It is beautiful there and the skies were heavenly. So vast and gorgeous. I love your final shot of the sunrise. 

    • September 20, 2011

      Thanks! Namibia had truly amazing night skies. I use to stare at the stars for hours when we were traveling through there. It’s a country that has definitely made it onto my ‘return’ list.


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