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Dear Vacations To Go Customer,

Alan Fox visited Namibia with SITA World Tours and his report is below.

Please scroll down to see this week's tour deals.

Long before humans cast their first shadows on the Earth, winds screamed off the southern Atlantic Ocean across what would one day be called the Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Red sand from the Kalahari Desert, carried to the coast by the Orange River, was caught in these currents and blown many miles inland.

Over millions of years, these grains of sand accumulated and began to take shape. Today, the massive red dunes of the Namib Desert are still growing and migrating up to 30 feet a year. They form a striking and surreal landscape as spectacular as any on the planet.

I am checking in today from Namibia, a sparsely populated country on the southwestern coast of Africa. I'm in the world's oldest desert, the Namib, which is second in size to the Sahara and runs the entire length of Namibia's coastline. I arrived in Namibia eight days ago and this is the final stop in a whirlwind tour of the country's main tourist attractions.

My visit started in Windhoek, a clean and orderly capital city where African and European cultures blend easily. German castles and churches scattered among modern buildings are a reminder of a less harmonious time, from 1884 to 1915, when Namibia was a German colony.

In Windhoek, we met Mellos, our Namibian driver and guide, who in eight days of touring covered 1,200 miles and two cities without once referring to a map or GPS. The man literally seems to know every road in this country, as well as its history, politics, flora, fauna and geology.

From Windhoek, we headed far north to the country's largest game reserve, Etosha National Park. The park surrounds the Etosha Pan, a 75-mile-long salt lake that is usually dry.

We spent a full day in the park and saw large numbers of zebras, springbok, oryx, hartebeest, wildebeest and ostriches, as well as many species of beautiful birds. My favorite sighting was of a tower of giraffes on the far side of a watering hole. Please forgive me if I got a little carried away in today's slideshow.

From Etosha, we went southwest to a village of the Himba tribe, where we were welcomed in and invited to take photos. The Himbas are a semi-nomadic people who raise cattle and goats and have changed little since ancient times.

The Himbas live in tiny, circular houses made of wood plastered over with a mixture of clay and cow manure. Boys and girls are circumcised before reaching puberty and have their bottom four front teeth knocked out. I was told by a tribal guide that the practice allowed better clicking sounds when speaking.

The Himbas are polygamous, with the number of wives loosely proportionate to the number of cattle a man owns. Marriages are arranged by a girl's father and they are given away at a very young age.

Himba women have a reddish hue from a paste of red pigment and butter that they apply daily. Their only clothes are leather skirts and they adorn themselves with jewelry and elaborate headdresses that include animal hide, braided hair wrapped in red clay and hair extensions.

Himba women do not bathe, but instead use smoke from incense to clean themselves. We were invited to observe this process in one of the small huts.

The Himbas are about as different from the average Namibian as they are from Americans. They number less than 50,000 out of a total Namibian population of 2.5 million.

From the Himba village, we continued to a region called Damaraland, known for interesting geological features such as the Organ Pipe rock formation and a purple-and-black hill called Burnt Mountain. We viewed prehistoric rock carvings at Twyfelfontein and toured a petrified forest before continuing on to the charming coastal resort town of Swakopmund.

Swakopmund was established by German colonists in 1892, and its upscale hotels, restaurants and shopping draw vacationers from throughout Namibia and South Africa.

As we approached Swakopmund from the desert, we could see a blanket of fog a thousand feet high hugging the coast the entire length of the horizon, which happens much of the year. Upon arrival, we found that the wall of white was about 100 feet offshore and the town was bathed in sunlight, just one of many extraordinary visual experiences this country has provided.

It was an easy walk to explore the downtown area, shopping streets, beach and restaurants from our hotel.

Leaving Swakopmund behind, we drove to the so-called Moon Landscape, a barren region of deep canyons carved into granite mountains, then south to the heart of the Namib Desert, to see what brought me here.

Yesterday morning, we were on the road to Sossusvlei (translation: dead-end lake) an hour before dawn in order to see the first rays of the sun strike the towering dunes. I knew a little about what was in store but the sight exceeded my expectations.

We stopped many times for photos before we reached one of the most famous dunes, Dune 45, which visitors are allowed to climb. Fortunately, it was only 80 degrees F as we started up.

Imagine scaling a sand pile 500 feet tall where each foot sinks 6 inches when you take a short step and you'll understand why 90% of the people who started the climb that morning gave up along the way. We spent about an hour trudging to the top for an incredible panoramic view of the sand sea.

Getting down was a lot easier than getting up. We went straight down the steepest part of the dune, sinking and sliding and barely managing to stay upright. One fellow traveler was not so lucky, going head-over-heels before coming to a soft, gritty landing.

We drove deeper into the dune field until the road turned to sand and only 4-wheel-drive vehicles were allowed to proceed. A mile after that, the sand was so deep that all vehicles were stopped.

We hiked the last arduous mile to the region's biggest attraction, Deadvlei (translation: dead lake).

It's hard to believe that every five or 10 years there is enough rain in this desert country to allow the ephemeral Tsauchab River to flow into Sossusvlei, but when it does, it dies nearby. Its path to the sea is blocked by the dunes.

There are trees at Deadvlei that sprouted in an age when the river came through regularly, but that stopped 600-700 years ago. Their skeletons have been scorched black by the sun and it is an incredible sight.

In my photos, the dune in the background of Deadvlei is called Big Daddy. Its more than 1,000 feet tall.

If you come to Namibia, you only need to remember one word for accommodations: Gondwana. The company's 15 lodges and one hotel are clean, comfortable, well-run and serve good food, buffet-style. They are strategically located in the tourist areas of the country.

I've stayed at four Gondwana properties -- the Etosha Safari Lodge, the Damara Mopane Lodge, The Delight Swakopmund and the Namib Desert Lodge -- and I heartily recommend all four.

Namibia is a friendly, peaceful, stable democracy. It is not so much a traditional safari destination as a geological feast, highlighted by cultural experiences and game drives.

If you want to see most of the country's tourist areas, as I did, you'll cover a lot of miles, but the utterly unique topography and the occasional free-roaming ostrich, oryx, zebra or springbok will keep things interesting.

Alan Fox

To view photos or a slideshow from my Namibia tour, please click here.

Alan Fox is traveling for the third time with the deluxe tour and safari operator SITA World Tours. The company has more than 80 years of experience and specializes in guided travel to exotic destinations.

SITA offers upscale tours and safaris on scheduled departures for small groups but will also customize a trip for as few as two people. They work with the best lodges and guides in each destination and take care of every detail.

For more information about SITA's tours of Namibia, please click here. To see all of SITA's itineraries in Africa, click here. To see all SITA tours worldwide, click here.

Here are this week's Top 20 Tours. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability.

1) Highlights of Sicily, 9 days with CostSaver by Trafalgar. Begins and ends in Rome. Starting at $1,175. Departures from April 7 through October 6, 2018.

2) Costa Rica Active Adventure, 13 days with G Adventures. Begins and ends in San Jose. Save 10%. Starting at $1,779. Departures from December 16, 2017 through January 20, 2018.

3) Northern Welcome, 9 days with CIE Tours. Begins and ends in Dublin. Save 5%. Starting at $1,800. Departures from April 14 through October 13, 2018.

4) Discovering Poland, 12 days with Collette. Begins and ends in Warsaw. Save $200 to $800 per couple. Starting at $1,999. Departures from May 3, 2018 through April 25, 2019.

5) Great Iberian Cities, 9 days with Trafalgar. Begins in Barcelona and ends in Lisbon. Save up to 10%. Starting at $2,066. Departures from April 15 through October 7, 2018.

6) Heart of Wales and England, 8 days with CIE Tours. Begins in London and ends in Windsor. Save 5%. Starting at $2,125. Departures from April 21 through October 6, 2018.

7) Danube Delights, 8 days with Emerald Waterways. Travels between Budapest and Nuremberg. Fly from $495 per person from select gateways or save $1,000 per couple, plus receive a premium drinks package. Starting at $2,245. Departures from April 29 through October 20, 2018.

8) Columbia & Snake Rivers, 9 days with American Queen Steamboat Company. Travels between Vancouver and Clarkston. Save $400 to $1,000 per couple, plus enjoy free shore excursions. Starting at $2,399. Departures from April 1 through November 4, 2018.

9) Journey through the Clouds Explorer, 8 days with Rocky Mountaineer. Travels between Calgary and Vancouver. Starting at $2,406. Departures from April 14 through October 11, 2018.

10) Spitsbergen and Polar Bears - An Arctic Adventure, 6 days with Hurtigruten. Begins and ends in Longyearbyen. Save $1,000 per couple. Starting at $2,535. Departures from May 24 through September 6, 2018.

11) Country Roads of Northern Italy, 11 days with Insight. Begins and ends in Milan. Save up to 10%. Starting at $2,696. Departures from April 26 through October 11, 2018.

12) The Treasures of the Celebrated Rhine River, 9 days with CroisiEurope. Travels between Amsterdam and Basel. Save $500 per couple. Starting at $2,841. Departures from April 5 through June 14, 2018.

13) Peru: Ancient Land of Mysteries, 10 days with Collette. Begins and ends in Lima. Save $200 to $700 per couple. Starting at $2,999. Departures from May 12, 2018 through April 27, 2019.

14) Galapagos Adventure - Northern Islands, 7 days with Intrepid. Begins and ends in Quito. Save 25%. Starting at $3,135. Departures from January 5 through March 16, 2018.

15) 8 Day Rhine Highlights, 8 days with Scenic Cruises. Travels between Zurich and Amsterdam. Save $2,000 per couple. Starting at $3,295. Departures from April 23 through October 22, 2018.

16) South Pacific Wonders, 15 days with Collette. Begins in Cairns and ends in Queenstown. Save $200 to $1,200 per couple. Starting at $3,599. Departures from May 1, 2018 through April 16, 2019.

17) Iceland Adventure, 8 days with Globus. Begins and ends in Reykjavik. Save 10%, plus save an additional $200 per couple. Starting at $4,399. Departures from May 6 through September 30, 2018.

18) Splendors of Taiwan, 10 days with SITA Tours. Begins and ends in Taipei. Starting at $5,240. Daily departures from January 6 through October 27, 2018.

19) India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges, 13 days with Uniworld. Begins in Delhi and ends in Kolkata. Save 15%. Starting at $7,999. Departures from January 12 through March 5, 2018.

20) Greenland Explorer, 15 days with Quark Expeditions. Begins and ends in Reykjavik. Save $6,000 to $8,000 per couple. Starting at $9,795. Departs August 7, 2018.

Customers in the US and Canada can call us toll-free at 800-680-2858. For a list of our other toll-free numbers worldwide, click here.

For savings of up to 82% on ocean cruises, click here.
For river cruises up to 50% off, click here.
For discounts of up to 50% at hotels and all-inclusive resorts, click here.
For the lowest rates on Africa safaris from budget to luxury in quality, click here.

Please email me your comments, suggestions and questions at alanfox@tourvacationstogo.com and I will respond the same day.

If you enjoy our newsletter, please forward this email to family and friends.


Alan Fox
Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go

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