Articles

Out of Africa: Namibia Up Close

Indagare member Tom Stringer, founder and president of Tom Stringer Interior Design Partners, recently traveled to Africa with Indagare on a two-week journey through Botswana and Namibia. Here, he shares his photographs from the trip and its highlights.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a trip to Namibia. 

How many times have you been to Africa?
I’ve done a number of trips to Africa—the northern regions for architecture, design and food; southern Africa for safari. Namibia promised another kind of adventure: a journey centered on landscape and isolation.

How was this different from your previous experiences?
We started in Botswana, where I think we had the best safari and game viewing yet. In doing so, we sated our need to see the wildlife and to feel “on safari” in a more traditional sense. That primed us nicely for the next stage of our adventure, where we hoped to see things differently.

Related: Namibia: Ten to Know

What does one of the world’s least-populated places look (and feel) like?
It really is extraordinary to experience a landscape so unusual in its features and so vast in its expanse. The isolation and, ultimately, the quiet are palpable. The landscape varies widely, from table mountains and massive white sand dunes in the north to the almost Martian red sand dunes of unimaginable scale in the south. In the north, we also had great encounters with desert-adapted giraffes, elephants and lions. In the northeast, with the help of our guide, we had a fantastic experience with a clan of the nomadic Himba tribe.

Related: 5 Emerging Travel Destinations

What was the most memorable moment of the trip?
Certainly, the morning spent with Vengipo, the matriarch of a Himba clan near the border with Angola, was the most memorable moment of our journey. For me, the best moments of any trip always center on the relationships and human interactions forged along the way. Meeting the people that inhabit any community is simultaneously the most threatening experience, because it forces us to drop our barriers, and by far the most rewarding, because it’s the people who make places real and the moments tangible. I always come away with a renewed faith in humanity.

What surprised you most?
The physical impact of the vast open spaces. You feel it in your core.

Safari secret?
As with all travel, great guides are really the key to opening doors and meeting people. On safari, bring a good camera with a flexible zoom lens, but don’t go crazy with a giant telephoto number—they are too high maintenance and require absolute stillness. You want to capture the moment, not miss it while fussing with your gear.

Related: Graham Springer Photo Essay

Any other favorite destinations?
I adore the South Pacific, and I’ve spent a lot of time there on boats, diving to explore the reefs off innumerable islands. It occupies a giant space in my heart and imagination.

Related: Just Back From…Namibia

Your next trip?
This month we are fly-fishing with our best friends in Alaska. Our next big journey is to Antarctica in December, with stops in Buenos Aires and Patagonia on the way.

How will your latest trip to Africa influence how you think and how you work?
I travel because it satisfies my thirst for experience and it nurtures my soul. Everywhere I go influences my work in ways small and large. In this case, the quiet and the vistas are powerful elements of the experience, and I can’t help but think about how both are vital in design. I had the great fortune to spend some time in Japan shortly after our journey to Namibia. That’s an entirely different culture with a very different sense of space, but an understanding of the power of stillness pervades that culture as well. I might be developing a thread here.

Tom Stringer is also the author of An Adventurous Life: Global Interiors by Tom Stringer, a monograph about how his global travels have inspired and informed his work.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a trip to Namibia. 

– Indagare on August 24, 2018

Quotable

It really is extraordinary to experience a landscape so unusual in its features and so vast in its expanse.
~ Tom Stringer

Related Hotels

Become an Indagare Member Today!

Join Indagare sign in