In the present international climate, Namibia feels like a country whose time has come. Tucked away in the southwest corner of Africa, it is safe, well organized and relatively prosperous. Since independence in 1990, democracy has endured, and with a population of just over 2 million in a land twice the size of California, Namibia has few of the social ills that afflict so many other African nations.
I first visited Namibia nearly 20 years ago, but on my recent trip I found that little had changed. It is still a land of immense landscapes and small, stylish lodges. Despite being mostly desert, it is far from lifeless. The Etosha National Park is one of Africa’s great wildlife sanctuaries, and even in the middle of an apparently empty landscape, you will suddenly encounter a herd of elephant, a family of giraffe or, if you are very fortunate, a pair of strolling cheetah.
The principal reason for my recent trip was to visit the new Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. This fully lived up to my expectations, with sophisticated accommodations in a spellbinding setting. During my three-night stay, I had the opportunity to observe a pride of rare desert-adapted lion. And I also made a daylong excursion to the Skeleton Coast — I cannot think of a more spectacular four-hour drive — to view its huge colonies of Cape fur seals.
As well as two other properties in Namibia, my southern African itinerary included a trip to Zimbabwe. There, the superb Singita Pamushana Lodge is the focal point of a private game reserve — made possible by a large donation from American billionaire Paul Tudor Jones — that offers a sanctuary to the critically endangered black rhino.
This issue also contains my review of the new 84-room Aman Tokyo, which finally provides that fascinating city with a distinguished boutique hotel.