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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trekking Through Namibia on The Desert Express

The National Zoo was closed in early October due to the government shutdown (I live just 6 blocks away). So, I decided to go to Africa to get my giraffe and elephant fix. More specifically, I am currently in Namibia, where I am exploring wildlife, sand dunes and landscapes reminiscent of the Australian Outback.

I am traveling on the Desert Express, a luxury train (and I don't toss that word around lightly, as readers know from my experience on the Trans-Siberian Tsar's Gold). The Namibian-German-engineered train, circa 1998, is a marvel of clever design.

The train contains four sleeping cars, two lounge cars, and a dining car and a half. Each of the sleeping wagons is nature-themed--there's Springbok, Oryx, Kokerboom (Quiver Tree) and the one I am residing in--Meerkat Manor. Unlike the Trans-Siberian, which contained 4 separate classes of compartments, the Desert Express offers all guests the same experience, including the pleasure of a bathroom en suite.

Speaking of which, you have never seen a more efficient use of space, although I suppose anyone taller than 6 feet 2 or heavier than 160 pounds might disagree. The wee space (so to speak) has a toilet, a shower with a door that prevents water from spraying, and a magnificent rotating sink.

Other features of the interior design include compartment doors covered with glass engravings of the wagon's mascot; rock sand paneling; extensive use of red golden woods; handmade amber-colored furnishings in the bar car; and comfortable seating areas in the compartments that convert into up to three beds at night.

The Desert Express belongs to Namibian TransNamib Holding Ltd. and is chartered by various tour companies, including Lernidee.de.

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