The story—embellished many times in the retelling, intended as a parable about soccer-as-kumbaya—involves me; David, my tour guide; and six German tourists crowded around a TV in a tent in the northern wilds of Namibia, watching last summer's Euro 2012. David and the tourists, were real, as was the BBC feed. Tent, however, is a more malleable term.
We had gathered in the lounge of the Fort, a Moorish-style battlement on the 84,000-acre Onguma Game Reserve, where luxury brushes against nature as close as comfort will allow. In addition to satellite TV and full-service individual doting, the Fort—with its cavernous stone-and-canvas tents offering deep, canopied sleep and uniformly perfect views of the Etosha Pan and its 550 species—is the crown jewel of Onguma. The reserve's collection of tented luxury extends to four satellite camp sites, including the Treehouses, four thatch-and-canvas, open-air rooms elevated a predator-unfriendly six feet off the ground. Treehouse. Fort. Onguma is a children's nursery rhyme come to life.
The pristine Wolwedans, 570 miles to the south, offers a starker—though no less luxurious—experience. Wolwedans is the ultimate hideout. The safari experience is more subtle: fewer species, fewer strange wails in the night. But you will eat well, and you will sleep well and you will see a night sky like none you've ever chanced. Brad and Angelina—who have twice stayed at the camp—really like it, too.
To the west is hundreds of miles of shipwrecking coastline, its rough waters fed by the frigid Benguela Current. Swakopmund, and its eponymous hotel, a converted railroad station, provide an ideal base for accessing both dunes and ocean. You wouldn't dip more than a toe into the water—any more than you'd sleep outdoors at the Fort—but sometimes it's enough to just be there.