Travel Chapters: Namibia Africa
My first time to Africa! I was particularly excited to check this continent off of my list, however I barley touched on what the region has to offer. We travelled the Southern areas of Namibia during our trip and I’ll give you the ins and outs of the type of travel you're looking at while in Namibia.
A good friend of mine, Callum Snape, and I had this trip in our calendars for over six months. We started by being picked up at the Windhoek airport after a particularly long three flights. The Kangaroo Traveller company was contracted to take us around and it is a great option if you feel a guide is something you'd prefer on this trip. I think I could do it without a guide however Danny our Guide was really helpful to have and he came with a four by four vehicle plus quite the itinerary.
We stayed in Windhoek (capital of Namibia) for our first night as we recovered from our flights. The week started out quite cultural with a traditional meal to start. I. Ate. A. Worm. YUCK! They are not crunchy worms, more chewy…except the head, it is crunchy. I don’t know if the worms were the worst part or if the traditional drink Oshikundu was but it was quite the experience for my taste buds. When they brought the gravy covered goat head out it started to really feel like an episode of fear factor. I was thankful to be vegetarian in that moment! All in all it was something I recommend if you really want to learn about Namibian culture, it might not be our idea of a good meal but it is traditional for the Namibian people.
We stayed our second night at Lapa Lange Game Lodge, where the animals where abundant roam in on the Kalahari area. It’s a game reserve lodge with a water hole for animals to come and go. We saw a pair of Rhinos our first day and Cal and I couldn’t get enough of the prehistoric looking creatures soaking and playing in the water. We later took a game drive to find numerous gazelle, Oryx and Giraffe. The wildlife was my favourite especially in the sundown light.
Overall food was not good on this entire trip in my personal opinion, and I am not a really picky eater. It is near impossible to get vegetarian meals in Namibia as meat is their main staple and everything is pretty bland. But still doable, some meals were pretty good. Usually breakfast was the best meal, omelettes are made well. I feel the more pricy lodges and accommodation had better food but still very different to North America. I found food quite basic, still not the worst though just different, very overcooked. I ended up getting sick the second day actually; I have an iron stomach and have eaten some very questionable things in my life so whatever it was I ate must have been a really powerful bug to make me that sick. I couldn’t have solids for two days and nearly fainted from dehydration the third day, regardless that I was drinking 4L a day. I got myself some electrolytes however and was back at it soon afterwards. Didn’t get sick in India, nor Borneo but within three days in Africa it got me!
I found it really safe in Namibia. Honestly the people are the friendliest I have ever met. Everyone says hello to you on the street and smiles at you walking by. I felt fine to walk around alone in most places, obviously like anywhere in the world there are some riskier places than others but overall I would travel alone here and feel okay. It was quite touristy in some places like Sossusvlei. You definitely need a 4x4 reliable vehicle to really get to the good spots, most roads are gravel or sand in Namibia.
Don’t expect to get good wifi in Namibia, it was really a hit or miss when it came to the wifi signal. When you had good signal it would still be extremely slow. I wouldn’t have really minded however we were doing social media work during our trip so internet was important for Callum and I. We ended up getting SIM cards but again unless you were in a major city the signal was very poor. They are really affordable however, something like $5 USD for 1GB data.
The next night we went to the Quiver Tree Forest, these small trees grow in certain areas of Namibia and are quite interesting to photograph. We stayed at a place that had rescued cheetah as well, which was very exciting to see so close! We spent sunset at the quiver tree forest and did a sunrise at Giant’s Playground, which is the same area and it’s a collection of piled rocks that uniquely resemble a place where a giant has crashed around.
We continued on our journey after that heading to Fish River Canyon. It is the second largest canyon in the world and it looks much like the grand canyon. I never thought it could be so hot however! It got up to temperatures of 47C mid day. It was pretty impossible to outside mid day so we hung out in our rooms or went to the pool.The pools are ice cold so it is quite a relief.
After a beautiful Sunset at Fish River Canyon and a nice sunrise walk to the “Archway” we left the area. Wifi was particularly horrible at the remote place we stayed called “Road House.” We then headed to Luderitz which is really in the middle of nowhere on the west coast but I found it particularly intriguing. Namibia is heavily German influenced and Luderitz is a great example. A ghost town exists here where an old diamond mine was abandoned and now sand fills the buildings called Kolmanskop. It is eerie and also quite pretty. This area is also a good place to spot wild horses which we managed to see on the road over.
After a lovely stay by the ocean we headed back North to Sossusvlei but stayed at the Duwisib Castle on the way which is such a great little stop! We slept here but if you don’t want to do that be sure to stop in, it was built in 1907.
My favourite part of the trip was Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. The dunes are massive and the landscape is vast. It is a photographers dream trying to capture the early light on the dunes and if you're lucky a random Oryx walking around. Gates don’t open until sunrise.
We finished off our trip in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. Walvis bay is quite a neat place with a massive salt production flat and hundreds of flamingos on the shore. We did a sea cruise and watched the hundreds of seals on the beaches on the outcropping of the bay. We then took a scenic flight over the skeleton coast which was so incredibly beautiful. It is the desert connecting with the sea and gives a nice contrast. It was a hot ride however! There are also a few old ship wrecks on this stretch of beach as well.
Another highlight was the township tour we went on. We were expecting a boring car ride around town but rather a local showed us his local villages and we were enlightened on how the Namibian’s live day to day. Most work in the mines or the on the sea but one thing is for sure, the people support one another and are always busy trying to make a living regardless if the wage is below minimum. Namibians are very innovative, friendly and involved. We were delighted to have a local choir group sing us traditional music. What an amazing experience.
We wrapped up our trip here but by no means have we seen much of the country. If we had more time we would have headed up to Etosha National Park where majority of the wildlife can be found.
I can tell you I will be back to Africa after this trip. It isn’t nearly as scary as people make it out to be. Thousands of people travel to the continent daily and there is so much to explore. If you do plan to go, make sure you give yourself lots of time. It may not be a mountainous landscape like where I am from but it offers something new, intriguing and different than any other place I have ever been.