Ok, so we all know by now there’s no such country as Nambia (and hopefully the president of the USA knows that too… errr).
Today we’d like to share a “video-memoir” from our last road trip around Namibia, which took place this summer (July – August 2017). We had 25 days altogether and made the following itinerary: Windhuk – Erindi – Waterberg Plateau – Etosha – Opuwo – Epupa Falls – Khowarib Gorge – Spitzkoppe – Swakopmund (and Sandwich Harbour) – Sesriem (Dune 45 and Deadvlei) – Aus (and Klein Aus Vista) – Fish River Canyon – Keetmanshoop (Quiver tree Forest and Giant’s Playground) – Lake Oanob – Windhuk.
We know many people do it the other way round (heading south first), letting the thrill build up and saving the most exhilarating part for the end, but we decided to kick off with the parks and wildlife viewing (also because it was the end of July and we wanted to avoid the absolute peak season, and colliding with many other travellers coming in August). Does it get any better? I’d say the bar is very high after both Erindi and Etosha, but Epupa Falls and their beautiful location, Sandwich Harbour and Sesriem do keep you on your toes (so to speak)! The excitement started fading slowly though once we left the Fish River Canyon, as there was not much to see and do all the way up to Windhoek (two tiny exceptions would be the Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop and Lake Oanob), considering we only had a few days left (not enough to visit the Kalahari desert).
We didn’t have a 4×4 as we considered it unnecessary in the dry season; instead we hired a Toyota RAV4 which was a great choice. We ended up having 2 punctures – but who doesn’t?? (both somewhere near Sesriem, and in both cases we were very lucky cause we’d just made it to the repair shop), and a 2,5 cm chip in the windscreen. We rented the car from Hertz in advance of course, but because it was through another company’s website we decided to get insurance with them. It was much cheaper than what Hertz offered, although we didn’t get all the money back afterwards (the windscreen was fully covered, but for some reason they only paid up to a certain amount for the tyres… insurances, insurances…!)
Namibia is stunning! With its ethnic diversity, vast and open spaces, infinite horizons, wildlife, rugged mountains, deserts and dramatic coastline. It’s quite a “western” (for good and bad) as well as very family-friendly country. We mostly stayed at campsites and pretty much all of them were lush (maybe even a bit too lush for our needs), which in turn contributed to higher prices. Oh yes, when it comes to accommodation it’s pretty expensive out there. Swakopmund was a bit chilly, so we decided to stay with a local through airbnb. That was great, we loved our host (Tomas – if you ever look for a place to stay in Swakop) and overall we wished the camping pitches were not so far apart so we could mingle with others a bit more. We happened to be in Swakopmund on a Sunday and heard some joyful signing coming from 2 blocks away. It turned out to be a local mass, or rather a spiritual party, as every single person was singing, clapping, dancing and even chasing each other (don’t ask me why). The singer’s voice was amazing and the whole experience blew our minds! Definitely one of the highlights of our visit.
Below are some ideas, which might be useful, that crossed my mind during our trip:
- Get yourself a Namibian SIM card. It’s very cheap and practical; you might end up having to call for help or google the closest car tyre repair, or get in touch with your accommodation.
- If you’re cold-blooded and stay in campsites, it’s a good idea to buy a hot water bottle and en electric kettle in a supermarket in Windhoek before setting off on your trip; it saved me, especially in the desert and Aus!
- Many 4x4s speed even on gravel roads – please don’t do that, especially if another car is passing by. Foot off the gas, otherwise the pebbles are flying at high speed and might damage the car(s).
- Don’t forget to bring/buy sunscreen – the fiery ball in the sky is pretty strong in Namibia even on winter days.
- Drink lots of water (even if it means you have to stop for a wee in the middle of nowhere every couple hours).
- It’s a good idea to wake up early (5.30/6am) to take advantage of the day, as it gets dark around 5/6pm and you only have so much time left for driving to your next destination. For us it became a routine after the first few days.
- Ask local people who seem to have a clue (at petrol stations) about road conditions (some gravel roads are an absolute nightmare and no matter how scenic, you might want to consider other options).
- Use a hydrating face cream and lip balm with sun protection – the combo of really dry&dusty air and burning sun can be quite harsh on your skin).
- Don’t freak out if you see Mandela on your banknotes: yes, you’re still in Namibia and no, you haven’t been cheated. They accept ZAR (South African Rand) in Namibia.
And here are some great blogs with plenty of tips on Namibia:
- https://szczytyafryki.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/namibia-informacje-praktyczne-ceny-wskazowki/ (yikes! it’s in Polish)
- http://www.diariodeabordoblog.com/viajes/africa/namibia (Spanish)
Of course, there are so many stories to tell and things to recommend; unfortunately I’ve been too busy recently and was able to come up only with this short post.
If you have any questions regarding the campsites, places to visit (or not) or anything else, don’t hesitate to drop me a line – I’ll try to answer asap. In the meantime here’s what my cameras registered (before I dropped one of the lenses and it got jammed…). Enjoy!