Thursday, October 20, 2016

Namibia vacation review

F1Outsider recently visited Namibia and I thought it would be fun to ask him about his experience. Thanks, F1Outsider!

1. Why Namibia?

After going to South Africa last year and absolutely falling in love with Africa we immediately decided we needed to go back and see more. Namibia came up as a very safe country with sweeping desert landscapes, and abundant animal life. Overlanding is also something that is a big draw for me and my friend Steven, so renting an overland vehicle to use as our home for the duration of the trip was very exciting for us. Another major draw for me personally was because Namibia is one of the countries with the lowest light pollution in the world. I'm fascinated with night sky photography and wanted to see what kind of images I could create. The other 2 friends that came along just wanted to be in on the adventure.

2. What was your itinerary?

Because of the dates we were able to book safari lodges in Etosha National Park our itinerary and driving routes were a little backwards and we ended up having to do somewhat of a figure 8 around the country.

We flew into Windhoek, which is the Capital and really only big city in the country and picked up our 4x4 Hi-Lux. From there we started making our way south to visit Sossusvlei, which is famous for the world's biggest sand dunes and also Deadvlei and continued on south to Aus and Luderitz which are famous for wild horses and also Kolmanskop. Kolmanskop is an abandoned mining town that is being taken over the by desert. There is a famous National Geographic image of this place. After that we drove 12 hours back to the northern part of the country and spent a day in Swakopmund which is where Namibians spend their beach holidays. We explored the dunes near Swakopmund by ATV and also practiced sand boarding. After Swakopmund we did another long stretch of driving to the gates of Etosha National park and spent 3 days exploring the park before heading back east to the Skeleton Coast and down south to Swakopmund before heading back east to Windhoek.

3. How did you research your trip?

We booked the flights around February and my friend Steven ended up doing most of the research because my life became pretty hectic with moving to Colorado and starting a new job out here. We learned a lot from our trip to South Africa last year and Steven took on the task of making a lot of phone calls and sending a lot of emails to book certain places we absolutely wanted to stay at. If anyone is thinking of visiting any part of Africa I highly recommend booking early and being very persistent in making phone calls, sending emails and following up or you will not get what you want.

4. Did you get to drive in Namibia? What was that like, compared to, say, Brazil?

I did the majority of the driving with Steven taking over for the shorter routes or when I was a bit tired. I don't know the exact figure, but it felt like less than 10% of the country's roads were paved. But they were otherwise very well taken care of and extremely well marked although I would not recommend driving on them with a normal car. We had to stop to help an older German couple who had a nasty flat in a small rental car. We never felt lost, although at times, it was a bit unsettling to drive 4 or 5 hours without seeing another car. Where there was asphalt the roads were extremely well maintained. Brazil has a lot to learn from how Namibia and South Africa maintain their roads.

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5. What are Namibians like?

Very polite and helpful but not very warm. Much like the Germans, I would say.

6. What was the food like?

We had a fantastic meal in Swakopmund and some of the best wine I've ever tasted. Elsewhere the food was ok. We were making our own dinners and breakfast and would stop at the nearest town to grab lunch and it was hit or miss. I was surprised at how delicious Oryx and Springbok meat is.

7. Namibia has a funky history, with German and Afrikaner influences. Did you sense that?

The country is very much German in culture. From their food, to the beer and how they interact with people. It seemed much less Afrikaner than South Africa.

A photo posted by ThatNeivaDude (@thatneivadude) on

8. What was your most memorable experience?

The entire trip was a dream come true for me. Climbing one of the world's tallest sand dunes in Sossusvlei to watch the sunrise is something I won't soon forget.

9. What was your most challenging/negative experience?

Driving to Etosha National Park we stopped at a Cheetah Conservatory and from there we decided to take a route that wasn't clearly marked on the map. We ended up getting lost and unknowingly drove into a private game reserve. There were no signs indicating it was private land. The owner chased us down and gave us hell for trespassing into his land and endangering his animals. My friend Steven was driving. I tried to diffuse the situation but the man was having none of it. I flat out told him he could keep on yelling at us or he could show us how to get out of his land and be on our way. He showed us the way out and before exiting I stepped down from our truck and walked over to apologize again but he still wasn't having any of it. 

10. Why do you love to travel?

Traveling re-energizes my soul. 

A photo posted by ThatNeivaDude (@thatneivadude) on

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