Slightly disillusioned by my first African experience, I decided to give it another go and head to Namibia, Africa. In fact, a friend of mine had lived in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, for a couple of months and told me intriguing stories about the country. Why? I had only ever been to Africa once in my life. However, it’s safe to say that my experience in Egypt was a bit of a non-starter. Shabby accommodation, overly friendly locals that were only chasing after your dosh and food that required a stomach of steel!
In order to get myself into the right frame of mind I read a supposedly famous book by Henno Martin entitled ’The Sheltering Desert’. It tells the story of two German geologists working in Namibia in the 1940s who faced imprisonment during the Second World War as ‘hostile foreigners’. As a consequence they fled to the Namibian desert where they lived for two gruelling years (Yes, true story!). But why am I telling you this? Well, I’m obviously not aiming to write a blurb and tout this book but I have to admit it helped me get an insight into the Namibian way of life and spirit of the country that I was going to experience during my trip. But literature aside … altogether I spent three weeks travelling around the country which is truly immense and very sparsely populated. Once you leave the well-trodden tourist trails, most of the time there’s not a soul to be seen. Namibia is actually almost four times the size of the UK with a mere 2.2 million inhabitants, just to give you an idea of its dimensions.
Well, when I flew into Windhoek I decided to hang around for a couple of days and explore the surroundings before heading to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay on the coast. There’s actually not that much to be seen in the capital. But only two days into my trip I witnessed an event which seemed utterly out of place. I obviously knew that Namibia once used to be a German colony (if you fancy a bit of German flair and architecture you should swing by Swakopmund and Luederitz), but I had to do a double take when I got caught up in a German-inspired carnival procession in the centre of Windhoek. Apparently, as I was told by a local, German-style carnival parades with carriages, loud thumping music and all that jazz take place all year round in Windhoek, Swakopmund, Tsumeb and other locations (so they’re even more obsessed with it down there than in Cologne, the German stronghold of carnival!). As far as dining in Namibia is concerned, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the odd restaurant also offers succulent German bratwurst, beer and cheesecake with whipped cream. Who would have thought all that?! Rather than heading to distant Namibia, I simply could have hopped on an Easyjet flight and travelled to the ‘real’ Germany!
But enough of my ramblings about former colonial powers and influences. Namibia is a stunning country and unlike any other place. It boasts wide open spaces, massive undulating sand dunes that probably eclipse anything you’ve ever seen before, unique indigenous cultures like the Himba (see first picture in post) who live as they have for centuries, rugged savannahs and impressive wildlife … I’m actually running out of adjectives to describe this country. Either way, if you fancy some really mind-blowing scenery just make sure you visit the Fish River Canyon in the south, the second largest canyon in the world!
There’s so much more to tell about Namibia, but I think I should probably stop here. And just to get back to the food and finish my story … since Namibia is such a fusion of cultures its cuisine is very diverse and sumptuous. You should most certainly try the local ’braaivleis’ which is a yummy barbecue with zebra, ostrich or other types of meat. So overall there’s definitely more to Namibia than German bratwurst and carnival, but see for yourself!
Author bio: Rob Melau decided to study tourism management to combine his professional career with his passion for travel. He lived in England and France for a while and is already on the lookout for the next adventure somewhere in Asia or South America. Rob enjoys writing, sports and any type of outdoor activity.
[Some of these links might be making us some money, however we wouldn’t include them if we didn’t think they can be useful to the traveler. Photo credits: Himba ladies @shuttlenamibia.com]
Are you an Africa expert? Have you visited Namibia? What are must-see places you visited, and others you wish you had? Share your suggestions with us in the comment section below, and this post too if you liked it!