Find yourself in Namibia

03 May 2013

Crossing the Sub-Sahara
With a rich mix of natural and cultural treasures, quaint towns and breathtaking landscapes, Namibia is indeed a sight to behold! The big thing to remember about travelling in Namibia is that distances are immense. You might think it’s a long way from Joburg to Cape Town, but there’s a town (or at least a fuel station with a squeaky-clean loo) every 100 kilometres. In Namibia, there’s only road, desert, fences – and the odd sheep. 
Both the tarred and gravel roads are usually excellent, (except those way out in the middle of nowhere). Quite a lot of Namibia is four-wheel-drive territory. Indiscriminate off- road driving is a no-no in these parts – desert ecosystems are surprisingly vulnerable and driving on them can irreparably damage delicate lichens and other life forms.
 You can expect traffic on the main roads, but the lesser roads can be practically deserted. If you’re travelling off the beaten track, take enough water with you to last a day or so in case you break down. There is, however, cell phone reception in most places, so situations shouldn’t get too dire.
 The main health risks are sunburn, dehydration and/or heat stroke. In the far north, where most people live, it’s lush and green and malaria is a risk.
 The currency is the Namibian Dollar, which is linked to the Rand, so you can usually use Rands.
 Head north from Windhoek to Swakopmund, a genteel little German town (often described as being more German than Germany)! It’s Namibia’s most popular holiday destination and attracts surfers and beach-lovers from all over southern Africa. 
The seaside resort has recently reinvented itself as the adventure-sports capital of Namibia and now also attracts adrenaline junkies from far and wide. Whether you race through the sand on a quad bike, slide down the dunes on a greased-up snowboard, jump from a Cessna with a parachute strapped to your back or live out your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies on a camel safari, there’s no shortage of gut-curdling activities to choose from.
 Walvis Bay is Namibia’s main harbour. Visitors can enjoy a boat trip scouting for dolphins, whales, seals, pelicans and oyster farms. Attractions are the lagoon with its prolific bird life, a desert golf course as well as sea kayaking and dolphin cruises.
 Alternatively, take a 4X4 trip to Sandwich Bay (one of only three places where the dunes and ocean meet). Live it up in desert/ocean opulence - if you travel with a tour guide you can enjoy a seafood lunch and champagne on the beach! “Dune 7” is at the outskirts of town and is the highest sand dune in the area. Once you’ve huffed and puffed your way to the top, you are rewarded with stunning views of the desert and the ocean. 
The game reserve that attracts most tourists is Etosha National Park. Centred on the enormous 5000 square kilometre Etosha Pan, this huge park is one of the most spectacular wildlife destinations in Africa (and the world)! With very little standing water in the dry season, game and wildlife are drawn to the few artificial water holes that are kept filled by park authorities. There are three camps in the park, including an old German fort and private lodges outside. The best time of year to view game is during the dry season from May to September.
 If you’re a fan of hiking and mountain climbing, head to Brandberg Mountain, Namibia’s highest mountain peak. The “fire mountain” is so called because of the effect created by the sun setting on its western face, which causes the granite massif to resemble a burning slag heap glowing red. Rock climbers can ascend using a variety of technical climbs, but there are simpler ways of getting up. Covering some 600km², the Brandberg is also a spiritually significant site to the San tribes; it offers one of the richest collections of rock paintings (45 000) in the world.
 Other popular destinations are The Fish River Canyon, which is the second-largest in the world; The Orange River (a favourite paddling destination); and the small German town of Luderitz (a quirky harbour town close to Kolmanskop’s “Ghost Town”). 
Jutting out from the northeastern part of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip links Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and northern Botswana. Surrounded by four perennial rivers, the area is home to an array of birdlife and four of the Big Five. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Erinidi Game Reserve and Kaokoland is a must. Kaokoland is a region in the far north west of Namibia where the traditional Himba tribe lives.
 Nothing beats a Namibian sunset or the night sky – every evening boasts the most beautiful tints and colours. It’s a country famed for its diversity – when travelling long distances, every 100kms the scenery changes and it feels like you’re in another country. Sometimes even on another planet! This is Africa!
 This enormous, sparsely populated country is a celebration of extremes and a treasure trove of the wild, weird and wonderful. It’s a place you can easily get lost in, but it’s also a place where you can really find yourself. 
(Sourced at “Explore Namibia” AA map, Lonely Planet and