Today was our last day of holiday and it was the longest drive from Fish River Canyon down to Cape Town. The GPS said 888 kms. We left at 6:45am (Namibian time) and arrived home at 5pm (SA time – 4pm Namibian time). The trip down was relatively painless and easy. The biggest problem is being careful that the Beast’s speed didn’t get up to much especially on the straight roads.
We went through the border post at Noordoewer. The process of clearing immigration on both sides took about 20 minutes and was relatively painless. We made a few stops to refuel and defuel. The most important one was made just outside Klawer (as you head to CT). That was at Trawal Biltong. As you can see from it’s own advertising they have the ‘Best Blerrie Biltong’ and that is no lie. This is where we stopped (per chance) on the way up to Namibia and this is where we stopped (very intentionally) on the way back. If you are heading up the N7 from CT, it is outside (before Klawer) on the left hand side at the BP garage.
So now that we are home I thought I would do my usual reflections on the country that we have just visited. I usually restrict myself to the number of thoughts matching the number of days we visited the country. We were in Namibia for 12 days so here is my 12 point summary:
1. The roads are straight, very straight and very long. It is a big country, with lots of straight roads. And the gravel roads are generally in very good condition and in some places are almost as smooth as driving on tar.
2. There are very few people in Namibia. You drive through urban places (such as Luderitz – you can’t really call them a city or even a town as that would be unfair to every other city and town in the world), and you hardly see a person. We reckon we saw 100 people in Luderitz and 15000 people supposedly live there. Where were the other 14900 hiding? We reckon they must be double counting people (sort of like Enron did with their assets).
3. It is a beautiful country. Stark but beautiful. The dryness of the landscape was contrasted today as we started to approach the Swartland which was anything but Swart today. Helen said today that the Springbok would get ill if they lived in the Western Cape as they would have to eat green, juicy grass.
4. It is very dry. Even the air is dry. I needed to use conditioner on my hair. Up near Etosha is the area called ‘Dorsland’ (direct translation means ‘Thirsty land’). And that is how you feel all the time .. Dors … Thirsty … Dry.
5. You need to be able to speak either Afrikaans or German in Namibia to get by. You speak in English, they reply in Afrikaans. They just assume you can understand. If you pretend you don’t understand them then they will try German next. English is a distant third.
6. Forget about trying to use a credit card too often in Namibia. Outside of the urban areas (read outside of Windhoek) most the shops might have a credit card machine on the counter but there is very little chance that the shop assistant will know how to use the machine (a number of times I offered to do it for them and they seemed quite grateful – once even in a supermarket). And if they do know how to use the machine, the chance it will actually connect to the bank to get authorisation is even smaller. Make sure you have lots of cash on you because petrol stations (in particular) outside of urban areas only accept cash.
7. They might be short on water in Namibia but they are also short on drainage skills. You take a shower and you end up being able to have a bath in the water that hasn’t gone down the drain by the time you finish. Brush your teeth in the morning and when you come about an hour later you will be lucky to have no water in the basin. Someone needs to go and train the plumbers in drainage techniques in Namibia. It was the same everywhere even at our favourite Sossusvlei lodge.
8. Meat is Meat and Namibia will eat it. Forget anything else. Meat is what you eat. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t go to Namibia. One friend (and reader of the blog) told us that chicken is considered a vegetable in Namibia.
9. They have a remarkably good infrastructure for such a large, underpopulated country. We (or should I say the boys) measure this by where you could get 4G cellphone signal. You could get it in Keetmanshoop even. Most times our cellphone signal was better (and faster) than we have in home in Cape Town.
10. You will never go hungry in Namibia. Quantity of food matches American sizes.
11. There are a lot of tourists in Namibia. They fall into one of two categories – German touring with a large group of other Germans in a big bus or Safricans in their 4x4s going to places you can only access with 4x4s with a roof top tent, 10 jerry cans and a half an ox in their 4x4s (or in their trailer behind their 4x4s).
12. They clearly make their money from 2 things in Namibia – Diamonds (and De Beers gets half of that) and Tourism. Because of the second, you are always made to feel welcome in Namibia. They go out of their way for you. You always feel safe too. It makes it a great place to visit as a tourist.
So there you have it. Would we go back … absolutely yes. Next time we go I would like to go to the Caprivi Strip as well. It is the one place in Namibia that I am sure is worth seeing that we have not visited yet. Where else would we go again … well that’s pretty obvious if you’ve been reading the blog … Etosha and Sossusvlei (and if you’ve never been then Kolmanskop is worth a visit).
Thanks for reading and for those of you who commented, thanks for doing that too. There will be a special Namibian dinner for the biggest commentators on the blog.
If you enjoyed reading it, the good news is that we’ll be back in about 2.5 weeks with another trip this time to France/Holland (nothing like having a holiday straight after a holiday). If you subscribe to the blog (right side of the blog you can enter your email address and it subscribes you) then you will receive an email with any posts I make in future.
Until 2.5 weeks time …
P (because I drove 5700kms in the last 2 weeks), H (because she slept for 3700 kms), S (because he birded with me), M (because he reversed the best out of anyone on the trip), C (because her back isn’t broken)