Namibia Travel Guides for Backpackers

Why Travel to Windhoek, Namibia?

Windhoek. A hearty city in the center of Namibia. Namibia is a unique nation filled with people from diverse tribes and cultures. This country is situated in the south-western part of Africa and its weather is characterized by hyper-arid to arid conditions. The country is divided into 14 major sections popularly known as regions, and each of these geographical segments have a specific tribe and tongue dominant to them. Windhoek is Namibia’s capital city and it is located in the Khomas region. It is the country’s largest city and it is the one city in Namibia which is not characterized by people from a specific cultural or racial group. The city’s population of 340,000 inhabitants belong to distinct ethnic groups and this makes Windhoek quite a special city in Namibia. A typical day in the capital city starts at 6 AM when traffic is still light on the roads that lead from residential locations to the city’s CBD and industrial areas. Small business owners who sell fruits, vegetables, and had-made crafts would be spotted at this time as they assemble their stands to neatly arrange their items for sale. As the later morning hours approach, movement within the city intensifies and the roads become more congested, as the African sun rises to warm the city’s roads and buildings. I have lived in Windhoek for a little over 10 years now and driving down the city’s streets is always a pleasurable experience for me. Taking a stroll through the city’s clean sites, streets and sidewalks often does refreshing wonders to one's subconscious mind. Apart from its cleanliness and rich diversity, Windhoek has some of the most heartwarming places and sites to visit, which locals and tourists alike are quite fond of. This makes the city of Windhoek an ideal travel destination to place under your “Places to Visit” list.   The National Theater of Namibia (NTN) If you are a lover of plays, poetry, operas, music or other kinds of performance arts, and would like to experience these from a Namibian outlook, the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) is the place for you. The NTN has ideally situated in Windhoek’s Central Business District (CBD) area and it has hosted many performances since its opening on the 15th of August, 1989. At NTN, you will relax in a well-crafted 471 seater hall, as classic arts such as “The Greatest Musicals” are performed. The NTN is further open to performances based on the Christian faith as well. A play titled “Three Women and You” has recently been showcased at the theatre. The play was based on biblical characters and the message it brought forth was quite eye-opening and edifying. If you will be traveling to the Windhoek area soon, be sure to browse the internet for the NTN's upcoming events, and experience a glimpse of Namibian dramatic art.   Pepata Restaurant Right next to the NTN is the Pepata Restaurant. Pepata is a must-visit local restaurant that serves a variety of cuisines, of […]

How to organize your safari in Etosha National Park- Namibia

Etosha National Park in Namibia, in the north part of the country, is a must for anyone travelling in the area. The park is one of the greatest in the world, and with its waterholes, it makes it easy for you to stop your car and observe the wildlife. Yes, you read it correctly! Your car! How to get around In Etosha National Park, you can use your car to get around the park and spot animals: a safari with all the comfort of your own car. Of course, there are rules to be respected like never, ever, get out of your car in any circumstance. Many people don’t realize that the whole deal of a safari is to be able to observe animals in their natural habit, without human intervention. Also, it is possible to hire a guide to come in your car and guide you to the animals. Otherwise, the whole search can be quite frustrating at time. The park is huge and animals are experts in hiding from strangers. Additionally, the park itself offers tours, that are cheaper than the private guide and still gives you the security of seeing at least some of the typical safari animals. Make use of the many stops along the park for toilets and prepare a packed lunch to keep fueled. Also, there are a couple of gas stations around the National Park: keep track of them and never risk running out of gas. Spot the Ostrich! Get up Early If you decide to go on your own, one of the best tips is to get to Etosha National Park at sunrise. You are most likely to see animals in the early morning hours. The park is quieter and many animals get around the many water holes around the park. Be patient Another tip is to be patient. As previously mentioned, a national park does not mean that at any corner, at every turn, you’ll find animals. It is most likely that you’ll have to search for hours before finding a lion, or a rhino. But with patience and a bit of luck, you’ll see them. Be very attentive, look in the grass and pay attention to the other drivers, sometimes they might slow down in front of you because they spotted something. Spend a night in the park (or in the close surroundings) If you have the chance, spend a night in one of the camping spots around the Etosha National Park. You’ll be able to sleep and be surrounded by nature for one or two nights, and it will totally worth it! Alternatively, a cheaper option is to sleep in one of the lodges and campings just outside the park. Plan for a full day at Etosha National Park: you won't regret it! Another tip is to make use of the full day at the park, in order to have the full experience of a safari in Namibia. Take the map and plan longer stops near the water holes. […]

Swakopmund Namibia: Three Top Outdoor Activities

Namibia is one of Southern Africa’s top destinations because of the wild beauty and multi-cultural influences. Swakopmund is a must-do place to visit as it’s on the coast between the surreal Namib Desert and the wild Skeleton Coast. After my 361km (224-mile) drive from Windhoek, sand dunes gave way to palm trees. I found myself in the charming town with German architecture and bustling cafes. Swakopmund: Namibia’s tourist center Swakopmund is locally known as the “Centre of Namibia” because it’s ideally situated to get the best experiences. In the holiday season around Christmas and New Year, advance accommodation booking is essential. Luckily, I found a room in the nearby settlement of Walvis Bay. The coastal road south of Swakopmund Walvis Bay is a 36-minute drive on an excellent road and made it worth the daily trip to Swakopmund. The Namib Desert’s sand dunes on one side of the road contrasted with the sea on the other. I had to stop the car and stand between the blue sea and silky sand mountains. Namibia Swakopmund to Walvis bay rd Best outdoor activities in and around Swakopmund There were so many things to do, that I had to skim my bucket list down. Some of the best outdoor activities I enjoyed included: Namibia Skeleton Coast National Park road Quad biking at the Desert Explorers Centre, and Swakopmund jetty walk. Namibia Skeleton Coast National Park (SCNP) road The Skeleton Coast Park is a top recommended destination, but it’s best to book a tour. The road’s not always safe to drive on your own as it’s a 200km (124- mile) drive to the southern-most gates. I was pleased to have a 4×4 vehicle fully equipped with spare tires and water. The area is rugged and visitors need a special permit to stay in the park. However, I had an enjoyable drive up the C34 road. Things to experience on the road to Skelton Coast There are interesting things to experience on the Swakopmund C34 road to Cape Cross. Going beyond that point is not really worth the effort, I was warned. This stretch of the road didn’t get me close to any ancient shipwrecks. However, I experienced the wild desert, ocean beauty, birds, animals, and a meal at Henties Bay. Namibia Salt pans Skeleton coast road Four points of interest I noted three main points of interest along this stretch of road: Swakopmund salt works was a good spot for wading birds which stood out clearly against the desert browns and white salt. Henties Bay is 70 km (42 miles) from Swakopmund. The drive through Namibia’s bleak, arid desert in the National West Coast Recreation Area didn’t excite me much, as there wasn’t much to see. But Henties Bay was a great stop for breakfast. The town’s really small, but there are cafes. I indulged in a huge burger at Misty Cafe. Beyond Henties Bay is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. That was another hour of driving but was worth getting there to see […]

Tips for first-time solo backpackers to South Africa

Wild Penguin at Boulder’s Beach This probably can be listed as one of the craziest things I have done in my early 20s. Waking up in one morning, I suddenly came up with a conclusion that I HAVE TO GO TO SOUTH AFRICA. Again, another impulsive decision. I make short trips regularly but none are longer than a 4-hour flight. And due to my impulsive decision which came from nowhere, I did my first solo trip, first backpacking travel and first camping in South Africa. Along with a 50L backpack, a sleeping bag and a camera, TAHHH-DAHHHHH, South Africa here I come! Living in a cosmopolitan, people mistakenly link Africa with a bad impression that it is a poverty-stricken country with loads of crazily armed people who shoot people randomly on streets every day (sorry, signs of ignorance and racist). As a female solo traveller, I was overwhelmed with worries too. I spent nights on googling to scare myself. For those solo travellers who are planning to visit South Africa, here is some advice to save your time from reading series of the Lonely Planet.  Research is essential. Yea You are doing it right if you are reading my article. At least you are making some efforts to get some ideas about South Africa. A universal formula for travellers: Safe trip = Happy trip. There are some important details you have to know before setting off to ensure you are safe and sound. You will find that South Africa is waaaaaaay too amazing with a bunch of awesome and friendly locals if you have a safe trip there. Avoid Specific Locations There are potential dangers everywhere even in your homeland. To play safe, we should simply avoid places which are notoriously known. So, do your research. Otherwise, you may risk yourselves into unnecessary danger simply by walking into some not pedestrian-friendly streets. Apart from googling, you can ask the locals (tour guides, hotel staff etc) as they know the town best. After doing some researches, I eventually decided to skip Johannesburg and start off my journey in Cape Town. As a tourist, I don’t see the need to ‘sight-see’ business district. Robbery often takes place in business districts in South Africa, so just skip the central business district unless necessary. Always avoid going to outskirts alone, bring a local guide with you if you want to explore the area. Why not Johannesburg when travelling alone? Though I always do crazy stuff, I am rather a lily-livered person. The crime rate in Johannesburg is incredibly high, especially for violent crimes, that I don’t dare to travel alone.During my journey, I heard a lot about how dangerous it is in Jo’burg from both locals and tourists. A local college student told me that that robbery was common throughout South Africa yet violent crimes were often seen in Jo’burg. And the French family whom I met during camping safari trip told me that the father got his necklace snatched off from his neck violently when the family […]

The wonders of Namibia

Being amazed by Namibia's landscape Some years ago, Namibia wasn’t even on my list of places to go and I had no information about this country that turn out to be one of the best trips I ever made. South Africa was mainly the only country in Southern Africa on my list, until the day that one of the many travel blogs I follow posted photos of Namibia, specially of the Deadvlei (a place in the middle of the desert with trees that have been dead for centuries). Home of one of the most amazing desert on Earth, Namibia is also a great place to see the african wild life, with amazing sunsets and a breathtaking night sky. Tourism infraestructure Besides the amazing landscape, the country is very safe and has structure for tourism, with good campings, hotels and restaurants. Although most of its roads are not paved, traveling is safe since there are very feel cars and buses passing by. With more than 800.000 square kilometers of extension, Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia, so it can be very normal to drive for hours and hours without seeing another vehicle. Although they have a good infrastructure for tourism, traveling on your own can be a little bit hard, with no buses going from one place to another, and with the need to be in a group to go to places like Etosha Park. That is why for this country I decide to go with a travel agency. The good thing is that on this kind of trips, to different places, you will always met nice people with open mind and interesting in getting to know other people. The bad side is that you don’t get to chose your rithm of traveling, so you will have to leave the places whenever the guide/schedule says so. Although I was on a tour, the feeling was of a real african adventure. It was 12 days traveling on a truck, camping every night (except for two that we stayed in hotels), getting to see the amazing starry sky from the tent and even hearing the wild animals near by. Our trip started in Cape Town, where I met the group and got into the truck. After a few days and few stops to do some wine tasting and appreciate the landscape of Mandela’s country, we got to Namibia. The first stop was the orange river, for those who like to do some canoeing. Crossing the border, we drove until Fish River Canyon, the second largest in the world and the largest in Africa, where we got to see an amazing sunset lighting up the mountains and rocks. Sossusvlei Desert Going North, we got to the amazing Sossusvlei Desert, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. To get the most of this landscape, forget about sleeping. You will have to wake up very early, before the sunrise to go to the dunes and see the desert […]

Namibia Self-drive: tips before you go!

Why Namibia? If you are looking for a Self-drive African Adventure, with a mix of Safari, encounter with African Tribes, desert landscape and Dunes, without being a hard core adventurer or having a huge budget, and a relatively secure country, Namibia is the best destination for you! I am basing myself on my travelling experience in South Africa and my friend’s self-drive in Botswana. Considering its sparse population of 2,2 million for 825,615 km2, Namibia is quite developed and has well maintained roads (tarred or gravel). After an amazing 2 weeks self-drive holidays, from the 3rd week of October 2016, with more than 4,660 km/60 hours drive, I have gathered a few tips, to help you prepare your Namibian adventure! Itinerary If, like us, you want to see the best Namibia has to offer, within a short time-frame, make sure to plan your itinerary before travelling: have a printed plan including the distances and approximate driving time. While your plans may change, it will help you to decide how to re-adjust, while considering the most important factors. Download a detailed map on your phone before you go. Even though the GPS was accurate most of the time, it did help that one of us thought about it! We drove from Windhoek to the far North, West and South in 2 weeks, with 3 drivers rotating, involving about 5 hours drive nearly everyday. Accommodation Book the National park campsites , especially Etosha and Sesriem, at least a month in advance- the earlier the better if it will be peak season. Most of the places will require payment in advance, which can be a mission if they do not accept credit cards. Outside of National parks, do not worry too much about it, if you don't have a South African bank account. For our peace of mind, and because my friend had a South African bank account, everything was booked in advance, except for the 2 last nights. Being more on the spontaneous side, while also acknowledging the value of good planning, when it comes to travelling within a short time-frame, if it had to be done again, I would have booked only National Parks campsites, and only other places that do not require advance payment. However, if you choose to do it that way, do ensure that you have a list of addresses and phone numbers in each town/village you plan to stop. Throughout our journey, except for 2 nights, we did rooftop camping, on a fully equipped car, including “Kitchen.” Aabadi Campsite, the one we fell in love with… Parc Campsites Find out about the gate opening and closing times: it's normally at sunset and sunrise. All campsites (except abandoned ones!) have water, and shared toilets & showers. Communal facilities were relatively clean. Water cut happened to us once, in one of the camps, so it is a good idea to have hygienic wipes and a gallon of tap water. Brukkaros Campsite (on the way between from Fish River Canyon & Windhoek) was […]

Namibia in a nutshell, what you need to know before you go

So you have saved up your money and now finally have enough to go on holiday. Now the challenge is deciding where to go. To help you do this here is a “before you go” guide. This guide will be countrywide and not focused on a specific area or activity. It is to give you a idea of what to expect when you travel to Namibia as well as some interesting facts to help you connect more with the locals. Before you go, here is some interesting background information… Namibia is a young country, the first settlements where build by the dutch in 1793. Up until that time there was nothing, not a single building or horse cart, just bush veld (the local name for a Savannah grassland). Due to the years spent as a German colony it still retains a lot of German influence. Many locals to this day jokingly refer to Namibia as “little Germany”. Only as recent as 1990 did Namibia become independent, and the slogan Land of the Brave was born. Since then the country has been making huge strides in terms of technology to catch up with the rest of the world.  Since its independence it has been governed by the same political party namely SWAPO. It has had 3 presidents Sam Najoma, Hifikepunye Pohamba and currently Hage Geingob. Sam Najoma – First president of Namibia   Hifikepunye Pohamba – Namibias second president Hage Geingob – The current president of Namibia The People of Namibia… The major cultures in Namibia are – Owambo who are the majority, Herero, Nama, Afrikaner, German, Himba, Damara and Baster. To give you an indication of whom you are likely to encounter during your travels, I have divided them up according to which regions you are more likely to deal with them. Also please remember, these people are found countrywide, and are not restricted to only the specific area mentioned. Please keep in mind, there are many sub-cultures and immigrants who have come to the country within the last 26 years, but for now I will stick to the most common ones. The Owambo people are more concentrated in the northern regions as well as the Himbas. As you move downwards you get the Damara and Hereros. Afrikaners and Basters are more concentrated in the central parts. Then towards the coast there is a strong German influence. And finally in the south you get the Nama people. How to decide which areas to visit… One thing you must always remember when visiting Namibia is that it has a very unique climate. Although it is a small country the climate for the different regions can differ drastically.To help you to decide which areas to go visit here is a rough breakdown. The Northern regions. In the north it is year round sub tropical weather. In other words HOT and humid, it also has the most wildlife and rivers that […]

Namibia: Self-drive road trip by 2WD

The concept This is the story of my crossing through Namibia this August, which is part of a full circle road trip from Johannesburg in South Africa to Botswana, where I drove the Trans-Kalahari highway to Namibia, then back to South Africa, Cape Town, up to Knysna and then through the Great Karoo back to Johannesburg. A beautiful trip through beautiful countries, but Namibia stands out for its amazing scenery and the endless sky. This trip was organized mainly because of my wish to visit Namibia, but since I got extra days of holiday, I wanted to fill them with as many kilometers as possible. Another reason I landed at Johannesburg is that the air tickets from Greece were much cheaper and so were the car rental prices. Just to give you an idea, my 2WD car for 23 days cost less than 500€ (about 550USD), including full insurance and permission to enter Botswana and Namibia, while in Namibia I should have paid double price. Also, I chose to bring my camping equipment, as there are very well maintained and safe camp sites everywhere around the country, and this way I managed to keep this trip low budget. The journey I entered Namibia through Buitepos Border Post and drove a straight, empty road to Windhoek. It was already getting dark so I headed directly to the camp site which was inside the town. A nice thing about camp sites in Namibia is that they provide ample space for you and your tent or caravan as well as a braai (bbq). My knowledge on starting a fire even with a lighter is so limited that I preferred the camp's restaurant, wherever there was one. The food everywhere I tried it was from decent to very good, in very touristic areas the food was also decent but…touristic. At places without restaurants in the camp sites having a gas stove with you can actually save you from starvation :). Hoba meteorite The next day I drove around the capital, which doesn't have much to do actually, so my wondering begun and took me about 450 km north to Hoba metorite, no more than a huge stone some would say, but knowing that it fell from the sky it makes it so special! The road was asphalted and only 30km were on a good gravel road. Hoba meteorite Before night I was arriving at a camp site a few km outside Etosha National Park, near Namutoni entrance, from where I would start the next day. Etosha National Park The idea was to cross the park from Namutoni to Okaukuejo, doing my very first self-drive safari. If I did not get to see a Lion, I would go again the next day with a guided tour. Just a few meters after entering the park, there was a massive African Elephant walking in the middle of the road. “Wow!” I thought, “that's gonna be a lot of fun”. And so it was, […]
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