Going to Namibia was the trip of a lifetime, an experience, I never want to miss. It was an effort, mostly economywise, but totally worth it.
Sometimes you need a little push, to get going. For me that happened, when my girlfriend was granted a scholarship for studies in Windhoek. Of course I would follow her, as soon as university closed for winter holiday and she bought the ticket, before she left herself.The 10th of december it was my turn to fly to Windhoek via Frankfurt, and in the morning of the next day, I arrived – on african soil for the first time!
Namibia is a large country, by size it is placed somewhere between Pakistan and Turkey, with only 2 million people living there. There is a lot of space for everybody but then again, it is home to some of the most hostile environments on earth. The unique landscapes and the wildlife are the reason for most tourists to come to Namibia.
You can get around the country by yourself, the infrastructure for tourists is really well developed. Most people would advise you to hire a 4×4 and you really see them a lot. We used a family van instead and it worked just fine. Check for spare tire and tools though, you will probably need it, since the network of paved roads is limited and you will drive hundreds of kilometers on gravel roads, littered with the remnants of broken down cars. There are major highways connecting the bigger towns and you get surprisingly quick from one place to another. The average speed is 120-130 km/h on the highways and you can “eat” a lot of kilometers in a short time. But you have to be on the lookout for kettle always, the roadside is home to donkeys, goats and cows and they are crossing the roads quite often.
This road sign looks cool of course, but they really mean it. Elephants, antilopes and pretty much every other animal might show up right behind the next corner. We saw a group of elephants close to the highway to Caprivi and of course we stopped ( Hey, we are tourists, right?) while a lot of other cars just drove by, still at high speed.
To me, everything is exciting, every detail is something new. It is the small things, that make the difference. Most striking is probably the security installation, each house has. Barbed wire, electrical fence and high walls are the minimum protection, everybody needs to have. Walking around on foot in a residential area causes people to stop their cars and ask you, if you need help, a ride or something. You often hear the advice, not to walk around, because its dangerous. Nobody can tell you why. There are hardly people around and if, they live there, so what is the danger? We never figured it out, to us it seemed, they are a little afraid of themselves. Of course you might get mugged like in any other major city in the world but if you don’t wave money or expensive cameras around, you are safe. People are very friendly and helpful and I never felt unsafe or threatened in any way.
Taxis are driving around constantly, if there are people standing on a corner, looking like potetial customers, the driver beeps. If you want to have a ride, you wave your hand, the car stops and you tell the driver, where you want to go. If it fits his route, you are in. There are often passengers already in the car and the driver might pick up more people on the way. You never know, who will get out first or how many stops on the way to your destination. You can travel to the same destination every day and never use the same route. But it is fun anyway, an -almost- free ride through the city, often through quarters, that you would miss otherwise. Especially at night, you have a great view on the life and the people of Windhoek, always to the tunes of african music from the cars radio!