In the desert, you’ll have an unparalleled road trip experience that you’ll never forget – why not add Namibia to your exploration bucket list?
The vast expanse of Namibia is just begging to be explored by adventurers and romantics. There’s more to the country than simply sand dunes; there are game lodges, restaurants, cultural experiences and places of historical interest, all of which combine to create the perfect excuse for an epic road trip.
Some fun (and useful) facts before you set off on your Namibian adventure:
- One ZAR = One Namibian $
- The capital is Windhoek and other major cities include Lüderitz, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
- Average temperatures are 17° C to 30° C in summer and 7° C to 20° C in winter.
- It will cost you around R3 000 for a return flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek, or R3 300 if flying from Cape Town (of course, this could be more at peak travel dates and times and depends on how far you book in advance).
- Petrol will cost you around N$12 per litre.
- On the plus side, South Africans do not require a tourist visa to travel to Namibia.
- Food: Lunch with a drink costs around N$108 and dinner for two at the local pub costs about $N338 on average. A loaf of bread costs about N$10.
- Beverages: 1 cappuccino = N$26, a beer in the pub = N$21, one cocktail = N$56, 2 litres of Coca-Cola from the shop = N$18.
- And, for your basic needs, a pack of four toilet rolls will cost you N$30.
Walvis Bay: An oasis in the desert
Walvis Bay is a great springboard from which to explore the local attractions, including the Namib Naukluft Park that showcases the lunar landscape of Walvis Bay’s hinterland and the largest conservation area in Namibia. Walvis Bay is surrounded by the desert. On the way to Swakopmund, though, you’ll encounter Bird Island, a manmade structure used for the production of guano. Bird watching is popular here, not just for the eponymous flamingos. Explore the harbour and don’t forget to pop in at the oyster farm.
- Where to stay: Protea Hotels by Marriott Walvis Bay and Pelican Bay
- Where to eat: There are plenty of restaurants for some downtime after exploring, with seafood, game and many local and international dishes. You can spot dolphins from The Raft, built on stilts in the lagoon, enjoy a child-friendly atmosphere at Anchors @ the Jetty 1905. Make it a cuisine-crawl and try out the Tug Restaurant, Swakopmund Brau Haus, Tiger Reef Beach Bar and Grill, Café Anton, the Wreck, Napolitana and Kücki’s Pub.
- Top tip: Ask a local for directions to some more secretive spots like Wurstbude, Café Cuppa, Yon des Sables restaurant and Willi Probst Bakery & Café.
- Activities: Adventure activities range from quad biking and sand surfing to 4×4 cruises in the dunes. There are boat cruises, kayaking experiences, skydiving, horse riding, go karting, camel tours and township tours. Or leave the road and take to the skies for a scenic flight.
Windhoek: Historical and cultural capital
Windhoek is a fine city; start with a visit to the Alte Feste Museum dedicated to the independence of Namibia and the Namibian rock paintings and engravings, then head to Owela Museum, which is devoted to culture and the traditional way of life in Namibia and animal species protected by the Namibian government. This area is surrounded by many buildings in acknowledgement of the country’s past and present, including the Lutheran Church Christuskirche, the TransNamib Transport Museum dedicated to the history of the Namibian railway, Daan Viljoen Game Park, the Independence Memorial Museum, Heinitzburg Castle, Owambo Campaign Memorial and the Heroes Acre.
- Where to stay: There’s the Protea Hotel by Marriott Fursenhof and Thuringerhof, and then Gocheganas Game Lodge, Auas Game Lodge and Heja Lodge, as well as places to explore such as Gross-Barmen Hot Springs Resort, Lake Oanob Resort and Sossusvlei.
- Where to eat: Nice Restaurant, O’Portuga Restaurant, Garnish, Sardinia Blue Olive and Nyama Restaurant all offer varied cuisine to tempt you. There are many spots to enjoy a chilled beer, too. At night, head off to the Warehouse Theatre, Chopsies or Pharaoh’s Bar and Lounge for some entertainment.
- Activities: You should have a full tummy by now, so you’ll be ready to try bowling, go karting, hot air ballooning, the City Market or Namibia Crafts Centre for some fun.
Source and Images: Bonny Feldman for Irvine Partners. Image: Pixabay