An hidden gem in Africa… Namibia

In June 2014, I arrived in a wonderful and unknown country named Namibia. Nami what? Ahah when I told my friends about this trip, most of them didn’t know about this country and couldn’t locate it on a map. So did I before my lovely friend Elodie kindly asked me to go with her (oops!). But what a pleasure to travel in a country where for the first time I was not noticing French conversations everywhere! 😉

Do you know that…?

  • Namibia is the second least densely populated country with a bit more than 2.1 inhabitants – That also means a lot of wild and well-preserved places!
  • It is located in the Southwest Africa, above South Africa and between the Ocean and Botswana. Here’s the map:

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  • Namibia has got the oldest desert of the world: the Namib Desert, and one of the largest preserve of Africa: Etosha National Park.
  • The country got its full independence in 1990, after being occupied by Germans and then South Africans.
  • Even if Afrikaans and local tribes dialects are widely spoken, the official language is English!

Windhoek

Earlier in 2014, one of my dearest friends, Élodie, suggested me to volunteer at Mammadù Trust. Namibia was not on my top travel bucket list at this time but after some internet searches, I finally accepted and applied for the volunteering mission. Mammadù’s shelter is located in the middle of Otjomuise, a slum aside the Namibian capital; Windhoek. This welfare organization aims to improve children’ conditions by providing basic needs, pre-school education, study assistance and more (Guys, feel free to check out their website to appreciate the wonderful work their are doing!).

On June 3rd, after a very long and exhausting trip, we finally arrived in our guest house in Windhoek: Kleines Heim, managed by a lovely german woman named Gerda. A lot of travelers from different parts of the world stay there (well.. actually the most represented nationality is German ahah), it is a nice way to meet new people and learn from them (for instance we have learn some german words, have tried some german dishes.. that was pretty great!).

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Children, Agnès (the founder), the teacher and the volunteers at Mammadù 🙂
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Breakfast at Kleines Heim Guest House (the swimming pool is being the palm trees!;))

Windhoek is waaaaay more modern than you probably picture it. There are quite a lot of good restaurants, bars and nightclubs. I was there during the Football World Cup 2014 and the atmosphere was terrific during the games! We particularly liked going to NICE Restaurant for dinner. Windhoek also offers a lot of accommodation and food choices, and cultural sights (Lutheran Church, National Museum…). Unfortunately, I have lost many pictures from my trip so I can’t share as much I would like to 😦

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View of Windhoek from Hilton Hotel Skybar
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Evening drinks at Hilton Hotel’s Skybar 🙂

Etosha National Park

Our very first big trip in Namibia was a 3-day safari tour in Etosha National Park. What a bliss! I felt like being back in childhood when seeing cheetahs, girafes, lions, springboks and so on!  There is nothing more beautiful than observing animals roaming freely, almost without being altered by human influence. It was truly a-ma-zing! The park’s total area is more than 20.000 km2 with a very diverse vegetation; which gives you a beautiful array of wildlife. Oh, and Etosha park holds the largest salt pan of Africa, such a large place that it is visible from space!

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Elephants’ bath

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Swakopmund & Walvis Bay: Between Sand Dunes and Ocean

Another trip was a week-end in Swakopmund, the biggest coastal city of Namibia, located 4-5 hours by car from Windhoek. Swakop is actually THE holidays spot for Namibians! There, you really feel the German colonization in the architecture of the buildings and it offers a huge contrast with the rest of Namibia.

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We went on a full-day safari tour and to be honest it has been one of the best days in my life so far! I was mesmerized from the beginning to the end and the pictures of what I see are forever engraved in my memories.

In the morning, we went on a sea tour around Walvis Bay to meet dolphins, pelicans and seals. The dolphins were quite numerous. They were swimming next to us, following the boat that was absolutely awesome. Some pelicans were also landing on the boat to fuel up with the offered food. Pelicans are actually huge! I was pretty impressed.

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The second part of the safari consisted in a 3-4 hour drive in the sand dunes with a guide. What a sensational and funny experience… I think this was my favorite part of the safari! The guide was driving like crazy in the dunes; big thrills guaranteed! We stopped several times to discover some specificities of the desert’s fauna and flora, that is, some plants and animals. For instance, our guide showed us a tiny transparent lizard where you can notice his blood flowing through its veins from the outside  (see pictures below).

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Our guide in the shifting sands
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the transparent lizard!

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Élodie!
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We got stuck!

Düsternbrook Guest Farm

In the early 1900’s, this ranch located in the North of Windhoek, was used for beef production and dairy farming before turning into a guest farm and hunting farm with a sustainable utilisation of wildlife. With a maximum of 20 hunters per year, the meat is only used to feed the people living there, the guests and the cheetahs and leopards.

This amazing place (which by the way has got a stunning view overlooking a dry wide riverbed), has got a total surface of more than 14.000 ha where kudus, giraffes, cheetahs, oryx, leopards and more are roaming freely.

We had the chance to get on a drive to see cheetahs, leopards and hippos 🙂 Here are some pictures:

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Hello you cutie!

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Leopard!

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Spitzkoppe

Ahh Spitzkoppe… What a wonder for the eyes and for the mind! There you feel like being beamed up somewhere in a parallel world! Located in the Namib desert between Swakopmund and Usakos, this huge desert rock spot is made of bald granite peaks or bornhardts.
Exploring and climbing those rocks had something really magical. (By the way, while I was climbing a rock, I saw an enormous snake some meters away from me so just watch out if you go there ;)). Otherwise, the panorama is simply breath-taking, especially at sunset time they say but we had to leave before it. See the beauty by yourself…

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After two full months in Namibia, it was already time to leave to go on another experience… Yep, a full year in Brazil was waiting for me!

Have you been to Namibia? Are you planning to go there or do you now wanna go there?

I hope you guys liked this article. Please feel free to give me feedbacks, I would really appreciate it!

 

Xx Géraldine

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