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10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia

  
  

In June last year we announced that the lucky winner of our Landscape Escape competition was one Kevin Read from Canada. Kevin won a once in a lifetime trip around Namibia and decided to document what he and his wife Ruth discovered on their journey through the land of the brave.

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Ruth and Kevin- winners!

Kevin and Ruth enjoyed their stay so much that they compiled a list of reasons why they think you should take the plunge and explore this vast and beautiful country as soon as possible.

10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia

We spent the months of November and December 2013 exploring the country of Namibia. Over the course of almost eight weeks, we drove approximately 10,000 kms (6,200 miles) all over the country. We experienced the many different cultures and saw so many natural wonders.

But one of the things that we didn't see was North American tourists.

People from Canada and the U.S. who come to Africa seem to be attracted to Kenya, Botswana, or South Africa all of which have more highly developed tourism infrastructure. As a result, they tend to have more "luxury" travel options. Namibia is a little more wild, and still has a lot of areas that may be considered early development when it comes to tourism.

Here's why we think North Americans should visit Namibia...

1. They speak English in Namibia

We find that a lot of North Americans are unsure about visiting a country where they will have a difficult time being understood. You won't have a problem in Namibia. Despite the fact that there are approximately eight other popular languages (Afrikaans, German, and many local languages) English is the official language. All road signs are in English, and although you may meet some rural people who only speak their local language, there will always be someone close by who can translate. 

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All road, traffic, and tourism signs are in English. 

2. Birds 

We've never been much into birds. Namibia may have changed that a little bit! There are around 700 species of birds in Namibia! It seemed like every day that we were in Namibia we would see some kind of different bird. And of course many are so colorful, and with long bright feathers. Oh, and owls! We have never seen so many different owls.  

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An owl in Namibia. 

3. You can go camping! 

The easiest and most popular way to tour Namibia is with your own vehicle. The local public transportation system isn't the easiest, but if you have your own vehicle you can go anywhere. It's also common, and a great idea, to do a self drive camping tour of Namibia, and there are a LOT of campgrounds in Namibia, In fact, we were surprised at the number of beautiful campgrounds.  

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Our camping vehicle from Namibia Car Rental

4. The desert is truly beautiful 

I've never been much of a desert person. I typically like trees and greenery, but Namibia gave us a whole different perspective on the desert and the different landscapes that the desert presents to you. While there certainly are some long boring sections of desert scenery, there is also very stunning scenery that makes you wonder how it can possibly occur naturally. 

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The dunes at Sossusvlei. 

5. Protection of the environment 

If you are an ethical traveler, you may be interested to know that Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution. The Government of Namibia has reinforced this by giving its rural communities the right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. These conservancies are clearly defined tracts of land, registered with government, where local communities manage their natural resources through a democratically elected committee and approved management plans.  

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Many private lodges in Namibia also have their own environmental conservancies. 

6. It is a safe and politically stable country

The country is very safe, and the people are friendly. There are only two million people in the whole country, and 40% of all reported crime occurs in the capital city of Windhoek. We never once felt unsafe.   

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Ruth, visiting with the locals. 

7. The wildlife 

We spent a total of seven days exploring Namibia's Etosha National Park. But even though Etosha is a world class wildlife park, we found that you don't really need to be in a National Park to experience wildlife. Yes, you'll see everything in Etosha...lions, elephants, rhinos. But you'll also see animals simply wandering near the side of the road outside of parks. The Caprivi region of Namibia gave us our best animal viewing outside of Etosha. Plan on at least four days to properly explore Etosha National Park.  

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Animals of Etosha National Park. 

8. The different cultures 

Namibia has people who you will not find anywhere else in the world. People who continue living with ancient traditions and lifestyles without the pressures and conveniences experienced in most of the world. One of the highlights of our trip was the couple of hours we spent with the Himba people in the northwestern region of the country.  

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Himba women. 

8. Hiking 

Probably not known by many, but Namibia has a lot of premier hiking trails. November and December aren't really the best time of year to hike in Namibia because it's summer and it's often too hot to go hiking. The best time of year to visit for that type of outdoor activity is from April through October. Fish River Canyon offers the most well known hiking opportunity, a five day excursion along the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon.   

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Kevin, at Fish River Canyon

9. Namibia is still relatively unknown 

One of the main reasons we wanted to go there! We like going to places that are a little more off the beaten path when it comes to tourism, and we're glad that we came to a place that is really only just starting out in the tourism world when you compare it to most other countries.  

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The ghost town of Kolmanskop. 

10. Namibia has the best beer in Africa! 

Of course the most important reason to visit any country is the quality of it's beer! Namibian beer is brewed to the highest German standards and Namibians are passionate about their beer!  

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Namibian beers are very good.

If you want to read more about some of Kevin and Ruth's other globe trotting adventures then head on over to their blog by clicking here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so that you can keep track of any news or competitions and you too could find yourself on the African adventure of a life time.

                                  

Tips for a Self-drive Namibia Adventure - Part 1

  
  

Travelling through Namibia by car is one of the best ways to explore this extremely vast and beautiful country. The freedom you have to stop anywhere and go anywhere can make driving in Namibia extremely rewarding.

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This post, the first in a series of two (click here for part two), will give you all the tips you need to make the most of your self drive road trips in Namibia.

 

Things you should have in your car

A Camera. This is something that is invaluable on your trip through Namibia. From wild animals to stirring landscapes and interesting people there are photo opportunities galore and documenting your road trip is a great way to make your memories of your adventure last even longer.

Water. Always bring loads of bottled water in the car with you. Namibia can be very hot and you may drive for an hour without seeing any settlement, so always make sure you’re hydrated.

Snacks. As always when driving, make sure you have a little bit of food to nibble on to keep your spirits and sugar levels where they need to be. If you don’t eat properly your alertness could suffer and that’s not ideal at all. Biltong and droewors are great snacks for those of you who eat meat and it can be found all over Namibia.

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Piet's Biltong, a Namibian institution- read all about it here .

Sunglasses and sunscreen. Protect your self from the sun while driving. Many people forget that they can get sun burnt whilst driving in a car. And wearing a good pair of sunglasses will not only protect your eyes but will also help you spot animals and other things in the distance as the lenses reduce the ambient glare from the sun’s light.

 

Filling stations

There are many fueling stations dotted along the national roads, but you must always make sure that you have enough petrol or diesel in your car to get from one station to the next. Namibia is a sparsely populated country and getting stuck with no fuel is not an ideal situation.

If you are going to drive through Namibia make sure you buy the latest map of the country’s road networks and this will tell you where the filling stations are. Do not simply trust any old map you find online as it could be out of date.

**Note! Many filling stations do not accept card payments for fuel, so always have enough Namibian dollars in cash to pay for your fuel. It should also be noted that not every filling station has an ATM so be sure to have enough cash on you before you start your self-driven adventure.**

 

The National Roads

The national roads of Namibia are all labelled with the letter ‘B’ and you can use them to get to pretty much any major destination in the country. The major highways in Namibia are the following:

  • B1 from Noordoewer (South African border) to Oshikango (Angolan border), 1694 km

  • B2 from Walvis Bay to Okahandja, 285 km

  • B3 from Nakop (South African border) to Grünau, 324 km

  • B4 from Lüderitz to Keetmanshoop, 351 km

  • B6 from Windhoek to Buitepos (Botswana border), 335 km

  • B8 from Otavi to Katima Mulilo (Zambian border), 837 km

These tarred roads are in great condition and navigating them is a cinch.

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The roads in Namibia are well maintained and are kept to international standards.

When driving on the highways at higher speeds you need to always be alert and prepared for anything. This includes people, animals and adverse winds- just remember- if you are unsure, slow down. There’s no shame in taking a bit longer to get somewhere when everything is so beautiful! And remember, when you slow down you may just notice little places you would have otherwise never seen.

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Take it easy, and find little spots on the side of the road during your trip.


The Secondary Roads

The secondary roads are identified by either their ‘D’ or ‘C’ prefixes, and these roads are mostly untarred, graded dirt roads. These roads are more often than not easy to drive on, but do bare in mind that you will need a car that can handle a little bit of sand and dust when using some of them.

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This road looks easy to drive on, but it is in fact made of very loose sand...

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... so drive carefully to avoid getting stuck in the soft sand!

It is easy to slide around on these untarred roads, particularly if there is visibly loose gravel and/or small stones- so be much more careful when using these kinds of roads. You will have to get used to driving on these well maintained, but untarred, roads as they account for over 36 000 km’s of Namibia’s roads.

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There are so many beautful vistas to take in when you travel the roads less driven on.

When you begin exploring the country's secondary road network in earnest you will find loads of little gems hidden along the way. Quiet rest camps, conservation centres, traditional communities and even the largest meteorite in the world!

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The roads are well sign posted in Namibia.
You will never drive for too long without seeing a direction board

 

Look out for animals!

No matter what road you're driving on, highways or side roads, you need to be on the lookout for animals. Not only because they are amazing to spot and observe, but because they can run into the road rather unexpectedly.

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Outside towns and villages look out for bovine road crossers!

Warthogs can be particularly dangerous as they are relatively small so difficult ot spot from a distance, and will cause some serious damage to your vehicle if hit at high speed. Kudu’s (and other antelope) have also been known to panic and run in front of cars so be aware, especially if you see road signs warning of the likeliness of one of these animals being in the area you are driving through.

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There's no telling what you can find on Namibia's roads.

The animals are most active during the dusk and the dawn, so if the sun’s going down, or if the sun’s coming up, then sharpen your wits and keep a close eye on the verge of the road as you drive on.


Why driving in Namibia is worth it

Etosha

The Etosha National Park is one of Namibia’s biggest attractions and if you are planning on going to Etosha you should really consider driving your self there in your own vehicle. With your own vehicle you can drive yourself around the park and explore whichever section of the park you would most like to see. Check out our guide to Etosha here.

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Etosha elephants seen from inside our car.

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Road block ahead! Driving through the national park is always full of excitement.

Anywhere you want to go

There are many reasons why driving through Namibia is a great way to explore our vast and sweeping country. The main plus is that you have the freedom to go when and where you like- you set you itinerary and decide when it changes. If you want to stay longer in one place then you can, it’s as simple as that. The open road is yours to explore.

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If your vehicle is rugged enough you can go just about anywhere in this vast country.


Stay tuned

That’s it for part one of our guide to road-tripping in the land of the brave. Next time we will tell you about the kind of car you should use in Namibia, how to rent a car, and a few more insider tips that will help make your self-drive holiday as full of adventure and excitement as possible!

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Motorbiking through Namibia

  
  

There are few more exhilarating ways to get around a country than by motorbike. Namibia, with its extensive and well-maintained road network, is the perfect place to go on a long and winding ride through its scenic and sweeping landscapes.

In this post we have collected the information of several tour operators in Namibia that offer bike riders a chance to explore our country in a unique way. So read on if you have a taste for adventure of the two-wheeled variety.

Ride2Roam

This company offers tours in Namibia and its neighbouring countries. Take a trip from South Africa to Namibia, or why not travel between Namibia and Botswana.

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Riders heading toward Sossusvlei
(Image source Ride2Roam)

Ride2Roam limits its tour groups to ten bikers at a time so you will never be part of a swarm of tourists. Bike enthusiasts run the company so they know what they are doing and you can feel completely safe when striking out on the road with these guys.

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Riders striking out on a desert road.
(Image source Ride2Roam)

Their website is comprehensive and easy to navigate, check it out here.

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Mountain, biker.
(Image source Ride2Roam)

Dualsports Adventures

This is a company that specialises in doing tours throughout Southern Africa. There are guided tours and there are self-guided tours. Either option you choose the folks at Dualsports Adventures will hire out all the gear you need to tour around Namibia including GPS equipment when needed.

Their Southern Namibia Adventure is highly recommended as it will give you a unique way to explore Namibia’s Southern regions (read more about Namibia’s south over here).

The ride will take you past Sossusvlei, rugged landscapes and the Fish River Canyon as you make your way through Namibia and into South Africa.

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The Deadvlei, just outside Sossusvlei.

Motorcycle Tour South Africa

While based in South Africa this company does offer two tours through Namibia. The first is a ten-day tour that will take you along many of Namibia’s most scenic dirt roads. There won't be any camping on this tour and adventuers can choose betweenb a three or five star package.

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Exploring Namibia with friends on motorbikes- perfect!
(Image source Motorcycle Tour South Africa)

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The charming seaside town of Luderitz will be one of your many stops.
(Image source Motorcycle Tour South Africa)

The second tour begins in South Africa and heads up the West Coast into Namibia. Check it out here.

Africa Motorcycle Tours

This is the international agent for South Africa Motorcycle Tours, and you can read more about the man in charge, Tyler Hare, here.

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Tyler Hare.
(Image source Africa Motorcycle Tours)

This comapny offers perhaps one of the most interesting bike rides you can do in Southern Africa. Their Namibia/RSA tour is a must do for anyone who has 14 days and the urge to ride all around stunning Southern Africa. Starting in Cape Town your trip will take you north toward Namibia, and once in Namibia the real fun begins.

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You never know what you'll find when you bike into Namibia.
(Image source Africa Motorcycle Tours)

On this tour you will visit Keetmanshoop, Windhoek, the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park before returning south back down to Cape Town. For a detailed tour description click here.

Enduro Namibia

For those riders who are looking for a little bit more of a challenging ride through Namibia this is an operator that can cater for your needs. Enduro Namibia proudly takes riders, of varying degrees of skills, over Namibia’s 37000 km’s of untarred roads, showing them exactly what the country has to offer.

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Off the main roads are some truly beautiful untouched landscapes.
(Image source Enduro Namibia)

Most of the tours are suitable for the average rider, with only two (the Wild West and the Kaokoveld rides) being singled by the folks at Enduro Namibia as needing more skilled and physically prepared riders.

The company has a page with need to know facts about biking through Namibia as well as detailed biographies of some of the riders who will be leading you on your group tour.

On many of these tours you will be camping out in the wild and this would make it the perfect tour for those bikers looking for a bit more adventure than usual.

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One of the many camping spots you will visit on one of this company's tours.
(Image source Enduro Namibia)

Gravel Travel

Another company that specialises in off-the-beaten-path tours is Gravel Travel. Check out their site here.

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Cut your own path with your group of riders.
(Image source Gravel Travel)

They also have several package options available for you to choose from just head to their website and begin planning your trip.

Great African Outdoors

With over 20 years of experience and a brand new fleet that has just been bought, GAO are one of the more established companies offering motorbike tours throughout southern Africa.

GAO have a “Windhoek to Windhoek” tour and on this ride you will visit Etosha, Epupa Falls, Swakopmund and Sesriem. It is a 12 day tour and will take you through some of Namibia’s top attractions.

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Sesriem Canyon.

The “Ocean to Desert” tour is another tour that starts in Cape Town, South Africa and makes it way up to Windhoek Namibia. On this tour you will go through Sesriem, the Fish River Canyon, Etosha, Swakopmund and Windhoek. It is a 14 day tour finishing in Windhoek.

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Stunning views abound in the Fish River Canyon.

The “Big Five” tour will take you on a circular route between Zimbabwe and Namibia and as you can guess the focus will be on visiting safari parks and seeing big game. The Okavango delta, Etosha National Park, Mdumu Game Reserve and Chobe National Park are some of the highlights on this 13 day tour.

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Elephants in Etosha National Park.

Overlanding Africa's Bike/Car Tour

Now many riders have families. And many riders’ families are not necessarily able, or willing to ride a motorbike through a foreign country. So if you have family members or significant others who are not too keen on riding around Namibia then fear not. The people at Overlanding Africa have a solution for you.

While you are riding along the dirt roads, tearing up a dust storm on your motorbike your companions, if they choose to not join you on two wheels, will be right behind you in the Overland Safari Truck. Not only will you all be able to share in the same views and experiences but you everyone gets to do it in the manner that they’d prefer to.

Their website is a bit light on information but they respond to any queries you might have about doing a motorcycle tour with you via email.


Additional reading

Live to Ride- Windhoek

Live to ride is the oldest motorcycle club in Namibia. If you are looking for like-minded riders and advice on the best routes to travel on throughout Namibia and Windhoek then be sure to visit their official page and drop them a line.

Cynthia in Namibia

Cynthia, a Dutch motorcycle enthusiast talks about her time biking through Namibia. Read all about it here.

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Cynthia on her way through Namibia.
(Image source Motoress)

What to do in Windhoek

  
  

The bustling capital of Namibia is a city that proudly wears its history on its sleeve.  Buildings, monuments and neighborhoods not only weave a narrative of the local histories and cultures, but it also makes for fascinating sightseeing.

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Welcome to Windhoek!

The city is clean, well organized and fairly easy to navigate, making it ideal for walking tours and casual sightseeing.  There are few must-visit sites in Windhoek that are all the more interesting when you know a bit of their back story.

Independence Avenue

This bustling main road cuts through the city centre and on it you will be able to take in the Gibeon Meteorites. 31 of the original 77 meteorites that fell near the town of Gibeon in Southern Namibia have been crafted into an unusual but beautiful piece of municipal art near the Sanlam Building on Independence Avenue. Thought to be over 4 billion years old, the 150 tons of space debris fom part of the largest meoteorite shower in the world.

At the intersection of Independence Avenue and John Meinhert Street, you’ll find the bronze kudu statue, one of Windhoek's best loved statues. This popular landmark and meeting place was unveiled in 1960 and symbolizes a “spirit of hope” and a “shared passion for the beautiful abundance of the country's wild.”
 

The Christus Kirche

Head up the avenue toward the iconic Christus Kirche church, located on a traffic island in the middle of Robert Mugabe Drive. Take in its curved gables, quartz sandstone walls and elements of Neo Gothic and Art Nouveau, and you will understand why it is often used as the face of Windhoek, on countless postcards and brochures.

The church’s clock and three bells were imported from Germany, as was the stained glass that was manufactured in Nuremberg and was a gift from the Emperor Wilhelm II.

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The Christus Kirche.

Katatura Township

Visitors to Windhoek are increasingly taking the opportunity to visit the thriving township of Katutura, which itself has a fascinating history linked to the country’s colonial past.

When the League of Nations made Namibia a South African protectorate, many of the apartheid policies and strategies were applied to the city of Windhoek, such as the policy for “separate development”, and in the 1950’s, township areas for the various ethnic groups were created, with a view to keeping the city segregated.

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Katatura.

The local black population was relocated to the township of Katutura, a name that means "the place where we do not want to settle". The plans ignited great opposition, eventually culminating in a bloody confrontation on Dec 10, 1959, a date that is today commemorated as “Human Rights Day” in memory of the 13 people who lost their lives.

The Katutura of 1968 consisted of about 4000 standardized rental houses without water and electricity organized into sections of five different ethnic groups. Each house had a living area of 45qm and a large letter on the door symbolizing the tribe (D = Damara, H = Herero etc.). If you look carefully, you can still see some of the letters on the walls to this day.

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Jerusalem street, Katatura.

Windhoek's total population is currently around 300 000 people, about 60% of these people live in Katutura. There are many suburbs of Katutura with poignant names such as Soweto, Havana, Babylon and Wanaheda. But residents of the townships have built these neighborhoods into vibrant, prosperous locales that can give visitors a unique insight into Namibian life.

Meat markets and craft centres

Take a guided tour through the lively meat market at Single Quarters, where visitors can have a taste of “kapana”, the local road-side barbecue that is the snack of choice for many Namibians. Or drop in at Soweto market, a commercial centre where small businesses such as seamstresses, vendors and hairdressers thrive.

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A local vendor preparing kapana.

Another popular stop is the Penduka Women’s Centre. This non-governmental development organisation aims to empower disadvantaged or disabled women in Namibia by giving them a place to make beautiful hand-crafted souvenirs. In the Oshiwambo and Otjiherero languages the word Penduka means “wake up”.

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Arts and crafts...

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...made by the women at the Penduka Women's Centre.

For the more daring, visit the infamous Eveline Street – the street that never sleeps. Lined with an array of shebeens (bars), hairdressers & other informal traders, its worth the visit if only to see the quirky names of the bars.

Eating out in Windhoek

Windhoek offers its visitors a plethora of dining options- the international cuisine at places like Stellenbosch Wine bar or the ethnic fare to be found at Xwama in Katutura and the “Penduka” restaurant.

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Xwama-  fusion culture, fusion food!

While in Namibia, visitors can step out of their gastronomical comfort-zones and get a taste for the local cuisine- from mopane worms, to the local brew omalodhu or more hearty foods like springbok and kudu steaks.

For more great food ideas, take a look at our post on where to eat in Windhoek.

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Mopane worms- in a tin.
Go on, try one.

For those who find themselves in Windhoek en-route elsewhere, it can be so much more than just a stopover. Whether you prefer to explore with a guide or on foot, with family or alone, it can offer a memorable, enjoyable Namibian experience.

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Picturesque- Parliament Gardens in Windhoek.

Luderitz- Exploring Namibia's Historic Diamond Town

  
  

The small town of Luderitz is located in the South of Namibia and if you are lucky enough to have some free time on your holiday, then you should definitely go on a tour of it and its surrounds. From quaint old German-style architecture, to beautiful wide-open skies and crystal clear seas with white beaches, Luderitz is a small town with a lot to see.

sign
Welcome to Luderitz!

Arriving

The first great thing about Luderitz is that it has its own airport. Flights go to Luderitz from Windhoek once a day, and getting a ticket is usually not a problem.

One can also drive from Windhoek to Luderitz. It's a straight shot along the B4 and will take you about 6-7 hours to do.

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The flight into the isolated town, over the desert sands, was amazing.

The Nest Hotel

Once in Luderitz I made my way to where I would be laying my head down for the duration of my trip. I was staying at the Nest Hotel, which is the perfect spot to stay if you feel like having all the creature comforts of modern living.

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This was the view from my room- it was spectacular all day long!

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The Nest Hotel in the twilight.

Take your time

Luderitz exists as a town largely thanks to the diamond industry in Namibia, and to this day diamonds continue to be an important part of the town's economy. And with the railway being refurbished and new buildings going up all the time, the future is looking bright for this sometimes forgotten town.

Most travellers go to Luderitz just to use it as a stepping stone to other locations in Namibia's South, but doing this would be a waste of an opportunity to do some exploring. The coastal town has enough going on to keep a busy adventurer happy for a good few days.

Colourful streets, colourful buildings

But today we will concern ourselves with the past and of particular interest is the unique architecture of Luderitz. Colourful buildings built during the time of German occupation line the streets, and businesses more than a hundred years old can be found on some of the streets.

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Rows of brightly coloured houses can be found all over the seaside town.

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A shot of some of the local businesses.

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Barrels- the towns friendly watering hole.

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House Groenewald.

Historical sites

The town also has several historical sites, which are worth visiting. There is a wealth of information on the town’s history and you can find this information at any tourist centre or hotel in Luderitz.

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 A memorial for those who died fighting for their land.

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Plaque honouring Heinrich Vogelslang, Luderitz's first pioneer.

A short drive outside of town and one can find Dias Cross, which is a must see if you are in Luderitz. The site marks the location of where Bartholomew Dias landed in Namibia. Tourists can now visit this spot and enjoy the delicious cake and coffee on sale at the small café run nearby the site.

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The foot bridge leading up to the historic site.

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 Dias Cross, erected where the explorer landed in 1488.

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A modern lighthouse overlooks Dias Cross and Grossebucht.

Beaches near Luderitz

The beaches near Luderitz are also quite spectacular. White sands and shallow waters make these beaches perfect for picnicking and sunbathing. The fact that there are so few people in this part of the world only helps you appreciate the isolated beauty of the locations around Luderitz.

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An abandoned ship at Grossebucht.

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On our way to Agate Beach we had to obey the sign and not enter
the area still designated for diamond mining.

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Agate Beach-
Hundreds of agates lie on the shore and can be taken home and cherished.

Discover Luderitz

Luderitz is the gateway to the South of Namibia, and when staying in Luderitz it is very easy to visit such attractions as Kolmanskop, Pomona, Fish River Canyon, Klein Aus and many, many other places that are of interest to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

So when you go to Luderitz, do not forget to stick around a bit in the town and take in its sites. It is a quaint, friendly place, unique and unlike any place you have stayed in.

The pictures above are by no means an exhaustative list of things to do in Luderitz. If you like exploring hidden gems, and finding out more about the rich history of one of the oldest towns in Namibia, then get yourself down to this small town, and get exploring!

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A view of the old harbour.

Namibia Heritage Week 2013

  
  

Namibia has a varied collection of different cultures that live within its borders, and this is a large part of the reason why Namibia is such an incredibly interesting place to visit. From urban centers to national parks the people of Namibia are as varied as its landscapes.

Herero

Herero Woman

So to celebrate the cultural heritage of all Namibians the National Heritage Council Namibia holds an annual Heritage Week across Namibia to showcase the different cultures that can be found in Namibia. Heritage Week is from the 16th to the 22nd of September 2013 and we're going to explain what that means to you, whether you are a local or just visiting this exciting country.

San Namibia

The San people, one of the oldest communities on earth

The theme for this year’s Heritage Week is ‘Heritage: Namibia’s Knowledge Bank’. The theme is in reference to the continuingly positive influence remembering one’s heritage has on a community or an individual. In Namibia, heritage is how we came to be who we are and is therefore one of the most important things for us to remember.

Himba Namibia 3

Himba woman

In order to share the different strands of culture that make up the tapestry of Namibia, the National Heritage Council of Namibia has set aside next week (16-22 of September) to promote museums, art galleries and heritage institutions across the country.

Owambo village

Owambo village

We have collected all the information you will need to take part in the celebrations happening around the country. So whether you are a local looking to reconnect with your roots, or a visitor looking for a meaningful cultural experience, have a look below and see if you can get yourself to any of the following events.

Heritage Week Program of Events

City of Windhoek
The City of Windhoek will be organizing a `Walk for Culture’ on Saturday, 21 September to mark the start of the /Ae//Gams Festival.  If you would like to take part please gather at 08:30am (the walk will start at 09.00) next to the new City of Windhoek Museum on Robert Mugabe Avenue.  The walkers will visit a number of important heritage sites and encounter cultural performances along the route which will end in Zoo Park.

For more information please contact: Mariah Hamata, Tel: +26461–290-2588, E-mail: mnh@windhoekcc.org.na

Namibia Wildlife Resorts
A range of Namibian Heritage Week specials are on offer across NWR’s camps and lodges.  Bookings must be made in advance and will include free entry to the Park. Take this special opportunity to enjoy Namibia’s outstanding beauty.

For more information contact: the NWR on +26461-285-7200.

Franco-Namibian Centre
At the Franco-Namibian Centre there will be an exhibition titled ‘What We See’. The exhibition will be open to the public throughout the week (09.00 – 18.00).  The exhibition focuses on the racial documentation project that collected the sound recordings and body casts made of people in the 1930s.

For more information contact: Ruth on +26461-387-330.

Gobabeb Desert Research Foundation
The Foundation will be holding a special Open Day will take place on Sunday, 22nd September to celebrate the declaration of the Namib Sand Sea as Namibia’s Second World Heritage Site.  UNESCO recognizes the outstanding importance of this site so come and help us celebrate and appreciate the Namib Sand Sea.
For more information contact: Esther Uushona on +264-694-199.

Grootfontein Museum
Guided Tours and animal quiz for all local grade 7 groups  - by appointment
For more information contact: The Grootfontein Museum  @ Tel +264-67-242-456

Helvi Mpingane Kondombolo Cultural Village and Tsumeb Museum
The Cultural Village will provide free entry to Namibians throughout the week.  Guided tours for school groups will take place on Wednesday and Friday at the Tsumeb Museum.  The main celebration involving performances by cultural groups will take place on Friday, 20th September. On Saturday 21st September there will be a craft market where visitors will be able to purchase unique Namibian crafts and dine on traditional foods.
For more information contact: Lemmy Geingob, at +264-6722-1056 or +264-81-146-0011,

Keetmanshoop Museum
The museum will host a three-day programme of activities with demonstrations of local crafts and cultural performances involving local schools. 
For more information please contact: Ms Valerie Kleintjies on +264-63-221-256.

Munyondo gwaKapande Cultural Village
A programme of activities will be taking place throughout the week at the village. Including a competition for schools on local culture, traditions, and drum-making and playing. 
For more information please contact: Mr. Mukuwe +264-81-218-0213, Mr. Pessa +264-81-248-5508/ +264-81-601-6012

Nakambale Museum
A group of skilled local craft-workers will be based at the museum throughout the week.  Visitors will be able to learn and observe traditional skills such as basket weaving, pottery making and how to make oil from marula fruit. 
For more information please contact: Ms Magdalena Kanaante on +264-65-240-472 or +264-81-249-3108.

National Archives of Namibia and National Library of Namibia
An exhibition that provides archival materials and literature pieces showing the importance of the traditional knowledge of Namibians. 
For more information please contact: Mr Werner Hillebrecht on +264-61-293-5211.

National Art Gallery of Namibia
On Saturday 21 September the Gallery will host a panel discussion about  ‘Namibian Art’ from 11am to 13.30 with light refreshments included.  This is your chance to meet local artists and learn more about the richness and diversity of Namibia artworks. 
For more information please contact: Ms Selma Kaulinge @ +264-61-231-160.

National Earth Science Museum
There will be a varied programme of events at the museum throughout the week including screenings of a film on Copper Smelting by the Kwanyama. There will be daily tours from 10:00 in the morning, with a daily treasure hunt for kids from 09:00 to 09:40.
For more information please contact: Ms Helke Mocke at +264-284-8391 or email hmocke@mme.gov.na

National Heritage Council
Namibians can enjoy free entry to the Council’s major sites, such as Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, Heroes Acre and Lake Otjikoto
For more information please contact: Ms Beverley van Wyk on +264-61-244-375.

National Museum of Namibia
The specialized curators at the museum will be providing unique `backstage’ tours of their collections and are inviting school groups to participate in these tours throughout the week. 
For more information please contact: Benson on +264-61-276-817

Ombalantu Baobab Tree Heritage Centre
A programme of activities throughout the week at the centre will include performances by local cultural groups and storytellers throughout the week for visiting groups from local schools. 
For more information please contact: Mr Gebhard Shiimbi on +264-81-438-4705

Swakopmund Museum
Guided tours of the museum for local school groups throughout the week.  
For more information contact: Engela at the Museum on +264-64-402-046

Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Tsandi
At this homestead, local schools will be participating in a programme of activities and competitions to learn about local culture and heritage. 
For more information please contact: Joel Nekwaya on +264-81-285-3249 or Ms Hilda Lita on +264-65-258-025.

University of Namibia:  History Society
The society will mount an exhibition in the foyer of the library and will have a programme of consciousness-raising events for students at the campus on 18th and 19th September. The society is also going to be holding a `Walk for Culture’.  Activities will include a cultural performance, a  heritage tour, and a quiz on Namibian Heritage for students (with prizes). The event will be held at UNAM Olupale Square on the 18th September 2013 from 10h00 to 14h00.
For more information please contact: Bethel +264-81-871-2057, E-mail sylviaumana@gmail.com.

Walvis Bay Museum
Activities will take place during the week aimed primarily at local schools.  Members of the Topnaar community will be on hand to introduce learners to their cultural traditions. There will also be a demonstration of the ways in which the !Nara melon plays an important role in the communities of this part of Namibia. 
For more information please contact: Ms Antoinette Mostert on +264-64-201-3273 or email the museum on museum@walvisbaycc.org.na

Visit The Young Artists & Musicians Of Tsumeb Namibia

  
  

Next time you're wandering through the north of Namibia or making your way to Etosha National Park, stray off the beaten track and spend some time in the old mining town of Tsumeb. Tsumeb is the largest town in the Oshikoto region of Namibia and has some real gems for the traveller willing to do a bit of exploring. One such gem is the Tsumeb Arts Performance Center - an inspiration to anyone promoting culture in Namibia and a haven for young muscians and artists.

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A young child at the Tsumeb Arts and Performance Centre.

Promoting arts and culture in the region

The Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre is run by a non-profit organisation called the Namibian Art Performance Centres Association (NAPCA). The association currently runs three centres in the northern region of Namibia. Arts Performance Centres can be found in Tsumeb, Omagalanga, and Oshikuku. Each centre provides a space for local communities to learn how to develop their talents and express themselves through a variety of artistic mediums.

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The Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre.

The mediums promoted by these centres range from painting and pattern design, to learning how to act or play an instrument. If it is artistic then the NAPCA will try and promote it.

The association's aim is to particularly promote arts in underdeveloped and disadvantaged communities in Namibia, and through its three centres it is really starting to make a difference in local communities. 

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 Children are able to learn a variety of instruments and skills 
at the Arts Performance Centres.

When visiting Tsumeb we were able to spend some time with one of the NAPCA’s founders, Lis Hidber, who works at the Tsumeb centre. Lis gave us a tour of the facilities and described the kind of work that they do.

As soon as we started walking around the grounds we were struck at how much time and hard work must have gone into the development of property on which the centre stands.

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A statue at the entrance of the centre.

Cheerily coloured murals and beautifully maintained gardens give students a refreshing and relaxing space in which to pursue their artistic ambitions.

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One of the many murals that have been painted on the centre's classrooms. 

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 A harp waiting to be played in the courtyard.

How the centre functions

The most important aspect of the centre are obviously the teachers, as without them there could be no regular lessons for the students. Instead of relying on importing teachers from other regions or countries, the Tsumeb centre employs mostly local community members to run the classes and the results have been fantastic. The dedication of the team of teachers was obvious and the centre is a hive of activity all day long.

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Three boys receiving instruction.

Each rondavel on the property is dedicated to a group of instruments, and we were fortunate enough to be allowed to peek our heads into a few of these classrooms to see what the children were up to.

The children were all very keen on their instruments and projects, and like children everywhere, most were extremely eager to display their talents to anyone who showed an interest.

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These two young boys were part of a very talented band of marimba players.

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The students are committed to their instruments and this is thanks 
to the tireless work of the school's teachers.

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 These girls took a break from playing their harps to pose for a photo.

It was extremely moving to see children using the centre's program to learn how to play and master instruments that they normally would never have been able to.

The centre, however, does not only hone children's artistic abilities. The Tsumeb Art Performance Centre also teaches locals how to build, repair and maintain musical instruments.

At the heart of the centre in Tsumeb is its workshop that can restring, restore, and create instruments that are then used by the students at the centre. So talented is the team at the workshop that music shops in Windhoek send their instruments to Tsumeb for repairs.

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A cello waiting to repaired outside the workshop.

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All the instruments used at the APC are maintained by employess that
receive training at the centre.

How does the centre keep going?

The centre relies almost entirely on private donations and Lis’s home country Austria is a massive source of funds for NAPCA and its centres. But any support, from anywhere, is always greatly appreciated and thoughtfully used.

If you wish to make any donations, financial or otherwise, then send NAPCA an email to their address which you can find here.

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Inside one of the centre's classrooms...
Many of the instruments have been donated by private citizens.

How to get there

Getting to Tsumeb will take about six hours by car if you are driving from Windhoek. The route follows the B1 which is in good condition and relatively easy going. If you need to hire a car once you get to Namibia then follow this link for some rental agencies.

If you cannot drive, or do not want to drive yourself, then do not panic! Intercape is a bus company that operates in certain regions of Namibia and there is a bus that travels between Tsumeb and Windhoek.

IMG 9949

The Tsumeb Art Performance Centre's operating hours and contact details.
Feel free to call and ask how you can get involved with their projects. 

The entire experience at the Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre was fantastic and a visit to the centre should be considered by any traveller exploring the north of Namibia. 

While travelling through Namibia you will come across towns like Tsumeb. Do not make the mistake of always driving through them on your way to your predetermined destination. Allow a little bit of leeway in your holiday schedule, take a few detours, because you never know what you may discover.

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