Namibia was as highly recommended to us for Africa as Colombia was for South America so we had sky-high expectations going in. Did not live up to them due to the lack of people and climate (deserts are not our favorite) but the scenery is stunning, we did have fun and for the first time on the trip really lived in TianMa full-time every single day and night.

Namibia (and some Botswana)

Quick Summary

Time in Namibia: August 3 - 23, 2010

Route: from the very south to the very north in a more or less straight line (Fish River Canyon, Namib desert and Naukluft Park, Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park, Rundu) and then across the Caprivi Strip toward Zimbabwe (with a short, disappointing detour in Botswana)  

People: What people? Namibia is huge but has only 2 million people, most of them fenced in (literally) in a little patch in the very north. Some neat tribes call it home but we unfortunately could not visit authentic Himba villages (need a 4WD car for that) nor the San (a.k.a bushmen, whose traditional lifestyle has been mostly destroyed). A sad history but Namibia seems to haver better race relations than South Africa so that’s a plus.

Food: What food? We were lucky to find supermarkets once in a while; other than in Swakopmund had no choice but to always cook our own meals. On the bright side, we became quite good at braai-ing

Roads: The few tarred highways are excellent; other than that there is a vast (needlessly complicated) network of dirt roads/tracks in various states of disrepair (mostly bad due to improper maintenance). A better strategy would be to have fewer but better maintained dirt roads. Many roads + few motorists = easy and fun wild camping on the side of the road (assuming you can find shade).

Distance covered: 4244km (2637 miles), only 500km of which were paved

Highlights: the Namib desert sand dunes, meeting up with several fellow African travelers, Etosha self-drive safari, the newly renovated and completely free Ai-Ais hot springs and spa, managing to not get a flat tire in over 3500km of bad dirt roads

Low-lights: covering too much ground in too little time on really bad roads, dust dust everywhere, not finding shade to rest when we most needed it, the unforgiving desert sun, Botswana

Impression: Although the scenery was amazing, we confirmed to ourselves once and for all that deserts are not our cup of tea. Crossing the “cattle fence” into the far north was really like crossing a national border - very surprising and thought provoking. Himba people seem really cool so we’re sad we couldn’t visit them for fashion and skin-care tips. Good but expensive national parks (unaffordable for Namibians). Fun country for a vacation (tons of Europeans doing this when we were there in August) but not great for in-depth exploration.