I visited Namibia for a month in 2002 as part of an expedition with my school organised by World Challenge Expeditions. We spent half of our time in the country improving the sports facilities of a secondary school in the town of Gibeon before exploring the country and enjoying ourselves.
This was the first time I had visited Africa properly (except for Egypt) and helped get the continent under my skin. I’ve travelled to many places all over the world since 2002 but Africa keeps calling me back and I’ve been back to the continent twice since then.
I felt remarkably safe in Namibia. The only incident we came across was when we went to a local bar in Gibeon and a few people got into a fight outside and the Police fired a couple of warning shots into the air to stop things. This sort of thing could happen in any country and we were at a local bar in a town way off of the tourist trail anyway. Once you get used to the “This is Africa” way of life I’m sure if you visit Namibia you’ll fall in love with the country and continent just like I did.
The scenery in Namibia is really beautiful and made up of everything from the biggest sand dunes in the world, to rocky canyons, savannah, and all the way to large forests. With such a small population living in such a large country much of the scenery is unspoilt and you can enjoy the beauty for yourself.
I found the people in Namibia to be very friendly – overall I’ve felt more welcome in East Africa but I never felt unwelcome in Namibia and the people were always very friendly to me.
July 24th – August 24th, 2002 [view blog]
A month-long trip to Namibia to help improve the sports facilities of a secondary school before exploring as much of the country as we could in a couple of weeks.
|Fish River Canyon – One of the biggest canyons in the world it is possible to trek along the canyon floor or enjoy the scenery from the camp sites at each end. If you decide to trek the canyon you’ll see some amazing unspoilt scenery and be rewarded with a visit to a hot springs resort at the end but you’ll need to be fit enough to walk for 3-5 days, depending on your walking speed, over sandy and rocky terrain with the occasional river crossing.
|Namib-Naukluft National Park – This national park covers a vast area of central Namibia and includes dunes, forrest and much more. We spent a couple of days in the Nauluft section of the park taking part in various treks, seeing the wildlife and enjoying the scenery as part of our acclimatisation for our trek through Fish River Canyon.
|Sesreim – This is the area that contains the world’s largest sand dunes and is contained within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. We climbed some of the dunes to watch the sunrise, visited an oasis and visited the small Sesreim Canyon to watch the sunset and stayed at a campsite just outside the park.
|Hardap – A less visited National Park near the town of Mariental, south of Windhoek. The park is quite barren but centers around a lake and has a large amount of wildlife which you can see by taking part in treks or by driving around the various game trails. We trekked to acclimatise before Fish River Canyon.
|Windhoek – The capital of Namibia and its largest city. Windhoek doesn’t have as much to see as other capital cities that I’ve visited but is a good place to stock up on supplies before heading out into the country. Make sure you stop at Joe’s Beerhouse to try their “bushman kebabs” – a highly recommended dish that most people I’ve met that have been to Namibia have tried.
|Swakopmund – A former German enclave on the west coast of Namibia this town has a very Bavarian feel to it and in fact there are many German cafes and cake shops in the area. This is a good place to relax on the beach or take part in activities such as fishing, dune boarding, quad biking, sky diving, partying, wildlife watching and much more. I went fishing and dune boarding but it’s worth spending a few days here, or in the nearby town of Walvis Bay, while in the country.
|Gibeon – A town way off of the tourist trail south of Mariental. This is where we spent a couple of weeks improving the facilities of a secondary school but there’s not much to do here and the town is not famous for much except for being the site where a famous meteorite was discovered some time ago.
We didn’t have a chance to visit anywhere north of Windhoek but Etosha National Park is well worth a visit and you can spend a few days looking around the park and the various watering holes, or you could take part of some treks. There are other places you could visit in the south too including seal colonies, the skeleton coast, an abandoned diamond mining town and various trek locations.
Overall I would say Namibia is a good place to start in Africa if you’re looking for some unspoilt scenery and a fairly safe country which isn’t built up as much as other places like South Africa or Kenya.