When we were preparing our Namibia trip, we thought about practical things like our itinerary and renting a car with rooftop tent, but some things you can’t prepare for . The warm culture and high level of development in Namibia have surprised us in a very good way. We made a list with the 12 ways in which Namibia amazed us!
#1 There are so many types of desert. If you think of meters-high sand dunes picturing a desert, you will recognize this natural phenomenon in the Sossusvlei. But did you know that a desert is simply an area with only little or no rainfall? Almost the whole of Namibia is therefore a desert, but the landscope looks different everywhere. From salt plains to mountain areas, and from the famous sand dunes to areas with desert-proof trees and plants!
#2 There is wildlife everywhere. You can not only spot game in the famous parks, such as Etosha. In the Sossusvlei, we spot oryx and an ostrich, at the Fish River Canyon two mountain zebras ran along with our car and on the road between Windhoek and the Waterberg Plateau we saw a giraffe, swines and monkeys.
#3 You can pay with card virtually anywhere. In the Netherlands we are very spoiled to be able pay anywhere with card and we are usually a bit disappointed when we cross any border, where you still have to carry a heavy wallet with you. We were therefore surprised that you can pay with card almost everywhere in Namibia. From the campsite to the park gate, pin payments are accepted almost everywhere.
#4 The tap water is drinkable. This is also something we are used to in the Netherlands, but rarely find abroad. We usually walk around with bottles of water when travelling. But not in Namibia, because here too you can just drink the water from the tap. Did you expect that in an African country?
#5 A braai is a life essential for the Namibian people. We have slept on basic camping places without shower or toilet, but what we there every single time? No matter how basic a camping or picknick spot? A braai!
#6 Almost all roads are perfect. Yes, there are 4WD roads. And no, not all roads are asphalted. But the quality of the roads was surprisingly good! We were told that the Namibian roads are so bad that we would probably have a flat tier at least once a week. Not at all! We actually returned our three spare tires unused at the end of our trip.
#7 Everyone is doing great. In Namibia you do not quickly walk up to someone to ask for directions. So blunt! First, you ask at least how someone is doing and if you have spoken to someone before, it is quite normal to ask more specifically. How was your dinner yesterday? How’s your dog?
#8 Zebra, oryx or antilope? Yummie! Tourists visit the national parks to spot game with their binoculars, but you can spot this game at the cooling shelf at the butcher’s as well. It seems weird for tourists like us to photograph an oryx at one moment and order an oryx steak the next.
#9 Namibian ATM’s will give you South African rand. The Namibian dollar and South African rand are linked. So there is a good chance that you will not get dollars when you get cash at the ATM, but South African rand instead. This may sound crazy, but don’t worry: you are not tricked out of your money.
#10 They understand us! The official language in Namibia may be English, but most people speak South African or German because of the influence that both countries have had in Namibia in the past. Because those languages are so closely related to Dutch, we were able to talk to local people in our own language for the very first time abroad.
#11 There is nobody. Namibia is the least populated country in the world after Mongolia. And you’ll experience that while travelling through the country. You can easily drive for hours without seeing any other traffic. And do you see a small town on your map? This is probably only a gas station or a large ranch.
#12 They do love their paperwork. After two days you will know your passport number and license plate number by heart. We have never filled in so many forms as during our trip through Namibia. The campsites in a national park were especially big fans of paperwork. We sometimes had to fill in the same forms three times: when we drove through the gate, checked in at the campsite and paid for our park permit. And then another three times, when we left.