Windhoek is the capital of Namibia, with a population numbering around 300 000 souls. A clean city, it has buildings both from the bygone eras as well as modern architecture.
The city lies in the Auas mountain range; hence it looks like a jumble of houses hastily flung together, but that is not the case. Windhoek used to be called !Ai Gams, and served as the headquarters for Jan Jonker Afrikaner.
With a strong fountain and a lot of grazing for his cattle, he stayed here until uprooted by the Germans in the colonial wars. Since then the fountain has seen many different faces and heard many different languages being spoken in the area.
Today Windhoek is a bustling, modern city with shops and restaurants of world standard. One thing in Windhoek stands out though, and that is the pace of the city – or lack of it.
It has a relaxed atmosphere to it, and the visitor will immediately feel this when walking around Windhoek.
With many a museum and old buildings present, Windhoek offers a lot for the enthusiastic photographer.
Town tours to Katatura, as well as into the city are a good way to get to know the place. This way you will be able to get first hand knowledge about who is who and what is where.
The closest park to Windhoek is the Daan Viljoen Game Reserve. Currently the accommodation facilities are being renovated, but the game reserve is still open for day visitors.
Not to the standard of some of Namibia’s other game reserve, it still offers something to the visitor, and is to be enjoyed in that way.
Several lodges compliment the area as well, with well stocked game numbers and beautiful African styles; these lodges can be visited as you travel through Namibia.
If you have a limited amount of time, come and visit Windhoek, and see all the different people of Namibia in one place.
Find history combined with modern life.
Feel the heart throb of a nation.
When you read or hear about Namibia, one of the first things mentioned is the Skeleton Coast. Tales of shipwrecks littering the beaches are rife in Namibia.
With a coastline of approx.1570 kilometres, Namibia’s shores border South Africa and the Orange River, as well as Angola and the Kunene River in the North.
Of this total distance only about 400 kilometres is open to the public, without a permit. The rest of Namibia’s pristine coast either falls in national parks, or under the jurisdiction of De Beers Marine, South of Luderitz.
The national parks coastlines can be visited if you are in possession of a valid permit.
The area that is open to the public stretches from the Namib Naukluft Park boundary to the Skeleton Coast Park in the north. There is a good road system linking the different towns and areas along the coast. Between Walvis Bay and Henties Bay lie several wrecks that can be visited.
The first wreck to be seen lies just south of Swakopmund. Although much of the top structure has been removed, there is still a bit of the hull visible. The newest wreck along the Namibian coast lies 50 kilometres north of Swakopmund.
It is a fishing trawler that stranded in 2009, and thus far no recovery of any sorts could save this abandoned wreck. It can be seen from the road, so will not be missed when travelling to Henties Bay.
The “Winston”, in contrast, is the oldest wreck along this stretch of coastline. Lying about 90 kilometres north of Henties Bay, it is also the wreck furthest away that can be visited.
There are much more wrecks along the coastline, but most of them are submerged, and unless you have exact positions, it will be difficult to find them. Human skeletons along the coast also exist.
Their locations are a different story.
While there must have been quite a number at some stage, most have been removed for burial or to be studied. In the Kuiseb delta there are still some that can be seen, but covered with sand, they are tough to discover.
The wrecks are but one of the many interesting things that can be found along the Namibian coast. The beauty of the huge Atlantic waves, sunsets on the beach or just sitting in a nice restaurant like The Raft in Walvis Bay, all form part of the Skeleton Coast experience.
Travelling from Windhoek via the sleepy villages of Otjiwarongo and Outjo, you will come to Etosha National Park, the most famous of all Namibia’s parks.
At just over 2 million hectares big, this park is home to an extremely wide variety of game, birdlife and vegetation zones.
Etosha means “the great white place”, which refers to the salt pan that makes up most of the park. The pan does sometimes get water from the north or from rain, but generally it is dry and white as far as the eye can see.
Etosha National Park has three camps where visitors can stay overnight;
Okakeujo can be considered the main camp inside Etosha, and also boasts the most impressive waterhole.
This drinking spot is under floodlights at night, which makes it a truly memorable experience to just sit and watch life unfold in front of your eyes.
Halali is the smallest of the camps, but like the rest of Namibia has its own personality and attractions. The honey badgers that regularly visit the campsites in Halali are such an example. Pests sometimes, they are still there and lovely to behold – do not feed them, though. They can be vicious when provoked.
Namutoni used to be an old fort during German times, but now accommodates visitors. The area around Namutoni is the best in all of Etosha vegetation wise. Huge trees and dense bushes make this area ideal for game like leopard and the elusive Damara Dik Dik antelope.
The game which can be found in Etosha is too numerous to name.
Elephants, black rhino, lions and leopards are the ones that everyone wants to see.
Game like springbok, plains zebra and blue gnu are, however, the species that occur in the greatest numbers.
Etosha has a lot of waterholes – mad-made and natural - where you can park your vehicle and observe game in their natural environment.
It is a real experience to see big animals, free as life itself, as they approach the water hole. Each species has a different way of approaching water, and each depend on one another to make sure there are no predators around.
Birds like the grey loerie play a major role in this protection sequence as they usually warn game if something is not right at the waterholes.
When in Namibia a visit to Etosha is a must, if time allows. The smell and the sounds around a waterhole are an experience on the senses, but so typically Africa.
Rusty red ridges formed by granite alternate with savanna and tree-covered, dried out river beds. Such magnificent scenery is simply begging to be explored on foot.
A word of caution, wildlife is abundant in the area – large and small – so always check in with your travel agency, tour guide or lodge before you go on your adventure.
Besides the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, the Ugab River, Save the Rhino Camp and the small town of Uis are the main tourist attractions.
The Ugab River especially, is a fascinating place to visit – it’s home to a very special herd of desert elephants. These specially adapted animals nurse their young for a longer time than other elephants, ensuring their survival in such a harsh habitat.
With an experienced guide, you can take a hike in the river bed, get some climbing in and maybe have a first-hand encounter that you will remember for the rest of your life.
A distance away from the Ugab, beautiful dune fields wait to be crossed.
From the end of the road, follow the river towards the centre of the crater. Here, soft sand alternates with tricky rocks, so watch your step.
Inside the crater, find north and locate the big piles of rock on the northern rim. Head steadfast towards them, never letting them out of your sight.
Make sure to leave markers on your trail so you will find your way back, too, (make sure not to leave these markers behind on your return). The crater is small but not always easy to navigate.
From the top of the rim, your gaze will fall across a land of breath-taking beauty.
The ground drops away almost vertically, giving way to vast plains interrupted only by flat-top mountains and trees.
Drink in the magnificence before making your way back to your car.