Well despite the bumps dealing with Lu’s visa we finally made it to the Atlantic ocean. It took us about two months and we had some back tracking but we made it from the Indian ocean to the Atlantic ocean, from Zanzibar to Swokupmund, Namibia.
When we made it through the Namibian border we knew things were going to be much easier, we didn’t have to back track, and all we had to do was survive the overnight bus ride. The ride was nearly 22 hours in total and unfortunately some of the most scenic places were covered in darkness so we were not able to see them. It was still wonderful to fall asleep and wake up in a completely different environment. Zambia is pretty flat with lots of small trees bushes, when we awoke in Namibia it was hills and mountains covered in scrub brush.
The towns of Namibia were totally different than the any of the ones we had experienced in Africa, they were clean, modern, colorful, and everything worked. So this was our first taste of western pleasures in a while and while we loved the simplicity found in the rest of Africa it was nice to know that the grocery store would have everything we wanted, that our lodge would have high-speed internet, and that the roads were smooth. Since everything is much easier than the rest of Africa and everything is straight forward we decided to rent a car and explore the country ourselves. We decided to do a self-drive game drive, then see the ocean.
It was a fitting way to end our time in Africa. While there we had some more bumps with some rental car companies not accepting American Express or Visa Debit (take note of this if renting in Namibia!), but once we had our car we saw Africa in a different way yet again. We were able to go at our own pace, able to stop and stare at a lion or rhino that for as long as we wanted to, the only problem was navigating some of the roads in a Polo Vivo! The place we stayed had a pretty rough road, it was only 8km, but it took us about 40 minutes each way. But fortunately we were the only ones there, so we played with the dogs and warthogs (yes you read that correctly) at night and were treated to a free braai with our host Daan. During the day we went to Etosha National Park which might have been the best game drive yet. It is a very different experience when you are the driver seeing it from your own car; elephants, rhinos, and lions just 25 meters from the car. We saw things that we hadn’t seen on any of the other game drives – elephants white from mud at the watering hole and a lion right next to our car. We watched the lion for what must have been an hour. Not having to leave but to just sit there and watch as long as you wanted. Also we ran off after the 102,519th antelope which added a freedom we didn’t have before. By the end though we had had our fill of giant animals, which I know is a hard thing to say, but again we were able to leave and go at our own pace.
Following Etosha we drove through the desert to the beach, after a while bushes faded and just became sand. As the only ones on the road we finally felt completely alone which was a strange feeling since we hadn’t been in almost 3 months. Before we hit the ocean it felt like the moon or something. Endless sand and hills with a mirage at the end of the road, then suddenly we realized that the mirage actually wasn’t a mirage anymore and we had reached the ocean. We parked and I ran out to touch the ocean making the trip complete.
The next day we returned to Windhoek and were sad to leave the continent we had come to love, and in standard Namibian fashion our backpacking lodge upgraded us from our nice room to a room bigger than our flat in London. This was commonly the case in Namibia, that the Namibians were just concerned that you have a great time and are always accommodating.
The only rude person we met was a South African working at the embassy. This would be a fitting representation of South Africa for us, but that will come in a later post on our Africa round-up. The people of Namibia were incredibly friendly, inviting us to braai’s (BBQs), calling friends when we had visa troubles, or travel agencies helping us for free and even giving their stamp of approval for free when needed.
Life in Namibia is some of the best in Africa, it blends the moderns found in South Africa with the hospitality you find in the rest of Africa my only complaint would be that we had to go to South Africa afterwards, when we could have stayed!