Why you should be asking these questions before visiting Namibia

We have already explained how wonderfully unique Namibia is, so why not continue the journey and find out why you should be asking these questions before visiting Namibia?

As it goes people tend to ask all kinds of questions before visiting a new destination. Because of this we thought it would be a good idea to answer some of the questions and clarify some of the subjects.

The reason we say you should ask these questions before visiting Namibia is simple…we have heard one too many questions that should have been asked long before arriving in Namibia. And of course to help the poor misinformed individuals who hike up Independence Avenue in Windhoek with full safari gear. Herewith fifteen questions that could possibly arise while planning your trip to Namibia!

Where is Namibia?

Let’s start off with the basics. No, Namibia is not a town in Mexico. It’s actually a country along the south western coast of Africa.

Map of Africa. Image: Profile Safaris

Map of Africa. Image: Profile Safaris

But isn’t Africa a country?

Nope. Africa, as most people should know by now, is not a country. It is a very large continent filled with 54 delightfully interesting and unique countries.

Is Namibia a German Colony?

No again. It used to be, way back when it was still called South West Africa. But with the conclusion of the First World War, the country became a province to South Africa. Before you ask, Namibia is no longer part of South Africa. In 1990 the country was awarded its independence and became the Republic of Namibia.

How many people live in Namibia?

Namibia spans approximately 824,292 km2 of land and serves as the world’s 34th largest country. This being said, it’s interesting to note that the country only has the 142nd largest population in the world with 2,392,370 local citizens. This means that there are approximately 2.9 people per square kilometre within the country, which is the second lowest population density in the world, Mongolia is the lowest.

Is it safe to travel in Namibia?

It’s as safe as any other tourist destination. Namibia has a low crime rate and a very stable political system, this allows for the country to enjoy stability and safety. Obviously travellers need to be aware of themselves and their surroundings, as they would if they were traveling to Paris or Rome, but generally travellers can expect friendly faces and an inviting environment.

What is the landscape like?

It’s not all deserts or all jungle. The landscape varies depending on the areas you look at. The central parts of the country along with those to the south are dominated by the Central Plateau and mostly arable land. The coastal regions are filled with desert sands as the Namib Desert and the Great Escarpment lines the western regions of the country. And of course along the northern regions and the Angolan border you can find lots of bushveld.

Landscapes. Image: Safari Bookings

Landscapes. Image: Safari Bookings

 Are there airports in Namibia?

Yes. There are smaller airports all over the country. However the largest, and only international airport is the Hosea Kutako Airport located about 45km east of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.

Are the roads accessible with a sedan?

Namibia has a fantastic road network and you can easily drive from point A to point B. It is necessary to note, however, that despite most roads being accessible with a standard sedan there are areas that will not be as easily navigated. These areas usually include steep inclines and rough terrain that requires a 4×4 to be piloted successfully.

Will I be staying in a hut during my visit?

If you really want to, we’re sure it can be arranged…but it isn’t a standard form of accommodation in the country. Yes, some of the local cultures still include tribes that live in traditional ways of their ancestors but as a traveller you can expect lodges, hotels and decent beds. Namibia has fantastic accommodation options on offer that includes all kinds of lodges in the countryside and hotels within the cities. Breathe a sigh of relief – you won’t be entering deep, dark Africa.

Hut: Image: Pinterest

Hut: Image: Pinterest

What currency does Namibia use?

Namibia uses its own form of currency, called the Namibian Dollar (N$). It is linked to the South African Rand and matches it in strength. And both notes and coins are used.

Will I have mobile service in Namibia?

We can’t tell you if your current service provider will be able to offer signal in Namibia. However you can easily get a local sim card at any of the stores in the towns, that will give you access to the cell phone signals and internet connections you need to stay connected.

Mobile services. Image: Wikipedia

Mobile services. Image: Wikipedia

Are there shops in Namibia?

As we just mentioned stores in the previous answer we are sure you know the answer to this question. We also have malls and shopping centres that offer a variety of shops, some of which are internationally known, such as CottonOn or ForeverNew.

Do animals roam into towns?

Nope, well at least not generally. Independence Avenue is lion free and we don’t ride elephants to work, although that would be pretty cool. No, in that regard the country is rather normal. However during your travels you might come across a farmer or lodge that has hand reared an animal of some kind that now thinks it’s a lapdog. These include lions, cheetahs, zebra and the occasional rhino.

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 What is the food like?

As in all countries, Namibia does have a few strange items on the menu. But fret not, those are not the only options available. Universal standards such as steak and burgers are available here too, sometimes they just go by different names. For example we call ‘french fries’ ‘chips’ or sometimes ‘slap chips’ (there are two names because ‘chips’ can also refer to potato crisps).

Do you know so-and-so?

Namibia is a large country and even though our population isn’t as large as many other places that does not mean we all know each other. We were born and raised in Namibia, that doesn’t necessarily imply that because I live in Windhoek that I know everyone else who lives in Windhoek too.

Namibia is a treasure trove of new experiences and we can guarantee you will experience something entirely new and different during you visit.

If you have any other questions about Namibia, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

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6 things to do in Windhoek

When you go to travel, you arrive at and depart from an international airport. Now in Namibia, as your research may have shown you, only has one of those and it lies 45km from our capital city, Windhoek. Having said this, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be spending at least one full day in the capital, whether that be at the beginning or the end of your trip.

Now this realisation may lead to the all-important question that plagues all travellers…what is there to do? Well my dear travelling reader, do not fear because we have you covered. Windhoek may be slightly different to the other places you have visited before and as you should know every traveller has their own set of preferences regarding what they want to see when visiting a new and exciting destination. So coming up is a list of 6 different types of places to visit when you are in Windhoek.

  1. For the history-buffs, there is at least one on each trip… There’s quite a bit to see, ranging from Heroes’ Acre outside of Windhoek, to the Independence Museum of Namibia and the Christuskirche in town. These sights cover everything from German colonial influence to local cultural heritage.
Heroes' acre . Photo: Rosemary Walden

Heroes’ acre. Photo: Rosemary Walden

Christuskirche. Photo: Michael Paur

Christuskirche. Photo: Michael Paur

  1. Nature-freaks do not fear you can get your outdoor-fix right in town. All you need to do is stop at the Tintenpalast gardens across from the old parliament buildings, head over to the Botanical Gardens that are right in town or to the Avis Dam Nature Reserve to familiarise yourself with the local flora and fauna, and of course to get the first or the last bit of dust on your hiking boots.

 

Tintenpalast. Photo: Michael Paur

Tintenpalast. Photo: Michael Paur

  1. Our local flavour runs hot and you can get a sneak-peak right in town at the Namibia Craft Centre, which offers the opportunity to peruse uniquely Namibian products, all of which have been handmade by local craftsmen. Or if you would like to delve a little deeper, head over to KatuturaTownship for a guided tour that shows you exactly why this city is so unique.

 

Namibia Craft Centre. Photo: Informanté

Namibia Craft Centre. Photo: Informanté

  1. To eat, drink and enjoy…Windhoek offers a variety of interesting and different locations. Head straight over to Single Quarters in Katutura, to experience Kapana (meat grilled on an open flame) for yourself.The well-known Joe’s Beerhouse that has been delighting patrons for years with its unique style and décor and of course Andy’s pub, a local watering hole, both offer a great vibe and welcoming atmosphere where food and drink is in abundance.

 

Kapana at Single Quarters. Photo: Namiban Sun

Kapana at Single Quarters. Photo: Namiban Sun

  1. The local nightlife can be experienced all across town, with The Boiler room in city centre that offers a laid-back vibe and every variant of rock, 264 is closer to downtown and offers all round genres of music, and of course Club London in the southern industrial area which drifts more to commercial dance and straight-up electro music. Depending on your taste in sound, you will definitely find a place that suits your mood.

 

The Boiler room. Photo: The Boiler room

The Boiler room. Photo: The Boiler room

Club London. Photo: Club London

Club London. Photo: Club London

  1. Every now and again… well as we know everything in moderation, right? Well we agree, so when you find yourself in our little part of the world, be sure to check out what’s happening at the Warehouse Theatre, they offer poetry slams, open-mic nights and musical acts every few weeks. Once a month, you will also find the Windhoek City Market popping up somewhere in town and offers music, great food and something that can only be described as uniquely Namibian.
The Warehouse Theatre

The Warehouse Theatre

The Parlotones performing live at the Warehouse Theatre. Photo: Namlish Media cc

The Parlotones performing live at the Warehouse Theatre. Photo: Namlish Media cc

I could keep going but I wouldn’t want to rob you of the chance to discover the city’s secrets on your own. Windhoek, just like Namibia, is a diverse collaboration of people, sights and sounds and I am sure you will not be leaving here disappointed, maybe pleasantly surprised though… If you are still doubting a day in the capital, let me put your mind at ease: You will not be sorry.

If you know of any other places in Windhoek that you think are worth visiting, mention it in the comments!

 

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The Elisabeth house , the story of the stork’s nest

The Elisabeth House used to be a maternity home and was inaugurated in 1908. (Source: National Archives of Namibia)

The Elisabeth House used to be a maternity home and was inaugurated in 1908. (Source: National Archives of Namibia)

It is the year 1907. Settler families in German South West Africa live on remote farms and in small villages far apart from one another. The means of transportation are slow and uncomfortable and there are hardly any roads worth mentioning. Serious illness becomes life-threatening in many cases because medical assistance often comes too late. Many expectant mothers find themselves in the same predicament.

It was against this background that German organisations called for the establishment of a maternity home in Windhoek. The appeal for donations was very well received in Germany. The first stone was laid on 20 October 1907 and the construction work was finished a few months later. As the lion’s share of the funds was raised by the Women’s League of the German Colonial Society chaired by the Duchess Elisabeth of Mecklenburg, it was named Elisabeth House.

In 1908 the Red Cross flag was raised for the first time and henceforth announced every birth. In the early years, when Elisabeth House stood all alone on the rise visible from far afield, the flag was the signal to many a father calming his nerves with a beer somewhere on Kaiser Street (Independence Avenue).

Then the First World War broke out. Nevertheless an extension was added to Elisabeth House. The two parts were connected with a roofed passage. Since the weather vane on the turret was a stork, the maternity home acquired the nickname “the Stork’s Nest”.

Elisabeth House closed its doors on 1 April 1981. Altogether 12,669 babies were born there in the course of 73 years.

The historic building was proclaimed a national monument in 1986. It is now part of the Polytechnic of Namibia.

Elisabeth House is now part of the Polytechnic of Namibia.

Elisabeth House is now part of the Polytechnic of Namibia.

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