Deserts, Bratwurst and Shipwrecks: Experience Namibia

Extras — By on June 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

By Edd Morris
Special to Lost Girls World

When visiting Namibia, it’s hard not to feel tiny, compared to the vastness of the terrain. From towering red sand-dunes to rolling green savanna, Namibia stretches further than the eye can see. It’s majestically beautiful, but be warned: the environment of this gigantic West African country is harsh. Namibia’s western coast is beaten by the seething Atlantic, and its scorched eastern borders run through the rolling Kalahari desert.

SwakopmundBut, although the landscape may be hostile, you’ll find Namibian hospitality to be warm, generous, and respectfully friendly. Namibia hotels tend to be more luxurious than you might initially imagine, and, reassuringly, the country’s also enjoyed relative political stability for years. Despite this, Namibia hasn’t yet been overtaken by hordes of tourists. So here are five highlights to discover before everyone else arrives.

Wander around Windhoek

Many tourists are surprised to discover that Namibia was once part of Germany’s colonial aspirations. Nowadays, as a result of German influence, the capital of Windhoek has a
distinctly European feel. Cafes spill out onto small streets; German cuisine abounds; and, surreally, three mock castles stud the hills surrounding the city centre. It’s a pleasant little
spot to wander on foot, and the Museum of National Independence (in the Alte Feste Fort)
is an unmissable experience, exposing Namibia’s struggles for freedom from colonial rule.

Lose yourself in Fish River Canyon

Nothing can quite prepare you for the scale of Fish River Canyon. It’s a tremendous rocky
scar etched deep into the face of the earth, and ranks as the second largest canyon in the world. The canyon is more than 150 miles long, and deeper than 500 meters, which means that descending from lip to base will even take you through different ecosystems. The harsh temperatures and a lack of water make the terrain dangerous: a guided hike is highly recommended.

Explore the carcasses of ships beached on the Skeleton Coast

The fatal combination of the brutal Atlantic ocean and thick sea mists have grounded hundreds of unlucky cargo ships sailing around the horn of Africa. If you’d like to embark on a ghoulish expedition, you can drive along the ‘Skeleton Coast’ of Namibia’s western flank. Scattered along its rough shoreline you’ll encounter a multitude of rusty shipwrecks, ripe for exploration.

Get sand in your shoes in Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei DesertNo photos can quite capture the riot of color as the sun rises (or, indeed, sets) over the sand-dunes in the Sossusvlei National Park. These huge dunes are claimed to be the tallest in the world, and the park offers outstanding opportunities for trekking, sandboarding and even hot air-ballooning over the arid landscape. Sossusvlei is a destination for hundreds of organized tours, but it’s perfectly possible to explore in your own 4×4 – just bear in mind that the National Park only opens to daytrippers after sunrise,
and the only spot to purchase provisions is at the one petrol station.

Enjoy beer and bratwurst in Swakopmund

You wouldn’t expect to find twee, pastel-colored German colonial buildings on the west coast of Africa. However, the clean and airy streets of coastal Swakopmund hark back to
an era that’s long-gone. When exploring this little city, you’ll encounter a highlight amongst
all Namibia restaurants: the Swakopmund Brahuas. It’s a little Bavarian beerhouse that’s a very long way away from home: and whilst you sip beer and tuck into schnitzel, it seems all the more incredible that the Namib desert lurks only miles from your table.

Edd Morris has been a Londoner since 2005. That hasn’t cured his itchy feet – he still loves traveling the world in search of spicy food and someone to practice Spanish with.

Kaunas wondered what else the dog was being deprived of, if the women couldn’t even pay for it’s treatment.
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