Namibia is unique. The country is influenced by various cultures during colonization and after the end of Apartheid in 1990, Namibia is one of the most interesting and exciting countries in the world. At least eleven major ethnic groups live together in this country and you can see their influence in the culture and mentality all around yourself.
In my last article I wrote about the student life in Namibia compared to Germany. In this article I want to tell you the Dos and Don’ts as well as the food and how you can spend your free time in this beautiful country.
What to avoid:
Namibia is quite dangerous. Not as dangerous as South Africa, but you must be aware of the high criminality. What is safe to do? What can you do to prevent it?
First you should know, that Namibia has no public transport. At least no one that you should use. There are busses driving through Windhoek but nobody apart from the workers who come from Katutura use those busses. This was one of the first things Kay and I were told: Do not take the bus, it is too dangerous. Furthermore, if you can prevent it, do not use one of the taxis. If you do so, you must check: Is the driver drunk? Are there other people in the taxi? Does it have a number written on the back window? For women it is more dangerous to take a taxi by yourself than for men. Here you must know, that the taxis are group taxis. While you are driving the driver will stop and pick up other customers waiting on the side of the street. But of course, there are taxi companies you can call and who will pick you up. They are safe to use. How do we come to university when we should not use a taxi? (UNAM forbids it) Well, we are lucky that I live in a host family which gave me one of their cars to drive. If you come to Namibia to study you should get your own car. Without a car you are lost. Also riding the bike is not really recommended. The Namibian roads are the most dangerous roads in the world (people injured compared to the country’s population). You should not take that risk.
Second: It is not safe to walk alone in the dark. As soon as the sun goes down you should not walk around (here again: it is more dangerous for women).
Third: Every city has a district which is not too safe to visit. In Windhoek its Katutura. If you go there, leave all your valuable possessions at home or hide them. Of course, you can go there, but go in groups and there should be at least one man in the group.
Okay, all the things listed above you can do (apart from taking the bus) but you should be considerate. If you have a bad feeling taking the cap, don’t do it. Just try to stay safe and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in Germany. Just enjoy your time!
So, what can you do apart from university? Does Windhoek have a nightlife? Are there museums, cafes or cinemas?
Of course there are! Just because it’s Africa there aren’t just clay huts. There are several clubs in Windhoek, for example the Warehouse or the Loft. Both arrange special evenings for example poetry night. There are several museums, the most famous one is the Independence Memorial Museum in the centre of Windhoek. Because of its special architecture it is called the “Coffee brewer”. It is free to visit and standing on its rooftop you will have a great view over the city of Windhoek. There are also two cinemas, both in the big shopping malls. The Marua Mall and the Grove. In those you also find some cafes but just check the internet for some. Kay and I have one day during the week when we have breakfast together, we try to visit as many cafes/restaurants as possible. There are also several Lodges and national parks around Windhoek where you can easily spend a day and enjoy the landscape.
Due to its colonization, Namibia is quite influenced by german traditions. Especially the food is influenced by Germany. You will find german meals in almost every restaurant. It might happen that you are on a Lodge near the Namib Desert and suddenly read “Bratwurst with Sauerkraut” on the menue. But relax. There are many, many delicous native meals you can try. Here I have to be honest: It is easier if you are not a vegeterian. Meat is served in almost every meal in Namibia. You can eat Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, Springbok, Crocodile and many more national animals. One of the most famous restaurants in Windhoek is Joes Beerhouse. If you want to visit a “real” native restaurant you should visit Xwana. One of the most famous native meals are Mopaneworms. This is a special kind of worms. Kay and I tried them and we can honestly say: They are not too bad.
If you travel through Namibia there is one kind of food you shouldn’t miss out on: Biltong. It is a form of dried, cured meat, ranging from beef and game meats to fillets of meat, cut into strips. There are various types of Biltong: Fire Balls, Chilli Bites, Garlic & Herb, Chutney and Sweet Chilly, just to name few. You can buy Biltong anywhere in Namibia, in special Biltong-Shops, supermarkets and petrol shops.
Places to visit:
Before the artikel gets (again) too long I will now tell you where to travel . (I can almost hear you whisper “finally”). And yes, I can confirm your thought: Namibia is a wonderful country to travel around. Things you will need: Time and money.
Namibia is a big country, it is more than twice as big as Germany. So you will spend a lot of time in your car. Here you should know, that the streets in Namibia are not to compare with ours in Germany. The so called “Pads” are dirt roads and not every car is built to drive them (I already experienced a broken tire at 2am in the middle of nowhere)… oh yes, that brings me to anoher thing to avoid: Do not drive during the night. Just don’t. But let me get back to the topic. Places you should absolutely visit during your time in Namibia are the Fish River Canyon, Swakopmud, Spitzkoppe, Etosha and Waterberg. Fish River Canyon is, as the name says, a huge, beautyful canyon. During winter you can also do hiking tours in the Canyon, but it is closed during summer, since it will be around 60°C in there.
Swakopmund is the fourth largest town in Namibia. The city is situated in the Namib Desert, directly at the Atlantic. You can take a Shuttle from Windhoek to Swakopmund and there you can experience quite a lot. During my three days in Swakopmund I did a Quad tour through the Namib Desert and went skydiving.
To be honest: I haven’t seen Waterberg and Spitzkoppe yet but I will visit them when the exams will be finished. Etosha, or Etosha Pan, is a national park in the north of Namibia. There you can see almost all the animals you wished for: Zebras, Elephants, Oryx, Springbok, Hyenas, Lions, Gnus and Rhinos.
If you have time, you should also visit the neighbouring countries of Namibia. I went on a six-day trip to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia and it was wonderful.
Namibia is well known for its hunting possibilities. Because I have the hunting license, I was invited to a farm where we spent the weekend hunting for the kitchen (to serve the lodging guests). It was a very unique weekend with very special impressions.
I hope, I could give you a small insight in what to experience in Namibia. If there is something you want me to write about in the next article just let me know by dropping a short message.
Greetings from Windhoek,