Posted by: Anna | February 8, 2011

Farewell Namibia

I miss you already, and I haven’t even been gone 24 hours. Before we got to Namibia, everyone we talked to said – “oh, you’ll love Namibia!” But it was never entirely clear to me WHY we would love it, just that everyone was confident we would. Now I understand. Namibia is not a country where one attraction draws you to visit, but instead a country where the overall experience is lovely. Just lovely.

We arrived in Windhoek (pronounced Vindhok), and I thought to myself, “Isn’t this a nice city? So clean, with attractive restaurants and easy to navigate on foot.” We didn’t spend much time there, however, and didn’t even get to visit the famous restaurant, Joe’s, specializing in meat.

Meat is a common theme in Namibia especially, but also in Africa. We once were offered a meal of meat, and when we asked about sides or vegetables, we were told there was also chicken and fish. Yes, but what about vegetables? Yes, the person insisted, chicken and fish. Ummmm….. There are also jerky (called biltong here) stores – entire stores, and yes, that’s plural, in the malls. You know, you have your shoe stores, book stores, cosmetic stores, and of course, jerky stores. There is always a line at the biltong store.

When we went to Swakopmund, I was enchanted by the adorable picture-book architecture, the selection of interesting shops, and lovely restaurants. We had a wonderful place to stay at Villa Wiese, which looked like a little Hansel and Gretel cottage turned into a hostel, with free breakfast and free wifi (two of my favorite things in a hostel). Even better, one of the breakfast options was homemade granola with yogurt and fruit, one of my favorite breakfasts!

Not the Villa Wiese, just a beautiful building in Swakopmund.

Tommy and I had an absolutely charming day wandering the streets, shopping – we bought our first real souvenir of the trip, a painting. The painting is a sunset with some carved elephants mounted on it (it’s 3D – so modern). It reminded us of two of our favorite things about Africa – sunsets and elephants. I considered buying a bracelet made of kudu leather (at the store specializing in kudu leather goods), but decided that one painting was enough. We spent the evening watching the sunset at the charming restaurant Tug. Tug is an old tug boat, converted into a restaurant, right on the beach. We also ate some oysters caught just a few minutes down the road; I think they were the best oysters I’ve ever had. (You may remember this night from our post Our Tuesday...)

Behind the bar at the Tug.

The next morning, Tommy went sandboarding and I did some more shopping. We enjoyed an incredible scenic drive to Solitaire with our new friends we met in Swakopmund. Every turn was an interesting panorama of desert, mountains, and wild ostrich. The drive was a destination and an activity worthy of doing just for its own sake, even if you couldn’t get anywhere. I think I was able to enjoy it more than Tommy since he was driving our regular 2 WD car down some challenging gravel roads for hours.

Photo taken from the window of the car during our scenic drive down 500 miles of gravel road. We saw seven cars in four hours.

We checked into the Solitaire Guest Farm. It was also charming, beautifully landscaped with cacti and desert flowers and two pools. We camped, and our friends stayed in a room. The campsite was very attractive, with a thatched covering to put your tent under, lovely private bathrooms for every campsite, with outdoor HOT showers, and a laundry area. We had only planned to stay one night, but it was so lovely, we decided to stay a second night just to enjoy it and savor the experience.

We spent the following morning at Soussevlei – amazing. We stopped after Soussevlei to refuel our car and to refuel ourselves with famous apple pie from the bakery in Solitaire…mmmm.

The afternoon we spent relaxing around the beautiful pool, reading books, playing cards, and enjoying the beauty of the game farm, with peacocks, springbok, fox, and all manner of small animals (rabbits, chickens, ducks, dogs, etc). For dinner, our hosts at the game farm prepared an amazing home-cooked meal for us – three courses, with the main course being a huge buffet featuring oryx steak. We enjoyed the self-service honor bar and admired the stars, which were some of the best I’ve ever seen. I love to see the Milky Way…somehow that is the key that makes it good star viewing. One of our friends had the app on his ipod touch that identifies the stars, planets, and constellations for you – very fun!

The next morning we drove back to Windhoek, and I was sorry to have to return the car and head on to Cape Town. As you can see, the sights we saw were stunning in their natural beauty, and each experience was unique and enjoyable. Namibia, a country of slightly over two million people, feels desolate yet ruggedly beautiful. We only scratched the surface, but so far in my mind, Namibia is the hidden jewel of our trip. It is African, yet doesn’t have the disorganization and seemingly dysfunction of other African countries. The residents seem more economically stable and better educated than Zambia, Botswana, or Mozambique. Namibia has only been a country since the early 1990s (before that it was ruled by South Africa contentiously), but it seems like a positive example in many ways of what an African country can be.

I’m so glad we added it to our plans – thanks to the other travelers we met along the way. I highly recommend visiting Namibia; travel is relatively easy (rent a car) and the experiences are AMAZING.

Haiku to Namibia

You’re a hidden gem –
Rugged beauty and gentle charm –
I want to go back


Amazing skyscapes
Brilliant African sunsets
Give way to bright stars


One last beautiful Namibia picture

For more Nambia photos, click here.



  1. Sounds like a lovely respite after some more action packed travel in Africa. Cannot wait to see your painting.

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