Biltong…..

Game Biltong
Game Biltong

Biltong…On your Namibian holiday you will encounter various new foods. One of Namibia’s favorite snacks is one of the them.. BILTONG.

So what is Biltong??

It’s basically dried meat cured in salt and vinegar then sprinkled with course dry coriander and some pepper.

 

Is Biltong safe to eat??

Absolutely!!!! The salt and vinegar ensures it’s a very safe snack.

 

Is Biltong healthy?

Definitely! In Namibia its is made of either Beef or Game. Beef meat will sometimes include a strip of fat, sometimes not. BUT game meat is always 100% lean. It’s a high protein snack.  And what’s more… Namibia is a certified exporter of meat to the UK & EU. Meaning our meat is ALWAYS hormone free.

Where can you buy Biltong?

At all super marks and service stations (fuel stations) you will see Biltong. There are even a few farm stalls on the roads between towns that sell it as well.

How is Biltong different from the American Jerky?

Well, Jerky is very thin and does not have vinegar added. Then there is also a difference in the preparation method. Namibian Biltong is air dried, due to the very dry hot climate we have, whereas jerky is dried using an array of other methods.

GocheGanas – The perfect winter day trip

I love Namibia’s winter season(June-August). Its cold enough for hot chocolate under a blanket, but hot enough to get out, take a trip and enjoy the day!

A perfect winter daytrip from Windhoek is a visit at GocheGanas Private Nature Reserve and Wellness Village.

GocheGanas is 42km from Windhoek, about 50mins drive on a gravel road. The condition of the road varies due to the seasons, but most of the time it’s not that bad.

Book a day visit with a massage or facial at their wellness center. The spa rooms have the most peaceful view. Have a crystal bath, or just relax in the hot tub. Their hot tub reminds me of the Thermal baths in Budapest…just with an African view 🙂

Have lunch, they have delicious salad and pasta. Or enjoy a cocktail by the pool and end your day with a game drive.

A visit at GocheGanas is definitely worth it!

The roads less traveled

Everyone are well known with Namibia’s most famous places and roads, so we decided to take a trip down the roads less traveled.

I will suggest that you take more time for this trip, we did it in 6 days…3600km…

Starting in the Kalahari

The South Eastern part of Namibia are really something amazing to see with its (very) wide open spaces and red Kalahari dunes. Most Namibians will tell you, you don’t miss anything because there’s nothing for miles. But the peace of the Kalahari cannot be explained, only experienced.

Stampriet

We met up with friends at the Kalahari Farmhouse in Stampriet from where our trip began. The Kalahari Farmhouse is one of the Gondwana Collection of Lodges.

Kalahari Farmhouse have very cute cottage style bungalows, a restaurant where we had delicious salads, a bar, swimming pool, souvenir shop and a lot more to make your stay incredible in this beautiful small town.

Stampriet have a lot of fresh water, so we filled our watercans up before our trip. We took about 40litres water per car.

From Stampriet we drove through Gochas and Twee Rivier to the Mata Mata Border post in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Its compulsory to book beforehand in the park, we didn’t have a booking and camped near the park at Sitzas Campsite. There are a lot of good campsites on farms in that area.

The next morning, we took the “Duine pad” as the local farmers call the road… Not a motionsickness friendly road to Koes. Koes is a small town with only one coffee shop with the name “Moer toe” which is a very ambiguous phrase in Afrikaans.  🙂

From Koes to Aroab it literally feels like you are in the middle of nowhere, which is kind of true…

Detour through South Africa

We crossed the South African border post at Rietfontein and spend the night at Molopo Kalahari Lodge. Here we camped in style, almost glamping. Each campsite has its own bathroom and little open-air kitchen and braai area.

Botswana

From there we entered Botswana at Bokspits border post and drove up to Tsabong on a lovely tar road. After shopping for fresh fruit (after they took ours at the border) we headed up to the East Side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with a very bad sand/gravel road, slept at Mabuasehube at the gate, which we wouldn’t recommend… book beforehand at the park! But no lions ate us Jand we took the bad road further to Kang and from there to Ghanzi and Maun. I mean, from the most Southern part of Botswana to almost North in a day… not our most cleaver moment, but the adventure and company made it worth it.

In Maun we camped at the Okavango River Lodge, from Lions to Crocodiles 🙂 but again, nothing ate us… we on the other hand had a delicious dinner at their Restaurant.

Next day we took a day trip through the Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park and saw hundreds of elephants, an angry buffalo, a lot of impalas, zebras, giraffes and a few oryx.

What an experience…

We slept at Island Safari Lodge at Maun again and headed back to Namibia with a road… or one which once was a road… to the almost nonexistent Dobe Border Post, but very friendly and polite staff.

Back into Namibia

From there to Grootfontein it was very green with big and beautiful trees, other than the rest of Namibia’s well known semi-arid landscapes. For our last night we camped at Tsumkwe Lodge in the Naye-Naye Concession area.

At Grootfontein we had lunch at The Purple Fig, the most favorite and famous coffee shop in town.

After lunch we headed down to Windhoek for the last 460km of our trip.

 

** As I said, take more time for this trip, book your stay at Kgalagadi for at least two nights and spend much more time in the Okavango Delta area. Next time we will enter from the Caprivi.

Come wander our Kalahari and it’s less traveled roads…

 

 

What to tip in Namibia

What, how much and who to tip on your Namibian holiday….

Tipping is sometimes frowned upon in some countries… Namibia is NOT one of those countries. Here tips are welcome…more than welcome.

Who to Tip?

Usually you tip the direct person helping you.

The car Guard, the waitress, the petrol attendant, but if you are in a hotel/guesthouse its usually more common to put the gratuity in a communal tipbox.

In the instances where money is put in a communal tipbox, you don’t need to tip separately for the person carrying your bag, cleaning your room or serving you food.

How much to tip?

Tips are absolutely discretionary, but I will give you my personal guideline :

Fuel attendants & car guards : 

N$ 5 Namibian dollars is more than enough. If he/she went out of their way to check your trire pressure, clean your window and checked your oil… by all means give more ;).

Waiters: 

10 -15% of your bill. Note its not usually included in your bill, but in some restaurants if your table is bigger than say 10 persons, the tip is included in your bill already.. So just double check this. It is usually the first line item or last line item on your bill.

Accommodation establishments:

Generally have a communal tipbox, so even the ones behind the scenes share in the tip money. The guideline for me is between N$ 50 – N$ 100 for a nights stay per room. BUT obviously this is totally up to you.

What to tip?

Cash is King.

As the Namibian dollar and South African Rand are used throughout the country, it is the preferred currency.

But any currency will do really.

Tipping by credit card is also possible, although some establishments wont allow this, as credit card fees are really high.

What about “ other than cash” tips??

Non monetary items are ALSO welcome. Don’t feel bad leaving behind your flip-flops or back pack that you bought for your trip and don’t have space to take back with you. No one will take offence not even when given toiletries or half a packet of sweets.

I really hope this helped you.. remember the above is just a average guideline in my opinion.

MOST IMPORTANT …Tips need to be earned and are there to encourage excellent service. So TIP wisely :). 

How to travel around Namibia?

Namibia is a large country, albeit with a poor public transport system. So how do you get to explore the country? Here are your options :

Self Drives:

Self-drive holidays in Namibia are very popular. Depending on you budget you can rent anything from a sedan to a 4×4 camping “bakkie”. The best about being a self drive is that you can choose to travel right across the country at your own pace. You will need to be able to drive on the left hand side of the road and will be expected to drive fast distances on gravel as well as tar roads.

Tavel as part of a guided bus group:

Traveling Namibia by “coach” run by various private operators sure is a relaxing way to explore Namibia.  You will be treated well and don’t have to stress about getting from point A to point B These trips are usually planned well in advance and are not flexible. On the plus, if you want a stress free tour or if you are a bit older, this is a great way.

Smaller guided groups:

These exclusive small guided groups are also organised by various smaller tour operators/outfitters in Namibia. The groups are generally smaller ranging anything from 2 – 12 persons and are perfect for families as well.  You will get to see the country with an experienced guide. Similar to other guided tours, you will need to fall in with a pre existing travel plan.

By Overland safaris

Namibia has great camping and adventure activities. There are various overland companies that cater especially to these needs.

The upside is that you will most likely explore great parts of Namibia ( these trucks are usually 4×4) and still be able to relax since someone else is doing the driving for you.

By Bicycle

In Namibia we do see the brave individuals who travel the country by bicycle. It should be noted, that Namibia is a massive country and town are very far apart. Thus making it a real challenge for someone to explore the country by bicycle. There are two great bike shops in Windhoek & if you need information on how to attempt this I would suggest getting into contact with one of these two bike shop owners. ( Mannie Bike Shop, Cycletech)

Public Transport:

Namibia really does not have a “public” transport system inplace to travel the country with. You can travel from A to B by using informal transport, but its really not advised except if you are on a really tight budget and you are happy to not see much of the country.

By Plane:

Namibia is undoubtedly a really beautiful country from the sky. Various operators operate fly in safaris. The advantage is you can see a great deal of the country in a short time. The disadvantages ? Well its expensive and not always an viable option to everyone. It should be noted that scenic flights are available in Namibia ( Swakopmund, Windhoek , Sossusvlei etc) from where shorter flights can be made to explore a specific area.

Conclusion: 

Whatever way you choose to explore Namibia is important and should be made to suit the way you like to travel and explore. Guided groups are more relaxing but less flexible, whilst self drive options offers allot of freedom but takes a bit of effort from your side :).

We have our own castles and fairytales…

Long, long ago a German soldier saw a piece of land in the Southern part of Namibia, perfect for horses and he had a dream…
Meanwhile in America a rich girl inherited a fortune and started her journey to look for a husband who is willing to build her own castle somewhere in the middle of nowhere, not in America and not in Europe…
He bought 55000 hectares from the Namibian Government and called the farm Duwisib. Brought his wife here and it took him two years to build the castle as she wished, shipped everything they needed from Europe to Luderitz, traveling 14days through the desert with every batch that arrived.
Five years later they went back to Germany to buy his horses while the WWI started and he had to serve his country in war, stepped on a landmine and died of his injuries.
His young widowed wife never returned and sold the castle to a guy that also never moved here…

Years later the Government of Namibia divided the land into smaller farms and kept the Duwisib castle as a National Heritage and museum.

Who cares if it is facts or fairytales, I love the story and am in love with our castle. Do yourself the honor to pay it a visit. You can sleep there, or on the farm next door, Farm Duwisib, where thestables used to be.

We spent a lovely family Christmas there this past season.

What is in my camping gear?

You get two types of people… campers and lodgers…

Lodgers are people who say they love camping but they need a bed, cellphone signal, hot water, electricity, running toilets, etc…
Campers on the other hand love camping in the middle of nowhere, without any luxuries, where it feels like you can touch the stars in the middle of the night because there’s no lights in a 50km radius around you to spoil the view….. Ever experienced something like this?

Stars captured by Lerike Burger Photography

Well most Namibians are campers! Including us, so I’ve made a list of what is in our camping gear:

Tent
Ground Sheet/Tarpaulin
Gazebo
Camping Mattress
Sleeping bag
Pillow
Camp chair
Headlamp
Torch
Gas burner
Matches
Grill (rooster)
Insect repellent/ Mosquito net
Fire wood
Fire lighters
Ketle
Camping Crockery and Cutlery set, sharp knife and cutting board
Plastic basin
Camping table
Spade
Pliers
Hammer
Braai (BBQ) tongs
25L container of water
Portable Compressor
Toiletries
Spices
Dishwashing liquid & sponge/cloth
Kitchen towels
Toiletpaper

Top 10 reasons to visit Namibia?

The Animals:

Rhino in Namibia
Rhino in Namibia

Namibia not only boasts with the Big 5, the largest population of cheetah in the world and one of the largest population of Rhino, its also the only place in the world to see desert elephant. BUT what is truly amazing is that it is one of the few remaining places where you will see wild animals even if you are not driving in a National Park. So keep your eyes open!!!

Oldest desert in the World:

Sossusvlei


The Namib Desert is said to be the oldest desert in the world, and its just a NOT to be missed place to visit.

Wide open spaces:

Koakoveld
Koakoveld

Its only with maturity that one appreciates they beauty of wide open spaces filled with nothing . Namibia has this in leaps and bounds, being the second least populated country by density in the world.

Culture Groups

Himba
Himba


Namibia has more than 13 ethnic groups. Although two groups the Bushman/San people and the Ovahimba people, are of particular interest as they can still be seen living largely as they used to.

Birding:

Lilac Breasted Roller


Like the animals, the more than 650 birds species can be seen all across Namibia, and not just in National Parks. The best time to do birding is in the summer months when birds change into their breeding colours. The Caprivi area is a must destination to include in your itinerary should you like birding as this will grant you the opportunity to see some birds drawn to rivers and marshlands.

Sunsets:

Namibian Sunset
Namibian Sunset

Namibian sunsets are some of the best I have ever seen & with more than 300 days of sunshine in a year.. you will hopefully get to see the sun set every night:)

Tourist friendly:


Namibians are very dependent on tourism and it really shows in their attitude towards tourist. People are friendly and even though Namibia was never a English colony, at our independence Namibia chose English as the National language, meaning communication is much easier that allot of African countries.


Affordable:

Did I mention its REALLY affordable? Drinks, fuel, accommodation even activities are really affordable. And there is really a place for each type of traveler whatever the budget.

 

Accessible:

During the last 2 years Namibia has become much more accessible to the global community. Direct international flights currently include our own Spirit of the nation AirNamibia (via Frankfurt), well as international carriers such as Eurpowings,Condor , Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airways & KLM.

 

1st world conveniences:

Medical facilities is not always something we think about when planning a holiday. Rest assured that Namibia’s medical facilities, doctors and emergency units are really of world class standard.
The only issue here is that these excellent facilities are mostly supplied by the private sector, so do make sure your medical travel insurance is up to scratch before you visit.

I hope you enjoyed the article, although its solely based on my opinions.

There are so many things I would like to include in this list as well, maybe the next article should be.. The next Top 10 reasons to Visit Namibia… We will see :).

List of 10 main attractions in Namibia

Namibia in its diversity and open spaces is full of hidden gems. Most Namibians haven’t even seen them all and because of the distance between places, we rather choose one or two to visit, but the rest is most certainly on our bucket lists.

I’ve made a list of 10 of the most popular attractions in no particular order with suggestions of where to stay:

-Fish River Canyon (- Ais Ais Resort)

The Fish River Canyon is the second biggest Canyon in the world and a very popular attraction, especially for hikers from all over the globe. A hike through the Canyon take you about 5 days. For the not-so-active… it is definitely worth it to wait for the rest at Ais Ais Resort.

-Etosha National Park (- Safarihoek Lodge)

Our biggest National park in the Northern part of Namibia is an ideal family getaway where you either can do a self drive through the park or relax at the watching points near the water holes and see the Big Five (if you are lucky) and other animals and birds as they come to drink water. Safarihoek Lodge is a new destination and very classy for those who don’t like camping that much.

-Erindi Private Game Reserve (- Old Traders Lodge)

See our article on Erindi for more detail, Erindi a highlight to your stay…
Erindi is Namibias biggest and most famous Private Game Reserve and I personally prefer Erindi over Etosha, because it is smaller and thus easier to spot the wildlife.

-Sossusvlei (- Desert Quiver Camp)

Also one of the most visited areas in Namibia is Sossusvlei with the largest sand dunes in the world and most probably the most peaceful place you will ever visit.
There are very expensive upperclass lodges and castles in Sossusvlei to stay but Desert Quiver Camp serves more than enough for what you need for a nights stay.

-Caprivi (- Caprivi Houseboat Safaris)

Caprivi is the most North Eastern part of Namibia in the Kavango Region, where Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Zambia kiss each other.
Comparing the rest of Namibia’s nature, you won’t believe that its the same country. Do book at Caprivi Houseboat Safaris and enjoy a sundowner, while watching Hippos…

-Dune 7 (- Protea Hotel Pelican Bay)

Just outside of Walvisbay is the famous Dune 7, you’re not on a real Namibian trip if you don’t make time to climb to its top! Protea Hotel in Pelican Bay are a nice place to stay with restaurants nearby so you can live like a local in Walvis.

-Skeleton coast (-Terrace bay camp)

The Northern coastline of Namibia, from the Swakop River to the Kunene River is known as the Skeleton Coast due to thousands of shipwrecks and skeletons of various species lying on shore. This may be the most harsh and dangerous area in Namibia and I read somewhere that the Bushmen people calls it “The place God made in anger”, but its mystic and thus one of the most beautiful nature gems to be ever seen.

-Kolmanskop (- The Cormorant House)

In the Namib Desert just 10km outside of Lüderitz lies this ghost town with its hidden gems of historical German architecture. It was a very wealthy diamond mine for about 50 years in the early 1900’s. Now it is one of Namibia’s most visited tourist attractions run by DeBeers Namibia. The Cormorant House is self catering units in Lüderitz, each with a balcony and sea view, perfect for having your coffee in bed and watching the ocean.

-Kaokoland(- Epupa Camp)

The North Western part of Namibia is known as Kaokoland, and home to the native OvaHimba tribe… my personal favorite part of the country. Its rural with the most amazing open spaces like the Hartmansvalley and Marienfluss…You need a 4×4 vehicle to drive there, and its better to tour in a group of more than two cars. Near Epupa Falls on the Kunene riverbank is Epupa Camp with fixed tents and much appreciated cold beers at the bar. When you drove through Kaokoland for a few days you will understand why I say much appreciated beers 😉

-Dessert Elephants in Damaraland (- White Lady Lodge)

Another one of my favorites are these gentle giants of the big five, the Desert Elephants. They dwell around in Damaraland, South West of Kaokoland, mostly on the banks of the Ugab River. Near a small settlement, Sorris Sorris (about 30km from Uis) lies the beautiful Brandberg with its famous rock painting of a White Lady and therefore the name to the White Lady Lodge, home of the Desert Elephant at it’s foot.

Spend time in Windhoek before your flight..

Need to spend a few hours in Windhoek before your flight back home? Here’s some tips of what you can do to make up time…

Start with breakfast or lunch at Krisjans Bistro on the corner of Lazarett and Robert Mugabe Street.

Further down Robert Mugabe Street you’ll find a big gold building in the shape of a Coffee Percolator… NIMMS (National Independance Memorial Museum).
If museums aren’t your thing, just go straight up to the restaurant on 4th floor where you will see the most magnificent view of our beautiful city.

Only 10mins walk from NIMMS you can buy your last Namibian Handmade Souvenir or just stroll through and enjoy our creativity at Craft Centre in the Old Breweries building in Tal street. Rumor has it that Craft Cafe, the German coffee shop on the second floor, serves the best apple crumble in town 🙂

In Independence street (our main road) you’ll find Cramer’s and Slowtown next to each other, don’t walk past it! Do you know the word “affogato”? Its a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso…just saying, coffee and ice cream goes great together, so Cramer’s is the place to be.
But what goes the best with a cup of coffee? Another cup! Right next door at Slowtown you can taste Namibia’s most famous roasted coffee and buy some to take home with you because you will crave some at home, believe me.

Remember that Hosea Kutako International Airport is about 40mins drive away from the city and our public transport isn’t as great as what you may be used to, so plan your stay well.
CityCab, Windhoek Airport Shuttle cost about N$300 per person and can be booked online.

Unfortunately petty theft may occur in our streets, please don’t be afraid to Travel Namibia, just be wake up. Walking around at night is not recommended, especially when you travel alone. Don’t leave any luggage, backpack, handbag, purse or phone unattended, anywhere. Don’t trust anyone to help you draw some money at ATM’s.

Most importantly enjoy your stay!!!