Out for a lakeside walk in Valea Morilor Park in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 4, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our thoughts on Africa so far

First of all, we have to remember that Africa is a VERY large continent containing many countries. We have only visited one country so far. Namibia!

So we can only give our views of Namibia. Other parts of the continent of Africa will be very different!

Here is a map of Africa. You can see Namibia in pink near the southwest part of the continent.

Namibia, in pink.

Parts of Namibia remind us of Arizona or New Mexico in the United States. After all, much of Namibia is the desert. From what we understand, it is only the northern part close to the Angola border where it is more "green". We will be finding out for ourselves because we are going there in December!

We have done a LOT of driving over the last three weeks of our Namibia camping safari. In fact, we have driven approximately 2,500 kms (1,550 miles), much of it on dirt roads! When you do happen to be on a paved road, the speed limit is 120 km/h (75 mph) although of course we never go that fast. We can see why you might want to though, and most people do. There are a lot of amazing things to see in Namibia, but they are spread apart with miles of nothing in between!

Our drive so far. We still have to make it back to (A) Windhoek by Sunday.

Here's something we didn't know before coming here. There are a LOT of campsites in Nambia!

Our campsite at Waterberg Plateau Park.

A lot of the campgrounds are in the middle of nowhere. As such, the employees actually live at the campground/resort.

Campsites all have water and a braai (BBQ), and almost all have electrical outlets and a light. We have not seen many motorhomes, and we're not sure where they would dump their holding tanks in Namibia. Most camping here is tent camping, both rooftop and on the ground. 

Here's another interesting thing about Namibia. The official language is English. However there are around 13 other languages spoken among the countries 2 million people. Everybody speaks at least a little English although German and Afrikaans are also popular besides the local languages. If you speak English, you can enjoy yourself here without worrying about language.

All of the signs are in English.

There is a LOT of wildlife. 

Of course there is a lot in the National Parks. But even outside the national parks, there is more wildlife to be seen every day than there is anywhere in North America.

Birds. Reptiles. Animals. Insects. 

Lots of them. Oh, except mosquitoes! We have only seen a couple of mosquitoes, not enough to bother us. The only insects that are slightly annoying we call face flies. These are exactly the same as house flies, but they are in your face! They don't bite, they simply buzz around you face, annoying you. Oh well, far better than mosquitoes!

This fellow was hanging from the tree over our table one night. He was pretty big!

Ostrich mommy and little one!

There are a lot of ostriches in this part of Africa. We see them every day. Sometimes in the middle of the desert where you wouldn't think there would be anything to eat. 

If you're a bird watcher, you NEED to visit Namibia...

A southern masked weaver.

It is HOT in this part of Africa at this time of year. It has been well over 30C (86F) every day except when we were in Swakopmund. It is cooler on the coast due to air flow coming from the antarctic. The ideal time to visit Nambia is May through October, but that's also when you find more tourists and possible higher prices.

How hot is it...?

This candle started melting, and it wasn't even lit!

This part of Africa has a lot of extremes. We still haven't quite figured out how a lot of the local people manage to pay the prices here because salaries are so very low. And you see the poverty. And no, this isn't the type of  American or Canadian "poverty" where being poor means you only have a room air conditioner and only basic cable for your three televisions. Some of these people truly have nothing.

When we go grocery shopping, it's typical to pay someone to watch your vehicle. Usually employed by the store itself, these parking lot guards get paid by the customer, and usually the going rate is N$1 (one Namibian dollar). Equivalent of about 10 cents U.S. or Canadian.

So the other day, we pull up to a grocery store where they didn't have onsite parking. Of course we look like tourists because of our rental vehicle and rooftop tent. This guy flags us over to a parking spot, and we quickly learned he didn't work for the store. And he didn't want money.

He wanted food.

He said the price for parking was a loaf of bread and some butter.

The problem is, you can't do this for everybody. Sure, the $3.00 or so to this kid wouldn't have meant anything to you or I, but people ask you for money fairly regularly. I told him it was too expensive and I paid him the same rate everybody else pays. 10 cents.

Another thing we notice is that although there is extremely high unemployment, the locals don't seem as entrepreneurial as the people in Mexico. Not sure why that is, and we would like to talk to someone local to find out more about the culture here. Hopefully when we get back to Windhoek on Sunday we'll have a day with a couchsurfer where we can find out more.

Ruth and the sunset last night.

38 comments:

  1. Great summary - love the baby ostrich but that bat picture is incredible. At least I think it's a bat. So ugly and yet so helpful with taking care of insects.

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    1. The little baby ostrich was adorable. Yes, that is a bat, he hung from the branch of the tree at our campsite in Namutoni in Etosha National Park. He wasn't scary at all and was very interesting to watch.

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  2. very informative. I'm afraid I'd be one of those that would get the bread and then have
    a line of people following. you are wise to stick to the norm

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  3. Great insight on your travels so far and I am following you daily. I so need to go there as I love birds and it seems like you have seen so much more than I did in South Africa - maybe because SA is more developed. The poverty you see is so difficult and you see so much of it. Definitely Africa is a continent of extremes.

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    1. Lots of birds here! Almost everyday we see new ones. I am sure you would love it here. Start making some plans!

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  4. On this Thanksgiving morning, I'm so thankful to have met you and Ruth and to be able to follow along with you on this adventure in Africa. I have so much to be thankful for.
    I wonder if the lack of entrepreneurship has to do with the long long standing poverty and an endemic feeling of despair?

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    1. We are very happy to have met you too Mary-Pat! So glad that you are enjoying our adventures here in Namibia.

      We aren't sure what it is, but one thing that really got us thinking was that there was a lack of street food vendors, where in Mexico you see them everywhere. Maybe, they have certain rules here that don't allow it.

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  5. Great observations on that area of Africa.

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  6. Great info, I can't believe it's been three weeks already!! I've been looking forward to every post!

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    1. Yep, we can't believe it has been that long either. It has flown by, there is no way we could have come only for one week.

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  7. I would have never in a million years imagined so much camping in Namibia. Then again, I suppose I didn't have too many preconceived ideas to start with, but "camping" to me has always been something that you did to "get away" from civilization. And therefore, there would have to be a civilisation to get away from?
    The only other observation I would have, is sitting around the campfire at night, I think I would be on high alert for any sounds coming from "out there". Not that bears are any less dangerous, but maybe I wouldn't want to be in bear country either. Never been, so I don't know.
    Good summation.
    Happy Motoring!

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    1. We would never have imagined camping in Namibia either, but here we are camping in Namibia. Such a great way to experience it.

      Kevin looked up to see what the most dangerous animal in Africa is and the number one was the hippo, number two is the mosquito and man is number 3. So we aren't too worried, except for that pesky mosquito!

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  8. That is one scary looking bat. Thanks so much for these interesting observations of your time in Namibia. What experiences you are having.

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    1. Actually he wasn't scary at all, he was very interesting to watch and he returned each night to keep us company.

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  9. This is quite an adventure, you're teaching me a lot and I'm enjoying every bit of it!

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    1. It definitely is an adventure and we are learning a lot form our trip too!

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  10. Great summary and fabulous photos. I think I would have tipped the fellow a loaf of bread.

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    1. I know what you mean Contessa the problem is, is that nobody does that, it isn't the norm.

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  11. Interesting blog! To make you feel cooler think of the 25 cm. of snow we had yesterday and wind chill of -15 today!!!

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    1. We feel much better now, thank you Mom!

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  12. As usual a great post, love the last picture of Ruth with the sunset.

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  13. Very good info. Thanks for posting this. I am anxious to hear what your CS friend has to say. Always good to get a local point of view. Looks like a good place for us, we love desert!

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    1. We are looking forward to our meeting and talking with her as well.

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  14. You don't have to do it for everybody. One is more than none.

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  15. Glad to hear there are so many campsites in Namibia. I found that in South Africa, as well as tipping the parking folks. Don't see many motorhomes, but lots of trailers called caravans which don't have holding tanks to dump because of the wonderful facilities in camp.

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    1. You can just about find camping anywhere in Namibia. We have seen a number of trailers here as well but the norm seems to be roof top tents and regular tents. You are correct in the facilities being fantastic here, so far everywhere we have been has had very clean bathrooms with toilet seats!

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  16. Well, now I know where Namibia is now! I have only known about Kenya as that is where our oldest daughter toured a few years ago. Love your tour and photos.

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    1. Glad we have been about to give people a little more insight into where Namibia is and what it has to offer.

      I hope your daughter enjoyed her time in Kenya.

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  17. Hi
    Enjoyable write up. We are looking at going to Namibia in Nov 14. Can you advised if 'wild camping' is allowed or even advisable. If it isn't advisable are the camp sites remote enough to appear and feel as though you are and did you have to book in advance
    Kind regards

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    1. Hi Bart.

      Yes, I would say that "wild camping" or "free camping" is allowed. The problem would be finding a suitable place to do so. And having done a lot of free camping in North America, we know what we're looking for. I think the problem doing that in Namibia is that so much of it is desert and there isn't a lot to see in between attractions. Yes, I would say that most actual campsites are remote enough and sites are very well spaced. The only time we found them busy was at the National Parks. That's also the only place I would recommend you book in advance.

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    2. Thanks for the advice Kevin. Best wishes.

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    3. Thanks for the advice Kevin. Best regards.

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