NAMIBIA (Republiek van Namibië)
A country I'd longed to go to for many moons, and finally did in 2010. I wasn't disappointed, as Namibia is an exceptional country with many natural wonders to amaze the plucky tourist. The Fish River Canyon, second only in size to the American Grand Canyon. The isolated and desolate Skeleton coast, dotted as it is with the skeletons of sailors and their ships. In the interior sits the huge Etosha Park, home to varied and rich wildlife. Then of course, there are the sand dunes of the Namib desert, from which the country takes its name. I also very much enjoyed my time in Swakopmund, a town with heavy German history and architecture. Quad biking, exotic meats, jagerbombs and crazy nightlife made it very memorable.
It was Sossusvlei that stuck in my mind the most, It means dead end marsh, and is where the ephemeral river Tsauchab was cut off by sand dune movement, leaving a dry lake area. The heat here was insane, and without shades, one would be shortly blinded. Dung beetles plied their trade here and there, but wildlife on the whole was pretty scarce.
Language: English (Official) Whites mainly speak Afrikaans or to a lesser extent German. Aboriginal languages include Bantu and Khoisan
Currency: Namibian Dollar NAD (Tied to the South African Rand)
Visa: Most Western Countries get 90 days at the border/customs.
Plug: 3 round pins, same as South Africa. 220v
GMT: GMT +2
GDP Ranking (IMF): # 100 £4,656 (Similar to El Salvador and Ukraine)
Communications: Country code is 264.
Health: No Vaccines required, Malaria prevention a good idea in the North East during the Wet season. The author did not use anti-malarials on a trip in the dry season.
When to Visit: October to December (rainy season is January to April)
Personal Safety: Mostly fine with usual big city awareness and wild animal outside cities/in parks - F&CO Current information here.
Getting Around: The author visited as part of a tour. Internal transport is infrequent and poor, hiring a 4x4 is the most common way of travelling independently. Ensure plenty of water and fuel. Roads are generally good, even non-sealed roads.
What to see/do: Eat & Party in Swakopmund, it has restaurants where you can try many different types of meat (Warthog and Kudu recommended), and then great bars where you can party the night away with locals & tourists. Etosha Park, Fish River Canyon and of course the Namib desert are the main draws. Other highlights include Cape Cross seal colony, Himba tribes, Damaraland Rock Art.
Food & Drink: Larger towns will likely sell local meats, Kudu and Warthog are recommended. Crocodile is sometimes available, but apparently tastes like tough chicken. As with South Africa, look out for Kudu Biltong, a tasty treat for the long journey ahead. If you're in the country during May, Hansa Urbock is the brew of choice. Otherwise Tafel and Windhoek Lager will provide welcome release on a hot day. Search around in bigger cities for German beers.