You’ve undoubtedly heard the name, but you can be forgiven for not knowing much about the country of Namibia. It’s not exactly one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and its culture and traditions are not easy to pull from one’s mind, but I’m here to help. Namibia is a hidden gem, and with this guidance, you can get a better idea of why it should be added to your future holiday destination list.
A bit of a background
Let’s begin with the basics. Namibia – officially known as the Republic of Namibia – is a country in southern Africa.
It shares borders with a number of countries, including South Africa and Botswana, the former of which it gained independence from in 1990. The largest city is Windhoek – named after the Afrikaans word wind-hoek, which is roughly translated to ‘wind corner’ – and the country’s official motto is ‘Unity, Liberty, Justice’.
It has a population of 2.7 million, has nine recognized national languages including RuKwangali, Khoekhoegowab and siLozi, and, because of the Namib Desert, is regarded as one of the least densely populated countries in the world, beaten only by Mongolia.
How to get there
So, now that we’ve whetted your appetite, you’re no doubt thinking about the logistics. Well, if you’re traveling from London, for example, you can do the journey in a fairly reasonable 13 hours.
Head to Heathrow, and you can get a direct flight to Windhoek, which you can bag for as little as £350 if you’re willing to book far in advance and fly during the week.
Once in Windhoek, you’ll undoubtedly want to spread your wings, so it’s definitely worth renting a car.
Prices are cheap – a particularly expensive deal would see you paying around £16 a day – and so it’s worth grabbing yourself the best vehicle possible. Roads in the country are of variable quality, so plumping for a 4×4 is probably your best option.
What to see in Namibia
There is, without a doubt, one thing that you need to do if you head to Namibia, and that is to take a trip to Etosha National Park. This stunning wildlife reserve contains an array of landscapes, and pretty much looks like the real-life version of The Lion King.
Zebras, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, lions, onyx and flamingos can all be seen wandering freely.
There is nothing quite as breathtaking as seeing these majestic creatures in a world without fences and cages, and it is something that will stay with you for your entire life.
Etiquette and customs
Just as with every country in the world, there are local customs and traditions that you should be aware of, otherwise you may end up offending your hosts.
For example, when greeting men, you should always shake hands, but when greeting women, you should only exchange verbal greetings (unless the woman in question is a dignitary). For maximum respect, you should also make sure to touch the man’s left elbow while shaking their hand, but it’s probably worth observing this custom before attempting it.
With regard to clothing, it is considered bad form to wear anything that is particularly revealing – but of course, given the often oppressive temperatures it is completely acceptable for men to wear shorts and open-collared shirts, and for women to wear skirts and sandals.