THE RAND PROBLEM
If you will be returning to South Africa or it is your next destination after Namibia, this is very important. In Namibia they keep their currency, The Namibian Dollar, pegged equally to the South African Rand. 1 Rand = 1N$. The Rand is also legal tender in Namibia. You can pay with it anywhere, no problem. You will even sometimes get change in Rands. Not just notes, sometimes even coins. That’s no problem. The problem is that South Africa does NOT exchange on a one = one basis! You will get less from Exchange places in South Africa and loose between 5-10% of your money. Also, no business in South Africa will take Namibian money. So keep your Rands. Also leftover Rands will be convertible when you get home. A lot of countries will not exchange Namibian Dollars back for you.
Try and exchange any leftover Namibian Dollars to Rands or other currency before you leave the country.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
If someone asks your name & writes it in the sand
While we were in Swakopmund a man approached us and asked our names. After giving him our names he wrote them in the dirt. We thought that he was just curious and being friendly. But of course he was trying to sell us something. He was trying to sell us a seed (or pit) from a fruit. Once the fruit has been eaten, the brown pit is boiled and can be carved to reveal the white underneath. Since we had heard the story from at least four other people in the market we were not really paying attention to him. As he was talking about the nut he was actually carving our names into them. Of course he expected us to buy it afterwards and was quite aggressive about it!!
Fun Alternatives: We didn't buy the thing and I gave him a piece of my mind about how tricky and sneaky he was being. The only was to get this to stop is to NOT buy anything!!!! Otherwise he will keep trying to coerce people into buying it.
The price level for tourists activities
The price level for tourists activities like safari, travels, sightseeing, etc is quite high due to the Namibian Tourist Board. Companies registrated must charge prices set by the government. An extreme example for this is the company "Leading Travel" who claimed 1000 N$ (130 USD) for each passengers in a car for a trip from Katima Mulilo crossing the border to Kasane, Botswana. The trip takes 1,5 hour. We were 3 people, so it would have been 390 USD. It's rude charging so much money for a small trip like that. Say no, and travel by yourself...
Fun Alternatives: There are other options, however not published... 2 local minibuses leaves at 07 AM and 09 AM from Katima Mulilo if there are enough people onboard. They charge 10 USD.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
Harnas - Glorified Zoo
Although Harnas is about 90km from the Trans Kalahari route, we saw their signpost and decided to have a look since a member of our party saw something about them on TV.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a number of tame domestic cats begging for something to eat. By their quite smart eating place, we were treated to someone feeding a lot of mongooses. There were also lion, leopard and crocodile kept in captivity.
They have this theme of caring for sick animals, but then, once the animals are cured it seems they just keep them there to serve as drawcards for tourists.
What also worried me was all the domestic cats in the wild. Surely they are going to become a pest soon and consume all the wild birds and small wild animals in the area.
They tried to peddle a very expensive walkaround to "learn about what they are doing", but we have seen enough and chose to take the road to Kang instead.
Fun Alternatives: Rather proceed to South Gate and sleep there before carrying on to Kang if you are heading through Botswana. If you are coming from Botwana, just carry on towards Windhoek and stay over in or near Gobabis.Related to:
- Theater Travel
Parking in towns
Visiting Swakopmund and Windhoek and looking around for a place to park the car, we discovered the Namibian alternative to parking meters. Local people, usually young men, hover by the kerb ready to approach you as soon as you step out of the car in order to offer to look after it. If you accept you’re charged a small fee and a slip of paper is tucked under the wiper to indicate that “this car is being watched, so meddle with it at your peril”. At times three or four people were competing for our custom in this way.
I don’t know what would happen to your car, if anything, if you refused these offers as we never did. Remember that:
a) this fee may be his main or only source of income
b) it’s still a lot cheaper than parking in most cities around the world
c) it’s a lot less hassle than a damaged or stolen hire car!
Of course in any country there is something, but in my short visit, there was absolutely nothing that I could report of. There are not so many tourism to Namibia anyway, so in most places tourist are very much welcome and treated very well and fair.
Lonely and desolate...
Burnt Mountain, about 15km from Twyfelfontein. It is very desolate and there is nothing here. It is okay if you are stuck for something to do.
Unique Suggestions: At least go on a bit of a walk.
Fun Alternatives: Spend more time on the Skeleton CoastRelated to:
- Hiking and Walking
Waterberg Gamedrive - only for adicts
It's very unlikely that you will see many animals on the "official" 4 hour game drive to the plateau. None of the fellow travellers we've met has seen many animals. The price for the tour has been raised from 40N$ to 200N$ in early 2003 and is now clearly overpriced.
Unique Suggestions: It is certainly a bad idea to go on the game drive when you've been to places like e.g. Etosha. So if you go, go there before you go any place else. (And take warm closing for the morning drive (6-10) as well as the afternoon drive (14-18). Drives include box breakfast or sundowner respectively. Book immediately upon arrival. Despite the price, drives are often fully booked.
Fun Alternatives: Avoiding the game drive means by no means avoiding the park! Enjoy the well marked walks near the Restcamp. Go to the top of the plateau (lots of baboon, rock dassie, great variety of birds).Related to:
- National/State Park
Reptile Park at Mokuti Lodge, near Etosha
Although they do have a few snakes and crocodiles at the Mokuti Lodge reptile park, it's really only of interest to true reptile lovers.
Why pay to see the paltry pack of cold-blooded critters when you're going to be entering Etosha National Park in the immediate future? Sure, finding some of these animals in the wild will be near to impossible. But, it's just not worth your time or money, at least in my opinion.
Just go to the zoo when you get back home. You'll get the same, if not a better, look at reptiles.
Unique Suggestions: Just don't expect much.
Fun Alternatives: Spend more time in Etosha National Park looking for animals in the wild. And, if you still miss some of these reptiles, go to a zoo back home.
Not even a beach...
I think Luderitz on The Namibian coast is a bit of a waste of time. There isn't even a decent bit of sand and the shops are pretty thin on the ground too.
Unique Suggestions: Go and have some lunch at one of the cafes, there seem to be a few around.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of heading here go in land to Kolmanskop.
Mt Etjo Lodge
Paying to watch caged leopards and lions fed.
Personally found that crass and horrible and very expensive.
Not my idea of eco-tourism.
I found it repugnant.
Unique Suggestions: The Lodge itself is stunning and the food magnificent as is the service. The animal feeding tour is optional. Politely decline if it's not your thing.
Fun Alternatives: Take their game drive tour. Not too bad but be warned the vehicle is very noisy!
Or spend some time in their souvenir shop which is well stocked with items you may not find elswhere.
They saw me coming...
I thought that the souvenirs that were for sale in the main street were outrageously over priced. I did see, however, some rose wood carvings that were very tempting, even if very expensive with some real gold and silver insets.
Unique Suggestions: You don't have to pay if you only look.
Fun Alternatives: I bought a cheap souvenir glass at Joe's Beer House for 15 Namibian dollar - at least I can show I was there
Windhoek pricey knick-knack...
Windhoek pricey knick-knack shops...much better to go to the markets and bargain for your price....hand made with flaws is better if it helps the local people than encouraging the exploitation of said people by selling their history in an over-priced shop...still those shops do have some very nice things.
Be cautious when purchasing...
Be cautious when purchasing that 'special something' from street vendors, without having a general idea of what a similar item would cost in a normal gift shop. Street price is generally higher, while quality is generally lower. We found the Windhoek Arts and Crafts center to be an excellent place to shop.
We only stayed for one night sadly, as on our return to Windhoek we travelled on to a game farm. But...more
Our second night at Etosha National park was at Halali which inside the gate has a convenient water...more
If you want a good campsite at Sossusvlei (Sesriem campsite) you need to book in Windhoek and/or...more
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