As an undergraduate student, I spent a summer in Namibia for a conservation and ecology study abroad program. During this time, I camped for five weeks, carried out a short research project, and went for a wonderful road trip in this beautiful country.
As I would guess most people do who travel to Namibia by plane, I flew into Windheok, the capital of the country. The most interesting thing about this location as someone from Arizona is just how similar the landscape of Phoenix and Windheok are. I mean, I felt like I had flown on a plane for 20 hours and survived an 8 hour layover in the London airport all in order to arrive back home. This is part of the reason why a school in Arizona supported this study abroad program in Namibia. Arizona and this country share a lot of similar ecological characteristics, and as a young ecology student, seeing these similarities was breathtaking. The longer I spent in Namibia, the more wonderful things that I got to see and experience, and thinking about it now really makes me want to go back. That being said, even though I was there for a summer, it has been several years since I went, so I will just highlight a few places that were my favorite while visiting there (also, my hard drive died shortly after my trip, taking all my pictures with it, so I will have to rely on other people’s pictures).
My number one favorite place in all of Namibia was Epupa Falls, and this may, in fact, be one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. I have a very intense appreciation for water. I love camping near streams, and when I spend time working on my dissertation, I love to just listen to the sounds of flowing water and rain. So, spending time camping near this beautiful set of waterfalls was a dream for me. One of the most distinct things about these falls are the Baobab trees that grow between the falls, but the whole Namibian side of the Kunene River is beautiful. As a student there, I was focused on research at the time, but there is whitewater rafting to be done on the river, as well as visits to nearby Himba camps in the area.
I will say, in passing, that visiting a Himba village is a worthwhile experience for anyone who has the opportunity. I didn’t really visit one as a tourist, so I am not sure what that experience is like, nor do I know the conditions under which the Himba people in any one area have agreed to be visited by foreigners. If you decide to do this, I would highly suggest doing some research to insure that your visit is will really benefit the people that you see. But the Himba are beautiful, and having the chance to see their homes and their traditional fashion is really a privilege. I would also highly suggest buying a little something from the local Himba artisans. I bought a bracelet from one of them, and have actually worn it ever since. Besides that, it is always good to spend a little money on local vendors, especially artists who are making their own, unique wares for visitors.
In my next post on April 15th, I will explore two more of my favorite places to visit in Namibia! Feel free to comment below with any questions or suggestions for people traveling to Namibia.