The moment had arrived. It was time to embark on the last leg of our journey which involved a mere 1 hour drive from the Lake Onab campsite located just outside the town of ‘Rehoboth’, up through the capital city of Windhoek to our campsite. Tonight we were staying at the Trans Kalahari Inn campsite, the same campsite that we stayed at on our first night in Namibia, 2 weeks ago.
The drive was going to take us up the main road that slices through Namibia. It’s a tarred road and so as Namibian roads go, is quite tame. I was already starting to miss the gravel roads of western Namibia and I’d only been off them for an evening!
With leaving the Lake Onab campsite came some goodbyes to our new friends. Since arriving here yesterday afternoon, a group of feral cats had quite literally attached themselves to me. I sat on the floor, a cat pressed against my side and another purring away on my knee. How was I ever going to leave them? You can read all about my experience with these guys in yesterday’s blog post.
All good things must come to an end eventually and I waved a brisk goodbye to the kitties before we set off and left the campsite behind us. Today I was not feeling good at all. A duff meal last night had given me food poisoning and although I was feeling a lot better than I was this morning, my stomach was still seized with cramps and I felt slightly dizzy. So far my partner didn’t seem affected by our meal which was especially weird considering I tend to have a stronger stomach than him. Maybe I was just sick? Maybe it wasn’t the food?
The drive went past reasonably quickly and before we knew it, we were at the road-block which led into the capital. We exited the main road and entered the city which was bustling with people and cars. Our plan was to find a ‘biltong’ shop as not only do I adore the dried South African meat snack but my family had request that I bring some back home. I’d purchased some for them from Solitaire but ended up getting hungry and eating it all. Oops!
The lights changed from green to red and we found ourselves stopped on the outer of three lanes in the middle of Windhoek. I didn’t think anything of it until I noticed a figure out of the corner of my eye. I swivelled my head around and watched as a man walked purposefully towards our car, dodging others in the queue in front of us.
My partner turned to me. “Did we lock the doors?”
I looked in the back and saw the two back doors were unlocked, as were our own. Frantically I locked the two front doors, aware that the man was fast approaching our vehicle, his dark coat brushing the side of it. Simultaneously we reached into the back of the car and pressed the two locks. My partner looked into his side window which showed the man try to open the back door of our truck. It didn’t open and he moved on.
“Oh my god, he tried to open the door.” My partner yelled.
My mouth was frozen shut in shock. We had our camera and two laptops on the back-seat, hidden under our sleeping bag. Had we not locked our doors in time, he would have reached in, grabbed them and run off with out stuff. That was too close!
I didn’t feel safe in Windhoek after that. I drove through the city, my heart in my mouth each time the lights changed. I made sure I was always on the inside lane so that we weren’t such easy targets. Although, there was a limited amount we could do as our roof-top tent gave away the fact that we were tourists. We decided to give up our search for the biltong and headed straight to the campsite, completely shocked by the day’s events.
The road out of Windhoek leading to our campsite was shut. A man in the road diverted us down a tiny side road where we were forced to join a lengthy queue of unmoving traffic. Some cars were parked over a train-track. I guessed that trains just mustn’t be regular here. They really didn’t seem phased. Fortunately, we only had to wait around 10 minutes before the road re-opened again and we were able to finish driving to our campsite.
It felt very nostalgic to be back at the campsite which we had stayed at for our first night in Namibia. I could remember our first night like it had only just happened. To think, when we were last here we were about to embark on our 2-week long road-trip around Namibia, unsure of exactly what lay ahead of us. Now, here we were, as our trip was coming to an end. I almost felt like a different person. I’d seen so much, experienced such excitement, such unique things that I would never forget. My road-trip round Namibia had changed me. I felt so much more culturally-aware and enlightened in some way. I know it may sound deep and crazy but it’s a feeling that I just can’t quite describe.
My emotions were heightened as the person who pulled up into the camping spot beside us was here on their first night. They drove their pristine truck into the spot, not a single spec of dust on the white paintwork. I could only chuckle to myself as the driver stalled the car trying to reverse it into the spot. He started the engine again and there was a lot of roaring before it cut-out again. I’m not lying, he stalled it at least 4 times! Amateur, I thought to myself. Although I couldn’t exactly talk as I stood beside my automatic truck.
As we stood, trying to hide our amusement, my partner turned to me, his eyes pained.
“I don’t feel well.” He murmured.
Oh, no. Was the food poisoning hitting him?
“Bucket!” He cried.
I whipped out the washing-up bowl at lightning speed and stood back helplessly as his meal from the previous night remerged. Yuck! I guess it was those chewy steaks after all. I only hoped that we’d both be feeling a lot better for our 3 flights tomorrow. Travelling with food poisoning cannot be fun at all.
Fortunately, by the time evening arrived, we were both feeling much better. We were able to indulge in a nice rack of ribs and chips. We decided to avoid the steaks this time – we just weren’t risking anything! Anyway, turned out the ribs was a nice variety anyway. I’d had more steaks than I could count on this trip.
Now it was time for our final night in our roof-top tent. Damn, I’m feeling severe nostalgia just writing about this! We set the tent up one last time and climbed the stairs to our little home. It was not my favourite night in Namibia. I woke up, frozen down to the bone. A severe wind was blowing through our tent, making me feel like I was in Antarctica. It was a far cry from those first few nights where I woke up sweating out my skin. Man, give me the heat any day! Of course, my nightly toilet trip was horrible. I had to run through the icy cold gale and then struggle to get warm enough to sleep afterwards.
I woke up shivering. Out of my tent I could see that the sun wasn’t shining today. I yawned. Not a bad day to go home, I suppose. It would be so much harder to leave if the sun was shining profusely on us. We got up and packed-up our tent. Goodbye little home. I thought sadly as it folded up neatly on top of the vehicle. We put the cover on, fastening it securely before putting the finishing touches on our packing. I’d been sensible and packed-up most of our stuff the day before (whilst suffering with bad tummy ache, may I add).
We ate from the buffet today and I got talking to the newbies who couldn’t seem to drive.
“We’re going to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia…”
As they explained their 5-week long route I couldn’t help but feel concerned. You’re going through all these places but you can’t even reverse your car into a massive spot on flat-ground?
“Have you been on a road-trip before?” I asked.
The answer was a ‘no’. Quite an ambitious itinerary for a first-time trip but I’m sure they would have the trip of a lifetime.
“Is it normally this cold?” They asked.
Today sure was freezing. I was barely keeping myself from getting hypothermia.
Despite our scary experience in Windhoek yesterday, I was prepared to brave entering the city again for the biltong that I was determined to purchase. I imagined my dad’s face if I didn’t come home with any biltong. The look of sheer disappointment was enough to keep me going.
We said goodbye to the staff at the Inn. I was incredibly impressed with the service at this campsite. It was arguably the best we’d encountered in the whole of Namibia. The staff were polite and were willing to accommodate for us when we wanted to eat at our campsite instead of in the restaurant. The manager (I guessed she was the manager!) was very friendly and keen to give directions and advice. As a result, I cannot recommend this campsite enough and will definitely be back when I return to Namibia Deadvlei I will find you! (If you don’t know about that story, I suggest you read my post here).
Before we left, I explained to the campsite manager the situation with the biltong. She was quick to recommend a couple of biltong shops to us. She told us the safest bet was a shop called ‘The Biltong Shop’ located in the centre of Windhoek, in a mall called ‘Maerua Mall’. She even drew us some directions which came in really handy.
I was aware that this drive was going to be our last. After our shopping spree in Maerua Mall, we were going to drop off our rental car at the rental company who were located in the capital, literally 5 minutes away from the mall.
Driving through Windhoek, I felt apprehensive. Almost everywhere we had been to so far that was in a large town, we had found ourselves surrounded by hawkers. They were often present in car parks. I mean, a mall is like a prime place for tourists to go to so there was bound to be trouble – or so I thought. When we pulled into the car park, I was pleasantly surprised. I immediately noticed that there was no one hanging around here. The car park took us indoors and I noticed a section called ‘4×4’ parking. Wonderful! Now that defeated my second worry of actually parking. I can’t park for the life of me. The spots here were huge and I reversed into one with ease.
Now it was time to find some biltong! The entrance to the mall was only a short walk away from our car and had a guard beside it. I guessed he must have been watching the cars in the car park. I was impressed! Once we were inside the mall, I immediately found what I had been looking for. Right in front of us was ‘The Biltong Shop!’
I went wild! God knows how much biltong I got but I could barely squeeze it in my already full hand-luggage. I felt super satisfied. I had achieved exactly what I had wanted and now I could go home happy. I debated whether or not to send a photo of the biltong to my dad but in the end decided it was best to keep it a surprise. Yay, he wouldn’t be disappointed!
We still had a couple of hours to kill before we needed to drop the car off so we decided to explore the mall. We didn’t actually buy anything but stumbled upon a really cute coffee shop that served delicious home-made brownies. How Instagramable is this meal?
After stuffing ourselves full of brownies and the biggest servings of tea we had ever had, it was time to drop the car back. Dropping the car back was quick and easy. Fortunately, there were no problems with the car and as soon as we handed over the keys, we were in a shuttle on the way to the airport.
And so my 2-week Namibia road-trip concludes. It’s been one hell of a journey. The memories I have made will undoubtably stay with me for the rest of my life. Looking back on my time in Namibia, I almost can’t believe I actually experienced what I did. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by going on my first ever road-trip, just me and my partner, cruising round a country on our own. This trip was without a doubt the best I have been on so far and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a road-trip round Namibia to anyone. Sure, there were ups and downs but the highs were far greater than the lows and let’s be real, you can’t have a good trip without some mishaps, right?
I can’t wait to see where our wanderlust will take us next.
Tuesday 19th of March 2019
Love how you have shared your Namibia trip. Am about to embark on one soon. May I ask about the roof top tent, always better than an ordinary tent or could this work too? Any advice of where to rent the car?
Monday 25th of March 2019
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my articles on Namibia and I hope you found them helpful. The benefits of the rooftop tent are that firstly, the tent just pops up with minimal effort. In contrast, a ground tent would take a while to set up and put back. Second of all, roof-top tents are more common than ground tents to rent and if you decide to bring your own tent, that takes up a lot of luggage space. Finally, (although not something I was concerned out), you're further away from wildlife on top of a car, haha. Although one benefit of a ground tent is you can set up tent and still drive elsewhere whilst your tent is up. With a roof-top one it must get packed away for every drive.
Car rentals are complicated. Although I was generally happy with the car I got, I would have preferred to pick one up at the airport instead of having to go into Windhoek. I have an article that go into details of this as there's a lot of information to consider when picking a car: https://ellamckendrick.com/blog/travel/guide-to-choosing-the-perfect-car-for-a-namibian-road-trip/
I hope this helps! I also hope you have a wonderful trip :)
Tuesday 20th of February 2018
That sounds like such an experience, I really want to go to Namibia! Definitely some good tips in there!
Tuesday 20th of February 2018
great adventures and experiences! never been there and i am quite curious, even if i guess it is big trip and not really a weekend!!
Monday 19th of February 2018
Sounds like your mostly excellent trip was somewhat spoiled by a few bad experiences...not only almost being robbed, but getting sick on the steaks. I can't imagine. Sounds like it was a fun time overall, though!
Monday 19th of February 2018
It sounds like you had quite an experience! I'd love to go on an African trip one day soon - your story gave me a few things to watch out for :)